British Adventurer to Traverse Europe, Africa in His Amazing Skycar

Lifelong risk-taker Neil Laughton plans to travel from London to Timbuktu in a dune buggy, a trip that will take him an estimated 42 days. Oh, and that dune buggy? It can fly.

Laughton's journey will commence from central London on Wednesday morning—on the ground, I presume—and will take him through some of Western Europe, then a large swath of Northern Africa. He'll take to flight when passing through the Pyrenees, then again to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and over the Moroccan Atlas Mountains.

His flight won't be limited though, and Laughton says he'll take off whenever he needs to, or feels like it.

The car was designed by the same team that put together the powered glider that (nearly) flew Bear Grylls over the top of Mount Everest for a TV stunt in 2007, but this machine is altogether more ambitious. Based on a ruggedised dune buggy, the Skycar carries a nylon "ParaWing" which can be fitted and deployed in about three minutes. By utilising a giant propeller fan, the car is able to take off at about 70kph, after which it an reach a cruising speed of 110kph and an altitude of 3000ft, with the ceiling at a terrifying 15,000ft.

On the ground, the car is no slouch. It'll run 0-100kph in under five seconds, and top out at a bit above 160. Thought the car will spend most of its time on the ground, it can fly continuously for about 290km before needing to refuel.

The most interesting bit of this whole story isn't the gee-golly expedition, it's that the team, pending the success of the adventure, plans to sell the Skycar to the public. Though the project has so far cost them $US380,000—much of which was dedicated to R&D—the boys think they could sell the whole kit, which would be street legal in the UK, for about $US75,000. It's not exactly a Terrafugia, but it'll do. [Skycar via BBC]

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