A French pilot crossed the English Channel on Wednesday in a flying car that looks part dune buggy, part paraglider.
Under a clear blue sky, Bruno Vezzoli launched his flying machine down an abandoned wartime runway near Calais, lurching from side to side as he slowly gained altitude suspended beneath a giant canopy.
“I would say that the biggest risk, just like with any engine-powered machine, would be a breakdown,” Vezzoli told Reuters TV as he made his pre take-off checks. “Usually you land on the ground, but in this case we would have to do a sea-landing.”
Vezzoli landed safely 59km (36 miles) away, near the English port town of Dover.
Named “Pegasus” – a winged horse in Greek mythology – the flying car is the brainchild of Jerome Dauffy, an entrepreneur inspired by early aviators such as Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont and Frenchman Louis Bleriot who made the first flight across the Channel in 1909.The vehicle was designed for rescue purposes with the thought that it can go to areas where other vehicles cannot fit or penetrate, perhaps disaster zones.
“The automotive and aeronautic industries were born around a century ago and it’s only now that we are managing to combine the two modes,” Dauffy said.
Dauffy’s initial ambition had been to build a flying machine that could travel round the world in 80 days.