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OU on the BBC: James May's Big Ideas - Come Fly with Me

Updated Tuesday, 23rd September 2008

From the frozen wastes of Russia to Sussex, James May travels the globe in search of his ultimate flying machine in Come Fly with Me.

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James with flying car Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

In the first programme, James seeks a better and bolder way of getting from A to B and begins his travels in the frozen wastes of Russia to take the controls of a means of transport kept secret from the public until the 1990s – the ekranoplan. Capable of skimming above sea and ice at incredibly high speeds, this flying machine originally baffled American intelligence agencies.

Continuing his travels, James heads to the US in a bid to pilot the world’s only surviving flying car for its first flight in four years. The legendary Aerocar of the 1950s was once a darling of the skies, and with Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Lana Turner as previous passengers, it proves that a flying car can be the ultimate babe magnet.

Searching for the world’s smallest helicopter James travels to Japan, where he finds a machine which is held aloft by four tiny engines. With each engine weighing the same as a large chicken – but with the power of ten horses – James watches in amazement as it takes off.

Even turning himself into a human rocket in his quest, James straps on a rocket-pack in a suburban garden in Sussex. The machine which eats up fuel faster than a jumbo jet has been built by commercial pilot Stuart Ross, a man who likes flying so much he wants to do it without the aeroplane.

And finally, in California, James encounters his ultimate dream – the latest in a long line of inventions by Dr Moller, a man who has spent 40 years pursuing a flying car capable of vertical take off. Its controls are so simple that anyone can fly it, but is the world ready for a flying car?

Take it further

The WIG page - a compendium of information on Ekranoplan type vehicles
Himmelstrurmer - Detailed exploration of experiments in personal propulsion conducted by the Nazis

Inspired? Why not consider studying science or engineering and technology with the Open University?

First broadcast: Sunday 5 Oct 2008 on BBC TWO





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