Yes, E.T. fans, it’s true; the first flying bicycle has officially been invented and successfully flown over England. It’s called the Paravelo and is advertised to be “safe, practical and affordable personal flight.”
The bike was invented by the British designers John Foden and Yannick Read. Ages 37 and 42, respectively, the duo met because they lived on the same road in Kingston upon Thames, England. They both had a deep passion for cycling and aviation and their shared ability in design turned their focus to cycling the skies.
The creators were inspired by the inventors of the world’s first airplane, the Wright Brothers, who began their careers as bicycle mechanics. “Growing up,” Read informed ABCnews.com, “we wanted to be pilots. But training and maintenance and cost are real barriers. We wanted to create an aircraft that was as accessible, relatively speaking, as could be.” And thus, Foden and Read founded XploreAir.
Read sent an email to Jim Emondsun of Parajet (a British paramotor manufacturer) in March 2011, thinking it was a long-shot. However, Emondsun responded enthusiastically and promised his assistance to their project. Designs and concepts were exchanged and expanded and the Paravelo was created.
The duo claim that their bicycle can travel at 25 miles per hour and stay a flight for up to three hours without needing to refuel. It’s conventional, easy to operate, and it can soar up to 4,000 feet in the air and travel 75-miles or more in one flight.
The “Flying Bicycle” has a motorized fan that is gas-powered and attached behind the seat. It has got three wheels and its design looks almost like a parasail bicycle hybrid. An open clearing is needed for take-off. Once ready, the cyclist unfurls the para-wing, gets the electric-start motor going to begin the fan, and then it’s takeoff and high skies. When riding on land, it has a trailer that carries its large motorized fan and sail. Paravelo can be easily broken down into two pieces; the fan can be worn as a backpack and the bicycle used to ride, and the company states that it is “lightweight”.
You do not even need a license to fly (at least in the U.K.; XploreAir admits that there are some territories that might require it). It also can be folded up small enough to fit indoors. The prototype out right now, Read says, is the size of a flight suitcase and can fit in a car’s trunk. To help with navigation, the product will have a GPS tracker that follows the bikes movements over land and air.
Campers and Explorers get excited! The Paravelo also has a built-in-tent, so that you can fly and camp where you land; the creators have coined it “flamping.”
The company has been marketing with Kickstarter, selling t-shirts and bicycles, in order to raise the 50,000 euro (approximately $78,000) that is required to finish the bike’s design and get it to market. The versions currently out are all prototypes, hence the need for more funding. The final version is intended to be “more robust, the way we envision it being used — as a bicycle Monday to Friday. You will be able to commute on the bike. Then, make use of the flying capability.”
The product is not yet available, but XploreAir hopes it will be ready soon. The makers of the SkyCar flying automobile, Parajet, have agreed to help with the manufacture process.
Is it safe? Read thinks so. He stated;
It’s safe because of low air speeds. You’re flying about 25 miles per hour, that low speed makes it so safe. In terms of controlling, it’s like controlling a little Vespa scooter.
Doesn’t sound too bad, although 25 miles per hour ain’t too fast vs. a car. However, the good news is flight training for the new bike should take only 7 days. Read believes the Paravelo could be extremely useful to members of certain professions: park rangers, border patrol, adventurers etc. Read also promises that it “won’t work just the day you buy it, but for many, many years.”
Unfortunately, the inventors say that it will probably cost the price of a small car. Well, fly in an open air bicycle over buildings and brilliant views or sit in Monday night traffic? Hmm…I’ll take the bike! (Although weather might be a problem…)
Although, sky traffic like from the Jetsons may soon be on our horizon; this isn’t the only flying bike out there right now. A hover bike, yes, like the one in Star Wars, has recently been invented, and the F-bike