Many adrenaline junkies will dream of soaring through the sky like Marvel’s Silver Surfer.
And soon ‘WingBoarding’ could become a reality, after a wing-shaped board designed to be used completed its first manned test in a wind tunnel.
The vision is for thrill-seekers to be towed by a plane and ‘surf’ behind in the air it as if riding a wakeboard.
The board is the brainchild of Aaron Wypyszynski, founder of Wyp Aviation.
After three years of work, a full-scale prototype has been piloted by wingsuit flyer Brandon Mikesell in the Ontario Institute of Technology’s ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel.
The company said: ‘Testing was set up so that the rider and WingBoard would experience the same forces as if they were being towed by an aircraft.
‘The tow line, instead of being attached to an aircraft, was attached approximately 45 feet inside the wind tunnel contraction.
‘Flight testing revealed that the system was extremely stable and easy to fly.
‘Full flight capabilities were achieved within 15 minutes of starting testing and very closely matched predictions.’
In fact, more than four hours of flight time was notched up in the test by two riders over two days of testing, at speed ranging from 50 to 75mph. 80-121km/h.
The company said: ‘Testing results far exceed expectations and validated critical performance in preparation for airborne flight testing.’
Mr Wypyszynski told MailOnline: ‘Seeing the WingBoard fly with a rider for the first time was a moment of pure elation.
‘Not only were we able to demonstrate the WingBoard in flight with a Human rider, we were able to do so on the very first try with performance and handling that exactly matched our predictions.
This not only validated our design work, but also demonstrated the intimate knowledge and understanding we have of the WingBoard design, giving us the confidence to proceed with flight testing.’
The breakthrough has been welcomed by Mr Wypyszynski, who initially launched his WingBoard project on crowdfunding site Kickstarter two years ago.
While the project failed to meet its funding target, he battled on to realise his dream.
Wyp Aviation has now entered what it calls ‘Phase 3’, where ‘the hard work pays off and the dream becomes a reality’.
The company said: ‘Phase 3 focuses on manufacturing and flight testing the first full-scale manned WingBoard.
‘Phase 3 will see the first flights with a rider – or test pilot – strapped to the board.’
Mr Wypyszynski said he was first inspired to create the WingBoard after he grew up watching the Disney cartoon series TaleSpin.
In the cartoon, a child bear named Kit Cloudkicker surfed behind a plane on a metal wing, shaped like an airfoil.
With Mr Wypyszynski’s creation, the board is also shaped like an airfoil – the same shape as a plane’s wing – to generate lift.
A tow rope will be connected the back of the plane ahead, with the rope dividing into two strands 10 feet (three metres) from the aircraft – with – one strand connecting to the board and the other connected to a handle that the rider grabs on to.
However, the company said it may not be able to conduct its first flights behind aircraft until early 2017 because of a lack of funding.
‘We currently have a small funding stream which limits our testing capabilities and extends our timeline,’ the company said.
‘We recently completed fabrication of the first full-scale WingBoard and conducted wind tunnel testing. We hope to conduct our first flights behind aircraft in late 2016 or early 2017.’
The first flights will be conducted using a tailrotor-less helicopter such as an MD-500 NOTAR or a K-Max.
The helicopter will allow for sufficient height to be obtained before starting testing, allowing the rider to detach and deploy the parachute at any time during the testing should need arise, Wyp Aviation said.
Testing will then be carried out using a standard tow plane such as a Piper Pawnee to experiment with takeoff and landing techniques.
A third level of testing will use a ‘docile yet aerobatic’ airplane such as the Super Decathlon. It is here when the WingBoard will be thrown through its initial aerobatic tests like rolls and inverted passes.
The final level of testing will push the WingBoard and its rider to the limit of their capabilities – exploring full aerobatic manoeuvres with an aircraft such as the Extra 300L.
The company is currently looking for sponsors or partners for the first flights behind an aircraft.
Wyp Aviation said that once the design has been fully tested, the WingBoard will begin touring on the airshow circuit as well as beginning sales to the public.
It estimates the finished product will be ready to buy mid 2017 and will cost between $15,000 and $30,000 (£11,432 and £22,863).
But the company said it also wants to let riders rent a WingBoard for a flight for not much more than the cost of a skydive.