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Experiments with Flying Cars

When most people think of flying cars, they think of the Jetsons TV show, and speculate that, maybe one day in the far-off future, people may drive flying cars. You might be surprised to know that flying cars have been in development since the 1930s--even before the Jetsons.

Maybe it shouldn't be that surprising, though. After all, we have cars, and we have planes--is it that far-fetched to combine the two? There is serious research going on today to investigate the possibilities for flying cars. One of the biggest events, AeroTech 2007, hosted by the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE), will be held next week at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In preparation for the future, here's a look at some of the most famous flying cars during the past century. (Please note that this is an incomplete list, and that other experiments with flying cars were not intentionally left out.)

W-5 ArrowbileW-5 Arrowbile

The W-5 Arrowbile, designed in 1936, was called a "hybrid flying auto." On roads, the all-metal, three-wheeled Arrowbile could travel up to 70 mph; and in the air, 120 mph. Because it had three wheels and a single headlight, the DMV actually classified it as a motorcycle. The Arrowbile was quite easy to operate, as demonstrated by the fact that a businessman with only 35 hours' flight experience flew one from Washington, D.C. in his business suit. http://www.aerofiles.com/water.html

 

Taylor's AerocarTaylor's Aerocar

Aerocar restored in 2006Aerocar restored in 2006

One of the most famous flying cars is Aerocar's Aerocar, built in 1946, which was called a "roadable aircraft." Designed by Moulton Taylor, the Aerocar had wings that folded up, allowing the car to be easily converted into flight mode by a single person in just five minutes. When the rear license plate was flipped up, the propeller shaft and a pusher propeller could be attached. When driving on the road, the wings and tail unit were simply towed behind the vehicle. As a car, the Aerocar could drive up to 60 miles per hour, and had a top airspeed of 110 miles per hour. http://www.aerocar.com/

 

AVE MizarAVE Mizar

The AVE Mizar (named after the star), was built in 1971 by Henry Smolinski. The flying car was a true hybrid, with the front half modeled on a Ford Pinto and the back half consisting of a Cessna Skymaster plane. For taking off, the flying car used both the car engine and the aircraft engine, and the car engine was shut off once the car was airborne. AVE had scheduled production for 1974, but unfortunately, the year before, one of the models got in an accident during a test flight. The right wing detached and the Pinto was separated from the wings, resulting in a fiery crash that killed Smolinski and the pilot. The car was said to have been slightly over the weight limit during the trial, but the Mizar legend ended with the crash. http://www.fordpinto.com/mitzar1.htm

 

Strong Mobile Magic DragonStrong Mobile Magic Dragon

The Strong Mobile Magic Dragon Aircar has been worked on by retired Air Force pilot-engineer Rich Strong over the past 50 years. Strong hopes to entice business travelers to invest in a Magic Dragon Aircar, which he claims can fly a few hundred miles in a few hours-or, about twice the speed of a car on the highway. The aircar also works both on the roads and in the air, with the wings folding up in the body when in drive mode, and in flight mode, a duct fan on the front of the aircar provides propulsion. The model will also be presented at SAE AeroTech 2007 next week at the LA Convention Center on Wednesday, September 19. http://www.strongware.com/dragon/

 

LaBiche Aerospace FSC-1LaBiche Aerospace FSC-1

The LaBiche Aerospace FSC-1 is one of the modern flying cars, currently in development. The FSC-1 has the unique ability of automatically converting from aircraft to car at the touch of a button. Also, while most flying cars require a pilot's license, designers are working on a very interesting feature for the FSC-1: a new satellite-navigation "hands free" flight system would allow users to travel from airport to airport, eliminating the need for a pilot's license (upon FAA approval). For something very sci-fi, you can watch a scheme of the car transforming itself into a plane here . http://www.labicheaerospace.com/

 

Haynes Aero SkyblazerHaynes Aero Skyblazer

The Haynes Aero Skyblazer is another work in progress. The Skyblazer is expected to have a top speed of 400 mph, and a range of up to 830 miles. The vehicle uses a single turbofan engine, which would provide thrust for flying, and generate electricity to power an electric motor for driving. http://www.haynes-aero.com/Netscape/frames.html

 

Urban Aeronautics X-HawkUrban Aeronautics X-Hawk

One of the most recent flying cars to appear in the news is the Urban Aeronautics X-Hawk, which is a "Vertical Take-Off and Landing" (VTOL) vehicle, similar to a helicopter. But unlike a helicopter, the X-Hawk is safer because its rotors are not exposed, but rather enclosed in large ducts. The X-Hawk is being aimed at emergency programs for search and rescue missions, since it can hover close to a building or achieve other positions unattainable by traditional aircraft. Urban Aeronautics and designer Rafi Yoeli expect to have the X-Hawk available by 2010, for a price of $3 million. http://www.urbanaero.com/Urban_Main.htm

