Another promise of a flying car – sigh

All thorough my childhood and adolescence I was a keen fan of all sorts of science magazines including Scientific American (the Amateur Scientist was my favorite SciAm column because it showed how to build things),  a subscription magazine from NASA’s Science Service,  Asimov’s sci-fi journal, and yes even Popular Science and occasionally Popular Mechanics since my dad liked it.

I lost track of how many times the world has been promised a flying car in those magazines. It seemed like we’d all have a “chicken in every pot” and a flying car in every garage. I’ve been waiting for years decades and there have been lots of false starts and outright frauds. Where the heck is my flying car?

So it was with some amusement that I read this article in the London Time Online. It appears one is being readied for market, we’ll see. I wonder if the ELT on it automatically dials a selection of liability claims attorneys? Even if I had $200k to blow on it, given how regulated we are now, the only place you can fly it “off the road” is Alaska.


World’s first flying car prepares for take-off

Mark Harris

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Actually it’s both. The first flying automobile, equally at home in the sky or on the road, is scheduled to take to the air next month.

If it survives its first test flight, the Terrafugia Transition, which can transform itself from a two-seater road car to a plane in 15 seconds, is expected to land in showrooms in about 18 months’ time.

Its manufacturer says it is easy to keep and run since it uses normal unleaded fuel and will fit into a garage.

Carl Dietrich, who runs the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, said: “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle.”

The Transition, developed by former Nasa engineers, is powered by the same 100bhp engine on the ground and in the air.

Terrafugia claims it will be able to fly up to 500 miles on a single tank of petrol at a cruising speed of 115mph. Up to now, however, it has been tested only on roads at up to 90mph.

Dietrich said he had already received 40 orders, despite an expected retail price of $200,000 (£132,000).

“For an airplane that’s very reasonable, but for a car that’s very much at the high end,” he conceded.

There are still one or two drawbacks. Getting insurance may be a little tricky and finding somewhere to take off may not be straightforward: the only place in the US in which it is legal to take off from a road is Alaska.

Dietrich is optimistic. He said: “In the long term we have the potential to make air travel practical for individuals at a price that would meet or beat driving, with huge time savings.”

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96 thoughts on “Another promise of a flying car – sigh

  1. Does anyone really believe this is a good idea? My first thought, living near a major airport is, given the amount of delusions of grandeaur(spelling?) there is on the road, how many incidents would we see near airports with morons driving/flying into the path of commercial airliners? I doubt these morons would heed to rules and regulations, given they already don’t on a normal road! In my opinion, for average Joe, this flying car is a bad idea, though I am sure there could be positive uses for a vehicle like this, such as in the australian outback etc.

  2. Now how fast would a flying car that close to St Mary Axe be shot down, one wonders…
    Maybe for the American leaflet, they can photoshop one right next to the Freedom Tower.

  3. Is this valuable information discovered through in-depth reporting by experienced journalists with knowledge of the aviation industry?

  4. I can’t wait to see the London taxi version. Loop the loop with a turning circle of 15 feet. Soooper!

  5. The problem isn’t technological as far as the flying vehicle is concerned, it’s safety and control. There’s no current way to set out “skylanes” so that people will know where they’re supposed to fly. There’s also the problem of system failure. If your car engine stalls, you just roll to a halt. If your sky car engine fails, you plummet to your death, unless they add ejection seats, which would make them much more expensive.
    No, I don’t think it will happen until there can be a completely computer-controlled system, so essentially humans won’t be flying the planes, the planes will simply be flying automated taxis.

  6. Years back, someone made a car that was a boat as well. It didn’t do well in either function. This looks to be the same, won’t fly or drive. FAA approval may be a long time coming. As long as no one near me has one, I won’t mind.
    How about a car that lasts a long time, hardly ever breaks, and is economical? (at the risk of getting rocks thrown at me, I would probably call it a ….. Honda.)

