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Subrata Roy, a scientist at the University of Florida, calls his aircraft a "wingless electromagnetic air vehicle," or WEAV, and if it flies he says it could usher in a new age of aircraft design. "If this works and we are able to fly it, this will be a quantum shift in how we see flying objects," said Roy.
According to Colossa, about eight years ago a NASA team used ionized air propulsion to fly an aircraft that was attached to an external battery. Roy's aircraft would use off-the-shelf batteries to power the electrodes. "When they first did it they thought it was miraculous, an anti-gravity machine, all that stuff," said Colozza. "Then they stuck it into a vacuum and it didn't move." The new aircraft does need air or at least a magnetic field in order to operate; it wouldn't work in outer space or fly between planets, although Roy says it could fly missions on other planets. And don't expect the WEAV to zoom away from Earth like the flying saucers in the movies.