Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Flying cars
Nothing new


I found the image and I also found a headline that read: The Wright Brothers were NOT the first to fly a plane - a German pilot beat them to it two years earlier in a flying car, claims leading aviation journal

Since I read the other day that people are trying to develop “the first flying car,” I read the article with some interest. (See A commuter's dream: Entrepreneurs race to develop flying car)

This image above provided by Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics shows an Israeli-made flying car. Urban Aeronautics conducted flight tests of its passenger-carrying drone call the Cormorant in Megiddo, Israel, late in 2016. The company says the aircraft can fly between buildings and below power lines, attain speeds up to 115 mph, stay aloft for an hour and carry up to 1,100 pounds. (Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics)

According to England’s Daily Mail,

    The Wright Brothers are famous for flying the world's first successful airplane in 1903 - yet they may have been beaten to the record two years earlier, according to a prestigious aviation journal.

    Jane's All The World's Aircraft claims in its 100th anniversary edition that German aviation pioneer Gustav Weisskopf was actually the first man to successfully build and fly his 'Condor' plane in August 1901.

    Condor was designed to be part-car, part-plane and may have been the first flying car, according to the prestigious aviation journal Jane's.

True or not, flying cars have been around at least since the 1950s in the U.S.

A web site called Jalopnik tells visitors that

    A man by the name of Glenn Curtiss patented the flying car in 1917, according to Popular Mechanics. Curtiss meant for his Model 11 Autoplane to be a luxury car on the inside, as opposed to the more bare features of airplanes at the time. World War I complicated the development process, and the Autoplane never flew.

    While one of the earliest flying cars never actually got to fly, later ones did—and it wasn’t much later, either. The “Roadable” flew briefly in 1921, and the “Fulton Airphibian” got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and flew successfully. Popular Mechanics adds that for some reason—it couldn’t be because of its name, because no one could hate that kind of creativity—the Airphibian didn’t catch on with investors, and it never had a production version.

Curtiss, for those who don't know the name, went on to develop a number flying machines, both land based and sea based.

Others tossed around ideas and attempts at air-road vehicles during the mid 20th century, but the car often referred to as the first flying car—perhaps since it was the first to go into production—came out in 1949. According to Popular Mechanics, engineer Moulton Taylor developed a two-seater vehicle with wings able to be folded and hauled behind while driving on roads.

Taylor called his invention the “Taylor Aerocar,” and the New York Daily News cites 1954 as the year that the production version came around. The vehicle had a ground speed of up to 60 mph and an air speed reaching 117 mph, according to Popular Mechanics. Its maximum altitude was 12,000 feet.

Available on ebay

The WyoTech web site identified seven -- 7 ! -- flying cars from the 20th century and includes images of of each.

As A Civil Air Patrol cadet (Miami Compositie Squadron 2, if anyone is curious) I was on an FAA survey of aircraft coming to and going from Tamiami Airport, then a small field with a tower that controlled flights via red and green lights — no radio communications. During the survey a guy drove up towing wings and tail assembly behind his car. We watched as he mounted the “flying parts,” and took off for a brief flight.

I think it was a Taylor Aerocar based on the photographs on the WyoTech page.

Bottom line

As King Solomon allegedly said, אין חדש תחת השמש or “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Hopefully, the folks racing to buld the “first” — that’s not the first — flying car will do some reseach to find out why, while many of the flying cars of the past flew, they never found enough buyers to become commonplace.

For about 20 years, from the end of WW 2 until the late 1950s, very small cars had a small following. But then tiny cars, such as the “smart”® car may be making a come back.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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