  7. I believe that in Texas you can take off and land on roads designated ranch roads, farm to market, etc – essentially rural roads. These exceptionas are put in place for the benefit of crop dusters and other agricultural uses. You are required to have a flagman to block traffic, though, so it is somewhat constrained. I would think an ‘automatic flagman’ could be developed easily enough.
    That said, the regulatory environment is quickly becoming a greater challenge to advancement than the technical challenges.

  8. Of course this is a no-go idea. A car-boat is much easier to produce, would appeal to many more people, but has never gotten past the novelty stage. A car-plane has no chance of being a serious product.

  9. I too have been not so patiently waiting for all the flying cars and jet packs promised me in the pages of magazines since I was a wee lad. But, think about it, most cell phone addicted, attention deficit boobs out there on the highways and byways aren’t competent to operate a vehicle that has 4 degrees of freedom, let alone 6.

  10. I thought the James Bond gyro-copter (Little Betty?) came pretty close way back in ~1965 — it could even be driven down a road w/the copter blades feathered.

  11. There might be some shenanigans going on in the “Best Science” voting, same as last year.
    Please take the time to vote here: click
    [Voting page takes some time to load. Have patience.]

  12. Paul Shanahan (07:37:32) : “Does anyone really believe this is a good idea? My first thought, living near a major airport is, given the amount of delusions of grandeaur(spelling?) there is on the road, how many incidents would we see near airports with morons driving/flying into the path of commercial airliners?”
    Ditto; I’m living close to the Heathrow flightpath, and the thought of idiots buzzing about over the rooftops in flying cars and playing chicken with giant Boeings and Airbuses is… not conducive to peace and relaxation.
    Also, urban areas would start to resemble planet Coruscant in the Star Wars movies. How annoying would that be.

  13. The Best Website voting page gives me network timeout error almost every time. Sometimes it loads, but there’s no voting form. Trying to reload sometimes takes me directly to the voting results and that’s the end of it for the day. I suspect they’ve been hacked, but who knows?
    I remember the “Amphicar” of a long time ago (early 60’s?). I saw an article 6 years ago about a guy who still runs his on land and small bodies of water. The price wasn’t bad, and I’ve actually seen one on the road. But it didn’t catch on.
    A flying car is a very blonde idea. A car has to be designed for stresses that a plane never sees, as when cornering at 65 mph, braking, crash-testing, etc. The added steel to handle those stresses is dead weight for a plane, seriously reducing its air-worthiness. Not to mention the problem of having over your head 100,000 yutzes who can barely drive a car. Affording a plane and flying one are two very different things. Doctors, I’ve heard, have the worst average flying safety record: too many $$, not enough skill.

  14. Larey Kerling (08:27:44) :
    Of course this is a no-go idea. A car-boat is much easier to produce, would appeal to many more people, but has never gotten past the novelty stage.

    Except for the Schwimmwagen.

  15. I don’t car about flying cars, I can’t even get past the mountain flying section of my MS Flight Simulator.
    But your reference to Scientific American caught my eye, as I too was very keen on it until I realised it was marching in lock-step with the environmental movement.
    SA purports to be a mag for intelligent people, yet it’s treatment of Lomborg was scandalous, scarcely intelligent and it should not be forgotten.

  16. It must be good!
    A Massachusetts firm yet it is flying past the Gherkin building in the City of London!

  17. Ford produced the GPA, the Jeep’s equivalent of the Kubelwagen’s Scwimmwagen!
    I suppose that the DUKW’s too big to qualify, being truck-based.
    I’ve not checked the links to the other flying cars, but I’m sure there was an inflatable one too!

  18. I do not believe in the concept of a fixed wing flying car that is in need of a runway for take off and landing and I certainly would not fly this horrible looking cookey.
    Such a craft should be a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing)
    Currently there are two promising developments:
    The closest thing between driving and flying based on the Carver, the PALV-5:
    http://www.gizmag.com/go/3323/
    The second option: http://www.falxair.com/about.html
    Forget about Möller and his Sky Car.
    In regard to safe operation and navigation:
    The “Freeflight” flight management system based on GPS and on line navigation computers that connect to an auto pilot will make safe “all weater” flights possible without the risk of mid air collisions.
    The three dimensional flight path is projected on a screen or a HUD and all the pilot has to do is to steer the craft along the path.
    Or, if he is in a lazy mood, enter the flight destination into the computer and let the auto pilot do the job.
    The Palve project has involved Government departments and a Police participation in order to study the legal implementation of this kind of new technology.
    On thing is for sure.
    The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line.
    Therefore transport by air has the future.
    The Möller Sky Car is a HOAX.

