The Official Submarine of Eccentric Billionaires

Thanks to the rise of personal submarines, a new era of exploration is taking off by going down.

Forget the new space race. While we await the dawn of commercial rocket travel, the world has entered the age of the personal submarine. James Cameron has one. Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz, too. Even Richard Branson. And why not? We know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean. The latest electric crafts, aimed at nautically minded millionaires, are engineered to withstand crushing pressures and navigate narrow caverns. The DeepFlight Super Falcon Mark IIhas cockpit controls and fins that let it perform like a fighter jet.

While geared to the elite, the subs are also aiding exploration. (In 2012, one caught the first-ever footage of a live giant squid.) DeepFlight founder Graham Hawkes believes the day is near when undersea travel will open to the masses. He hopes we all can experience the thrill of sighting a great white shark or a whale. And the next era of exploration won’t happen 30,000 feet down but higher, “in the twilight zone where these big animals are,” says Hawkes. “That’s the future.”