Is There a Flying Car In Your Future?

Flying High Above the Traffic Jam - 1960s Aerocar
Flying High Above the Traffic Jam - 1960s Aerocar

The Agony of Freeway Congestion

What driver, crawling along through bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour, hasn't dreamed of being able to turn his car into an airplane and fly over the whole mess? While we have been able build rockets to send men to the moon since 1969 (Apollo 11 first arrived on July 20, 1969) we still haven't been able to build a car that can fly out of a traffic jam.

Well, actually we have built cars that can also fly. A half a century ago the actor Bob Cummings had a car that he was flying around in and that was BEFORE Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Cummings' car and others like his needed a runway like a regular airplane in order to become airborne so, despite its ability to fly, that car was not a solution for escaping a traffic jam.

Bob Cummings
Bob Cummings

Memories of the Bob Cummings Show

What got me to thinking about flying cars, other than wishful thinking as my car crawls down the freeway to work every day, were a couple of news items recently on the Internet about some scientists and investors who feel that flying cars are both technically and economically feasible. As a child I remember occasionally watching the Bob Cummings show on TV with my parents. The show, which ran from 1955 - 1959, was about a bachelor photographer in Hollywood by the name of Bob Collins (played by Bob Cummings) who lived with his widowed sister (played by Rosemary DeCamp) and teenage nephew (played by Dwayne Hickman). Ann Davis (who later played the role of the maid in The Brady Bunch) was Schultzy, Bob's receptionist. In addition to being a photographer, Bob was a lady's man who enjoyed chasing after beautiful women but, despite his sister's best efforts, was not interested in marrying and settling down with any of them. Bob was also a pilot in the Air Force Reserve (as was Cummings in real life).

In case you are wondering how I went from flying cars to a 1950's sitcom, it is because sometime during that period I ran across an article about Cummings which not only mentioned that he was so passionate about flying that he owned, in addition to an airplane, a car that could fly. Included in the article was a picture of him driving his car, with the wings folded up, down one of Hollywood's main streets. Through the years, whenever I encountered stories about futuristic flying cars I would remember the picture of the 1950s actor who actually owned one.

Bob Cummings Flying His Aerocar over San Fernando Valley in Southern California
Bob Cummings Flying His Aerocar over San Fernando Valley in Southern California
Cummings driving his car on the road.
Cummings driving his car on the road.

Early Aviators Sought to Combine the Automobile and Airplane into One Vehicle

In case you are wondering how I went from flying cars to a 1950s sitcom, it is because sometime during that period I ran across an article about Cummings which not only mentioned that he was so passionate about flying that he owned, in addition to an airplane, a car that could fly. Included in the article was a picture of him driving his car, with the wings folded up, down one of Hollywood's main streets. Through the years, whenever I encountered stories about futuristic flying cars I would remember the picture of the 1950s actor who actually owned one.

Actually cars are only slightly older than planes with the first cars appearing in the late 19th century and the first recorded powered flight being made by the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903. Amazingly, cars and planes were closely linked from the start. Glenn Curtiss was a successful motorcycle manufacturer who became interested in flying and went on to become a successful early airplane manufacturer with his Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. In 1917, a little more than a decade after the Wright Brothers first flight, Curtiss designed, built and flew the first flying car which he called an Autoplane. While technically successful, the Autoplane, was not a commercial success mainly due to the fact that, in trying to be two things at once, it failed to function well as either a car or an airplane. A few years later, automobile tycoon Henry Ford predicted that flying cars would be the wave of the future. His Ford Motor Company produced both cars and airplanes during the early years of the twentieth century. However, unlike Curtiss, Ford did not try to merge planes and cars into a single product.

Despite the fact that some entrepreneurs are moving full speed ahead to build a practical flying car, don't expect to see cars flying around town as depicted in old Jetson's cartoons. However, don't be surprised if your neighbor invites you over some day soon to see the new auto plane he just purchased. Not only does the technology look very promising but the economics also look promising as well. The young entrepreneurs working on flying cars fully expect to create a flying car that will not only fit in an average suburban garage but be affordable as well. Of course affordable is a relative term and the first of the flying cars will more than likely not be cheap (estimates are that the price of the first flying cars will be between that of a high end car and a small plane). But, then our growing economy is causing incomes to rise while, at the same time, technology is driving costs down in this area and it won't be too long until rising incomes meet falling prices. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is already making plans for licensing drivers and writing rules of the air that drivers will have to follow. As I pointed out in a previous hub, little did I imagine years ago when my brothers and sisters and I went in together on a Christmas gift of a second telephone for our parents for their bedroom and paid extra twice - first for the, what was then considered a slim phone, the Princess model, and, second, for a white, rather than traditional telephone black color so that it would look better in their bedroom that I would some day be taking my daughter to a store to purchase a wireless cell phone that not only included a camera but was also small enough to fit into her purse (that was smaller than the Princess telephone) and matched the purse! I won't be that surprised if one day my neighbor pulls up with a flying car to store in his garage.

