July 5, 2013
Doing The Wright Brothers Proud
Since Orville and Wilbur Wright moved to the Outer Banks to build the first airplane, we have dreamed of flying. From tiny ultralights to giant cargo planes, we have taken to the skies in a big way. But still, we dream of personal flight, something more like the flying bicycles in “E.T.”
Well, hold on to your hats, flight freaks, the Paravelo flying bicycle just might make that dream come true.
John Foden and Yannick Read, from the UK, have designed a two-wheeled bike that transforms into an aircraft. The Paravelo’s XploreAir is the world’s first fully functional flying bicycle, according to CNN Tech.
XploreAir can travel up to 15mph on the ground and 25 mph in the air, reaching altitudes of up to 4,000 feet. Think about that! 25 miles an hour nearly a mile in the air.. on a freaking bicycle.
Sign me up!
“The Wright brothers were former bicycle mechanics so there’s a real connection between cycling and the birth of powered flight that is recaptured in the spirit of the Paravelo,” says so-creator John Foden.
There are two parts to the XploreAir: a conventional bike and a lightweight trailer. The bike can be disconnected from the trailer for inner city use, and then connected for flight.
The trailer houses a giant fan, fuel for the contraption’s engine and the flexible fold-away wing. The bike and the trailer dock together to form a “para-trike” that runs on biofuels. The 249cc motor is fired off by an electric starter and the unfurled wing gives lift. The bike can stay aloft for 3 hours and controls like a conventional fan-powered paraglider.
Just wait, though, here’s the really fun part.
If you want, you can detach the wing from its housing and attach it to a backpack. Then, you jump off the nearest cliff on your XploreAir, and paraglide your way down. Used this way, there is no license required, although training is REALLY suggested.
The bike is small enough to take on public transport, and the whole rig is light enough to carry upstairs and store in your home. The $16,000 dollar price tag makes it a bit steep for the everyday user, but for flying enthusiasts, it is a cost efficient option. Ultralights generally start at about twice that price. The company has a Kickstarter campaign going and a video on YouTube showing what the Paravelo can do.
What was the inspiration for this flying marvel? The same thing that inspired the rest of us; childhood dreams.
“We live in Kingston-upon-Thames, on the outskirts of London, two minutes’ walk from the birthplace of the Sopwith Aviation Company — a British aircraft company that built aircraft including the Sopwith Camel for the Royal Air Force in World War I,” Foden said. “We spent our childhoods riding bikes and dreaming of flight.”
Image Credit: XploreAir