Photo by Skycar Expedition
It's not your TV set, folks. Look again.
When British adventurer and pilot Neil Laughton hit the frontpage news last January as he demurely smiled, posing on his Parajet Skycar in London before he kicked off his 3,600-mile journey last January 14th from London to Timbuktu, not a few raised their eyebrows, smirked and let out hearty guffaws.
Yet, Laughton and engineer Gilo Cardozo, the brains behind the Parajet Skycar who joins him all the way to Timbuktu and back, didn't budge amidst all the snickers. The creators call it the “world’s first bio-fueled flying car” -- essentially a dune buggy with paragliding wings and fan motor.
Late last year, Newlaunches.com took notice of what is hyped as “Britains zero-carbon flying dune buggy”:
“They say that the Parajet Skycar will be the world's first carbon neutral flying car. But what piques my interest is that a Skycar Expedition team plans to fly/drive/whatever the vehicle from London to Timbuktu in 2009. Using a combination of flight and driving to combat the Saharan terrain will cover the 3000 miles journey. A cross between a dune buggy and a paraglide, the Parajet Skycar is a unique vehicle. "
Simply put, observers call it an ethanol-powered road-legal flying car with a range of 180-miles.
While the Skycar Expedition Team takes pride of the novelty vehicle calling it a “ high performance, road legal and machine, capable of beating congestion for the commuter or providing a low cost method of reaching remote regions only accessible by helicopter,” the Laughton-and-Cardozo trip itinerary is something for the books.
Check it out: combining driving and flying, the duo zoomed off piloting the Skycar over the English Channel, the Straights of Gibraltar, and the sand seas of the Sahara desert -- braving the 3,600 mile journey of sun, sand, wind and rain , harrumphing from London to Timbuktu and back. They crossed through France, Spain, Morocco, the Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, and returned home via Senegal.
Balleride.com explains the Parajet skycar “joy ride” :
“One pilot and one passenger will travel side by side and in “road mode,” and the car will accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and top out at 112mph. In “fly mode” the Parajet Skycar will have a take-off at approximately 37mph, hit a top speed of 68mph, and travel a range of 186 miles. Cruising altitude will be 2000–3000 ft with a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft. For safety purposes, in the event of a car connection system failure or mid-air collision, an emergency ballistic reserve parachute could be deployed. Otherwise, the Skycar has no pitch control and therefore it’s impossible to stall or dive.”
And all that the duo did , seasoned veterans of past flying expeditions to the Himalayas, Alps, and Venezuela, was to "wing it", so to speak.
The whole gamut of media mileage and news coverage were in the works when the Skycar Expedition happened, with a team of overland adventurers using an assortment of all-terrain vehicles carrying fuel and supplies following the skycar, with a camera crew recording the team's adventures for its televised documentary about the sky car and its inaugural voyage.
Analysts confirm that the Parajet Skycar prototype has an estimated cost of approximately $70,000 to produce, expected to hit the retailers’ market this March.
And best part of it all? All you need is a one-day course and a powered-parachute license to fly the Skycar.
Says Gilo Cardozo: "I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, "Why not just have a car that does everything?"
The future of travel? Up, up and away!