DeepFlight Super Falcon
Graham Hawkes, a bespectacled inventor and engineer, is passionate about flying. His voice turns almost wistful about the sense of freedom. The rush of soaring. The thrill of executing a barrel roll. Thing is, the sixty-something entrepreneur is not talking about flying in the sky. He's talking about flying underwater in a new breed of aquatic craft called the DeepFlight Super Falcon. It's the last in an evolving line of DeepFlight prototypes made by Hawkes Ocean Technologies of Point Richmond, California.
Hawkes' new battery-powered craft looks like the seamless fusion of a fighter jet and a tiger shark – about 20 feet long, a few feet across and a few feet high. Once in the water, the Falcon quietly takes off into the other blue. The clear acrylic domes over the heads of pilot and passenger seemingly disappear, giving them the sensation of being in old-style open cockpits.
"It is flying. It's a very pure form of flying," says Hawkes. "And it has one endearing characteristic, which is you don't die if you mess up."
What he means is that the craft is positively buoyant – lose control or stall out and you'd simply tumble back to the surface. The Falcon can reach depths of at least 400 feet, the edge of blackness. Last year Hawkes flew along the coast of Jordan to help scientists survey the shoreline, using cameras and instruments. But as with sailing or skiing, Hawkes says underwater flight is really about the sheer pleasure.
"We live on an ocean planet. We need to understand that. We need to be connected. This is a tool that can do that."
What really sets apart DeepFlight is that water lovers can climb aboard if they're willing to part with a bit of cash and join the underwater flight training school.