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Transportation Technology

Flying Car Flies From London To Africa 148

Posted by timothy
from the laden-or-unladen dept.
krou writes "It may not be exactly what people have envisioned or tried over the years, such as the flying car in Bladerunner, or the previously reported Terrafugia Transition, but the BBC is reporting that a flying car (creatively dubbed the Skycar, but different from this Skycar) has flown from London across into Africa. They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan with a canopy that is capable of flying a car."
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Flying Car Flies From London To Africa

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  • Congestion charge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:18PM (#26986069)

    Does it have to pay the London congestion charge?

      • Death, Taxes and Death Taxes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MadUndergrad (950779)

          Not if your net worth is below something like $5,000,000. Those poor multi-millionaires!

          • by MC Negro (780194) *

            Not if your net worth is below something like $5,000,000. Those poor multi-millionaires!

            So because they're worth a certain amount of money, it's okay to plunder the estate state of the deceased?

            What a peculiar outlook. Not necessarily a wrong outlook - it just strikes me as odd to see the "us vs. them" mentality justified because those "poor multi-millionaires" are somehow less deserving to pass their worldly gains to their children with less taxation than those who are worth less.

            I don't really get it, but then I suppose that doesn't really matter.

            • The idea is that they're free to pass on most of it, but the kids ought not to be set up for life and for generations to come. That's how hereditary aristocracies come about, and in this country I think we've decided that those are bad. I have nothing against parents leaving a nest egg for their descendants.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        I'm a head in a jar. Now, if I can just get past this stupid jar tax...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      First Post!

      there, fixed that for you!
  • Confusing Wording (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan with a canopy that is capable of flying a car."

    WTF?

    • Re:Confusing Wording (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheCycoONE (913189) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:24PM (#26986155)

      The design of the fan and canopy, which is capable of flying a car, is based on a smaller fan and canopy which was capable of allowing a person to 'fly'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dmala (752610)
      I'm also having difficult envisioning how one flies across into Africa. "Into Africa" suggests a less than perfect landing, "across Africa" implies a much longer trip. I'm not sure how you do both.
      • And then you have the slashdot headline which sounds like the setup for a 4chan joke. Flying Car It flies from London to Africa
      • by geobeck (924637)

        I'm also having difficult envisioning how one flies across into Africa.

        Since it flew from London to Africa, I'm assuming it flew across Europe to Africa. I guess the author didn't think that little land mass in the way was worth mentioning.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lifyre (960576)
          So he flew across what France and maybe some of Spain? It's not like it was someplace important...
        • by LingNoi (1066278)

          Summary is wrong. they flew it IN Africa and was made in England.

      • "Into Africa" suggests a less than perfect landing, "across Africa" implies a much longer trip. I'm not sure how you do both.

        Doing both is simple - the fan chopped him up and spread his remains into and across Africa. That also explains the 'less than perfect' landing!

        TFA: "They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan"

    • by Intron (870560)
      A man, a plan, a canopy, a fan, Panama!
  • do not want (Score:5, Funny)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:24PM (#26986145)

    "They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan."

    I'd rather have a flying car that doesn't fly me into ANY sized fan, thankyouverymuch.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      "General played him on the turntable, and he went wing, zoom, into the fan and got shmushed!" -- Amanda, Stephen King's Cat's Eye

  • This thing is awesome. Watch the video, it actually frikin' flies.
    • by macraig (621737)

      I can't watch the video: none of the BBC video content comes through in my Firefox browser, even with a full bypass for NoScript. I get sick and tired of having to disable all sorts of protections for the sake of such proprietary crap, so instead I'll do without... at least until somebody "rips" it to something open source enough that I can watch it. I'd even settle for YouTube (ugh).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by onefriedrice (1171917)
        Don't know what to tell you, buddy. Plays fine for me using Flash in Firefox. x86_64, even.
        • by macraig (621737)

          It's not a Flash issue, since I can play other Flash content. It's specifically the BBC that causes a problem. I don't know what bit of privacy or security I'd have to relinquish to make it work, but I just won't do it.

          Found it: if I disable Adblock Plus the BBC player works. Screw that!

          • I can see it perfectly fine with Adblock Plus.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Ashriel (1457949)

            I'm running Firefox with NoScript and Adblock Plus - didn't have to disable Adblock Plus to see the video, but I did have to manually reload the page after allowing it under NoScript in order to load the video.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      and aint new. Guys have been flying things like that around here in michigan for decades.

      Most parasails are attached to a "car" that the driver and passenger sit in.

      This is a very slight modification by someone that has the tools to do it.

      There is absolutely nothing special about it. Call me when he flies a 725i that has all the luggage for a weekend trip and family of 4 in it.

  • I remember that flying car [wikipedia.org] flying from London, close to King's Cross!
    And it was a Ford Anglia, not a Terrafugia Whatever!
  • Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:28PM (#26986229)

    The vehicle flying to Africa is more a proof-of-concept than anything else, a fully functioning engineering prototype. The actual flying car model is slated to be released next year and is supposed to be a real car.

