March 28, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
The Jetsons cartoon series in the 1960s showed the family floating around in their bubble-shaped flying car. You would think by now something similar would have been invented and in the air. Countless failed attempts over the years have been aimed at developing some kind of easy-to-operate “flying car” for the general population. The good news is we may be getting closer.
Flying Car Ideas Gone Bad!
In 1971 Henry Smolinski and Hal Blake tried to create a flying car by essentially attaching a Cessna Skymaster’s wings and rear engine to the top of a Ford Pinto. Their idea seemed reasonable and they were actually able to link the flight and ground steering to controls so they worked independently of each other and accomplished flight. But one day, in mid-air on a test flight, the wings detached suddenly leaving the two inventors hurdling toward the ground in a Pinto with no wings. Needless to say the project was immediately canceled.
Inventor Makes It a Reality, Sort-of.
In the 1940s, inventor Moulten ‘Molt’ Taylor started working on a flying car design and in 1946 it became the first real flying car. Named the Aerocar, it was designed to convert from car to plane in just ten minutes. Molt said “The changeover from plane to auto can be made by a woman in a fur coat and high heels.” The Aerocar was the first such aircraft to be certified by the FAA. It was able to cruise at a max speed of 110 mph and had a range of 300 miles. Molt sold three for $25,000 each but was unable to obtain the 500 orders he needed to mass produce the Aerocar. The achievement is a great one, however, and an Aerocar was still flying as of 2012. It was able to reach 12,000 feet at a speed of 110 mph.
The aviation company Terrafugia® located in Woburn, Mass. wants to bring the first street legal, practical flying car to your garage. Their first product is The Transition®, a two-place aero-car small enough to fit in a single car garage and flown in and out of your local airport. They say it brings a new level of fun and flexibility to personal aviation. The Transition® has automatic electric folding wings, rear wheel drive, a cargo area, and is equipped with a steering wheel, stick and rudders.
Performance: This neat little aero-car sips gas at 5 mpg while in-flight with its fuel efficient 100hp Rotax 912iS engine. It gets 35 mpg as a car. With a useful load of 500 lbs and a range of 410 miles it can get you to the office and back and avoid all that traffic below. And if the weather is bad, just drive it. Just like any other car, it has driver and passenger air bags and crash safety features. As a plane, it’s outfitted with modern glass avionics and an optional ballistic parachute system. The company is taking pre-orders for The Transition®. Its estimated price is said to be $279,000. And it should be available in the near future.
The Jetsons Would Be Impressed! Has Terrafugia finally done it? Have they designed a true “Jetson-like” flying car that can lift off vertically and whisk you away after you tell it where to take you? They believe so with their latest design the TF-X™. This four-place craft will take-off vertically, automatically fly you to your destination, avoiding air traffic, bad weather and restricted air-space and will automatically land anywhere for you! You then automatically fold the wings back and hop out wherever you landed. Yes, finally a true space-age flying car. Terrafugia says the TF-X® is simple to learn and can be flown manually or on auto. It can carry four people and has a range of 500 miles. It fits into a single car garage and can be driven on roads and highways. It can vertically take-off and land vertically, virtually anywhere, giving you true door-to-door service. The company says the TF-X™ will be in development for the next 8-12 years before being available for delivery to the public; however The Transition® model will be available very soon. So… it looks like the flying car is finally here!