Flying submarine? Well, sort of. The latest invention unveiled by the team at Virgin is an 8,000-pound, carbon-fiber sub – with wings. What will this flying submarine do for undersea exploration?
Richard Branson – chair of the Virgin Group and consummate fan of amphibious vehicles – has already crossed the Pacific in a hot air balloon and hopped the English channel in something called a Gibbs Aquada. Next step: Piloting a sleek carbon-fiber "flying submarine" to the belly of the Mariana Trench, the lowest point in any of the world's oceans. Fun!
This week, Branson and the team at Virgin took the wraps off its Virgin Oceanic submarine – pictured above – an 18-foot machine which Branson says will "unlock the wonders of the oceans still unknown to humankind or science." The submarine, of course, does not actually fly. But it does have cool-looking wings, and in the demo videos, it wiggles through the sea like a plane arcs across the sky.
According to Virgin, the submarine was constructed from 8,000 pounds of carbon fiber and titanium; it is said to be the only piloted craft "in existence" to get to the very bottom of the ocean.