Washington, November 23 : British company Parajet is gearing up for the inaugural flight of SkyCar, a biofuel-powered land/air hybrid vehicle the firm says will deliver rally car performance on the ground and aircraft performance in the sky.
Given that the car is powered by biofuel, and features an aluminium frame, the company believes that it may pave the way for an airborne equivalent of a Toyota Corolla. SkyCar is the brainchild of Neil Laughton, an ex-Royal Marine Officer and SAS soldier and adventurer who had learnt to fly just four years ago.
A Wired News report describes the SkyCar a new twist on the powered parachute, and as the result of an unholy union between a dune buggy and a paraglider.
Beneath its parachute is a 1,000-cc four banger pulled from a Yamaha R1 motorcycle that produces 140 horsepower, and runs on biofuel. It can drive the rear wheels or the huge propeller.
While the prototype car comprises of a steel chassis, the company says that production models will be made of aluminium to increase range and performance.
Parajet attributes the development of the SkyCar to recent advancements in flexible-wing technology and parafoil design, saying that they allow for more precise handling and increased safety compared to conventional rigid wings.
The company claims that the "parawing" is so compact it can be folded in just minutes.
The performance stats suggest that the Skycar will take off at 35 mph from any airstrip longer than 650 feet.
According to the company, it will hit a top speed of 68 mph, a cruising altitude of 2,000 to 3,000 feet, and a max altitude of 15,000 feet.
Flipping the car to drive mode takes just three minutes, and once so done, the rear-wheel-drive vehicle will do zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds and top out at 100 mph.
The company is planning its maiden voyage for this coming January, and if all goes as planned, the SkyCar will take off from London, travel south through France and Spain, and then across parts of Western Africa before landing in Tombouctou, a city in Mali that borders the Southern Sahara.