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A Salute to the Flying Car

Transportation mash-ups are a popular engineering topic, with the long-promised flying car being the most sought-after hybrid craft.

When it comes to bemoaning the lack of levitating autos, no one has the credibility of Popular Science, which has been talking about flying cars since 1924, as the editors helpfully inform us in this brief history of flying car technology slideshow.

The last time I wrote about flying cars, I discussed the Terrafugia street-legal airplane and the PAL-V car-helicopter. The Terrafugia is due to hit the streets (and skies) in 2015, and more than 100 people have put down deposits on the $279,000 vehicle; the PAL-V is scheduled to hit the market at the same time.

There’s also the Samson Switchblade, an $85,000 kit vehicle that will require a motorcycle license and private pilot certification. The vehicle can fly 200 mph at altitudes up to 10,000 feet. The wings swing closed, and three-wheeled vehicle can be operated like a small car once you’re on the road. So far, the vehicle is still in the prototype phase.

But these are all essentially planes (and helicopters) that you can also drive on the road. What about those Jetsons-style hover vehicles? Popular Science reminds us that Paul Moller’s M400X is still in development after many years and the spending of many millions of dollars. The vehicle uses ducted fans for takeoff and flight. There were some tethered flight tests 10 years ago. The company also developed a vehicle, the Neuera, which looks a bit more like what I’ve always dreamed about.

For Eddie Rickenbacker’s thoughts on all this, see the 1924 article that started it all.

Source: Popular Science

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.

One comment

  1. What will happen to the Terrafugia when it passes a semi going 70 MPH with the wings stuck up in the air….huh? What kind of an inspection will be required when it hits a pothole going 45 MPH…..huh? Are you going to trust that the wings are “locked” when extended before you take off…huh? I don’t think that you’ll be driving this thing around town and then when you get stuck in traffic, just unfold the wings and fly over it all……do you?

    Flying cars are nice, expensive playthings, but practical…never. As to 100 people making deposits…….What P.T. Barnum said many years ago still applies today….Just a thought…..