SkyTran conversations

This is the text taken from Larry’s conversations with Torn Berg and others regarding the marketing of SkyTran


Laurence Blow

An email from Jerry Sanders, CEO of skyTran, appeared yesterday morning on the “Urban Maglev” news and discussion group hosted on

The message was originally sent to Tom Berg, a well-known maglev activist from Honolulu, Hawaii, but it captures the marketing personality of Mr. Sanders, I think, pretty accurately. I’d be curious to hear what others think.

Tom also has some interesting thoughts on energizing urban maglev marketing efforts around the country, ideas he exposes in a subsequent message in the same thread.

Torn Berg Nov 13 5:36 AM


Friends, I had the great pleasure of having dinner with the Honorable Secretary of Transportation Antony FOXX
last night. He and his staff are now aware of skyTran and are eager to help roll this out nationwide.

Make your voices known by addressing his Chief of Staff Daniel Katz at da.katz@…, his Assistant Secretary for
Aviation and International Affairs Susan Kurland at susa.kurland@…, and his Director of Strategic
Communications Jon Romano at jon.romano@…, and let them know that you want your skyTran and that you
want it now.

skyTran, the NASA Space Act Company, has developed, patented, and is now commercializing high-speed, low-cost, elevated, unique MagLev personal rapid transportation systems skyTran has a development
partnership with NASA and with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), one of the world’s leading aerospace companies.
Pursuant to this agreement skyTran is building a Technology Demonstration system (TDSJ on IAI’s corporate campus
near Tel Aviv. The TDS’s first phase will be completed by year’s end 2015. In parallel, skyTran is advancng several
projects in Israel {Hertzliya Netanya, Tel Aviv), France (Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports), India (Kerala and Delhi)
and the USA (Baltimore, Inglewood, CA). See, e.g.: http://baltimorexbslocalcomflOl5/1 0/07/new-mass-transit-

Best regards,
Jerry Sanders
Chairman and CEO
5|:mi Inc.
A NASA Space Act Company
(415) 867-9605
+972 54 742-3454

Associate Fellow
University of Oxford
Said Business School

Park End Street
Oxford OX1 1HP


Laurence Blow
Since I already mentioned that Tom Berg had some interesting thoughts on energizing urban maglev marketing efforts around the country, ideas he exposes in a subsequent message in the same thread, I’ve made a screenshot of that message, too, for anyone who has not joined the Urban Maglev discussion group.

TomBerg NOV1311’14AM

Aloha Larry Blow our Maglev Leader on the Front Line-

As I and hopefully others solicit maglev makers to take heed to the plight of Honolulu’s steel wheel project gone awry- some have responded like Jerry Sanders has with his SkyTran as an option for relief for us in Honolulu- to help end our suffering.

LEVX too, and Bill Owen Transit as well, have tried to help us in Honolulu

To answer Mr. Blow- the email entry submitted to the urbanmaglevyahoogroups yesterday was one that I received from Mr. Sanders to exhibit how Anthony Foxx is the key here.

All makers of Maglev should be trying to get a “dinner” in too, with the USDOT Secretary. Such a meal shared over the topic of maglev rail, is elbow room made indeed for the efforts collectively… and worth reporting in my opinion of such a feat accomplished.

I hate to say it- but does maglev have an active lobbyist in DC or one that floats from state to state, city to city, seeking
out jurisdictions that are contemplating implanting New Starts Federal Funding for a rail project to serve them- so
that the decision makers know- steel wheel is not the only solution at hand within New Starts funding mechanisms/formulas available to them?

…and with that “lobbyist” role fillfilled, it may be advantageous that we as a yahoogroup should be monitoring every NEW
STARTS applicant and show them what “maglev is all about” from the getgo! Steel wheeled beasts are the only ones at the public trough…..maybe that is why maglev is and has and will remain, the purest form of transit we could attain for our society….it does not wish to drink from that trough…should this change?

Tom Berg

Laurence Blow
OK, here’s the third instalment of the discussion. This was just posted […/conversations/messages/18460] and it’s too long to put in a screenshot, so I’ll just paste the text as it was submitted:


So you’ve gotten responses from Jerry Sanders / SkyTran, LEVX and Bill Owen Transit. That’s great. Have they said how soon they can be ready to step in and actually build something?

Mr. Sanders’ email may hint at how Anthony Foxx is the key (for helping Honolulu), but I know he’s only one star in a constellation of sponsors who need to be educated along the way to building a more active and viable maglev constituency. Besides, he may not stick around all that long in the job … the average term of a USDOT secretary is less than three years, looking back to when DOT was founded in 1967.

Honestly, then, it’s not clear to me that maglev suppliers should be trying to schedule a dinner with the DOT Secretary. As you say, “such a meal shared over the topic of maglev rail is elbow room made indeed for the efforts collectively…” Really?

