For decades, children have grown up expecting flying cars to become a reality as they enter adulthood. Sadly, Elon Musk and co. haven’t got there yet.
However, thanks to the work of daredevils across the world, there are a few ways to take flight – some crazier than others.
Here are four of our favourites:
- Pal-V One
Wearing a wingsuit is probably the most bird-like method of air travel ever developed. Be warned, though: to get this thing flying you have to jump off something really high, like the top of a cliff. The jumper wears a special nylon suit equipped with air-filled chambers between their arms and legs to act like wings.
Once airborne, the jumper’s body essentially becomes a big wing, and instead of hurtling to the ground at 120mph, most of the vertical momentum is converted into horizontal momentum, creating the flying effect. Wingsuiters often travel 2.5 feet forward for every 1 foot they drop, which slows their descent down to between 60-90mph. Unlike birds, they don’t try to land on their feet, and instead wear parachutes which are deployed when they’re within a few thousand feet of the ground.
This Dutch-built vehicle can reach speeds of up to 112 mph and goes from 0 to 60 in under 8 seconds when driven on the road – though it needs a designated airfield with a 540 ft runway to take-off.
Made of carbon fibre, titanium and aluminium, the Pal-V One weighs 1,500 lbs. Its 27-gallon tank means pilots can fly for up to 220 miles at low altitudes, reaching heights of up to 4,000 ft in the air.
In 2006, Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy became the first person to fly horizontally for more than six minutes with just a pair of wings strapped to his back.
Last year, the man otherwise known as “Jetman” trumped that achievement when he strapped on his set of Kevlar wings and took to the skies of Dubai to fly alongside the largest commercial aircraft around, an Airbus A380 passenger jet. Along with his sidekick Vince Reffet, the pair dropped from a helicopter at an altitude of 5,500 ft and used jetpack engines to keep pace with the aircraft.
Admittedly, Birdly won’t send you soaring up into the clouds, but this combination of virtual reality and robotics from technology company SOMNIACS creates an immersive and vivid full-body experience.
You’ll begin by lying on what looks like an unremarkable table with wings, with an Oculus Rift strapped to your face and headphones on your ears. Next, you’ll find yourself experiencing flight from the perspective of a bird, as you soar over a busy metropolis, flapping your wings to get altitude.