Step 1: Obtain a 2020 Corvette
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette goes on sale very soon. First customer deliveries are expected this spring. If you have $60,000 lying around, that should be enough to land a base model Corvette, but only in the first year. If you’d like a topless C8, expect to pay considerably more.
For this test flight, we used a 2020 Corvette Z51 provided to us by Chevrolet; check back in the next few days for the rest of MotorTrend’s Corvette Week, with more awesome C8 stories you’ll only find here.
Step 2: Location, location, location
Our lawyers advise us that you’re mostly on your own with this one. If you know a racetrack or private road that has the right change in elevation, we suggest going there first. If not, poke around auto enthusiast forums or Facebook groups; we know there are many quiet, back country roads all around the U.S. that can induce the kind of liftoff you see here.
Do keep in mind that landings are even more important than takeoffs. Best to make sure the road ahead is straight, smooth, free of obstacles, and as lightly trafficked as possible. If you need suggestions, slide into our DMs on Twitter, @motortrend.
Step 3: Safety first
For our test flight, we used a lightly traveled B-road we know very well, early in the morning. In the 15 minutes we spent executing this maneuver, we encountered no traffic in either direction. Even still, we deployed two spotters and had walkie-talkies for all, including the driver.
Step 4: Set your vehicle up properly
With the wide array of complex safety systems and sensors in cars today, getting air can be tricky. We know from experience that certain cars simply don’t like it when all four wheels leave the ground. Responses have ranged from automatic seat belt tightening to, “Hello, this is OnStar. Is everything OK?” Think we’re kidding? We have video of it happening to our friends at Automobile while they lapped a Corvette ZR1.
The brand that brought the world “Flying Car” logic in the Camaro Z/28 (back in 2014) welcomes the challenge of safely launching and landing its highest performance vehicles. Flying Car parameters were programmed into Chevrolet’s Performance Traction Management (PTM) system specifically to keep the Z/28’s momentum up while it was being tested at Germany’s famous Nürburgring Nordschleife (North Loop), a world-famous 12.3-mile track used by many automakers for research and development. There are several sections of this diabolical track, nicknamed “The Green Hell,” where high-velocity vehicles can get airborne; Flugplatz (air field) is most famous, but there are significant jumps at Fuchsröhre (fox hole), Pflanzgarten (planting garden), and Sprunghügel (hill jump).
Chevrolet’s press release from 2014 explains what its Camaro team did to keep Z/28 moving, on the ground and in the air: “Engineers call it ‘flying car’ logic. On the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, the Performance Traction Management system delivers faster lap times on an undulating race track by helping maintain the car’s full power and momentum even if the tires briefly lose contact with the ground, in certain track conditions.”
The release goes on to say: “Without ‘fly car logic,’ the PTM would interpret the force reduction on the tires as a loss of traction and reduce torque to restore it. Such an intervention would likely slow the car and reduce momentum.”
Did we know the 2020 Corvette had Flying Car logic baked in to its PTM system? No, but we were 99.9 percent sure, given that the C8 was extensively tested at the Nürburging Nordschleife.
When it came time to send it, we did nothing particularly fancy, aside from making sure our seat belts were securely fastened, tray tables were in the upright and locked position, and our phone was set to airplane mode. OK, we did make sure our Corvette had PTM set to Tour mode, reasoning that the cushiest setting of the MagneRide suspension would provide the softest, safest landing. And we were right.
Step 5: Take lots of pictures
We planned for three runs and ended up doing four. Launch speed wasn’t extreme: right around 65 mph, the speed limit for most California highways. Our photographer, Robin Trajano, found it all a bit boring, actually.
“The whole thing was surprisingly mundane,” Trajano said. “All I could hear was tire noise in the run up to the jump. The jump itself was almost serene because of the momentary break in between tires touching the road. Landing was smooth as butter, like it was made for that jump. Could’ve used more speed for sure.” Photographers always say that.
For you shooters at home, Trajano was using a Canon 1DX Mark II, at 800 ISO with the aperture set at f8.0 and the shutter speed at 1/160 of a second to freeze action.
Step 6: Be honest (optional)
We kindly informed our friends at Chevrolet of our airborne excursion, as a matter of professional courtesy. We know press cars go to other outlets, so as part of our test policy, we try to always inform auto manufacturers if their loaners have been raced (especially if they had a shunt), taken off-road, or gone flying through the air. Some automakers react poorly to the latter, but to Chevy’s credit, its PR and engineering handlers didn’t blink. In fact, they asked us what PTM mode we used. When we told them Tour, the response was, “Why not Sport or Track mode?”
So how do you use launch control on the 2020 Corvette? Watch this video to find out.
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