Editor’s Note: We’re excited to introduce you to the innovative, bold, and talented individuals competing in GoFly. Our teams come from all over the world, shaped by their diverse backgrounds and unique life experiences. We can’t wait to see what they’ll build, but in the meantime, get to know the people behind the devices.
Based in Panama City Beach, Florida, Team DragonAir’s Mariah Cain never expected to pursue a career in aviation. But after getting her first taste of flight through a Hydroflight watersport device, flying—and empowering others to do so—has become Cain’s dream.
Today, she and her team are working tirelessly to design, build and test their personal flying device as part of the GoFly Prize. Cain is confident in their efforts thus far, and optimistic about the next phase of the competition.
Read on to learn more about what sparked Cain’s passion, and how DragonAir is working through their biggest challenges.
How did you realize you were passionate about aviation and flight?
I became passionate about flight through Hydroflight, a watersport. Obviously, it is much different than flying a personal multi-copter, but soaring above the water with a jetblade attached to my feet was the first time I experienced the freedom of height and movement through the air. That instilled a passion in me.
Was there something that inspired your interest in aviation when you were a child?
Airplanes were interesting to me, as they are to most children, but I was much more fascinated by fairy dust and flying like Peter Pan.
When did you decide to pursue a career in aviation?
I never dreamed of being part of the development of one of the first electric devices for future personal transportation. Working every day, doing the things that aerospace and mechanical engineers do for a living is not where I pictured myself even a year ago. I love the challenge and the thrill behind it. I had a video of me flying from last year that got an outstanding amount of support, and there was a moment when I realized this could be something that offers a bright future for me.
What were some of your favorite courses in school? How did they enrich your understanding of aviation?
My favorite courses in school included biology and English. Both involved analytics and writing, which are necessary to get anything approved in the aviation industry.
What excites you about GoFly?
GoFly has provided our team with the inspiration we needed to evolve our device. If we win, we’ll have the means to keep creating new devices. But, even if we don’t win, we’ve already learned an incredible amount and have had some fun showing off our extraordinary machine through the publicity of this worldwide challenge.
Participating in the GoFly Prize has given us the resources to build the PEVTOL device that we have been dreaming of with support from the FAA, aerospace insurance providers and other necessary partners.
What does the world look like after you create your flying device? How do you think you will change the world?
It is evident that the world is itching to have these personal flying devices made available to them. I cannot picture a future where humans are not flying themselves as a mode of transportation. The progression of technology has made it easier than ever to control a flying device.
I believe that once people experience how amazing personal flight feels, they won’t want to go back to old modes of transportation. After I learned to drive, I rarely used my bike anymore. It won’t be the solution to everything, but in many cases, personal flight will fit into our society perfectly.
What is your biggest challenge in the GoFly Prize competition currently? How do you plan to overcome it?
At this point, it is funding. I have no doubt that we can build our machine, but we have not found the right person to back our creation yet. We have scrapped together enough money to get this far, and we’ve had lots of potential partners that we thought would be ‘the one,’ but the right match hasn’t happened yet.
Currently, we are working hard to ensure that the potential investors/sponsors we are talking to now have everything they need to feel comfortable investing in our vision. I know it will all come together in the end, one way or another.
What’s one fun fact about you that your team members don’t know?
That getting to work in the lab every day and create new things is basically my dream job. Despite all the work put in, it is so fun to test new inventions with Jeff Elkins. GoFly is making it easier to do what I love.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a mentor?
If you don’t work on something, you’ll never know what could have come of it. If you don’t ask, you’ll have missed the opportunity completely. Might as well just go for it and keep a smile on your face—you never know what could happen.
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