Unmanned flying motorcycle crash at Goodwood Aerodrome | Alauda Airspeeder Mk II

During a demonstration at Goodwood, an unmanned flying motorcycle soars to 8000 ft and crashes 40 metres from houses after the remote-pilot loses control.

Aluada Airspeeder crash

A crash at Goodwood is reminder of what can go wrong with flying motorcycle tech. At least if you’re on the ground on two wheels there are a few options when your bike stops responding, but 1000 ft in the air? 

An Alauda Airspeeder Mk II was mid-demonstration flight at Goodwood Aerodrome in July 2019 when the remote-pilot reported a loss of control - a ‘kill-switch’ was operated, but had no effect. The unmanned aircraft then soared off to 8000 ft in the air, climbing at maximum power and entering controlled airspace at a holding point for flights arriving at Gatwick Airport - before the battery depleted and it plummeted to the ground. 

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The aircraft landed in a field of crops just 40 metres away from occupied houses, and ended up over 700 metres away from the designated operating area - luckily, there were no injuries. 

The Airspeeder Mk II was at-the-time a prototype aircraft, 3 metres long and 95kg, and upon investigation the AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch) found that the aircraft had not been designed, built or tested to any recognisable engineering standards or airworthiness, and the operator was not knowledgable of air-worthiness standards, and the craft itself was not built to display speed or height whilst in use. 

All in all, this was a muck up of the highest proportions. The AAIB made 15 safety recommendations as a result of the incident, involving airworthiness standards, safety standards and the like - meaning an accident of this nature is unlikely to happen again. Goodwood has said they will 'carefully consider’ future demonstrations of this type as a result, maybe sticking to the Revival and Festival of speed once events are back in full swing.

How is this related to motorcycles? When looking to the future, often our eyes go up from the road and towards the empty skies. “Why can’t we be riding around, but up there? There’s plenty of space!” - sure, it’s true, but these type of incidents do re-frame your opinion with what could go wrong. There's no 'laying her down' in the sky.

Goodwood may not be running flying motorcycle demonstrations any time soon...

Motorcycle-related flight-concepts like ‘La Moto Volante’ are real-world examples of what could be achieved in the future when it comes to motorcycles in the sky.

You’d no longer be a motorcyclist, you’d be a sort of motorcyclist-pilot crossbreed, where the skill required would be exponentially higher to operate an aircraft like this, much more than a Mod 1 & 2 could test for.

For now, though, it’s made us reconsider if flying around in the sky on ‘motorcycles’ is what we’re really after. I’ll stick to the classic ‘two rubber hoops on the road’, please.

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