Palo Alto, California-based Opener announced Tuesday that it will conduct the first public crewed demonstration flight of its BlackFly eVTOL aircraft next week at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture 2021 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
At the last EAA AirVenture in 2019, Opener said its BlackFly program had already flown over 23,000 miles (37,000 kilometers) across more than 2,300 flights. At this point, according to the company’s website, the model has flown over 4,000 payload-carrying flights for a total of 34,000 miles (around 55,000 km). Opener said its ultralight, amphibious-capable personal air vehicles can easily take off and land on small areas and travel distances of over 40 miles (65 km) at speeds of up to 75 mph (120 km/h), although restricted to 25 miles (40 km) and 62 mph (100 km/h) in the U.S.
Opener’s BlackFly model, which is now in its third iteration, is the brainchild of CEO Marcus Leng, who began developing eVTOL vehicles in his yard when he was living outside of Toronto. Leng claims that first prototype, the SkyKar Rebel, made history in October 2011 as the first winged all-electric VTOL aircraft to ever lift a person. Leng then began working on the BlackFly and in 2014 relocated the program to Silicon Valley, where Opener was officially founded with assistance from Google co-founder Larry Page.
Opener has had a regular presence at AirVenture over the years, so it makes sense for the company to utilize the world’s biggest aviation celebration as a platform to showcase its product. The most recent BlackFly aircraft was announced at AirVenture 2018, and as a continued signal of the Opener-EAA partnership, the company donated one of its aircraft to EAA’s Aviation Museum in Oshkosh in 2019.
However, since then, the company has largely been in stealth mode, emerging on Twitter last year to say only, “we’ve been busy.” Although Opener made an appearance in a New York Times article on “flying cars” last month, this upcoming demonstration will serve as an important public re-entry for Opener and its BlackFly program.
The demonstration flight is scheduled during the daily AirVenture airshow on Tuesday, July 27, around 3 p.m. CT. eVTOL.com will be on-site covering this historic flight as well as the rest of the show.