Can you believe the concept of a flying car is taking so long? This feat has been on the wish list of many a geek and driver stuck in massive traffic. This idea first surfaced in the early 1900s. Even Henry Ford predicted that a flying car was inevitable. However, the idea has lingered in relative obscurity. 2012 promises to begin delivering the Transition, a small aircraft you could drive home from the airport. There are several other ready to fly and drive vehicles that are moving from concept phase to production phase too.
Revealed by aviation pioneer Glen Curtiss in 1917, the Autoplane was probably the first serious attempt to combine the attributes of an automobile with those of an airplane. The aluminum craft had three removable wings that spanned more than 40 feet. It hopped down a runway a few times, but was never successfully flown.
Successfully tested in 1947, the Airphibian was the first roadable aircraft to be certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. In flight, it looked like a small airplane. For road use, its entire aft section, including the tail and wings, was detached and rested on its own small wheels. This model was never given the green light by the government.
Aerocar prototype debuted in 1949 with a Lycoming engine that was mounted over the rear wheels and drove a propeller behind the tail. For road use, the wings folded back alongside the tail, which was disconnected and towed like a trailer. Four of these were designed and sold, one is still flying.
Plane Driven PD-1
A pod that slides with the rear wheels on rails. For road use, the pod slides aft to correct the center of gravity for highway stability. A 500cc Yamaha engine mounted in the pod powers the PD-1 on the road. Because it has three wheels, it’s licensed as a motorcycle in Washington. Creator flew the PD-1 to the EAA AirVenture air show in 2010. Future prototypes may use electric motors to drive the road wheels.
This is a 2-person vehicle that can fly under a parafoil wing when propelled by a paramotor propeller. The Skycar, powered by a Yamaha motorcycle engine, can reach 140 mph on the ground and cruise at 82 mph in the air, with a flight range of 200 miles. The company is accepting deposits and there is even a wait list however marketing efforts have been on a stand still for over a year.
Certified in 2010 by the Federal Aviation Administration as a “powered parachute,” is a rugged vehicle for people living at the frontiers of the world. Engage the pusher propeller, deploy the ram-air parachute wing, and the Maverick can take off in about 300 feet, reach an airspeed of 40 mph, and climb as high as 10,000 feet, all of which is handy when there’s simply no road. Note a pilots license is needed to operate this mode of transportation.
Scaled Composites BiPod
The BiPod is a roadable, twin-fuselage, 2-seat electric-hybrid aircraft. The BiPod’s 50-pound wings can be removed in 10 minutes and stowed between the fuselage pods for road travel. To date, the BiPod has been tested only with wheel power. Creator is still looking for an outside investor to help move this project forward.
DARPA is a 2010 concept that is a 4-person roadable aircraft that can lift off without a runway. The objective is to create a vehicle that can fly over problems on the ground, such as a road laced with bombs, for raids, reconnaissance or evacuation missions. The government and government contractors are currently spending a lot of time to make this vision a reality.
In 2012, you could arrive at your may be traveling in a Transition. This light-sport aircraft are expected to begin production next year, pending final highway crash-safety tests. The Transition has wings that fold and unfold at the push of a button while the pilot remains in the cockpit. Drive it from home to the airport, take off and land, and then drive to your final destination, all in one vehicle. There have already been a handful for successful tests with this model. A Transition pilot will be required to have at minimum a sport-aviation license, which takes about 20 hours of training. The expected price is $279,000.