    Disclaimer: I work for one of their sponsors.

    • by mrcaseyj (902945)

      Can you tell us:
      Can you take off by yourself or do you have to have your copilot hold the parafoil off the ground?
      Can you take off in a moderate cross wind or must you always be able to drive straight up wind to prevent the sail blowing off to the side?
      Is there a big problem with sail wear and tear from being blown around on the ground?

      • by CompMD (522020)

        I wish I knew the answers to your questions. When I did hardcore aerospace R&D at a past job, I had a serious flying car project with one consulting client that I worked on. That flying car is still under construction, but a mockup has been displayed at a few major auto shows. Anyone else's projects naturally really interest me.

        All I know about this team is that we loaned them a whole bunch of equipment.

  • Oh my... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:31PM (#26986273) Journal
    But is it an European or an African flying car?
  • by rHBa (976986)
    Parajet might be the name of the company but they modified a paramotor, not a 'parajet'(it's propeller driven, not a jet engine) and rather than a parachute (as mentioned in the BBC article) I think they mean paraglider (it is designed to fly or glide, not to fall after all).
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:33PM (#26986313)

    What's all the hubub about? It's simply a paraglider that has been made large enough to carry a payload larger than a man (a car in this case). That's like saying someone who connects a blimp to a camper has invented a flying home. *shrug*

  • What was its unladen flight air-speed velocity?

    (Both during the European and African legs).

  • by flyneye (84093)

    Lol, this is a swampboat like they did "Wild Kingdom", Everglades shows with. Someone seems to have ran it up the backside of a dune buggy.
          With the cab to act as a soundboard the pilot should be deaf before he crashes.But, we don't intervene, because this is natural selection and interference could change the future of these fascinating creatures.Here on the African plane, a cleanup crew of jackals then vultures will soon return whatever didn't burn to nature.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by chaim79 (898507)

      Actually this is a Powered Paraglider [wikipedia.org] attached to a 4-wheeled cart that can be certified as a 'car'.

      This isn't really a 'new' thing as the carts used by powered paragliders have been getting more and more complex each year I see them, now they are complex enough to qualify as a car.

      That being said, this is awesome!

  • I was all ready to criticize something called a Skycar for looking too much like a mini-plane, but lo and behold, it sure does look like a car, so much so that I couldn't believe it flew even a hundred feet without plummeting from the sky, that is, until I saw the parachute contraption and wasn't quite as impressed, a thought with which I decided to conclude this run-on sentence.
  • They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan

  • Most of the "skycars" we've seen have looked like trade show demo vehicles - fancy, but fragile - suitable as rich toys, but not as workhorses.

    This one looks practical - and it looks more than another ultralight, it looks like something that could be serviceable and mass marketable, while still being functional and durable.

    But whether any of that is true, we'll have to see from independent testing. One thing I'd like to see is how it actually handles a landing without power, after an engine failure, with i

  • FAKE (Score:2, Funny)

    by hurfy (735314)

    The guy actually flew using his hair to Africa ;)

    and Skybuggy might be more apt...

  • ...but at least *their* Skycar isn't slashdotted...

  • From the article: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..."and after rigorous testing will travel from London across the Sahara to Tombouctou for the maiden voyage in Spring 2009."

    Hasn't happened yet.

  • The concept looks cool.Just driving it in traffic would be a show stopper. The fact page on this aircraft/car doesn't show certain things, like "Take Off Distance", Red Line, Yellow Line, Stall, Octane stuff, and um, the ceiling at 15K? With an open Cock Pit? The car looks like a Tube Frame Sand Buggy, nice. I didn't know that Rotax had a automotive transmission for their power plants, interesting. I also have a couple questions like, "IFR Capable?" Or is this just only a "VFR" kind of car? I didn't se

    • by Atticka (175794)

      Well, their website has some of this info posted

      From:
      http://www.skycarexpedition.com/about_skycar.php [skycarexpedition.com]

      In "fly mode" the car will have:

      a take-off speed of 60 kmph
      a top speed of 110 kmph
      a range of 300 km.
      a cruising altitude of 2000 - 3000 ft
      a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft.

      In "road mode" the car will have:

      independent 4 wheel suspension
      rear wheel drive
      acceleration from 0-100 kmph in 4.5 seconds
      a top speed of 180 kmph
      a range of 400 km.

    • by AJWM (19027)

      I also have a couple questions like, "IFR Capable?" Or is this just only a "VFR" kind of car?

      While not strictly necessary for IFR, deicing gear for the wing is a bit problematic. I sure wouldn't want to fly it through any clouds.

