THEY SAY pigs might fly, and this weekend one just might – with a little help from a New Mills engineer.
But there's no animal cruelty involved as the flying pig in question has three wheels and an engine instead of four legs and a snout.
It is the latest project from the BBC's Top Gear - to transform a Reliant Robin, the car immortalised in popular comedy series Only Fools and Horses, into a space shuttle.
Peter Bryan, who lives on Mellor Road, was asked to help with the project to turn a car fondly known as a 'plastic pig' into something NASA would be proud of.
Peter, managing director of Mottram Engineering, was asked to source many of the materials needed for the project and also offered space in his Hyde factory so the rocket could be built on site.
He worked alongside The Rocket Men from Stockport who were looking for an engineering firm to help them with building the rocket. BBC crews were on hand to film every step of the way.
Peter said: "It was very tense. Everything was actually built here at Mottram Engineering.
"This is the first time we have done anything like this. Ordinarily we design and build special purpose machinery.
"We had the BBC here filming as we were making various parts. Then we went up to Northumberland to see it being put together."
Damian Hall from the Rocket Men, who were also involved in last year's Top Gear project to launch a rocket propelled Mini down a ski slope, said: "Peter and his team were incredibly flexible in their approach and added real engineering expertise to the project.
"We categorically needed a laser cutting machine and it was perfect for us that the different elements could be manufactured, assembled, welded and spray-painted on site.
"It was also a real bonus that we found a company so local to us who could provide such a "one-stop shop" service. It was a very tense and time consuming project."
Peter added: "It was a real case of two heads being better than one. But never in Delboy Trotter's wildest dreams would he have imagined his beloved Reliant Robin soaring into space."
With just four and half months to complete the ambitious project, the pressure was on as the rocket had to be designed, materials found, parts lasered, the space frame welded, tested and the car stripped out, adapted and then flown.
Everything that could possibly be stripped out of the Reliant Robin was taken out to reduce its weight down to a final flying weight of 250kg, just over a third of its usual road weight. Lighter wheels were added as well as wings, rocket motors and flight systems so that the car could be flown remotely once it separated from the rocket. All the parts were then taken to the Otterburn Artillery Range in Northumberland for the final assembly and launch.
To find out what happened next, tune into Top Gear this Sunday, 8pm on BBC2.
by Louise Bellicoso