The ultimate flight experience may soon be no longer by private jet or rocket but could hark back to a more stately means of air travel – the hot air balloon.
Within the next two years, Spanish entrepreneur Jose Lopez-Urdiales hopes to launch the “bloon”, a state-of-the-art flying device that can climb to 36 kilometres.
Passengers will be able to see the curvature of the Earth, watch the dawn creep across the planet and even glimpse the stars in the blackness of space.
The trip will cost $140,000 per person, but Lopez-Urdiales says that’s still “a lot cheaper than doing it by rocket”.
The 129-metre diameter craft will accommodate four passengers and two pilots, and can float above the Earth for about three hours, with the journeys up and down lasting an hour each way.
Once the three-hour celestial cruise is over, the bloon descends via a slowly venting sail, which detaches from the craft once it reaches a certain altitude. The bloon then drops the rest of the way by parachute.
The first flight has been penciled in for 2013 and will probably take off from Spain.
While it’s not every day that an entrepreneur creates something like the bloon, it does indicate there is a demand for quirkier forms of transport that can invoke nostalgia. Can you think of any others?