I’ve always wanted to live in — well, okay, maybe just ride in — a yellow submarine. Who doesn’t? But I’ve read The Hunt for Red October and I can’t say that the whole Cold War militaristic submarine thing appeals all that much. What I would love, though, is to fly underwater on a DeepFlight Super Falcon personal submarine.
The DeepFlight submarine is manufactured by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, a California company comprised of designers and engineers who want to give people a chance to explore the most alien parts of Earth — the deep seas. The vehicle they came up with is part submersible and part aircraft — it looks like a submarine, but it departs from the traditional principles of buoyancy and instead embraces those of aerodynamics, including lift and draft. It also has a wingspan of about nine feet. The submarine can be used for recreation, to open up the seas to human “flight,” and the company supplies them to luxury tourists and super-yacht operators. The Super Falcon is the fifth iteration of the DeepFlight submersible, and the company says they’re “faster, lighter, inherently safer, and…more inspiring than any recreational submersible ever conceived.” Not to brag or anything.
The 21-foot-long, 4,000-pound Super Falcon maintains positive buoyancy at all times and has an auto-surface return. It also apparently offers unprecedented comfort for the pilot, or pilots — it can carry two people under tandem Plexiglas domes, much like a two-seater biplane. Its 38V system runs on a lithium-iron-phosphate battery, which makes it green, clean, and safe for marine life. According to the website, it’s designed “to do barrel rolls with dolphins” and can nosedive straight down and negotiate sharp turns. And the brochure quotes H.P. Lovecraft on the cover page: “But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean.”
Richard Branson took the Super Falcon for a spin with creator Graham Hawkes, and the two encountered a great white shark. Hawkes is a diving record-setter, having reached depths of 3,000 feet nearly 30 years ago in one of his early submarines. So what’s the catch? Well, this custom-built underwater flying machine costs $1.7 million. The company knows it’s looking at a niche — and rich — market, but that market does exist, and Hawkes believes his submarine will usher in a new era of exploration of the world’s oceans. I suppose all the same folks who are buying tickets on Virgin Galactic will scoop these up for their Earthly kicks. Maybe they’ll find the Kraken when they’re flying around down there.