TACOMA, Wash. — On a winter morning in a Pierce County horse pasture, the Zero, a zero-emissions, electrically powered aircraft, roared to life and took to the skies, darting back and forth a hundred feet in the air.
"It really was a day of elation for us," said ZEVA's Chief Technology Officer Gurbir Singh.
There are an estimated 200 companies trying to be the first to offer personal flying vehicles.
"Our ultimate goal is to have one of these in every garage by 2040," Tibbitts said.
Inside a warehouse near the Port of Tacoma, Tibbitts and his team have spent nearly four years designing a single-person aircraft that doesn't need a runway.
"The Zero takes off vertically and goes to transition mode and then can land vertically," Tibbitts said.
Imagine it's 5 p.m. and you're ready to head home. Rather than take the elevator down to the street, you go to a skyport attached to the side of the building. You get into your Zero and batman off the side of the building, flying over traffic, water, and mountains at speeds of up to 160 miles an hour.
"Flying from point A to point B is the most efficient way to travel," Tibbitts explained.
The pancake shape of the craft is also all about efficiency.
"It is designed to be a blended wing body so when it takes off vertically it transitions to forward flight and creates lift," Tibbitts said. "So it's much more efficient flying through the air."
Singh was one of the first to join the ZEVA Aero team.
"I always love challenges and so Stephen put a challenge forward to create something that had only existed in some people's minds and to make that reality."
Inside the warehouse, the team gives us a bit of a demonstration. The propellers come to life, louder than half a dozen leaf blowers going all at once. Attached to a harness, the Zero rises above the concrete floor and moves around before gently bouncing back to the ground.
The price tag? Around $250,000, which is why ZEVA Aero expects the Department of Defense and first responders to be the early adopters.
"We think we can help save lives by getting to the scene of an accident or battlefield as early as possible," Tibbitts said.
ZEVA Aero may be near the front of the pack but the company is looking for more capital to make its next leap forward.
An 8-foot flying pancake might seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but for those conducting test flights, it's become very real indeed.
"To see that it is a reality today, it gives me the goosebumps," Singh said.