  19. “The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line.
    Therefore transport by air has the future.”
    Wrong, trains in tunnels would be the real shortest distance. Unless you want to go from the top of building A to the top of Building B.
    Evacuated tunnels with mag-lev trains would also allow for much higher speeds than any flying machine, if properly done.

  20. Ron de Haan (11:02:03) : “Such a craft should be a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing)”
    Ummmmm, don’t experienced USMC pilots call a Harrier “The Widow Maker”?

  21. Just what we need. Let’s turn what are fender benders on the road into life altering events due to vehicles falling out of the sky

  22. Tom,
    Yes, they do and we called the CH-46 helicopter “Flying coffins” and LST amphib transport ships “large, slow, targets”. Marines have a macabre sense of humor. We enjoy gallows humor. 🙂

  23. God, I remember reading about the Moller Skycar back in 80’s when it was featured in a grade school magazine (when it was being called the Volantor). That was supposed to be VTOL. I’m starting to side with Ron above that it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s been, what, 40 years now since it was proposed? It can’t be that difficult to get a working model up and running, is it? I have a feeling SpaceShip One got up and running with far less capital.

  24. Bill Marsh (11:36:36) : “Yes, they do and we called the CH-46 helicopter “Flying coffins” and LST amphib transport ships “large, slow, targets”. Marines have a macabre sense of humor. We enjoy gallows humor. 🙂
    Yes we do. Although we also referred to the older tanks we had as “Coffins; green with yellow markings”. Semper Fi

  25. So long, folks, I’m off to work: click
    And then there’s the erstwhile gyrocopter.
    Another advantage to piloting a flying car is that teenagers can take their hands off the controls and text in three dimensions.
    [Interesting gyrocopter article]

  26. Better to have your hopes vested in the mythical “Back to the Future” hoverboard than a flying car.
    And to think I thought that thing was real and parent’s groups were blocking Mattel from selling them. Ah, I used to be so gullible before Al Gore invented the internet.

  27. I remember reading an article in Flying about the Taylor Areocar when I was in high-school in the 60’s. According to wikipedia 6 were built and one first flew in 1949. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerocar
    There was another attempt in late 60’s to create a flight module to attach to an existing car described in ‘Popular Science’ or ‘Science and Mechanics.’ It was pictured attached to a Pontiac GTO as I recall – a flying muscle car. I heard a radio news broadcast that it crashed on its first flight killing the test pilot.
    Another firm seems to by trying this again with a Lotus Elise. http://www.aerocar.com/
    As a former flight instructor I never thought the concept made much sense. To many compromises to effectively perform either the driving or flying mission safely.

  28. El Santo (11:39:09) :
    God, I remember reading about the Moller Skycar back in 80’s when it was featured in a grade school magazine (when it was being called the Volantor). That was supposed to be VTOL. I’m starting to side with Ron above that it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s been, what, 40 years now since it was proposed? It can’t be that difficult to get a working model up and running, is it?