      Anyway, given the car's capabilities, it doesn't need to follow roads. ;-)

    • Actually, Parajet's home page [parajet.com] indicates that:

      - it'll take off in less than 200m from a field or airstrip
      - it can't stall or dive (no pitch control), so stall speed is effectively 0 km/h
      - from the characteristics of the type of flying training they're offering (here [parajet.com]), we can conclude that it's probably only VFR-capable
    • by iogan (943605)

      The concept looks cool.Just driving it in traffic would be a show stopper. The fact page on this aircraft/car doesn't show certain things, like "Take Off Distance", Red Line, Yellow Line, Stall, Octane stuff, and um, the ceiling at 15K? With an open Cock Pit? The car looks like a Tube Frame Sand Buggy, nice. I didn't know that Rotax had a automotive transmission for their power plants, interesting. I also have a couple questions like, "IFR Capable?" Or is this just only a "VFR" kind of car? I didn't see the word "Experimental" on side of car; why? The "why" reason could be a very cool price worthy answer.

      We don't have to put experimental on the side of EAA type aircraft in Europe (don't know about Africa, but I suspect a similar situation). All we need is a plaque somewhere in the cockpit. Experimental craft and IFR don't really mix here though, can you fly IFR in experimental aircraft in the US? Then again, at least in certain countries you wouldn't even need to do that for something like this. Depending on empty weight etc, it could well be a microlight/ultralight. Don't really see what the big deal is

      • by wjsteele (255130)

        Experimental craft and IFR don't really mix here though, can you fly IFR in experimental aircraft in the US?

        Yes, we sure can. As long as the aircraft (and pilot) is properly equipped and checked out, then IFR operations are allowed.

        However, with this type of vehicle, you don't need IFR... if the weather gets bad, just land and drive through it. (Heck, it would even be good for avoiding strong head winds.)

        Bill

  • The SkyCar site's news page is still up for the moment:

    http://www.skycarexpedition.com/news.php [skycarexpedition.com]

  • as someone who was heavily involved in collegiate competition similar to this effort, i have to say that this achievement seems like something that could be done by any college team with suitable funding and motivation. the science for controlling a powered paraglider is decades old, so this doesn't strike me as a breakthrough. what would impress me is some sort of system for mechanically deploying the lifting surface, like the top of a convertible car. without such an innovation, this vehicle would neve
  • by janwedekind (778872) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @06:12PM (#26988227) Homepage
    ... engineers have managed to build a diving car by strapping a weight to a sand buggy. The diving car is expected to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench later this evening.
  • Ok...did it fly to Morocco (impressive), or South Africa (really, really impressive)? Africa isn't a country Ms Palin.

  • Strapping a buggy to a rocket and fly it to the moon?

    Oh, wait...

  • I'll believe it when we have a flying car! ... OH WAIT
  • by btempleton (149110) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @09:45PM (#26991639) Homepage

    This is brilliant because it's simple. People have dreamed and worked on flying cars for ages. And failed. They could not figure a way around the trade-offs. Make it too much like a plane and it's hard to get the wings away for driving.

    With a cloth wing, this is mainly a car, but if you come to something you can't drive across, or want to fly over, and the weather is good, you can fly over it.

    It is not the car that takes off from your house like Moller or the Jetsons, nor a plane that only goes to airports. I think it's a very clever compromise. No reason for it to cost 50,000 pounds though, and soon it probably won't.

  • No, seriously. That actually looks like a LOT of fun!

    Buuuuuut, it also looks like a suicide machine. --I mean, ultralights are dangerous enough, but this one looks fantastically dangerous. Fixed wing aircraft still get to keep their wings in a strong wind.

    But then, while pondering this 2003 U.S. Paragliding Accident Summary, [comcast.net] (1 per 500 paragliders died in 2003) I was struck by the notion that, yeah, there are going to be some accidents, --that's the nature of tying yourself to a kite and jumping off a mo

  • Don't want to piss on anyone's parade but it's just a Dune Buggy with a fan and a parasail. Nothing new or futuristic, sooner or later somebody was going to glue those 3 items together.
  • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:09AM (#26998195) Homepage

    Lots of negative commentary here about the concept... but whatever.

    Honestly, I can see this being incredibly useful. There are areas in Africa specifically that are almost completely inaccessible, or very hard to access easily for medical or personnel reasons. Something like this I can see being extremely useful (and probably cheaper than an helicopter) because you can take off from any reasonably flat area, land within a mile or so of your destination and then drive to your destination.

    This concept takes a lot of the problems out of the equation that are involved in light aircraft (no ground transportation at your destination, needs at least a partially finished runway) or an helicopter (expensive to buy and maintain, pilot training is extremely expensive, sand in the engine is a BAD THING!). This thing could be used in these environments to improve the lot of those people.

    I don't see this as being really designed for the Western world, we have great roads and cars designed for that... but we are not "the world"... we are just a small part of it that sometimes thinks we are all there is.

    I love this concept... I can see so many practical uses for it... but hell, I'd love to fly one myself. :)

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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