New submersible 'flies' through the sea

Posted by Emma Woollacott

SAN FRANCISCO - A new winged submersible designed to 'fly' through the water has been unveiled at the California Academy of Sciences.


Deep Flight Super Falcon looks for all the world like Thunderbird 4, and can move at six knots and reach depths of 1,500 feet. It has a range of about 25 nautical miles.


Designed and built by British engineer Graham Hawkes, Deep Flight Super Falcon is the culmination of four generations of experimental prototype winged submersibles. It is the first production-model winged submersible, and was originally commissioned by venture capitalist Tom Perkins for his yacht S/Y Maltese Falcon.


The sub has a carbon fibre pressure hull that encompasses two cockpits with dual flight controls and the same sort of instrumentation as military planes. Pitch, roll and yaw are controlled by 'fly by wire'. It can descend at up to 200ft per minute and ascend twice as fast. The cabin is pressurised to avoid the bends.


The Super Falcon
 can be flown through 360 degrees, or in a very smooth, near silent horizontal flight for observation."It is advanced enough to go barrel-rolling with dolphins, spy-hopping with whales or searching for sunken galleons," Hawkes claimed.


Hawkes added, “After twenty years of prototyping, Super Falcon is our most advanced and elegant submersible yet, encompassing all the innovations we made in introducing underwater flight from the surface to the bottom of the ocean".


One of the first projects for Super Falcon is the launch of VIP in the Sea, a big PR effort from manufacturers Hawkes Ocean Technologies and NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries to enable VIPs to experience the oceans first-hand.


We see Super Falcon as an ambassador to the seas.” said William J Douros, West Coast Regional Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.