SkyRunner: What an Adrenaline Rush—Gravity Defying Vehicle Soars Skyward on BBC America’s “Top Gear”

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“Top Gear”, the thrill-seeking, unscripted BBC America show catering to car enthusiasts - in 214 territories - featured the off-road flying vehicle known as SkyRunner in its 2nd episode of season 25. The part off-road vehicle, part light-sport aircraft awed the show hosts with a truly “off-road” experience.

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“Top Gear” season 25, episode 2, aired Sunday March 4th on BBC America and featured SkyRunner, an FAA-certified light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) that also functions as a military-grade off road vehicle. BBC America delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming in more than 68 million homes nationwide.

SkyRunner, the ‘Bond Baddie’ off-road flying car, took to the skies on the BBC’s highly touted “Top Gear.” In a departure from all wheels on the ground, SkyRunner rolled out the spine-tingling all-terrain vehicle that provides its pilot and passengers a futuristic James Bond experience. Stewart Hamel, SkyRunner’s creator and CEO of the company, was on-camera in the episode to make the three-minute conversion from off-road vehicle (ORV) to airplane. He watched in amusement as “Top Gear” host Chris Harris exclaimed, “This is the point at which fascination meets terror —I’m slightly there,”—this as he uttered ‘wow’ again and again.

On the ground, SkyRunner reaches top speed of 70 mph. Once it leaves the ground and is converted to aircraft, it cruses at 45 mph with a rear-mounted propeller-driven by a Rotax engine.

“It’s a unique way for adventure seekers to own one technology that allows them to go almost anywhere, in a cost-effective manner. SkyRunner has taken the term ‘off-roading’ to the next level by removing most all geographic barriers that would traditionally be obstacles (lakes, rivers, peaks and complex landscapes),” says Hamel.

Last July, the FAA granted a series of exemptions to SkyRunner which included an increase in max take-off weight of 1800-pounds, representing a useful load of 580-pounds (pilot, passenger, fuel and luggage). Other features, not typically found on paraplanes (PPC) or light sport aircrafts, increases safety, adaptability while possessing one of the highest useful loads of S-LSA aircraft in the world. It is the only light sport aircraft approved with two engines by the FAA. (1)

Paraplanes are often considered safer than typical fixed-wing aircraft because of their stability, limited input controls, and their resistance to stalls. The heavier the aircraft is the more stall resistant it becomes. Due to the reduced control sets, the SkyRunner MK 3.2 is even easier to fly than many other LSA’s. (2)
While these types of aircraft are considered to be one of the safer forms of recreational flying, there are always inherent risks in aviation and in driving. SkyRunner is unique in that it flies its plan B (parachute), and unlike most aircraft, the engine isn’t considered a safety component of flight. “Should the engine run out of fuel, a pilot would simply glide down into the nearest grass field, strip or sandy desert,” points out Hamel. Unlike other powersport vehicles, this one requires proper training before you can use it.

Hamel expressed that being featured on a globally-recognized show known for highlighting the latest ground transportation innovations as well as thrills, speed and excitement—and pushing those extremes by exposing the hosts to a flying vehicle—is a coup for this ‘Bond Baddie’ creation.

"SkyRunner elevates the human experience.” Hamel described. “But it’s more than just a heightened experience, [SkyRunner] elicits a range of emotions while simultaneously satisfying your senses.”

About SkyRunner

SkyRunner manufactures and sells FAA-certified special light sport aircraft (S-LSA) which are fused with a rugged, military-grade all-terrain vehicle. Stewart Hamel looked to his passion—adventure—in developing SkyRunner. SkyRunner was designed as a family centerpiece for sharing adventure with Hamel’s kids and family. It has evolved into a military grade utility vehicle, which its integrity and reliability has only improved. The two-seat SkyRunner is, 100% designed, engineered, manufactured and tested in the United States. In July 2016, SkyRunner was granted S-LSA status by the FAA and on March 6, 2017, SkyRunner was awarded several exemptions. In June 2014 Red Bull named SkyRunner “One of the Greatest Adventure Vehicles of All Time.” For more information visit:  http://www.FlySkyRunner.com

About Stewart Hamel

Stewart Hamel, CEO of SkyRunner, launched a Shreveport-based private investment company, Hamel Interests and Private Equity, LLC, the original funding arm for SkyRunner's research and development, manufacturing, and distribution in 2010. SkyRunner builds and sells all-terrain/light-sport aircraft vehicles. Stewart Hamel and SkyRunner have been featured on Fox News, CNN Money, TopGear, Discovery Channel, Jet Set Magazine, Flying Magazine, Digital Trends Magazine, featured by Red Bull and the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association among other industry publications. Stewart has served on the board of Oxford University’s, Saïd Business School, and the Development Board of the London Symphony Orchestra.

(1)    SkyRunner. “FAA Grants SkyRunner Weight Increase, And More.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 28 July 2017.
(2)    http://www.flyskyrunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Grant_Exemption_15422A.pdf

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Karla Jo Helms
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