Saturday, January 24, 2009

!-! !-! Worlds First Flying Skycar Takes Off


A group of daredevils set sail on the ultimate magical childhood dream adventure today, traveling in a flying car for a 42 day journey from London to Timbuktu — a place that's had a mystical, "middle of nowhere" reputation for decades. The 'Parajet Skycar' can change from ground to flying mode in a mere 3 minutes, and will make the epic 3,600-mile (5,800-kilometer) journey by both land and air.

A special nylon wing is unpacked from the trunk before unfurling the parachute on the ground to the rear and takes barely 3 minutes to convert into an aircraft.

Its powerful rear fan's thrust propels the buggy forward and provides enough lift for the "ParaWing" to take off at just 45 mph (70 km/h), from any "airstrip" longer than 650 feet (200 meters), and once in the air it can fly at speeds of up to around 70 mph (110 km/h), cruising at 600-900 meters with a paraglider-style canopy holding it aloft..

Once airborne, the driver uses pedals in the zero-carbon vehicle's foot well to steer it by tugging cables that change the wing's shape. Should something go wrong, the pilot can launch an emergency parachute, which should allow the buggy to safely drift gently back to ground, the descent slowed by the wing.

The 2-seater Skycar was designed by engineer and inventor Giles Cardozo, from Dorset, in just 18 months.

Giles Cardozo — dubbed the "boy genius" by Laughton — will join the expedition as co-pilot for the African leg of the Skycar's maiden voyage, which is backed by famous British explorer Ranulph Fiennes.

Even Laughton — who's scaled the highest mountains on 7 continents and trekked at the North Pole — admits his latest "boy's own" adventure is a little eccentric.

"I like variety and thought this would be an interesting challenge." he said. "Also Timbuktu is an iconic and quirky destination."

Cardozo's Wiltshire-based firm, Parajet, manufactures the industrial paramotors that propel the Skycar once it's airborne and has been dreaming of creating a flying car since childhood.

"The inspiration came from realizing we can drive and we can fly, so why can't we do both? The problem all along has been the wing technology, which we think we've cracked with the Skycar." said Cardozo.

The self-taught engineer built and co-piloted the powered paraglider which took British TV survivalist Bear Grylls over the summit of Mount Everest in 2007.
With the help of sponsors, the team has invested about $380,000 (£250,000) developing the vehicle.

He plans to sell Skycars to the public for "beating congestion, or providing a low-cost method of reaching remote regions" at $76,000 (£50,000) each if it can prove its mettle on the Timbuktu mission.

But the expedition isn't only about proving the viability of this unique vehicle. The team plans to raise more than £100,000 for a number of charities, including Alive and Kicking, which distributes footballs bearing health advice in Africa.


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(!!~~!!~~Desi Tarka~~!!~~!!)
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