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Big List: Weird transport

PHUKET: We, as humans, have come up with some downright ridiculous vehicles, contraptions and devices to get from A to B, though often they are as stupid as they are dangerous.

By Jody Houton

Thursday 30 January 2014, 10:49AM

ON YOUR TRIKE Nowadays, tricycles are usually used as a mode of transport for the reserve of clowns and street performers. That’s nowadays though, in the latter part of the 19th century, people – well, certain tricycle manufacturers – were toying with the idea of promoting the crazy-looking transport as the main form of transport for man, woman, child and pet – and even all at the same time. For a strange year or two, whole families would climb on giant tricycles and go and visit the cobblers and candlestick makers (we’re guessing). After all, three wheels are always better than one, right?

IS IT A PLANE OR TRAIN? Not the safest of modes of transport, especially if you happened to be crossing the train tracks (which you should never do) is the propeller powered monorail, Its creator, Scotsman George Bennie, though of it more of a plane (explaining the propellers) on tracks, and its chief benefit was that it could go much faster than conventional trains at the time. Calculations brought it in around 150 mph. A prototype was built in Glasgow, but it was always Bennie’s dream to make a route from London to Paris for the Bennie Railplane, unfortunately it, ahem, never got off the ground and poor George was bankrupted, with the project being scrapped a year before his death.

DON’T SULK ABOUT IT Now, this is not all that weird. In fact, we’d actually say it’s pretty damn good. Look at it! The horseless sulky (perhaps there was the first problem) was invented by an Italian designer and for a few months in 1935 was often seen around the streets of Belgium. The horseless sulky can accommodate two passengers, one within each huge wheel, the engine sits in the middle of the vehicle and other than that, drives much like a regular car with steering wheel and gear stick. Still, despite its innovative design, which has since been copied, the sulky ended up the way of the dodo.

BACK TO THE FUTURE It seems absolutely absurd that we must continue waiting for the hoverboard when devices like the HZ-1 Aerocycle have existed since the early 1950s. Developed by de Lackner Helicopters, the flying device was ultimately used by the United States Army primarily to be used for reconnaissance missions for inexperienced pilots. In reality, it proved too difficult for many to control and after a number of crashes (no mention is made of what happened to the pilots and how many limbs they started and ended the flight with) production ceased. Sadly, only 12 vehicles were ever made.

DRIVING IN THE SKIES Codenamed as ‘Flying Jeeps’ by the US Navy from 1959 to 1961, it is easy to see why the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar was kept secret. Used during the Cold War, these awesome aircrafts resemble flying saucers straight out of a science fiction book, and were capable of vertical take-off and flying at very high speeds and altitudes. It was believed that runways would be a luxury in a post-Cold War world where land and buildings would like in ruins and aircraft required to take off vertically. Funding for the project was scrapped in 1961, or was it? The truth is out there, Mulder.


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