    I had the unfortunate opportunity to attend school where Moller was running his PR Campaign. He, IMHO, was never interested in making a working vehicle, only in getting enough PR to retain funding from his department. He would show just enough progress to make the papers and get renewed.
    He’s using the same pitch now that he used in the ’70s. He’s been through several variations and done some interesting inventing / engineering: but don’t ever make the mistake of thinking he actually wants to succeed at flying this thing. His present model is, as far as I can tell, functional in flight. He keeps it on ropes near the ground when ‘demonstrating it’ so that there is no risk of bad press from an accident or lousy performance characteristics. He knows that would kill the gravy train. If he was really interested in flying this thing, he’d have a test pilot (with chute) take it out to Edwards…
    Gee, hyped ‘science’ to retain funding… why does that sound familiar?
    Per the other flying cars: There have been several, this one isn’t the first.
    Per flying cars in general: When it doesn’t take a year+ and a few thousand dollars to get a pilots license they might have a niche market. I do want to know how they intend to make it past the automotive & aircraft government mandated tests (Crash, smog, etc.) It’s hard enough to get cars to pass, and the personal / light aircraft market is basically dead thanks to ‘regulations’. It is not an accident that all the interesting advances are going on in the ultralight / experimental licensing categories where you can make an aircraft without a few million dollars for FAA ‘testing’.
    Honda could make a personal sized passenger plane for about the cost of a nice sedan, if it were not for two things: All the regulatory load and the resultant micro sized market crushing any economy of scale. The result is aircraft with price tags like houses and folks who would like to have a pilots license but just give up. (How many of you know folks who had licenses and let them laps because keeping current was just too much trouble? I know a couple…) Heck, just the avionics costs as much as a luxury car.
    It’s a nice dream, though, and always will be…

  29. A flying car is certainly possible to build (it has been done, repeatedly), but it would not be a very good aircraft and it would be an abysmal and probably very dangerous car.
    It would have to be a reasonably good aircraft in order to get certified for flying, and this would automatically make it a rotten car. Well, I mean adequate stabilty margins, good spin and stall characteristics, a reasonable wing loading, ample control authority etc etc isn’t usually the kind of thing you build into a car, and I definitely wouldn’t like to fly in an aircraft that had been built to survive motorway chrashes rather than turbulence.
    Better (and cheaper) to buy a car *and* an aircraft.

  30. I think this: http://www.gizmag.com/go/7135/
    is much more interesting than Moller or any other ‘someday maybe’ thing…
    BTW, notice that one of the salient points raised about the other gizmag autogyro above AND an advantage of 3 wheel (therefor ‘motorcycles’) is the lessened regulatory / licensing burden… That is the real problem, not the technology of flight.

  31. This is a classic example of the obvious, but bad, idea. Putting a car and plane together might work if you could start all over with new infrastructure, but you can’t. Rather than coming up with a good NEW idea, some people chase the same old BAD idea to death. How did that car that drives into the water work out?

  32. I think there is a market for these. I know a few aviation hobbyists and hanger fees are a huge expense. I am not sure but I think all you would need is an experimental aircraft qualified pilot’s license (like my father in law uses to fly his KR2) and you would be good to go. If it is really street legal to get to and from private airstrips and can be stored in a standard garage it would bring some big advantages to the hobbyist.

  33. Evacuated tunnels with mag-lev trains would also allow for much higher speeds than any flying machine, if properly done.

    If properly done they would run from my house to anywhere I want to go and be available anytime I want to go. Not a snowball’s chance of that.

  34. “and LST amphib transport ships “large, slow, targets”
    aka, Last Ship There, or Lotta Sick Troops.

  35. Tom in cooling Florida (11:51:22) :
    Bill Marsh (11:36:36) : “Yes, they do and we called the CH-46 helicopter “Flying coffins” and LST amphib transport ships “large, slow, targets”. Marines have a macabre sense of humor. We enjoy gallows humor. 🙂
    Yes we do. Although we also referred to the older tanks we had as “Coffins; green with yellow markings”. Semper Fi

    Ah, Marines are so quaint and parochial 😉
    Go Army!
    HHT 2/11 ACR 1981-1983 “Eaglehorse!”

  36. Retired Engineer (08:18:38) :
    “Years back, someone made a car that was a boat as well. It didn’t do well in either function”.
    Wrong, the perfect water car, build by Gibbs Technologies called Aquada, although expensive, is for sale now.
    http://www.gibbstech.co.uk/aquada.php
    And Gibbs is not alone.
    In the USA the “Watercar” is produced, based on the Chevrolet Camaro.
    This car too performs perfectly on the road as well in the water.
    I am confident that the equivalent of a flying car is viable as well.
    However not if it looks like the “Bambino Fiasco” posted by Anthony.
    Where is your sense for technological adventure?