However, before you start fantasizing about staying in bed an extra half hour in the morning and then backing out of your garage and avoiding the slow freeway traffic by taking off and flying to work, there are still some practical considerations as well as rules. The current plans for flying cars envision cars with an outside size that is about the same today's SUVs but passenger and cargo space more along the line of a small sports car. As to flying, no one envisions using roads as runways for these cars. Instead, plans call for using existing small airports that currently cater to private, rather than commercial, aviation. While larger airports are becoming increasingly congested with commercial aviation, these small airports have excess capacity. The result is that owners of flying cars will have to get into their car at home, fight the freeway traffic to the nearest small aircraft airport where they will take flight and fly to a similar airport at their destination where they will land and use regular roads to get to their destination. Not very practical for commuting to the average workplace or the nearest shopping mall. However, just because these flying cars aren't practical for our regular commutes today doesn't necessarily mean that they will just be toys for those who can afford them. Today, it takes as long or longer to fly from Tucson, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona even though it only takes an airplane 20 minutes to make the flight while the drive takes an hour and a half to two hours to drive. Imagine how much time could be saved by driving to a nearby small airport, pushing a button to convert to flight mode, flying to Phoenix, landing, converting back to car mode and continuing to the destination. Just as the introduction of the automobile made it faster and easier to get around, as well as freeing us from having to live near our jobs, flying cars offer the possibility of even greater freedom of choice.

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Comments 44 comments

chelseacharleston profile image

chelseacharleston 4 years ago

I want one!! What a great idea and a Jetsons reality soon enough hopefully!! Great hub!


sjain101 profile image

sjain101 4 years ago from Delhi

Great Hub. I think this flying would be a possibility in coming future. Would be great to own one.


Jameshank profile image

Jameshank 5 years ago from Japan, NY, California

Very interesting hub!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Chuck, I'm glad I discovered this hub of yours. A real treat, this.

I lived in Phoenix for 10 years before moving to the Philippines. And 25 years in L.A. before that. A flying car perhaps like that of the Absent-minded Professor would have been more to my liking. No runway needed. But I suppose that's more science fiction or perhaps fantasy. Ah, but we can dream.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

I've been seeing more in the news about flying cars, and I must say that it looks fascinating! Though I would still freak out if I were to test these out...

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/flying-cars-on-the-...


tom.staton profile image

tom.staton 5 years ago from Oxford

Ha i saw this on Top gear a while back, it was great.


lamborghini rider hasnain 5 years ago

i really want a flying car


fashion 5 years ago

Great hub.Unique idea of flying cars.

I love it.


Fastest Car Rider profile image

Fastest Car Rider 5 years ago from California

very nice


zahmaan 5 years ago

is there going to be a flying ar


fatmatulwagihaa 5 years ago

really...? a car can fly....if it can...i would like to try at least once...


amit_kosti 6 years ago

Am going to fly in this car today

:P

just kidding.......

I hope i can see flying car in my life


adi 6 years ago

waw fantastic


amit_kosti 6 years ago

I really like to fly in the car !!


magicthe profile image

magicthe 6 years ago

A Flying Car In My Future? Yes, of course, but I'm too scared to fly.


candle62 profile image

candle62 6 years ago from London

Definitely, so much as already happened with technology that a flying car seems nothing, it will be done

Great hub

keep it up


RoseGardenAdvice profile image

RoseGardenAdvice 6 years ago from San Francisco

Thanks, Chuck, again for a nice hub. Interesting to read about Bob Cummings' flying car. Would be fun to see how airborne car traffic will be regulated!


car hire Birmingham 6 years ago

I would love it if there were but I doubt I will see one in my lifetime.


riyan 6 years ago

I am sure there will be lots of flying cars near future.i have seen some of the companies already designed the concept models.

http://carandengines.blogspot.com


basejumper profile image

basejumper 6 years ago

Surely there will be different "flying vehicles". In very near future. Read H.G. Wells ;-)


Shannon Paulk 6 years ago

To live in an age when the possibility of a flying car seemed to be far into the future. But now this reality could be just around the corner.