 

Terrafugia TransitionTerrafugia Transition

The Terrafugia Transition is also currently in development, and the company hopes to release this "personal air vehicle" in late 2009. As opposed to the X-Hawk, the Transition is aimed at general consumers, as it can hold two passengers with "room for luggage." The Transition could fly for up to 500 miles on a single tank of unleaded premium gasoline. The expected price, at $148,000, is almost reasonable. http://www.terrafugia.com/

So flying cars are not a new thing. However, there are several companies today with high hopes for producing flying cars in the surprisingly near future. Hopefully, we'll be hearing more about them.

Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger
InventorSpot.com

Comments
Sep 13, 2007
by Anonymous HI (not verified)

Unfortunately,

these could become a serious security risk in the hands of terrorists.  The terrorists  wouldn't have to hijack an airplane--they'd have their own functional equivalent.

Sep 14, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Nah, they could just steal a

Nah, they could just steal a cessna if they wanted something that small.

Sep 17, 2007
by Jeff (not verified)

The flying car is one of the worst ideas ever...

... fortunately all we see are ridiculous one-offs and dubious non-funtional prototypes.  (Have you seen the latest?  Moller trots out a saucer-looking craft and says thats another new prototype for a flying car - do the words "Avro Aerocar" mean anything to them?)

Think about why roads exist: do they make it easier or possible for surface transport to work? Yes. But properly designed they also are means of protecting property , a nuisance control, and can even protect the environment.  They can perform as  safety feature and a social boundary.

Now, maybe I'm a stay-in-the-lines kind guy, but with the density of pouplation where I live, and the tendency for road rage and automotive idiocy, I want restrictions on tranportation - the type of licensing enforcement we have now days with surface traffic is not going to cut it. To even bring control to even near the level of control we have with mass individual surface traffic is going to cost  society many more times the individual cost of the car. How fair is that? Rich people can afford the flying car but unless there is a direct tax on the purchase of that car they'll be sharing the social cost with the rest of the non-privileged people.

I'm not even going to go into the energy costs and pollution problems... the mind boggles how this old selfish fantasy has maintained its legs over the years. 

 

 

 

Oct 27, 2007
by Karol maslinski (not verified)

O MY GOD

OMG......Those expirements are so amazing. Its like i would want to see that and dive it. Also i maybe i would want to be an "inventor"!!!!!!!!!keep going, I mean that try to make it for real and fly it and then make a fortune out of it...

one more thing try to make cars fly.............................BY:2020 or 2015
please try to make cars "F.L.Y." PLEASE!!!!!!
@ @
\--------/

Dec 14, 2007
by Amazed (not verified)

Unfortunately

....uh, why is that different from a normal aircraft? A cessna will be cheaper than a m400 for the long term forseeable future - so this doesn't add any new risks at all. Boy I bet you see terrorism potential in everything. How sad they managed to terrorise you.

Jan 13, 2008
by Marcos Mayorga (not verified)

who am i living with in this planet?

Your have of course retrograde ideas about the things surely inherited from the evident fact that your are more interested in to keep the social panorama unchangeable, I wonder it is because you have been in a confortable social status for a long time either in your infancy or in the present, (yes i have read that you are not a rich man, but with "confortable" i meant socially, not economically).
Well, the truth is that when traditional cars started to be popular, the taxes were proportional to the number of cars on road, first cars were expensive, so only available for wealthy people, but surely no especial tax were issued until the massive usage of cars were a reality. Exactly the same with flying cars.
And of course, if you need roads to separate people, you'll do better changing your unbelievable mind to come out with some other alternatives to solve the problem: biclycle ways, how does it sound?

Feb 13, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)

looking for help

I think, I've come up with a way to move in air, space and water. I don't say fly because flying to me means that you have to use the air to move around. This dose not use air. I think it will move in space and water. I've done some research (paper work and some real tests) on it but don't have the resources to make a working model. everything is done but the model.
if you think you can help me. contact me at workingflyingcar@yahoo.com

Feb 15, 2008
by AleksandrII (not verified)

You can fly faster than you

You can fly faster than you can drive.
But GPM the same!!!
So its all about technology and good workers.
Today People build amazing amphibians cars !!!!
10 years ago sceptics call amphicars "stupid idea".

Dec 23, 2008
by Anonymous

IMO

I belive flying cars is an incredible idea, I think that flying cars should be done as a ferrying system so that when you get in your car you can just enter the address of where you're going and it just flys you there once you land than you can drive to the parking area i would really hate seeing people manually piloting a flying car.