Show Offers Flying Toys for the Rich

LE BOURGET, France -- Fancy a helicopter-plane hybrid you can launch from your lawn? Yearning to fly in the world's biggest passenger jet -- all by yourself? How about shooting into orbit at a cost of up to $100,000 a minute?

This year's Paris Air Show hasn't just been about fuel-efficient Boeing Dreamliners and fearless MiG fighter jets. For the super-rich, it has also been a showcase for high-end, high-tech flying machines.

Mingling among the industry professionals and military officers at the show in Le Bourget over the past week have been more extravagant figures.

Airbus was casting about at the show for new customers for its long-delayed A380 superjumbo, which could theoretically hold more than 800 seats. Few new airlines took the bait, but potential private buyers are lining up.

"We are in negotiations with several private individuals," Airbus commercial sales chief John Leahy said.

One of the lesser noted deals announced at Le Bourget involved a company called Aero Toy Store, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: It's buying 12 helicopters from AgustaWestland for more than $80 million, to be refitted for "discerning clientele" in Florida, Canada and the Caribbean.

Air Harrods, meanwhile, bought an S-76 helicopter from Sikorsky.

For those itching to explore beyond the Earth's atmosphere, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. unveiled a model of a jet designed to take tourists into space. The space jet would rocket paying passengers to weightlessness -- but only for three minutes.

Tickets are expected to cost between $199,000 and $265,000 -- no small sum, but also nothing like the $20 million paid by the first space tourist Dennis Tito to jet up to the International Space Station. EADS Astrium joins entrepreneurs including billionaire Richard Branson hoping to develop a space tourism industry.