First Manned Flying Bicycle Takes Off Over England

Good Morning America
First Manned Flying Bicycle Takes Off Over England
.

View photo

First Manned Flying Bicycle Takes Off Over England (ABC News)

A duo of British designers' passion for cycling and life-long dreams of flight has spawned one of the world's first flying bicycles -- a conventional bike that converts to an easy-to-operate aircraft that they say can soar to 4,000 feet and cover 75 miles-plus after liftoff.

Yannick Read, 42, and John Foden, 37, who met while living on the same road in Kingston upon Thames, England, quickly learned that aside from both being designers and avid cyclists, they always wanted to fly. The two decided to partner on what they saw as the next step in cycling: aviation.

"Growing up we wanted to be pilots," Read told ABCNews.com. "But training and maintenance and cost are real barriers. We wanted to create an aircraft that was as accessible, relatively speaking, as could be."

Read said he sent a long-shot email to Jim Edmondson with British paramotor manufacturer Parajet in March 2011, in which he outlined the duo's design and concept for their flying bike. To his surprise, he was quickly greeted with an enthusiastic response.

Read and Folden were encouraged to widen their concept and told they could have the Jim Edmondson's assistance and support.

A different kind of flying bicycle recently achieved liftoff in Prague. Read more here.

The duo began to pen out ideas and concepts for what eventually became the Paravelo, a combination of a para-wing and a conventional bike, which tows a trailer carrying a powerful fan. Once in an open clearing, the cyclist can unfurl the para-wing, start the fan with an electric-start motor and, within a matter of yards, be airborne.

Read and Foden began a Kickstarter campaign this week with a goal of reaching £50,000 (about $78,000) to launch what he they're calling "safe, practical and affordable personal flight."

"We built a series of prototypes, and the current one is fairly polished," he said. "The next version, with funding, would be to develop, to ruggedize it, make it more robust, the way we envision it being used -- as a bicycle Monday to Friday. You will be able to commute on the bike. Then, make use of the flying capability."

Read says the latest prototype, which he describes as the size of a flight suitcase, can fit in the trunk of a car. "It's a niche product. We're not going to see cities with these swarming through the skies," Read said. "It's an unusual and adventurous evolution for the bicycle."

But is the flying bicycle, which in the U.K. doesn't require a special license to operate and is unregulated, totally safe for the average user? Read says it is.

"It's safe because of low air speeds. You're flying about 25 miles per hour, that low speed makes it so safe," he said. "In terms of controlling, it's like controlling a little Vespa scooter."

Training for flight in the Paravelo, Read says, can be completed in as little as seven days and, he adds, the vehicle could be useful for a number of professions, including park rangers and border patrol, as well as being a great addition for the adventurous weekender.

The prototype even features a built-in tent for what read calls "flamping," or flying and camping.

As for his and Foden's crowd-funding campaign, Read sees it not just as a way to help his dream take flight, but as exploratory means to gauge reaction and interest.

"Were being up front and saying that it looks pretty, and it works," he said. "We want to show it's a robust, practical, usable machine, that won't work just the day you buy it, but for many, many years."

View Comments (286)

Recommended for You

  • Dixville Notch Casts First Votes in New Hampshire Primary

    The nine voters of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, became some of the first in the state -- and consequently, first in the nation -- to cast their ballots in the presidential primary in the early hours of Tuesday. New Hampshire has held the "First in the Nation" presidential primary since 1920, and…

    Good Morning America22 mins ago
  • 2 Trains Collide in Germany, 8 Dead, at Least 100 Injured

    Two morning commuter trains have collided in Bad Aibling in southern Germany, killing four people and injuring more than 100 others, police said.The train manufacturer, Meridian released a statement in German, saying two trains collided just after 7am local time.There is no detail on the condition…

    Good Morning America26 mins ago
  • Panda Cub Bei Bei Climbs a Tree With the Help of His Mom

    Bei Bei is moving up in the world.The Smithsonian National Zoo’s baby panda experienced the outdoors for the first time last week and now the nearly six-month-old cub is scaling trees—-with the help of his mom Mei Xiang, of course. The Washington DC based Zoo posted a video of the feat online this…

