The Jetsons had them, in the 60’s we were told by the year 2000 we would all be working a 3-day week and we would have flying cars! So, what happened to the flying car? We take a look at the story behind flying cars, how technology has advanced and when and if we will ever get them.
The first true flying car was invented a mere fifteen years after the Wright Brothers took flight in their plane, Kitty Hawk, and the inventor, Glen Curtiss, unveiled his first attempt in 1917, The Curtiss Autoplane, not exactly something you could drive on the roads with it boasting a wingspan of over 12 metres and with the vehicles motor having to drive a four bladed propeller at the rear. Unfortunately, this invention never took off (pardon the pun.) and certainly didn’t fly, however it did many to make a few hops off the ground to be airborne for mere seconds.
Twenty years later (1937) Waldo Waterman produced the Arrowbile which was a hybrid of the Studebaker-Aircraft, again this was of a rear propeller design and a three-wheeler to boot. The wings were detachable for easy storage but due to lack of funding the project was killed off.
In 1946 Robert Fulton developed the Airphibian, who took the opposite approach of developing a plane for the road, rather than a car for the skies! The plane components dissembled and could be stored in the body allowing it to be driven on the road and was the first “flying car” to be certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. With an impressive 50 mph on the road and 120 mph in the air, it still didn’t take off, again due to lack of funding.
Next in the 1940’s came the ConvAirCar, a two-door sedan equipped with a detachable aircraft component. Unfortunately, it failed to launch (on the market that is.) after it crashed on its third flight.
Since then, there have been several more attempts, even Ford in the 1970’s was going to market The Aero Car, but due to the back then decade old oil crisis those plans were grounded.
In reality, a flying car would require a pilot’s licence, as well as deep pockets to run and maintain it, and this is not something the everyday public want to invest their time and money to pass, so flying cars for the public still remain in the distant future and a dream from the past.