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The AirMule moves the flying VTOL truck from sci-fi to reality

Science fiction has been filled with vertical takeoff or landing aircraft that can haul men and machines without the compromises found in traditional helicopters. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Quinjet to The Dark Knight Rises Bat, the central design of these vehicles is more or less the same – there are a couple of thrust engines on the back and a pair of lift engines inside the body, which is some flashy, angular design. Turns out, some things didn't make the transition to reality.

This is the Urban Aeronautics AirMule, and it's just made its first untethered test flight after nearly a decade of development. While it's probably the closest reality will get to a Quinjet, the AirMule is much smaller.

At just 22 feet long it's less than half the length of a UH-60 Black Hawk and more in line with a long-wheelbase Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab. But unlike the hulking Ford, it's both lighter and much more powerful. It's just 1,700 pounds when empty, but it can haul up to 1,400 pounds (including fuel). That's partially thanks to a 730-horsepower Turbomecca Arriel 1D1 turbine engine, although according to Foxtrot Alpha, the actual production craft would have up to 985 horsepower. Even with the lower output, the AirMule can still move at speeds up to 100 knots (115 miles per hour) and climb to 18,000 feet.

You can read much more about the AirMule over at Foxtrot Alpha, which provides its typical in-depth analysis and history of this unique Israeli vehicle.

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