  37. Ed (11:15:46) :
    “The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line.
    Therefore transport by air has the future.”
    “Wrong, trains in tunnels would be the real shortest distance. Unless you want to go from the top of building A to the top of Building B.
    Evacuated tunnels with mag-lev trains would also allow for much higher speeds than any flying machine, if properly done”.
    Ed,
    You are right but a Maglev is mass public transportation.
    It’s expensive and it’s not available.
    The dream of the flying car is the ultimate in individual transportation (freedom)
    which should appeal to any American.
    I am confident that practical applications will be for sale in the near future.

  38. Some body really does need to put a flying car into production. My guess is that a car like this would cost 400,000 to 500,000 thousand dollars to produce. It would be a very limited production item. The manufacture would have to be building it for ego’s sake and not expecting a return on investment (Lamborghini builds tractors, the car is a hobby).
    Obviously you won’t see a car like this in an urban area, it belongs in the wide open areas of the Dakotas or Montana.

  39. Tom in cooling Florida (11:27:00) :
    “Ron de Haan (11:02:03) : “Such a craft should be a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing)”
    Ummmmm, don’t experienced USMC pilots call a Harrier “The Widow Maker”?”
    Tom,
    The “old” Harrier was a “Widow Maker”.
    Modern Aircraft are flown with the support of computers making them safer to operate.
    The new Joint Strike Fighter also comes as a VTOL version for the US Marines.
    A helicopter in principle is also a VTOL.
    That’s why it’s popular for many applications.
    The negatives are the high operational costs, the high frequency of maintenance, the high fuel consumption and the complexity of the steering system.
    The inventor of the AIRSCOOTER has developed an easy to operate (idiot proof) steering concept for a helicopters (http://www.airscooter.com).
    But the end product is not appealing unless you are looking for an air scooter.

  40. This is a suckertrap, or at best a loonie’s delusion.
    The fact that you can build a flying car in the experimental category does not mean that you can get it certified for flight and driving. Certification is hell, a process costing millions of dollars. Certifying a brand new car from scratch costs tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Small airplanes are a little bit cheaper, but considering the immense complexity of the involved mechanism (how do you certify folding wings, how do you do failure mode analysis on such a complex contraption ?).
    Most certified vehicles, which costs millions, are building on the accumulated pre-certification of each part and components. It took years to a friend of mine, an aerospace engineer working for a huge helicopter company, to obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate for a simple bracket to attach an object inside the cowling of a Globe Swift, a simple airplane that was designed in the late forties.
    You have NO idea how much the government is intent on not letting the market evolve. They own your life, and are intent to protect it when it suits them…
    As for working with the road vehicle regulations, anyone who ever tried to work with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) will understand immediately.
    Now, imagine overcoming BOTH aviation and road vehicle standards bundled into one?
    HA HA HA HO HO HO HA HA HA HO HO HO…. weep…..

  41. Larey Kerling (08:27:44) :
    “Of course this is a no-go idea. A car-boat is much easier to produce, would appeal to many more people, but has never gotten past the novelty stage. A car-plane has no chance of being a serious product”.
    Larey, don’t make the mistake of Ken Olsen (DEC) who once stated that there was no market for home computers.
    If it’s safe, easy to use, efficient, comfortable, good looking and affordable there will be a market for individual air/road transportation.

  42. we can barely handle two dimensional travel in cars; having three dimensions is well beyond most people’s ability. and rush hour is fairly easy in a car, just hit the brakes and throw in another CD. in an air-car, there’s the problem of stall speed. why are journalists so boneheaded about simple concepts?

  43. Larey, don’t make the mistake of Ken Olsen (DEC) who once stated that there was no market for home computers.

    Or Bill Gates saying 640k was enough for anyone…

  44. Hmmmmm…..eccentrics.
    I thought the common consensuses was that most lived in the U.K.
    If you can get access to some old 1930’s ,40’s Popular Mechanics or magazines similar these always have technology predictions for the future – 10,20,30,50years etc. A real laugh.

