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Ready to take off

For years inventors have been looking for a way to get cars in the air.

For years inventors have been looking for a way to get cars in the air.

Recently, the Parajet Skycar made its maiden voyage from London to Timbuktu, and its inventors are claiming that it’s the first flying car to take to the road — and the air.

Hailed as the first two-seater, high-performance, road legal, bio-fuelled flying car, the Skycar is really an off-road buggy with a “wing” that turns it into a glider. Still, apparently it can reach 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds, and in “fly mode” gets up to 110km/h at an altitude of 3,000 feet, so it will be indispensable for hopping over the Sahara. This is only a prototype but you can still buy a slice of the future from Parajet — they also sell personal jet packs. (parajet.com)

Really what you want a flying car to be is a roadworthy contraption that unfurls like a Transformer to become an aircraft that takes off from tiny local airports. Moller International has been trying to get their skycar off the ground for years (moller.com). They’re still testing their 8-engine “vertical takeoff and landing vehicle” (VTOL), the M400, which looks like a folding light aircraft.

Moller claims the car can take off from just 10 metres squared and cover more than 1,200 km. Still at prototype stage, they hope to launch later this year.

The three-wheel Pal-V — personal air and land vehicle — is a cross between a motorbike, gyrocopter and car (pal-v.com), set to launch in 2011.

Meanwhile, the wings of the two-seater Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft take just 30 seconds to fold up, allowing it to be driven like a car. You’ll need a Sport Pilot licence as well as your driver’s licence for this drivable plane.

It’s still being tested but expect to pay $194,000 US to be one of the first to take delivery in 2010. (terrafugia.com)

Up to speed

• Parajet Skycar: 180 km/h, 15,000 ft
• Moller M400: 579 km/h, 36,000 ft
• Terrafugia: 185 km/h, 1,700 ft
• Pal-V: 180 km/h, 4,000 ft

 
 
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