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Redefine what is possible in a manned submersible by studying underwater flight and attempting the first ever underwater loop.

What is a DeepFlight Super Falcon?

Meet the DeepFlight Super Falcon, a new advanced manned submersible designed and built by Graham Hawkes and his small team at Hawkes Ocean Technologies near San Francisco.  It is built much like an aircraft, with wings, tail surfaces, and ailerons, but instead of flying in air, it flies underwater.  It is capable of much higher speeds and better maneuverability than traditional manned submersibles - but how much higher and how much better?  Is this truly a viable method to explore the unknown depths of the ocean?  Can we achieve a perfect underwater loop?  These are questions we need your help to answer!  Not only that, do you want participate in an expedition under the surface in one of the clearest lakes in the word?  You can!  See our Navigator and Top Gun levels in the rewards section to find out more.

Introducing The DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition: Oct 1 - Oct 5, 2012, Under the Surface of Lake Tahoe, CA

The DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition is two things.  First and foremost it is a research expedition to study underwater flight and its viability as the future of manned ocean exploration.  But it goes deeper than that.  If successful, this will also be the first ever public, crowd funded underwater research expedition, which may have far-reaching implications for the future.  Read more about that below, but for now, with you on the team, the Hydrobatics Expedition is planned for October 1 - October 5, 2012 in Lake Tahoe, CA using the Super Falcon, with its high speed and maneuverability, as the test vessel.  Because underwater flight is still in its infancy, there are still many questions we simply don't know the answers to and seek to find out through this expedition.  For example:

1) What speed can we maintain along the lakebed and still get an accurate visual survey?

2) How well can a pilot navigate underwater using only a compass?

3) What is the stall speed?  How slow can you go before you start to float to the surface?

And, perhaps most importantly,

4) Can we achieve a full loop underwater?

Underwater loop???  To our knowledge, this maneuver has never been attempted in a manned submersible, because a move like this in a traditional submersible is simply not possible.  But not in the Super Falcon!  We intend to have our pilot take the Super Falcon deep into the twilight zone of Lake Tahoe and level out, then pull the stick all the way back into a vertical climb. The pilot will then throttle back so the submersible curves inverted onto its back. The sub will then loop down inverted and head straight down until the pilot pulls out of the loop and back to the original position. For measurement and documentation, cameras will be mounted on the submersible, and we will have divers in the water.

What is the significance of this project?

The ocean is a vast place, and contains 95% of life on this planet.  But, humans have only set eyes on less than 1% of it.  Proving underwater flight is an important step in enabling humans the freedom to fly with the animals and to explore our oceans more efficiently.  Further, modern ocean exploration is currently usually done through taxpayers' money or government grants; the public typically doesn't have the chance to participate.  We seek to change that.  We believe that crowd-sourced funding represents a new era of ocean exploration, and this Kickstarter campaign is only the first step.  Our goal is ultimately to "open-source" underwater exploration, in which all aspects of an expedition from location selection to funding to actual participation can all be decided by you.  Space exploration in recent years has followed a similar path (though much more expensive), with funding sources and participation trending more and more toward individuals rather than governments.  We are looking to do the same with ocean exploration -- but at less than 1/100th the cost.  You can participate in this new era of ocean exploration for just $10 and help us pave the path toward the future.

Some Notes About the Expedition

This expedition is about using new, ground-breaking technology to explore our planet.  Exploration, by definition, involves factors that are sometimes out of our control.  Especially weather.  We will do our best, to hit our target dates of Oct 1 - Oct 5 for the expedition, but there's always a chance we'll have to change things at the last minute.  Also, the Super Falcon is an awesome piece of equipment, but it has limitations.  For example, we can't take anyone in the sub that is over 220 lbs or over 6' 4" tall - there just isn't enough room!  This pioneering expedition is the real deal, diving the sub will involve a certain element of risk and we will ask you to sign the inevitable waiver.  If you're cool with all this stuff, sign up as a Navigator and come see submersible operations in Tahoe!  Or bring out the big guns and sign up for Top Gun Level (80's rock soundtrack not included). 

