On his 13th birthday, Anthony Windisch’s parents took him to see “Return of the Jedi,” one of the “Star Wars” films. Sitting in the theater, he became enthralled with the cinematography and the story unfolding before him. And an idea began forming in his mind.
When he and his parents were leaving the theater, he thought about what he had seen. “Deep down inside I realized what I wanted to do with my life,” says the captain of the GoFly Prize team Phattony's Rock & Roll Flying Motorcycle Circus. “From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a Speeder bike mechanic.”
Tony, an Oklahoma native, is putting his inner Jedi skills to work as he builds his personal flyer. In fact, he’s been tinkering and building aircraft of various types ever since.
“My interest was in developing a ducted fan personal flyer,” he explains, noting that this is akin to an ultra-lite craft but with hovering capabilities. “I built models and tested different design configurations using R/C parts for years to get it right. Some worked, some did not!”
He had the opportunity to write and apply for a patent on the resulting data and technology of his experiments. “So I did,” he exclaims. “And I have not stopped refining my design since.”
The GoFly Prize is enabling Tony to take his refined design to the next level…”it’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between science fiction and science fact!”
But the simple fact is that flying is in Tony’s blood. His father and grandfather were both in the Army Air Corps. “My old man was career Air Force,” he notes. “Both of them loved flying and wanted to share this wonderful experience with me. When I was 9, my father took my brother and I up in a Piper Cub aircraft. As we flew, he let both of us steer the airplane and he explained how the contraption worked. What the levers and dials did and displayed. It was really a formative experience.”
And over the years, his father and grandfather not only shared other such experiences, they also “contributed their support to my projects and prototypes.”
Tony envisions that his personal flyer and others like it will be utilized by first responders in various capacities. It will improve emergency assistance in natural disasters, at remote locations and in inaccessible places. “For the most part, civil services will foster the growth of this niche within the wider aviation industry,” he relates.
In the meantime, he says that “the greatest hurdle is gravity.” Ever the optimist, he plans to use capital, resources and capability to do nothing less than “conquer gravity.”