    Good Morning America
  • Countdown to New Hampshire With 5 Things to Watch in Tuesday's Primary

    Tuesday will be a critical moment on the road to the White House as residents of the Granite State cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation primary. With independents making up more than 40 percent of the electorate, the New Hampshire primary can often surprise, and that may be the case…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Girls' Star Lena Dunham Taking Time Off for 'Chronic' Illness

    The acclaimed HBO show "Girls" is back for a new season this month, but its biggest star will not being making press appearances due to a "chronic condition."Lena Dunham took to Instagram today to write, "I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rocked by Hurricane-Force Winds Heads Back to New Jersey

    A Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by hurricane-force winds overnight is sailing back to port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The ship left from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas. The company posted a message on Twitter saying that all guests are…

    Good Morning America
  • US Veteran Says He is 'ISIS Soldier,' Calls Bin Laden 'Beautiful Man,' Officials Say

    The FBI has arrested a former member of the Army on weapons charges after he allegedly expressed sympathy for ISIS, called Osama bin Laden "a beautiful man" and said the murder of government agents was "a hundred percent obligation," according to court documents filed in a Washington state federal…

    Good Morning America
  • Giant Rabbit From Scotland Looking for a Home

    The Scottish SPCA center in Glasgow has a 7-month-old continental giant rabbit up for adoption. The rabbit, Atlas, is already about the size of a Westie dog and is still expected to grow, according to a Feb. 8 press release from the Scottish SPCA. Atlas is not only the same size as a dog, but…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad Tells Other Fathers, 'Respect the Mother of Your Child' in Viral Facebook Post

    A U.K. dad’s advice to fellow dads “respect the mother of your child” has gone viral after being posted in a Facebook tribute to the mother of his 9-month-old son.Tony Emms, of Cresswell Northumberland, in the U.K., posted on Facebook last month a photo of his fiancé, Charlotte Sperry, sleeping…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Stays on Top at the Box Office

    "Kung Fu Panda 3" scored another box office win during Super Bowl weekend.The animated sequel earned an estimated $21 million in its second weekend of release.'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops the Box Office'The Revenant' Tops Weekend Box OfficeThe Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" opened in second place,…

    Good Morning America
  • Peyton Manning Knows What He's Doing After Super Bowl Win

    Peyton Manning kept with tradition when it came to his Super Bowl celebration plans. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. During a press conference after Sunday night's game, Manning said that he was "taking his kids to Disneyland" before he and his family…

    Good Morning America
  • WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan to Retire

    Former WWE champion and professional wrestling star Daniel Bryan is retiring."Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude," he tweeted on Monday.Read: Stone Cold Steve Austin: My Life After Pro…

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning 'Very Much at Peace'

    Peyton Manning says he’s “very much at peace” as he contemplates retirement from the NFL just hours after winning his second Super Bowl title. Manning, 39, finished 13 for 23 for 141 yards in the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl game at California’s Levi’s…

    Good Morning America
  • White House Asks Congress for $1.8 Billion to Fight Zika Virus

    The Obama administration is requesting $1.8 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight the Zika virus in the United States and abroad, the White House announced today. The request comes after lawmakers on Capitol Hill urged the White House to address the spread of the virus, which is…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad's Piano-Playing Lullaby Soothes Baby Boy to Sleep in Seconds

    Take a look at little Samuel who couldn’t fall asleep because he had an ear infection. The moment his crafty dad starts playing his own version of the classic “Brahms’ Lullaby” however, the soothing sounds work like magic, putting the tiny tot to sleep within seconds.

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Beyonce Takes Fans Behind the Scenes of Her Performance

    Although Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, all eyes were on Beyonce, who shared the stage with the British band along with pop star Bruno Mars.The singer, who announced her Formation World Tour right after the big game ended, is letting fans in on how her performance came…

    Good Morning America
  • 4 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Scoring Beyonce Tour Tickets

    Minutes after Beyonce announced her 2016 Formation World Tour during Super Bowl 50, fans flooded to her website looking for more information about the tour, and temporarily crashed the site. Fans have also been tweeting in anticipation and excitement for the ticket sales to go live. Securing…

    Good Morning America