In the skies above Hullavington airfield in south-west England, there was a time when trainee parachutists would leap out of aircraft into the void, trusting in the kit strapped to their backs to save them from falling to earth.
The former RAF base's current inhabitant, Dyson, is embarking on its own adventure fraught with peril: a £2bn project to develop and build electric cars from scratch.
The UK company is betting on its ingenuity, engineering skills and technology to save it from falling to earth in its audacious attempt to break into the global automotive industry.
"A car's a huge challenge," founder James Dyson told the Financial Times at the company's nearby Malmesbury headquarters.
The £2bn gamble is the appliance maker's boldest move yet; one that will either grow to define the brand as it dwarfs its other products that range from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers, or drain its resources and potentially plunge it into oblivion.
Through interviews with more than 20 people, the FT has gleaned details about the project's scope and current status, including learning that Dyson is considering excluding its world-leading "solid state" battery technology from its debut model.
Dyson declined to confirm many of the details in this report.
The company is initially planning a range of three vehicles, according to two people.
The first car will be used to establish a route to market, a supply chain and a potential customer base. Because of this, the vehicle will have a relatively low production run — in the single-digit thousands, three people said.
The second and third vehicles, released later, will aim to be substantially higher volume.
"Even with a low-volume vehicle, they can make a business case and they will learn a tremendous amount about how to build a vehicle," says Philippe Houchois, an automotive analyst at Jefferies investment bank.
Dyson has worked extensively on lightweight materials, leading several people to speculate the first vehicle may be substantially comprised of plastics rather than metals, something usually reserved for high-end supercars.
This would make the cars lighter — important because of the weight of electric batteries — but also allowing for more inventive designs.
When announcing the project last September, Sir James said the first car would look "quite different" to any currently on the market.
Crucially, Dyson is considering using lithium ion batteries rather than solid state in the first car, according to three people.
Although the company has not confirmed a decision, a choice not to use solid state would indicate a scaling back in the technical ambitions for its first vehicle.
The aim is to use solid state in the two future models, one person with sight of the plans said.
Solid state batteries, which Dyson has been developing for years, are a step change beyond lithium ion technology, with the ability to drive further and charge faster.