  45. As others have touched upon, combination devices often compromise one function or the other.
    This is especially true for things that must move quickly, efficiently, or with agility, such as for boat-cars and car-planes.
    No doubt motorcycle-submarines haven’t worked out either.
    But there is always some market for novelty or specialized uses. Let those who can spend the money.

  46. papydawg (15:04:19) :
    ” in an air-car, there’s the problem of stall speed”.
    Not necessarily.
    The answer to the problem of the stall speed has materialized in the application of the so called “canard”, a small wing in the nose of the aircraft.
    This wing stalls first and forces the nose down before the aircraft loses speed.
    Modern aircraft designs are very difficult to stall.
    VTOL’s, like the Falx Air (http://www.falxair.com/about.html) or the Palv-V don’t have that problem.

  47. If you think winter driving can be fun, try flying cars. Do you have to be instrument rated to take off in a snowstorm?
    As an old grizzled engineer once told me, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Applies to a lot of things, not just idiots and their flying cars.

  48. Which places me firmly in the vintage Anthony’s dad column. Oh for a Popular Mechanics of my youth… rare and precious birds in Australia in the 50s.

  49. According to Wikipedia, this vehicle is being developed to meet the FAA’s Light Sport Aircraft requirements. As such, it is subject to less stringent certification requirements and pilot licensing requirements than conventional private aircraft. However, it does still require special licensing to operate and a special facility (i.e. airport) to take off and land. It costs as much as a regular Light Sport Aircraft plus a decent luxury sedan. And the contradictory requirements of an aircraft and a road-going vehicle mean that it will not perform ideally in either configuration. It is hard to imagine that there will be any real market for this vehicle beyond those interested in it for the novelty and with the current state of the economy, it doesn’t seem likely that there are many with $200K to spend on a novelty vehicle. Is it just a coincidence that their website has been suspended by their ISP?

  50. Anthony wrote:

    All thorough my childhood and adolescence I was a keen fan of all sorts of science magazines including Scientific American (the Amateur Scientist was my favorite SciAm column because it showed how to build things),

    The Amateur Scientist was #2 with me, Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games was my #1 with great stuff like the Soma cube, Pentominoes, hexaflexagons, Conway’s Life. That and Questar telescope ads – there are a number of people who drooled over those in SciAm or Sky & Telescope and finally bought one 40 years later when they could afford it.
    Apparently Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, read SciAm as a kid too. It’s nice to know someone else who turned out okay.
    It’s a shame what SciAm has become.

  51. It’s not a great aircraft and looks like a really bad car. Not really very good at anything.
    Just a toy for the rich. Otherwise it’s a solution looking for a problem.

  52. Too many of the respondents are assuming that grandpa will be able to fly one because he drives a car. Wrong. Not everyone has a pilot’s licence (license y’all) and the ones properly qualified wouldn’t be barging through restricted airspace any more than now. For a production run of several hundred per year (I forget the exact figure) then automotive crash testing is not a requirement and I don’t foresee multi-thousands of these things being built; therefore, it could be built light. I fly a compromise machine – it is both an aircraft and a boat. It handles well enough but loses out in the speed department. Likewise, I would expect a flying car to be optimized for flying and acceptable for traffic driving to the nearest airport. It could not and should not be a Cessna in the sky and a Ferrari on the ground.

  53. I get this message when I try to go to that site :
    “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”
    REPLY: try Firefox, it works better where complex flash scripts are involved and this site has them. IE breaks down a fair amount. I used to use IE almost exclusively, now its FireFox3 – Anthony

  54. I predict we will see this car in whatever James Bond film comes out in 2012.
    Maybe that will be the one where the plot has the evil mad scientist conspiring to release huge amounts of CO2 form his secret volcanic lair in the tropical Pacific Ocean in an attempt to disrupt the world economy so he can clean up in the carbon trading market.

  55. Fantasy sounds so good until it comes up against reality.
    I remember a few decades back reading all about flying cars and planned cities. Fortunately, most people grow out of such delusions.
    When I lived near Atlanta I got to experience first hand the joys of a planned community. It was called Peachtree City. All you had to give up were certain freedoms and you too could live in a fairly sterile environment.

