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Parajet Skycar
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Getting a project like this off the ground usually takes many well-heeled sponsors, and the Skycar is no exception. In addition to a multitude of corporate sponsors, one of its benefactors is Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a reknown British adventurer and explorer and yes, a third cousin of actor Ralph Fiennes [source: Adams].

The Skycar flying car proves that these types of vehicles need not be terribly complicated to work.

Billed as "the world's first bio-fuelled flying car," the Skycar consists of an engine and a massive, five-bladed propeller mounted to the rear of a sparse, dune buggy-like car. Providing lift to the entire works is a giant fabric wing that works like a parasail. Skycar calls it a "parafoil" since it has properties both of a parachute and an airfoil or wing.

Skycar gained international attention in 2009 when it flew and drove from London to Tomboctou (Timbuktu), Mali, in Africa.

When not in flight mode, the Skycar's parasail wing and suspension lines fold up and pack away into the car's trunk. The current version claims to be both off-road and on-road capable, but you probably shouldn't expect too-comfy a ride in Skycar's open-cage design and sparsely appointed interior.

The makers of Skycar have released photographs of a sleeker, next-generation version that sports body cladding somewhat evocative of a Lamborghini. This "road sport" model "could be available from 2010 onwards," according to the company.

Some people think the U.S. government is full of humorless, secretive bureaucrats. But a government program having to do with re-configurable vehicles shows that there's "more than meets the eye," even with federal workers. Find out more on the next page.

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