OK. Here’s my response to that sentiment, as best I can frame it. There are many maglev transportation concepts out there, whether suitable for lower- and high-speed applications of passengers or freight or both, all of which have one fundamental marketing feature: each system’s inventors/promoters are firmly convinced that their individual system is the only true winner in a field of well-meaning but misguided pretenders. And when any one supplier gets to sit down for dinner with a potentially influential sponsor, how much time will that supplier talking about the other suppliers? Not much, I’d wager, unless the discussion involves listing shortcomings of the other competitors. That might take some time.

And that’s at least one reason why there’s never been an effective general maglev lobbying / promotional function so far in Washington … or anywhere else, from my perspective.

OK, then, to address the central question you posed: As far as I know, maglev as a community does not have an active lobbyist in Washington, D.C., nor is there a single individual who floats from state to state, city to city, seeking out jurisdictions that are contemplating implementing federal funding for a (rail) project to serve them. So it’s true that local decision makers may not know that steel-wheel systems aren’t the only solution at hand … So getting that “lobbyist” or “promoter” role fulfilled—and it’s two separate jobs, now that I think about it—is a big challenge.

Since I seem to be ventilating about all sorts of things, I also think that this news and discussion group may not be the right forum to monitor all the FTA New Starts applicants and show them what “maglev is all about,” as you say. Why? Check the message traffic over the past five or ten years. Not that representative of all the activity that’s been going on. It’s also currently a restricted group, so outsiders who might be interested in maglev news or discussions have to be approved before they’re admitted into the group. Not a welcoming long-term approach, if you ask me.

By the way, steel-wheel systems aren’t the only ones at the public trough. The Baltimore-Washington high-speed maglev just got a $28.7 million federal grant, even though the Japanese government has offered to contribute $5 billion to get the project started. Also, you might remember the FTA’s Urban Maglev Technology Development Program from the early 2000s that gave us maglev studies from General Atomics/Inductrack, HSST, MagneMotion, Old Dominion University, and others. That was federally funded, as was the high-speed Maglev Technology Development Program from 1999- 2005 that featured preconstruction planning for Transrapid in six different routes and the Powell-Danby Maglev 2000 system in Florida. Ditto the National Maglev Initiative from 1990 – 1993. (Public money. Good.)

So, if maglev wishes to continue drinking from the public trough….the question is how should current things change to allow that?

Here’s one possibility: Have the wider community of maglev proponents chip in through a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of at least $10,000 and I’ll tackle the job of promoting maglev to a wider audience until the money runs out. Make the goal $20,000 and I’ll find a lobbyist to help.

That’s my input to your thought piece about skyTran.


Laurence Blow
For completeness, there have been two subsequent messages posted by our friend Daryl Oster/ET3 on the same Urban Maglev discussion thread. The first is shown below; the second will follow.

E T 3 Space Travel On Earth / Message 5 of 6, Nov 14 9:22 PM

Earlier this year we built and tested full scale HTSM components for ET3. The parts worked better (higher lev force) than expected. Drag force was too low to record any. Our levitation time test was terminated early, however it exceeded 15min in open air before frost up (high humidity on test day), so we still expect to reach 2 hours ‘hover time’ in vacuum conditions with a comfortable margin.

Best Regards
Daryl Oster
© ET3 Global Alliance Inc. All rights reserved
Laurence Blow
Here’s the second of two messages posted by our friend Daryl Oster/ET3 on the Urban Maglev discussion thread.

E T 3 Space Travel On Earth / Message 6 of 6, Nov 14 10:43 PM

If HI is considering maglev, some considerations of tech difference is in order. For instance HTSM used by ET3 has exceeded load capacity, however our calculated levitation time has not been confirmed yet. Some questions i suggest include:

1) what is the lift-off speed, and has it been confirmed at the expected loadings?
2) what is the maximum exit speed on a siding?
3) what are the cross-wind limits, of the regular track, and to avoid unintended exiting, and to avoid failure to exit when intended?
4) max span, and max deflection at mid-span?

LEVEX [leblow:]
a,b) Same questions as Skytran for 2) and 3),
c) how many tons of magnets per mile? Cost per mile?
d) speed limit of the wheels?
e) what about steel or iron sticking to the track?
f) what is your maximum vehicle frequency?

OTG [leblow: Owen Transit Group, at]
If you are still offering both maglev and steel wheel, what is the cost difference for: track, vehicles (on a per seat basis), and operating cost differences?

Best Regards
Daryl Oster
© ET3 Global Alliance Inc


Our skyTran connection to Hawaii gets some air time in a new video of a radio broadcast from last Saturday that features a call-in from Jerry Sanders, skyTran CEO (from Tel Aviv) and a few minutes showing Tom Berg, the former councilman, raging against the current situation in Honolulu.

Radio broadcast re SkyTran and Honolulu