In July, people in the Philippine coastal town Subic witnessed an unusual view along the bay. Over the water and surrounded by mountains was a man flying through the air in an attempt to set a new world record in hoverboard flight.
“[It] literally feels like you’re floating on air. When you fly high, you barely see the hoverboard. You see mostly the ground and sky,” Kyxz Mendiola, the creator of the hoverboard, told VICE.
He said that he flew his electric hoverboard over Subic Bay covering a total of 2,894 meters for 7 minutes and 22 seconds, longer than the current world record in distance traveled. Pretty impressive for a guy who says he learned how to build stuff online.
“I had to learn everything from the internet, because by profession, I’m not an engineer.”
Before spending his time floating on air, Mendiola was a dancer for a popular dance crew, the Philippine Allstars. He danced for about 25 years, a career that allowed him to meet a lot of creatives in the film industry. That caught his interest and introduced him to aerial cinematography.
He started building drones that could carry big cameras, then eventually gimbals and other heavy equipment. The loads his drones were carrying only got heavier, so Mendiola thought of pushing the limits.
“I wondered if I could build something that could carry me,” he said.
He started tinkering with the idea of building a hoverboard around 10 years ago, in the kitchen of his small condo unit in Manila. He said people laughed at him and thought the idea of building a hoverboard was crazy. Around five years later, Mendiola took flight.
“I was able to lift myself up about 3 feet in the air,” he recalled.
That might not sound like a lot now, but at the time, Mendiola said it was a big deal. In the same year, he created a prototype for a flying car using the same principles and parts as the hoverboard.
“I actually had to disassemble the hoverboard because [it had] the only parts that I had,” Mendiola said.
His flying car model landed Mendiola a partnership with Australian tech company Star 8. The flying cars were meant to be produced for sale and used as air taxis in countries like the United States, Australia, and Dubai by 2022, Mendiola said, but the pandemic has prevented him from getting some necessary parts, making it difficult to take those plans off the ground.
Perhaps not quite accustomed to staying still, the ex-dancer revisited some old moves. Mendiola used the free time to have another go at the hoverboard.
He said the electric hoverboard he flew in his attempt to break the world record was built from scraps of a two-seater flying car model. According to him, it took around two months to build and fine-tune the vehicle for flight.
Some might think building a hoverboard would be easy for someone who works on flying cars, but Mendiola said it was still a challenge.
“Nothing is really sure when it comes to stuff like that. Even billion-dollar aircrafts have problems,” he said. “When we did that, it was a big risk for me and my company and my partners.”
The flight was witnessed by members of Mendiola’s team, a few representatives of sponsor companies, and various local media outlets. No world record officials were present but Mendiola said he’s ready to back up his claim.
“We have all the data. We have all the GPS, we have all the measurements. Everything to prove the legality of the thing. It was covered from start to finish, non-edited,” Mendiola said. “If ever it’s going to be challenged, we can prove a legitimate world record.”
And Mendiola wants a little healthy competition.
“I’m hoping to get challenged,” he said. “It pushes everyone to improve this technology.”
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