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Aviation Startup Cobalt’s Sleek New Plane Stars a Canard

FLYING YOUR OWN plane is an awesome way to travel, but it’s not as safe as riding in an airliner—hundreds of people are killed in general aviation accidents every year.

That’s why aviation startup Cobalt is developing a new plane that aims to radically improve safety by eliminating a leading cause of those fatal accidents: the aerodynamic stall. Simply put, a stall is the loss of lift, and is usually the result of the way the pilot has maneuvered the airplane. Once stalled, the airplane starts to fall, and unless the pilot reacts quickly to correct the situation, it crashes.

Cobalt says it’s solved that problem. Tonight in San Francisco, the company will officially unveil its first plane, the Co50 Valkyrie. It’s a stylish five-seater whose most notable feature is the second, smaller wing near the nose. Called a canard, the extra wing creates a new, added source of lift, which makes it harder to stall the airplane—or at least delays the dangerous loss of lift.