Big Thrills Don’t Come Cheap


Kristoffer Stewart

by Kristoffer Stewart

Big Thrills Don’t Come Cheap

Billionaire debuts new toy

12 February 2010: Virgin Atlantic CEO Sir Richard Branson dazzled the rest of us Earth-bound mortals last year with SpaceShipTwo, the private rocketship carrying wealthy adventurers into space at over $200,000 a ticket.

Sir Richard’s latest adventure-venture is a DeepFlight three-person aero submarine called “Necker Nymph” that will glide across the water’s surface like an airplane on a runway before it submerges beneath the waves.

Designed and built by renowned engineer, Graham Hawkes, of Hawkes Ocean Technologies, Necker Nymph represents a new class of high-performance, positively buoyant vehicles which safely extend the overall capabilities of scuba, while offering the unique experience of underwater flight. Unlike all conventional subs which use ballast to sink in the water, Necker Nymph uses downward ‘lift’ on the wings to fly down to depth.

Available either when chartering Necker Belle, Branson’s luxury 105-foot catamaran, or when staying on Necker Island, underwater flight on Necker Nymph takes exploration to another level. Gliding on the water’s surface like an aeroplane on a runway, one of the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down, and the thrilling experience begins. Uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins, or spyhop with whales; the options are endless.

With the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360-degree turns, the sub is hydrobatic. Individual “wind shields” remove the pressure of slipstream, enabling comfortable speed and ranges previously unthinkable without enclosing the pilots. The open cockpits afford near ideal 360-degree viewing for occupants, creating a uniquely open experience. Dives can last up to two hours. According to Branson, this new type of underwater “aircraft” was designed mainly for people who charter Necker Belle.

Guests follow standard SCUBA procedures and will be trained/accompanied by a certified Necker Nymph pilot. Importantly, like all DeepFlight subs, Necker Nymph has near-zero environmental impact. Its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed.

The starting price for this flying submarine experience is around $25,000 per week. For a mere $88,000 more, guests can enjoy a week relaxing on the water aboard the new catamaran after they’ve had their thrills below the sea.

MULTIHULLS Magazine has faithfully reported on multihull news for over 35 years. We are present in 105 countries and hold the title as the oldest and most widely read multihull publication in the industry.

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