  56. I’m 44 years of age and I want to know where the hell is my Jet Pack. I’ve been waiting 35 years .
    Now that I am older I have however re-thought the jet pack idea. Unless it was made by Honda or Toyota I am not interested. I do not want an engine failure.

  57. What’s big and gray and sits in a window and hums for 91 days?
    An American-made air conditioner with a three-month warrantee.

  58. re: jetpack
    Sorry, but the idea of flames so close to my ars just does not appeal to me. Red hair is as close as I want to get to a flame.

  59. evanjones (20:34:29) :
    What’s big and gray and sits in a window and hums for 91 days?
    An American-made air conditioner with a three-month warrantee.

    Not possible. America has no industry left to make ACs.

  60. About stall speed and Canard wings. My old pilot friend pointed out that: Yes, the canard runs out of lift first and the nose drops and you pick up speed. Works great at 5,000 feet. Not so great at 50 feet.

  61. Flying cars and domestic robots have been just around the corner for a long time. Bit like global warming tipping points then, tomorrow never comes. The only way flying cars could be a mass market product is if they were computer controlled, if they were flown by people then they would be too complicated and too many accidents. But don’t forget to call them eco flying cars and keep saying you are working on a hydrogen version.

  62. wattsupwiththat (19:38:15) :
    I predict we will see this car in whatever James Bond film comes out in 2012.
    Maybe that will be the one where the plot has the evil mad scientist conspiring to release huge amounts of CO2 form his secret volcanic lair in the tropical Pacific Ocean in an attempt to disrupt the world economy so he can clean up in the carbon trading market.

    Are you suggesting that Al Gore will be staring as the next Bond Villian? 😀

  63. About stall speeds.
    Deltas are good having progressive stall characteristics.
    An exception to this was the Gloster Javelin which had a propensity for tip stalls in the ground effect on approach. It would flip quite rapidly & land upside down. OUCH!
    Dave.

  64. You need not worry about one of these things falling on your head. With those tiny wheels, the vehicle will disappear into the first pothole it encounters.

  65. I’m a jetpack kind of guy myself.
    I used to have an old IH Scout that I’d get airborne every time I went over a certain railroad crossing near my house. The tracks were rough and the launch angle (steep!) was perfect to get all four wheels off the ground going over the tracks. At a speed of just under 45 miles per hour, it made for a perfect landing on the other side of the tracks. (“Those were the days, my friends.”)

  66. Wow! It only goes to prove there is A SUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE.
    A dent on an automobile is a cosmetic problem.
    A dent on an aircraft is a STRUCTURAL PROBLEM.
    Let’s put a 3″ deep dent in the side of a Cessna 182. Cost to repair?
    Certified A&P, probably about 1 week to do the job. And about $5000.
    Cost to have inspected and recertified, another $1500.
    Total cost: $6500. Likelyhood of a dent: 1 per year. Insurance rate? Probably $600 a month.
    Cool!
    I’m sure John Travolta will love his.
    Mark from MN

  67. Ron de Haan (15:43:56) :
    This is the website of the PALV-V based on the Carver.
    These guys solved all the legislative and technical obstacles.
    It will be fun to drive and fun to fly at a reasonable price.
    http://www.pal-v.com/

    Um, harvesting a minor nit… This has 3 wheels, so it’s a motorcycle, and a rotor, so it’s a gyrocopter. It is not a flying car. It is not a roadable airplane.
    The rules for motorcycles are, IMHO “Willing to die in it? OK, you’re certified.” – BTW, I own 4 motorcycles, 2 of which are working… so I’m not coming at this from some uninformed position. I’ve been riding for 40+ years now. That I’ve lived through it is luck, paranoia, and a couple of helmets with good ‘leathers’. “a few” of my motorcycles did not…
    AFAIK, the rules for gyrocopters have not significantly advanced since the autogyro days, but that’s uninformed bigotry on my part. (I have seen one article claiming this, but don’t know to which country they were referring…)
    Also, any licensing under the ‘experimental’ rules forbids operation in urban areas, congested air space, etc. etc. You don’t just head to the SFO TCA for lunch on Market Street… It’s for rural use, not commuting to work downtown. (I’ve piloted a glider in another time, long ago, and I’ve flown a hot air balloon – inside hanger 1 at Moffett NAS where they used to park blimps. It’s a lot bigger in there than it looks!)
    Given those qualifiers: Heck, I’d love to have one of these at a reasonable price!

