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NASA Green Flight Challenge proposes 'pocket airports,' invites you to fly 'em all

Tim Stevens

Soon we'll be hopping on a jet plane, heading to Vegas, living the life, playing with gadgets, and not getting a lot of sleep. Flying to Nevada for CES on a plane is easy, but getting to the airport can be a challenge if you live out in the country. NASA wants that fixed as a sort of spin-off of its Green Flight Challenge, a prize awarded to an aerial vehicle that can manage 200mpg at 100mph while emitting only 78db of noise at 250 feet. It would also need a very short takeoff and landing, something that would allow it to land on what's being called a "pocket airport." These rinky-dink runways would fit on just two acres of land and would launch or receive an (ultimately autonomous) aircraft every 30 seconds. The idea is that such strips could be scattered about suburban areas and provide quick, convenient shuttling to real airports and, presumably, to other pocket airports. Now, we wonder, will we still need to empty our pockets before boarding?

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