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For sale: Personal strap-on aircraft

By Jeordan Legon
CNN

Michael Moshier stands next to his invention, the SoloTrek XFV, for Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle.
Michael Moshier stands next to his invention, the SoloTrek XFV, for Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle.

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(CNN) -- The inventor of a strap-on flying machine for sale on eBay has a request for users of the site: stop hacking his auction.

Since the personal aircraft went on sale last Friday on the popular auction site, bids have been pouring in -- some as high as $6 million. But Michael Moshier, the machine's inventor, said it soon became clear that many of the offers were coming from pranksters -- unwilling to shell out the cash to own the one-of-a-kind Solotrek XFV.

Unable to tell which bids were legitimate, the original auction was scrapped and a new one was launched this week requiring bidders to confirm their credit-worthiness before making an offer.

"If I knew two weeks ago what I know now, I would not have done it," said Moshier, chief executive of Trek Aerospace. "You probably have three teenagers in a bedroom bidding up the thing with no responsibility."

Can't vouch for bidders

The company that makes the SoloTrek hopes to sell them to the military.
The company that makes the SoloTrek hopes to sell future versions to the military.

An eBay spokesman said the auction site is simply a marketplace, putting together buyers and sellers. It does not vouch for anyone participating in the process.

"There are people who are just plain devious," said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove.

Designers hope their SoloTrek prototype sells so they can keep the company going. Trek Aerospace has laid off six of its 10 employees and the firm is almost out of cash.

The company's dream is to one day have a sky buzzing with SoloTrek flyers. Future versions of the machines could transport soldiers over land mines or help commuters avoid rush-hour traffic, Moshier said.

But whomever buys the prototype on eBay won't be able to take it for a spin anytime soon. Before placing it on sale, engineers disabled it to protect the buyer from injury.

"It's a prototype aircraft," Moshier said. "It would be irresponsible ... to put someone in the position where they could fly it."

'It needs to be on display'

The SoloTrek, which is 7-feet-tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, can hover for two hours at a time and flies at speeds up to 69 miles per hour, Moshier said. Its two overhead ducted fans are gas-powered and make as much noise as a leaf blower.

A few lucky residents of a Northern California cul-de-sac, where the vehicle made its maiden voyage in December 2001, already have seen the SoloTrek in the air. Moshier, an aeronautical engineer and pilot, said he hopes an aviation enthusiast or museum will buy the machine so others can marvel at it.

"We're not flying it anymore," he said. "It needs to be on display somewhere as part of aviation history."


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