John Carver, a 37-year-old teacher from Oxfordshire, is doing the End-to-End on a Flyke – a recumbent tricycle powered by a two-stroke engine and and harnessed to a paraglider canopy.
The machine (John says there are only two in the UK) is registered with the Civil Aviation Authority and is legal to fly in Britain. However, with a road speed of up to 40mph, he has promised to keep the engine switched off during any stretches of road cycling.
The aim is to fly most of the way, covering 800 miles over three to four weeks. “I’ll start the trip with a full tank of fuel (14 litres),” says John. “That will give me a range of 2.5–3 hours flying at 30mph, but that’s only in still wind.” The plan is to land near petrol stations, wheel the machine in and fill it up.
Some cycling on the ground will probably be necessary, as wind speeds over 15mph are too high for flying. John learned this the hard way after being flipped over by sudden gusts. He plans to avoid controlled airspace as he won’t have a radio and to detour around large cities like Manchester and Birmingham.
“I can go up to 10,000ft where I start to run out of oxygen,” he says. “It gets hard work to breathe, but it gets very chilly up there as well. The best fun can be had around 500ft, which is great as you can see a lot around the countryside.”
As there is usually less wind late in the evening and early in the morning, John plans to camp at night rather than spend time cycling around looking for accommodation so he can make the most of those periods.
John hopes to raise £10,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is diabetic himself, and says the “daily grind of insulin injections and blood sugar tests” will continue as normal, even if he has to do it while airborne.
If you want to follow his progress, the FlyBike website is being updated daily. For information on his Flyke, see fresh-breeze.de.