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January 31, 2007

Now Can I Have My Flying Car?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:17 PM *

And it’s about time. Popular Mechanics has been telling us about the Car of the Future since at least the 1950s.

Okay, maybe not as cool as a personal jet pack, but still … cool.

Comments on Now Can I Have My Flying Car?:
#1 ::: CJColucci ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:26 PM:

Just what we need. When there's an accident, the damn things will fall out of the sky.

#2 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:41 PM:
Just what we need. When there's an accident, the damn things will fall out of the sky.
Probably not a big worry - this doesn't sound like something that would ever be available for the average driver to use. Aside from the cost issue, it sounds fairly tricky to fly. I would guess it's intended for emergency services (mentioned in the page linked to), high-speed (and cost) shuttle service, things like that.
#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 05:43 PM:

I outed myself as a geek at a team lunch the other week.

The topic of aircars came up, and I flamed them bad:

"You know how stupid teens play 'mailbox baseball' with bats? Imagine that happening to your chimeny. You know those big rocks some people put along their curbs and on either side of their driveway to keep slobs in pickups from mucking up their lawns? Can you imagine the aircar version of those? We're talking fifty foot tall reinforced concrete pillars all around your house to keep idiots from slamming into it. . . ."

ad nauseum.

#4 ::: Kiwi C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Woohoo! I've been wanting a jetpack since 1959! It's about time!

#5 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Friends of mine who have been in flying cars don't want to do it again.

#7 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 07:38 PM:

#6: Claude, your middle link points to something I wrote for the Doomed Engineers page a decade ago. Cool.

Since 1996 I have administered a mailing list for the discussion of roadable aircraft, flying cars, etc. (To the robot at,
send the message "SUBSCRIBE FLYING-CAR" --subject line doesn't matter.)

There's a small gang of people who meet every year at Oshkosh to exchange news about flying car projects. Cling to hope.

#8 ::: Jim Bales ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2007, 11:16 PM:

If anyone is going to make a viable flying car, my money would be on Carl Deitrich and his crew at Terrafugia.

I've been at MIT for over 2 decades (first as a student and then as a staff researcher / instructor), and I can think of one or two students I've seen of his caliber.

This doesn't mean that it will work, but knowing some of the people behind it, I think they have at least a fair chance of making the flying car a viable product.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 01:09 AM:

Giving the idiots two dimensions is bad enough without granting them access to a third one.

#10 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 7 --

My pleasure.

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 7... There's a small gang of people who meet every year at Oshkosh to exchange news about flying car projects. Cling to hope.

When the MythBusters tried building a flying backpack, I think they also went to someone who has a collection of various flying cars. There even was a flying rocket belt, which Jamie was allowed to try on, and he was acting like a kid trying not to show how excited he was.

#12 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 12:09 PM:

An interesting and little-known fact is this: the superior safety record of aviation (fatalities per passenger-mile) is entirely due to commercial air travel. If you only look at the pool of light planes, the safety record is just about the same as automobiles.

Fuel economy is a figure that doesn't get mentioned much in these stories. I remember the Moeller flying-car prototype, which was powered with eight Mazda RX-7 motors, a car that got about 17mpg. Those eight motors were never going to be idling, but rather operating at 50-75% of full throttle the entire time. The thing was never going to be able to lift enough fuel off the ground to give itself a useable range.

#13 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 06:00 PM:

All I can say is:
"Can you name the truck with four wheel drive,
smells like a steak and seats thirty-five..
Urbanaero! Urbanaero!"

#14 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 05:14 PM:

BigHank53: before anyone says that your figures this prove widespread personal flight is plausible, they should think about how much safer driving would be if getting a driver's license required as much practice and study time as getting a private pilot's license. (I figure a minimum of 90 hours combining flight time, ground prep, and classes, and that's for an intense school; 1.5-2x that is probably more typical.)

You can't pull a plane over on the shoulder if something starts to go wonky with the plane, you, or the weather; perfectly ordinary boundary-pushers -- not nearly stupid enough to be called fools -- get killed every year in light planes (JFK Jr is the obvious example). Usually they only kill their own passengers, but I wouldn't expect that to be true if there were a major increase in traffic.

wrt economy: When I did a college paper, seat-mile gas consumption was similar in light planes, big jets, and cars -- but that applied only to true airplanes, not hybrids. The plane I learned in was licensed for 1600 pounds gross weight, including fuel and two passengers, despite stretching ~20 feet side-to-side and front-to-back; you wouldn't want to drive something that fragile on a highway.

#15 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 02:08 AM:

...putting on lipstick while balancing a paperback on the steering column...
...talking on the cell phone while three kids run amok in the backseat (unbuckled!) of the new Cadillac Escallade Infinity and Beyond!
...all while navigating in 3 dimensions.
My car insurance is already ridiculous as a single white male.

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2007, 01:08 PM:

On the way to work yesterday, the driver in the car in front of me was SHAVING HIS HEAD WITH AN ELECTRIC RAZOR as he was driving.

#17 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2009, 06:32 AM:

I'm assuming it wasn't flying-car spam.

#18 ::: Richard A. Strong ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 02:44 PM:

You are cordially invited to see my StrongMobile Flying Car Project at

#19 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Looking back at #18, I want to know, where is the flying car website I was promised?

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 04:17 PM:

The only way I would ever be interested in a flying car would be if there was also a centralized TrafficNet controlling them all. The dumbass moves I see people making on the highways, now in 3D? DO NOT WANT.

#21 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Lee @ 22 -

Quite right. I enjoyed tooling around the sky in a Cessna, but its ease of use is never going to approach that of an automobile without serious infrastructure changes. Beyond the issues of training and weather and traffic, there's the dad-blamed expense. If every time you went somewhere in your car it cost you $100 per hour, you might drive once or twice a week.

Jim Bales @ 8 -

The Terrafugia has the best shot of going into production, but at $280,000 per vehicle, its target market is really composed of people who are already pilots. It's a neat vehicle, but it's much more a roadable airplane than flying car.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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