A comedian and an astrophysicist climb into a jet car — what could possibly go wrong?
On a recent episode of CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage,” we find out.
It all starts rather innocently, as Leno offers Neil deGrasse Tyson a ride in his EcoJet. It seems fairly safe. They’re on the runway of Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Nevertheless, Neil is both amazed and slightly concerned. To clarify, he says, “You made a car … with a jet engine.”
In cooperation with General Motors, Leno’s EcoJet was actually built right inside his garage. It has 650 horsepower and utilizes a Honeywell LTS101 turbine engine, which is usually used for attack helicopters.
Upon walking up to the EcoJet, Tyson asks, “Why is it called Eco? This doesn’t look very ‘eco’ to me.”
Leno explains that it runs on renewable energy, biofuels. The major mechanics are located in the rear of the car, and exhaust comes out from the top.
“It would’ve been way cooler if flames came out the back of the car,” Tyson says as he looks over the car. “I’m just saying.”
Leno is quick to shoot down the idea, saying, “I’m not trying to scare children. We’re trying to make a transportation vehicle here.”
With their helmets on, they climb inside the EcoJet for a drive.
Tyson shouts, “Show me what you got!”
Leno does. Soon, they’re blasting down the runway. Everything seems to be going smoothly as they top 100 miles per hour. The engine is running well. The tires are sturdy. Tyson is squealing with delight.
Then they hit 130.
The driver’s side window blows off from the car. Both men turn their heads to where it once was. The passenger looks a little concerned, the driver less so.
Leno says, nonchalantly, “Lost a window.”
Tyson regains his composure and says, “We’re aerodynamic enough. It doesn’t matter. Just don’t stick your hand out.”
Sans window, the EcoJet still reaches 165, which is about the runway speed of a jetliner at takeoff. And that’s fast enough for one day.
Leno brings the car to a stop and opens the door. His passenger looks over and says philosophically, “Stuff happens.”