The technology that moves high-speed trains — or something similar to it –could make a great amusement-park ride: actual flight, with no strings attached.
This idea came to me as I was suspending a paper clip in mid-air between two magnets. (It was actually work-related. Honest.) I thought: What if a person were the paper clip?
The flyer would strap on a vest or some other garment of lightweight, magnetic metal. Large electromagnets would stand on both sides of him, not touching him or the suit. The magnets would be connected to rods connected by ball-and-socket joints to a stable structure or to the ground.
The magnetic vest would have controls like those of a video game, allowing the flyer to move the magnets in various directions and at various speeds. If he makes the magnets rise upwards, their force would drag the suit upwards as well, and the person inside the vest would go up with it.
Where would the flyer go? Up, down and around — anywhere that the rods and ball-and-socket joints take him.
There may be some health and safety concerns. The controls would be designed so that the flyer couldn’t move at dangerous speeds and couldn’t strike any object or person. And certain people wouldn’t be allowed on the ride, since a powerful electromagnetic field may endanger people with weak health or may disrupt artificial hearts.
But most people would be free to enjoy personal flight without a plane or helicopter. It’s a ride that I’d pay to take.