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Underwater 'Flying' Is the Latest Trend
At the Monaco yacht expo last week, one of the attention grabbers was Graham Hawkes's DeepFlight Super Falcon two-man submarine. What makes the craft interesting for pilots is the control method. The Super Falcon is buoyant, and relies on forward motion and negative "lift" from its 8.8-foot wingspan to keep it from rising to the surface. In effect, it's like an upside-down airplane and can power its way as deep as 1,600 feet below the surface.
The concept is catching on among wealthy adventurers who may be tiring of their yachts and airplanes. Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz bought one of Hawkes's Super Falcons last month. Before that, venture capitalist Thomas Perkins also took the plunge. He once owned the world's largest yacht, but has apparently grown bored of plying the seven seas from the surface alone. Sir Richard Branson is another of Hawkes's customers. For those not fully committed, Super Falcons are available for charter at $10,000 per day.
Brit Hawkes previously built more conventional submersibles for the oil and gas industry and for explorers. He envisioned a demand for a more maneuverable craft that could interact with marine life. The company claims that the Super Falcon's quiet propulsion system does not startle fish, but rather they are attracted to the craft, apparently as a curiosity.
Hawkes said his Super Falcon generated great interest from attendees at the Monaco yacht show. He personally conducts the training program for "pilots" of the Super Falcon, though no actual license is required. He said, "In the early years of aeroplanes, nobody had licenses. Nobody knew what the regulations were. So we are right in the era of starting up something so new that nobody really knows what needs to be done. The rules and regulations are a little bit murky."
For a GoPro video of the Super Falcon, watch it here: