The flying car has been talked about for many years, but now it appears that the idea is about to become a reality.
An international company has built a two-seater plane that, at the touch of a button, converts into a car, which is perfectly suitable for driving on public roads. It has been designed so that the wings fold up automatically, and it takes just 15 seconds to switch between flying and driving. With its wings fully open and the propeller spinning, the flying car can take off from an airfield. The hope is that it will eventually take off from roads, but at the moment that is still illegal.
New technology means that the inside of the plane’s cockpit is quite similar to the inside of a car. Reaching your destination can be made easier by satellite navigation systems, and weather patterns can be displayed on a simple colour screen. The lightweight engine means that it can fly up to 500 miles without the need to refuel.
It would seem that cars which can fly make complete sense. They are quicker than conventional cars for travelling from city to city, and they can run on ordinary unleaded fuel. They have another big advantage. Flying cars are cool, like something you would see in an action film.
At the moment, however, the flying car’s wheels have not left the ground. That is not because of technical reasons or problems with the design. It is because the various road and aircraft authorities simply cannot agree on whether it is a car or a plane.
“The Government and the authorities have never thought seriously about a flying car,” says Alan Price, the president of the company that has developed it. “I wanted a car that could fly and drive, but it is difficult to find an organisation prepared to insure the vehicle against accidents.”
Nevertheless, the company hopes to produce and deliver its first flying car soon. The company already has orders for 40 of them. The majority of the potential customers are older and some are retired. They have worked hard all their lives and now they can have a flying car... a form of technology that they have been promised in films and on television since they were children. There have even been orders from some people who have no pilot’s licence but are willing to learn to fly because of the excitement of owning such a vehicle.
The flying car will cost around $200,000. “For an aeroplane, that’s a very reasonable price, but for a car, it’s quite expensive,” explains Alan Price. “But it just is not possible to make a $10,000 flying car yet.”
This latest means of transport will not become a mass-market item at any time in the near future. But in the long term, it has the potential to change the way you travel. It will become no more expensive than driving your car on the motorway. Journey times could be reduced by more than half.
So the next time you are told to fasten your seat belt, it may be to prepare for taking off.