  68. wattsupwiththat (19:38:15) :
    I predict we will see this car in whatever James Bond film comes out in 2012.

    Didn’t one of the bond films already have a flying car in it?
    google google …
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_with_the_Golden_Gun_(film)
    Attempting to place a homing device, she is locked into Scaramanga’s car, an AMC Matador, as he drives away. Bond follows him in an AMC Hornet ‘X’ with Sheriff J.W. Pepper at his side — whom he encounters when acquiring the vehicle — and a car chase across Bangkok ensues, concluding at a barn in the countryside outside the city with Scaramanga’s car transforming into a plane and flying away to his island in the Yellow Sea near China.
    http://www.jamesbondmm.co.uk/vehicles/flying-amc-matador

  69. I was well aquainted with Molt Taylor of Aerocar fame.He was a self taught Engineer, and his Aerocar was a passable airplane,but as a car,I wouldn’t want to hard corner one.His main idea was something to get to and from the airport with
    but not take the car part on long cross-countires-unless it was flying.
    Molt was an interesting,opinionated guy,and I spent may hours listening to his ideas on Aerodynamics and design.He predicted the failure of the Beech Starship, for instance,as an example…

  70. The first succesfull flying car was built in 1947 by Robert Fulton Jr. who died in 2004 in Connecticut. I was good friend of his son Bob Fulton, a terrific pilot that made several beautiful aerial documentaries filming from his Cessna-180 all over South America for the BBC. He died in a plane crash in his Cessna during a terrible storm when flying to his home in Conn.
    I have seen pictures of Bob when he was a boy flying the car with his father, disassembling it, driving it in the roads, etc. ee here the news about Robert Fulton’s death at the age of 96. Or Google him.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19307-2004May11.html

  71. It wouldn’t surprise me. Renaissances mean increased interest in Cultural Arts and Science. They happen about every 60 years (The last was the hippy movement). The next renaissance is called the awakening and will happen in 2020. When this occurs scientist believe that humans will enter the next stage of evolution where we will begin using the more of our brains. They say we could become so advanced that we could advance beyond destroying the environment and live in harmony with nature instead…aka…sustainable development. Also in 20212 the Roman/Christian Age ends and we enter the Age of Aquarius which is a space age called galactic diaspora. This new age will last until the 4000’s A.D.
    Seems plausible to me…The Mayans do say that the current age will end in 2012.

  72. Steve M. (09:00:57) :
    http://www.vortechonline.com/g1/
    Not a flying car…ultralight helicopter, and it requires no pilot license.

    Unfortunately no cargo space, and extemely dangerous. Anything with open spinning rotors like that will always be too dangerous for everyday use by the average person. Not just because of the danger of someone getting too close, but of hitting obstructions.
    There’s still the single element of failure that will cause one to plummet to their deaths. Acutally multiple single elements (engine failure, loss of fuel, main rotor damage/failure, tail rotor damage/failure)

  73. Jeff & Steve: I like the jet version at the bottom of the page. 12,500 ft max altitude, 12+ GPH fuel consumption and about a 5 gal tank (eyeballed)… so I wonder if after climbing to 12kft you get to autorotate back down as you run out of fuel? 12000 / 30 = 400 ft/min climb … and that is generous…

  74. i dont know why people dont believe they can make this happen i mean just like 80 yrs ago we didnt even have a radio and now we have palm size devices that can hold like 10,000 songs if they can do all that im sure we wont have any problem making a flying car…its kinda like a game system like the ps1 is sucked really bad then the ps2 it was pretty good with graphics and also a dvd player now we have the ps3 with 40g and 60 and even 80 g thats a lot of memory plus it has internet and everything..

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