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Flying car -- for real!

From the Jetsons cartoons sixty years ago to now, the future has arrived, just differently.

From what I can find, the TF-X model shown in that CGI presentation won’t be available until 2023. Don’t you think if it was that close to public sales there would be an actual video and not just something even I could have cooked up in MS Flight Simulator. The TRANSITION model that may or may not be available soon is quite different.

I’ve been reading bout flying cars since I was a little kid in the pages of Popular Science magazine. They were always JUST around the corner…

We will see the Terrafugia shortly after we see the 10,000th Elio car delivered. Meaning, never.

This company was right down the road from where I worked in Woburn MA. Every few months there’s something written up about them in the local paper. Always wanted to take a visit, but never got the chance.

And hopefully by then they’ve developed an always-on, non-overrideable autopilot that will avoid vortex ring state, otherwise there’s gonna be a lot of dead rich people. :wink:

I’m calling BS on many of the claims in that article, in addition to the timing. I very much doubt it’s been crash tested, so the ‘it meets NHTSA specs’ claim is bogus. Especially if it weighs only 1300 pounds - can’t fit many batteries into the ‘hybrid’ powertrain at that weight.

As others have said, ‘flying cars’ have been around for decades, never practical. The new ones are always just two years away…

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Now I understand - they’re just announcing manufacturing of an improved version of their OLD vehicle:

The video in the OP (and in a number of other releases) is of a brand new version that hasn’t even reached the prototype stage.

NHTSA granted a ‘hardship waiver’ for the old vehicle.

I was sloppy and didn’t check for previous articles to place this article in context. Mea culpa.

One very obvious problem that occurred to me when I watched this is that the Osprey military plane with the same type prop rotor system has had known problems with safe handling by highly trained pilots.

And even if this vehicle makes it into production and sales, I can’t see this being commonly owned. But it makes an addendum to Jetsons cartoons. :wink:

Don’t blame yourself, several big news sites made the same mistake!

Yeah, that’s the vortex ring state I was talking about. Basically if you descend too fast straight down in any kind of helicopter or tiltrotor, you end up in the fast-moving downward air generated by your own rotors, and then you lose lift and very bad things happen.

From the linked article-

The first production vehicles will come to market in 2019.

Does anyone really believe that?
From CGI to production in one year… next up- Disneyland…

Yes, because the CGI thing isn’t what’s coming next year. This is:

Amphibious cars have been been available in several iterations. All were lousy cars and all were lousy boats.

Much like amphibious cars, flying cars will neither be good cars nor will they be good airplanes. Nor have earlier examples ever been successful.

And what do you get when you combine a Pinto with a Cessna? Nothing good:

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The Flying car idea has been around since just after WWI.

The way people drive on the roads…I can imagine the danger to us all if a flying car is put on the market.

I googled " History of flying cars"!!!

  • Curtiss Autoplane - In 1917, Glenn Curtiss, who could be called the father of the flying car, unveiled the first attempt at such a vehicle. His aluminum Autoplane sported three wings that spanned 40 feet (12.2 meters). The car’s motor drove a four-bladed propeller at the rear of the car. The Autoplane never truly flew, but it did manage a few short hops.
  • Arrowbile - Developed by Waldo Waterman in 1937, the Arrowbile was a hybrid Studebaker-aircraft. Like the Autoplane, it too had a propeller attached to the rear of the vehicle. The three-wheeled car was powered by a typical 100-horsepower Studebaker engine. The wings detached for storage. A lack of funding killed the project.
  • Airphibian - Robert Fulton, who was a distant relative of the steam engine inventor, developed the Airphibian in 1946. Instead of adapting a car for flying, Fulton adapted a plane for the road. The wings and tail section of the plane could be removed to accommodate road travel, and the propeller could be stored inside the plane’s fuselage. It took only five minutes to convert the plane into a car. The Airphibian was the first flying car to be certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the predecessor of the the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It had a 150-horsepower, six-cylinder engine and could fly 120 miles per hour and drive at 50 mph. Despite his success, Fulton couldn’t find a reliable financial backer for the Airphibian.
  • ConvAirCar - In the 1940s, Consolidated-Vultee developed a two-door sedan equipped with a detachable airplane unit. The ConvAirCar debuted in 1947, and offered one hour of flight and a gas mileage of 45 miles (72 kilometers) per gallon. Plans to market the car ended when it crashed on its third flight.
  • Avrocar - The first flying car designed for military use was the Avrocar, developed in a joint effort between Canadian and British military. The flying-saucer-like vehicle was supposed to be a lightweight air carrier that would move troops to the battlefield.
  • Aerocar - Inspired by the Airphibian and Robert Fulton, whom he had met years before, Moulton “Molt” Taylor created perhaps the most well-known and most successful flying car to date. The Aerocar was designed to drive, fly and then drive again without interruption. Taylor covered his car with a fiberglass shell. A 10-foot-long (3-meter) drive shaft connected the engine to a pusher propeller. It cruised at 120 mph (193 kph) in the air and was the second and last roadable aircraft to receive FAA approval. In 1970, Ford Motor Co. even considered marketing the vehicle, but the decade’s oil crisis dashed those plans

These pioneers never managed to develop a viable flying car, and some even died testing their inventions. However, they proved that a car could be built to fly, and inspired a new group of roadable aircraft enthusiasts. With advances in lightweight material, computer modeling and computer-controlled aircraft, the dream is very close to becoming reality. In the next section, we will look at the flying cars being developed today that eventually could be in our garages.



I think that no matter how close they come to making the flying car practical, it will never be as good an airplane as a pure airplane and it will never be as good a car as a pure car and it will be so expensive that you might as well own a pure airplane and an old beater car to keep parked at your destination airport for commuting.

I think of a comment a motorcycle publication made about do-it-all adventure touring bikes. “off road they feel like street bikes and on the highway they feel like off road bikes”.


How I recall the El Camino being described as a bad truck that makes an even worse car…

Compromise: where both sides are equally dissatisfied with the outcome…

These things aren’t going to be for practicality. They’re going to, as usual, be for rich people to show off.

Much like normal airplanes - a decent turboprop does what a very-light-jet does, only better and less expensively (and often just as fast), but a lot of people get the weird little 1-engine jet because it costs more and therefore people know you have more money.

I agree with the magazine.

I’ve owned 7 or 8 motorcycles, road bikes and dirt bikes. The last one I road was a 1977 Honda CB750K. I parked it in the back of my garage 31 years ago when my first child was born and I had to be a responsible person, ha, ha. It’s still parked there!!

Anyhow, one bike I had was a Honda CL450 “scrambler” style motorcycle (high pipes), but that baby was pretty heavy and basically had street tires, etcetera. One day while watching dirt bikes charging up a big hill I decided to show them what the Honda could do…

I charged straight up the hill and soon with the engine revving, I started to lose traction. Next, the rear tire spun in the rim (NO rim locks!).

At that point I had to figure out what to do with a 412 pound motorcycle with a stone flat rear tire parked on the side of a 45 degree angle hill with me holding it up. I remember feeling quite homesick.

I got down OK, but it could have gone very badly, very quickly.

It’s the same thing with amphibious cars, they are mediocre as cars and are also really crappy as motorboats.
Now they have one that can go up to 80 mph on land and nearly 45 mph on water and all for only $170,000 dollars. Be still my beating heart!

The original Amphicar would only do about 6 knots on the water.
I can see uses for it however, I remember working on a electric tram for someone who lived next to Lake Travis. He kept a car parked at a marina on the other side of the lake and crossed the lake in a small motorboat to get to the car to drive into town. It save him about an hour of time to go into town.