On May 22, 2005, Stewart Hamel was falling. As the businessman and skydivingenthusiast jumped out of a plane for the 140th time, a midair malfunction sent him hurtling toward the ground. Hamel survived the fall, though the busted shoulder and badly torn hamstring he suffered persuaded him to hang up his chute for good. But like any adrenaline junkie, he needed a new fix; British inventor and aviation engineer GiloCardozo was just the man to provide it.
The result of their partnership is the Parajet SkyRunner—a combination ATV and aircraft available in early 2015. On the ground, it’s lightweight (926 pounds), powerful (125 horsepower), plenty fast (it tops out at 115 mph), and capable of traversing even thegnarliest terrain. But the SkyRunner is all about the air: Gun it to at least 34 mph on a flat strip of land and, thanks to what is essentially a modified parachute mated to a rear-mounted turbo propeller, it lifts off—no hangar, ground crew, or airport required. Once airborne, the vehicle can cruise up to 15,000 feet and pull off tighter maneuvers than most fixed-wing crafts; it boasts a range of 200 miles and hits speeds upwards of 52 mph. Oh, and don’t worry about spending hundreds of hours in pursuit of a pilot’s license: Since the SkyRunner is classified as a light sport aircraft, you can get certified to go wheels-up after a week of training and 12 hours of total flight time.
The sticker price runs around $120,000— a few bucks less than what you’d pay for the new Porsche 911 Turbo. Sure, that German land rocket can accelerate from zero to 60 alittle faster than the SkyRunner, but when was the last time you could float over a traffic jam on the way home from a beer run?
Four more facts about the SkyRunner:
1. The 1.0-liter engine cranks 125 horses and fronts a fuel economy of 56 mpg. That’s more efficient than a Prius.
2. Thanks to the SkyRunner’s in-air range of 200 miles, you could fly from New York City to Washington, D.C., without stopping.
3. If the shit ever hits the fan blades (or, say, the engine fails), an emergency chute deploys and gently floats you back to Earth.
4. The FAA bans light aircraft from flying above 10,000 feet, but the SkyRunner can reach 15,000, should you feel like flipping them the bird.