To the doubting Thomases who said flying cars are a pipedream, the yoke's on you. The British-developed Parajet Skycar has undergone a funky redesign and is now available for pre-order with a tentative release date of 2010. That's right, friends, the future is late next year!
We're probably getting ahead of ourselves a bit here -- people have been promising flying cars since the Jetsons. But an early Skycar prototype was flown 6,000 miles from London to Timbuktu by an team led by former British Army officer Neil Laughton, so there's a higher chance than normal it will see the light of day.
If the Skyjet is to become reality for the public, its secret will be simplicity. It is essentially a dune buggy with a ram-air (self-inflating) Paramania Reflex wing, as used by paragliders. Power is provided by a Yamaha R1 motorcycle engine that, in car mode, gets the Skyjet from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and on to a theoretical top speed of 140mph.
The vehicle's take-off speed is 37mph. Once airborne, it can reach a top speed of 100mph, has a range of 200 miles providing you adhere to a cruising speed of 82mph and it can reach a max altitude of 15,000ft. If anything bad goes wrong, an emergency ballistic reserve parachute can be deployed.
Anyone with a spare £10,000 can reserve a Skycar now from the Parajet Automotive Web site, though a further £50,000 is payable on delivery in late 2010. Parajet says deposits are fully refundable and can be sold on to other people who might want to buy your place in the queue in the future. We'll keep an eye on the situation. Who knows, perhaps we'll even even bring you an episode of Car Tech from the skies.