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Powered parachuting on a recumbent bike


June 4, 2004

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It not exactly what Spielberg's ET had in mind, but it's as close as you can get to a flying bicycle without extra-terrestrial intervention. The Para-Cycle is a semi-reclined, 3-wheel recumbent bicycle combined with a powered parachute that becomes an ultra-light aircraft capable of cruising at 40kmh over a range of 80km.

When on terra firma, the Para-Cycle functions like a standard recumbent and can be transformed into a powered aircraft by the addition of a rear propeller and a 400sq ft parachute. The propeller is powered by a 40hp, 2-stroke engine that combines with the specially designed "Ram-Air" chute to achieve a climb rate of 500 ft per minute after a take-off run of only 15-45 metres depending on wind condition.

The chute is shaped like an airfoil and achieves the curved upper-surface necessary to create lift by trapping and pressurising air that enters the canopy via openings in the front.

Because of the fact that you are already flying a fully deployed parachute plus ability to take-off and land on level, open ground (as opposed to sometimes treacherous cliff-tops as in hang-gliding), powered parachuting has been described as one of the safest forms of flight ever invented.

The complete Para-Cycle costs around US$10,000 and an upgrade to a 70hp engine is available. For further information on availability and full specifications visit www.para-cycle.com

For further reading on a high-tech bicycle that has achieved totally human-powered flight, see Gizmag's story on the Daedalus HPV.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
1 Comment

Before I read the article, I thought this would be a pedal-driven propellor. Shame. Presumably, once you have gained sufficient altitude, you can turn off the engine, and fly like a bird. By the way, this is my favourite website!

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