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Sunday, September 28, 2014

DeepFlight Dragon: A $1.5 Million Underwater Explorer





Hopping on a plane and surveying the wild blue yonder isn’t exactly an impossible feat anymore. So why should exploring the ocean’s depths be any less accessible? That’s the attitude of DeepFlight, a submarine company bent on bringing high-performance and the feeling of flight to the submersible world.


The company was founded in 1996 by renowned ocean engineer and part-time Bond villain Graham Hawkes (Hawkes built and piloted the submarine in the 1980s James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only). Since the company’s inception, he has assembled five generations of submersibles.

But now there’s a new one – and it’s called the Dragon.

Weighing in at an expected 4,000 lbs. and measuring just over 16 feet long, the Dragon will be both lighter and smaller than DeepFlight’s current offering, the $1.7 million Super Falcon Mark II. But nonetheless radical.

It can dive up to around 400 feet deep and cruise at speeds of 4 knots with two crew members in tow. As with Super Falcon, the craft relies on aerodynamic principles such as lift and drag rather than buoyancy or displacement to take to the deep.


Winglets provide negative lift, which in turn pulls the positively buoyant sub down. Since the sub naturally stays buoyant (no ballast used), it will always float to the surface if something does malfunction.

The Dragon marks the first of DeepFlight’s five submersible generations to adopt hover capabilities. The sub packs on four brushless DC thrusters in addition to its main electric drive motor and underwater lithium battery to enable the craft to hover silently and negotiate complex underwater obstacles. It’s efficient too. DeepFlight estimates run-times of around six hours between charges.

So if you like the sound of unhindered underwater flight, it’s time to pull out your wallet. According to Gizmag, DeepFlight is currently taking orders on the upcoming Dragon at $1.2 million a pop (later to be $1.5 million), which we’ll admit is quite a chunk of change. But it is still a heck of a lot cheaper than the Mark II.