Are We Finally Getting a Flying Car?
Perhaps our first fascination with flight dates back to the days of ancient Greek mythology when Icarus fell from the sky after flying too close to the sun. Despite his father's advice, Icarus still soared upward wearing his Dad's handcrafted wings fashioned with wax and the heat from our solar sister sent him crashing back down to Earth, according to legend anyway.
Considering the fact this legendary character was known as Icarus (as in I-CAR-US), it makes one wonder, did the advent of this imaginary winged man foresee the future of flying cars? What about The Jetsons or more recently when a vintage Ford Anglia Deluxe became magically airborne during a particularly important plot moment in the Harry Potter series?
In any event, many of us have been dreaming about flying cars for decades and according to more recent realistic sources, science fiction is becoming fact, so we could be seeing them overhead and on our roads in the very near future.
According to a recent article in Forbes citing the "Top 10 Tech Trends For 2018," we should be looking towards the skies for flying automobiles very soon. Several companies were laying the groundwork for airborne autos in 2017 and there are rumors of a flying taxi services taking off in Dubai in the summer of 2018.
Terrafugia Transitions into Flying
Back in 2005, the idea for the Terrafugia Transition flying automobile first started taking shape as the Otter shown pictured below. At the 2013 Oshkosh EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture Air Show, Terrafugia wowed the crowds with an updated version of a flight-capable car during this venue.
A more updated model known simply as The Transition comes along with a sticker price of $279,000, which is actually quite affordable for an aircraft. Whether it would be considered a flying car remains to be seen. This creative concept more closely resembles a comic book Transformer when grounded since its wings must be folded up in order to be street legal, fit and function properly on today's roadways.
According to their website, "The Transition is the future of transportation today. A street legal-airplane that converts between flying and driving modes in under a minute." Terrafugia admits it's not meant to be a vehicle to be driven very fast and would likely be flown roughly 85% of the time and on the road the other 15%.
The Pal-V Flying Car
Fast-forward to 2018, and the Pal-V Flying car is touting its creation as the "world's first flying car production model." Skeptics on YouTube are calling foul, but according to more reputable sources, it's a true, flying automobile.
In an article from The UK Express, the stats they're listing for the proposed production model seem to be legit and pretty down to earth:
- Transforms from auto to gyroplane in approximately ten minutes
- Powered by dual Rotax engines
- In car mode, the vehicle travels from zero to 62 mph in under ten seconds
- Top speed on the turf is 100 mph
- With a range of a little over 800 miles on the ground, users should expect 31 mpg
- Also as an auto with three wheels, it leans around corners like a motorcycle
In order to become airborne, the Pal-V needs a space similar to a traditional runway; an unobstructed, very wide lane of at least two hundred meters in length. Once in the air, the "plane" runs on a separate flying engine capable of reaching 112 mph and run for 310 miles at a maximum altitude of 3,500 meters.
Before all of you potential pilots out there get your hopes up too high, speaking of being a pilot, you'll need a proper license to operate your "pal" through the air. You'll also need to be prepared to shell out £254,000 (or over $339,000 USD) for the "sports" model and £425,000 (or more than $567,200 USD) for the full-sized, Liberty edition.
If you've got that kind of cash, you'd better sign up soon for purchase since only 90 of the Liberty models are slated for production and an unknown number of the sporty sedans will follow. The Pal-V was unveiled in March 2018 at the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland and we'll have to wait to see how well it sells.
Chicken or the Egg?
So given these two examples, we're still left with a couple of similar queries, are these new models more like a concept car that transforms into an airplane or are they an aircraft with the ability to drive legally on the street. At this time it seems that the latter question is closer to the truth.
But this still means technology is pushing our automobiles closer to the sky with these innovative designs. We already have plenty of amphibious vehicles available for purchase (even an RV that will run on water), so it's only a matter of time before our dreams of a flying car become a reality.