DeepFlight Winged Submersibles

Below are just a few of the advanced submersibles designed and built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies:

DeepFlight Merlin (AKA Necker Nymph) in the British Virgin Islands
DeepFlight Merlin (AKA Necker Nymph) in the British Virgin Islands
DeepFlight Challenger - Virgin Oceanic submersible (originally designed for Steve Fossett)
DeepFlight Challenger - Virgin Oceanic submersible (originally designed for Steve Fossett)
Super Falcon launching for dive from M/Y Dr. No, New Caledonia, April 2012
Super Falcon launching for dive from M/Y Dr. No, New Caledonia, April 2012
The Super Falcon breaching out of Lake Tahoe
The Super Falcon breaching out of Lake Tahoe

Meet the Team

The DeepFlight team is led by chief designer and test pilot Graham Hawkes ("Grey Hawk"). Graham has designed and built over 60 manned submersibles over his 40+ year career, including four generations of the DeepFlight winged submersibes and the Deep Rover submersibles used by filmmaker James Cameron in his IMAX film, Aliens of the Deep. Graham is supported by his team at Hawkes Ocean Technologies:

Adam Wright ("Depth Charge") - Chief Mechanical Engineer

Kenneth Laws ("Outlaw") - Chief Scientist

Joshua Glovin ("Triton") - Operations Leader

Jay Tustin ("Nascar") - Senior Marine Technician

Karen Hawkes ("Lady Hawk") - Marketing/PR and Logistics.

Global Publicity

Hawkes Ocean Technologies' DeepFlight line of submersibles have been followed extensively by the global press, including features on National Geographic TV, The Discovery Channel, BBC, Dateline NBC and many others, as well as front page media coverage by the New York Times, London Times, Popular Science, Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, Men's Journal, Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure.

www.ted.com/talks/graham_hawkes_flies_through_the_ocean.html

http://science.kqed.org/quest/video/underwater-flight-with-graham-hawkes/

http://archive.mensjournal.com/graham-hawkes-and-the-race-to-the-bottom-of-the-sea

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/interviews/graham-hawkes--founder-and-chief-engineer-of-hawkes-ocean-technologies/1012581.article

http://wired.com/wired/archive/11.03/view.html?pg=2

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11198907

http://www.scribd.com/doc/59874246/Just-Don-t-Call-It-A-Submarine-by-Thayer-Walker-Outside-Magazine

FAQ

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    10 backers

    Patron Level: Thanks for supporting our continuing effort to progress underwater flight! Your name will be listed on our website as being a Patron of the DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition

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    3 backers

    Flight Crew Level: Congratulations on joining the flight team! You can now select your own unique call sign to be entered into our permanent database. You will also receive a DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition patch (as a digital file) customized with your name or call sign.

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    1 backer

    Cadet Level: Move up in the ranks! You will receive everything from the Flight Crew Level, plus a much-sought after glossy 8x10 photo of the DeepFlight Super Falcon at the Hydrobatics Expedition, signed by Graham Hawkes and the DeepFlight team.

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    3 backers Limited (197 left of 200)

    Lieutenant Level: Moving up again eh Cadet? At the Lieutenant level, in addition to the rewards given in previous levels, you will receive official pilot schwag: a limited-edition DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition T-shirt and hat!

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    18 backers

    Navigator Level. WANT TO BE A PART OF THE EXPEDITION? In addition to receiving everything from the Lieutenant Level, Navigators will also receive a DVD video of the expedition. AND, most importantly, all Navigator Level Backers will be invited to attend morning mission briefings and witness the launch of the submersible during the expedition. Of those that attend the mission briefings, we will do our best to accommodate two Backers each day to dive with us in the SuperFalcon. This is the chance of a lifetime to become involved with one of the most advanced submersibles on the planet!

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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    Engineer Level: A private tour (for up to five people) of our design studio on San Francisco Bay. Bone up on your techie jargon and see the DeepFlight submersibles in person! You'll also get to meet and chat with the DeepFlight engineering and design team.

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Top Gun Level: Join us as a co-pilot on our expedition to Lake Tahoe to test the hydrobatic capabilities of the DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible. Includes two dives in the Super Falcon over two days during the expedition. Receive all schwag and everything else listed in previous rewards, plus an official DeepFlight Super Falcon Pilot Manual.

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    Commander Level: Corporate sponsorship for the DeepFlight Hydrobatics Expedition in Lake Tahoe. Your logo will be placed on the DeepFlight Super Falcon sub for the expedition and also on our website. All press materials we send out on the expedition will include your company name and information. Commander Level also includes two dives in the DeepFlight Super Falcon during the expedition in Lake Tahoe.

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Funding period

- (40 days)