Jackie Forward 6 years ago

My father lived next door to Bob Cummings in Palm Desert in Indian Wells. I remember Bob and actually sat in his air car. He was the nicest man and fun to be around. My Dad was his friend name of Dick Davis. Fun to remember.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 6 years ago from Around the USA

I want one, but only if I'm the only person in the sky. I sure wouldn't want to be up there if people fly the same way they drive. ;-)


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

I want one... The idea and concept of a "flying car" is becoming more "mainstream..."


nycarsforsale profile image

nycarsforsale 6 years ago from TX, USA

Before start your expedition to buy your car it is important to understand the type of car that you need to buy. If you feel buying a car burns a hole in your pocket.


Ryan S Jensen 6 years ago

I have been thinking about how to make cars fly and I know it can be done by the time it all comes about the car will fly its self through a coumputer and will a have so many safty features that it will be safer then driving. What we get to worrie about is how to introduce it and how soon we have to do it before another country does it first.


KellyEngaldo 7 years ago

I need a hovercraft!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

VivalaPatch - I agree with you, seeing the way some people drive their cars I would hate to have to deal with them in the air. And then there is the fear that, instead of just colliding with my car and me in the air, they could also crash land on my roof.


VivaLaPatch profile image

VivaLaPatch 7 years ago from in the air

My dream is to live in a "fly-in" community (you know, the ones where everyone lives around a runway). That way I can just walk out to my hangar, pre-flight the plane and head off to wherever. I think that would be even better than a flying car.

I think the latest flying car type thing has been called a "roadable aircraft" or something like that. They make the distinction because it's an airplane first and then a car. The primary purpose is flying with a secondary one being driving.

I have to agree with other comments about congestion in the sky. As a licensed pilot, I'm not sure I want all those people I deal with on my drive home each night to join me in the air. Some of them are idiots..


Tony 7 years ago

The barriers to flying car mass production may lessen now that the new U.S. administration is putting a priority on alternative energy.


green 7 years ago

Maybe i can see it in 10 years. will it be air traffic jam in future?


schultzy profile image

schultzy 7 years ago

You know there is going to be flying cars in the future we all know it. All of the new sci-movies they have now all pertray flying vehicles. Plus they already have technology out there. They are closer than we all think.


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 7 years ago from Texas

I remember watching the Jetsons as a kid and always thinking it's hard enough to keep track of what's going on driving on the ground in 2D, how tough would it be to do when you not only had to look left and right, but up and down to spot other drivers if the skies were crowded.


esbee@1starnet.com 7 years ago

one of my vivid childhood memories is seeing Bob Cummings' flying car in a couple episodes of his TV show...i never forgot it and it has always been at the back of my mind that there would someday be flying cars.


joblot profile image

joblot 8 years ago from Ringwood

We play wonderful games with ourselves - we create flying cars in movies and other such interesting technological devices - and then someone somewhere makes it happen. We'll be having teleporters too - one day - I wouldn't want to test one though...


Free Car Quotes 8 years ago

Great Hub you have here :) please read my new hub about getting free online car quotes...


shira profile image

shira 8 years ago from U.S.A

"Great hub. The Moller International website has some short videos of their efforts at doing something like this."

can you give us a link?


Cory 8 years ago

I agree with Misha, I would love to just try one before I die.

Cory


Ken-NASCAR Rumor monger 8 years ago

This doesn't have to be that far off if the powers that be want to push it. They already have the little 2 man mini jets. They could totally do this!


Ronald 8 years ago

I think, I've come up with a way to move in air, space and water. I don't say fly because flying to me means that you have to use the air to move around. This dose not use air. I think it will move in space and water. I've done some research (paper work and some real tests) on it but don't have the resources to make a working model. everything is done but the model.

you can reach me at workingflyingcar@yahoo.com


kpfingaz profile image

kpfingaz 8 years ago from ~~~

I hope they don't make them like that though. How bout the ones like in the movie 'The Fifth Element'?


Misha profile image

Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

Sweet dreams :) I don't see this happening any time soon, but I wish I does. I wish I live long enough to try such a thing for a daily commute :)


dreadpal profile image

dreadpal 9 years ago from Boulder Creek

Great hub. The Moller International website has some short videos of their efforts at doing something like this.


bobmnu 9 years ago

I remember reading and seeing plans for the Helocopter to take you from place to place. With Avaition fuel($3.89 per gal) only slightly more than car gas($3.09 a gal). I live in a rural area and am surprise at how many small airports are in the area and how many people have planes. I live over 80 miles from a large City and within 30 miles of my house there are atleast 4 community ariports with paved runways. I could see this happening soon.

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