When we imagine a “futuristic world”, most of us jump straight to images of robots and flying cars. But how realistic is it to dream of a world where we travel to work like George Jetson? Will that day ever really come?
Let’s take a look at what we already have working for us…
1926 – Ford Flivver
Way back in 1926, not that long after cars had been invented to run on the ground, Henry Ford of a little enterprise called the Ford Motor Company started to aim his dreams towards the skies. He started prototyping the Ford Flivver, which was intended to be the single-seated flying version of the Model T.
Everyone was a buzz – people flocked out to see what was being described as “Ford’s Flying Car” at the Ford National Reliability Air Tour in 1926. A columnist even came up with the following charming poem:
“I dreamed I was an angel
And with the angels soared
But I was simply touring
The heavens in a Ford.”
Sadly, Mr Ford’s flying car dreams came to a halting stop when his chief testing pilot, Harry J Brooks, took the third prototype out for a test and fatally crashed in Florida at the young age of 25. Mr Ford quite admired Brooks and he was devastated by the death, thus ending any further progress on the Flivver.
2006 – Terrafugia Transition
Not many waves have been made since then, up until 2006, that is. That’s when the Transition burst onto the scene, a light, road-worthy airplane from the masterminds at Terrafugia. They have spent the last 8 years continuing to tinker with the design and development of this automobile/aircraft hybrid, and while they’re still a while away from mass development, they are probably our best bet for flying cars.
For the most part, though, the Transition serves more of a purpose for pilots to be able to have something light to drive with foldable wings to use on the road between the airstrip and home. The problem with that, of course, is that it’s not really designed for ease of use for your everyday Joe (or George), and it is more of a plane that drives rather than what we want – a car that flies.
2012 – PAL-V ONE
PAL-V (Personal Air & Land Vehicle) is a Dutch company also working on their own car-like airplane. They take a slightly different approach to the small plane idea, and have developed a gyrocopter with a foldable propeller so you can cruise on the road, too.
The advantage of PAL-V’s ONE design is that you don’t need a huge strip of land to take off and land on, which comes in handy for the plethora of us who don’t have a kilometre of grass lying handy. In 2012 it was being prototyped and tested, and 2 years on it has been announced that they are going to be producing 45 initial units at a cool 500,000 euro each, expected to be delivered in 2016.
So in a way, we might be seeing a small semblance of what the future holds in only 2 years’ time.
2014 – Terrafugia T-FX
This year Terrafugia announced their second big flying car project – the T-FX. What we know about this is that it’s a little sleeker, with a narrower, bullet-like design. It also benefits passengers as well; the Transition is a solo unit while you will be able to fit 3 in the T-FX.
At this stage, Terrafugia are estimating production will take anywhere between 6 and 12 years, so we might have to hold our breath for a little while on whether they have the answer for us.
2017 – MIX Aerospace Skylys
A little different to the rest of the “big dog” companies making waves in the sky, the Skylys is a project by the much smaller team at MIX Aerospace. Despite being the underdogs, they are ambitious about their plan to create what is probably the closest thing we have to a future of flying cars yet.
They describe their project to be a mix between a car, drone, and helicopter. With three wheels and similar 4 seat structure to a car, the prototype seems to resemble a very futuristic vehicle for travelling on the ground and the air.
MIX Aerospace are hoping to get their little Skylys out on the market by 2017, so time will truly tell.
While many of us are in love with the idea of flying cars, how practical will all of this be? Can we really arm people that have no flying experience (and some with not great track records on the solid ground) to just zoom around in the air?
Luckily (or maybe frustratingly for some), we don’t really have to think about those things for a while. For now, Are You Selling is happy to keep helping you sell your car that safely stays on the ground!