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These Insane New Hovercrafts Are Basically Jet Skis With Wings

Like sentient robots and time-travel, flying cars have long been romanticized by futurists. But, for the most part, they've been nothing but one-off stunts, pipe dreams, and sci-fi fodder. But if the Kitty Hawk Flyer has its way, we may soon be piloting our own personal hovercrafts all over the damn place.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer -- named for the famed North Carolina town where the Wright Brothers achieved the first successful airplane flight in 1903 -- is an all-electric hovercraft being developed by a team of aerospace engineers who've previously built a human-powered helicopter and the fastest bike on earth.

This isn't some pie-in-the-sky prototype project either. It's financially backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, and Flyers are on track to hit the retail market by the end of this year. 

In April, the company conducted its first prototype test flight, and needless to say, it raised a few eyebrows. Unlike a typical plane, the flyer is designed to cruise only over fresh water, but it's also designed to be incredibly simple for anyone to operate. Even better, since it's considered an "ultralight" aircraft, you don't even need a pilot's license to fly it. 

While there's no word on how much it'll cost, these hovering buggies are scheduled to go on sale by the end of 2017. It's unclear whether you'll be able to "fly them off the lot," or if it'll be a pre-order situation. However, you can already sign up to be a "member" for $100, which'll grant you access to a number of early-bird perks like exclusive access to the Kitty Hawk flight simulator, invites to events where you'll have the chance to fly one, members-only gear, and a $2,000 discount on the retail price. 

Watch your back, jet skis. 

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.