From face-lifts to lift-off: Redefining the future of executive air travel

Dr Reza Mia at the African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition held at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, 20 September 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Skin doctor to the stars Dr Reza Mia is taking executive jet travel a few leaps further with his Pegasus One – VBJ (vertical business jet).

With his perfectly styled jet-black hair, toned arms and reputation as skin doctor to the stars, sitting in Dr Reza Mia’s rooms in Houghton is a Sandtonista’s dream.

You feel like you’re in good hands to lift those brows and get back the skin from your 20s. But today he’s discussing another kind of lift-off: the future of air travel, patent rights and, ultimately, a vertical take-off executive jet.

Go back to Mia’s childhood and there’s a clear link. The aesthetics surgeon loves planes.

“Wherever I was, it was just looking at them or watching them fly. They were my favourite toys. I was always happy to be in a plane, to eat and sleep in it. I mean, everybody doesn’t always like that, but I did,” Mia laughs.

Fast-forward to 2018 and the king of skincare is well on his way to become the king of the skies thanks to his company Pegasus Universal Aerospace.

Since establishing the company in 2012, it’s been developing an executive jet that’s capable of vertical take off and landing. It’s called Pegasus One – VBJ (vertical business jet). The Pegasus One VBJ offers a mix of convenience and speed like no other state-of-the-art helicopter or smaller aircraft.

With a range of 4 400km from runway take-off or 2 124km in vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and a cruising speed of 796km/h, the Pegasus One will be capable of up to six and a half hours of flying time from runway and approximately three hours flying time from VTOL at 35 000 feet.

Although the aircraft is not a physical reality, Mia and the team estimate it will be available in three years.

“Then, we’ll have one flying in the sky, when we’ll be doing the flight testing and certification, confirming the testing we’re doing on computer, which is the main work these days in an aviation project.

“Previously, it was to build it and test it to find the right way of doing it. Now, computer-generated rendering has become the main way to build an airplane. All the main work is really done there and the confirmation is done by building it, flying it and saying it does do everything at different speeds.”

Dr Reza Mia at the African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition held at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, 20 September 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

In this case, it’s cool-air fan technology that will allow the plane to take off and land anywhere, from rooftops to yachts. Mia has patented the technology which helped snag him a ATNS AVI Afrique Aviation Innovation Summit’s Young Entrepreneur Award.

Investing in the project is also interesting, because while Mia believes there will be return on investment when buying a single share in the company, it’s really also a nation-building project.

“I basically funded it until this point. With the granting of the patent, it means I need to speed it up and take advantage of the 20 years of patent protection and to do that we need to move faster. If we keep going at the pace we’ve been going, we’ll only have a plane in 10 years. But with more engineers, we can build it faster.

“What we made was a public unlisted company, then applied for a prospectus approval. They gave us a three-month window of shares sales which closes on November 4. What that means is anyone is allowed to by even a single share. We’ve issued 250 000 shares,” explains Mia.

“But, whatever we get, that’s what we’ll allocate to allow the project to go faster.”

What the share offers back is 15% per annum accruing at the end of the seven-year investment term and a share of 10% of profit of the airplane company.

But it’s the fact that it’s African innovation that really has Mia excited, when technology doesn’t come from expected countries like South Korea, China or America.

While the Pegasus One – VBJ is new technology, potential pilots don’t need to worry to get at the helm of one of these.

“We wanted it to be easy, the private pilot’s license (PPR) is all you need to fly it and a conversion (or rating) which is probably about five or six extra hours of flying,” says Mia.

Of course, he’s also spending his weekend at Waterkloof air base for the 2018 Africa Aerospace and Defence expo. Give it a few years and he’ll be flying himself there, with great jet-black hair to boot.

For more information on the airplane, visit pegasusua.com