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The Coach’s Team (TCT) offers the best in conservative essays along with articles taken from various internet sites. The victory of Donald Trump has provided a God-sent opportunity to reverse the years of willful damage done our nation by Barack Hussein Obama.
Sunday, July 1, 2018
When the heck is the flying car going to get here?
We've been promised them for years, and
periodically we get to see an interesting new supposed prototype appear in the
media, or as a "character" on TV or in movies. But the real,
consumer-friendly flying family car never seems to actually come to market. Why
Well, it's a pretty tough nut to crack, and there
are questions of what infrastructure would be required (if any) and of course
there's also the question of whether or not we want to inflict a bunch of bad
drivers onto the sky as well as the roads. I mean, if you think automated cars
are a challenge, expand that to three dimensions!
Yet every couple of years we see reports of
whatever new and exciting flying car is just about ready to, well, take off.
But you never see flying car dealerships and if you look up into the sky, you
don't see any Jetson-like cars flying.
It's a topic that's always been near and dear to
my heart. Not only have I been a car and aviation buff for decades, I also flew
light aircraft for a few years. And I would love dearly to review whatever
flying car might finally make that leap skyward into the marketplace! Bring it
The first flying car I remember was on the old Bob
Cummings TV show when I was a kid. That Taylor
Aerocar was ugly and unwieldy, and for all I knew it could very well have
been a death trap, but it was so cool! And you can apparently buy oneif you have half a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket that
couldn't be spent better on a small helicopter.
The next flying car I remember, other than the
animated one in the Jetsons, was the flying AMC Matador
in the James Bond flick The Man with the Golden Gun.
Perhaps the greatest example of how flying cars
remain mostly as vapourware is the Moller
Skycar. It's also the coolest design I've seen and I really want to see it
soar. It's a, Jetson's-like unit that exploited redundant rotary engines to
ensure the required lack of plummeting. I covered the Skycar 400 for Canada's
National Post newspaper back in 2003, but since then I've heard very little
In researching this column, I noted that,
according to Moller's website, the
400 now features a new wing design and Rotapower engines, and the company has
added a two-seat model that looks quite similar and just as cool. But has
either one actually flown? The latest
newsletters on the website, from late 2017, make no mention of the thing
actually leaving the ground. The site almost seems vague on purpose, which
makes me suspicious. I emailed them for an update, but have yet to hear
anything back from them.
Kind of makes one go "hmmm," doesn't it?
Moller isn't the only company working on flying
cars, of course. AeroMobile, a company
out of Slovakia, is pushing its AeroMobil 5.0 VTOL (vertical
take-off and landing) concept and the AeroMobil 4.0 STOL I (short take-off and
landing) vehicles, which also look extremely cool. The company website says the
product will hit the market in 2020, so right now it's also vapourware.
Terrafugia, of Woburn, MA, is pushing a couple of models, including the
Transition, which they claim will run on premium unleaded automotive gasoline,
fit in a standard single-car garage, and convert between flight and drive modes
in less than a minute. It's also a pretty cool concept and, like the other
models covered here, isn't available for sale yet either – though they do claim
they'll be on sale in 2019.
So, it isn't as if no one is even trying to build
a flying car. The question remains: will they ever hit the market?
The idea of a family car that flies is very
compelling, but there's another and possibly more sane market for such
vehicles. The company SkyRunner,
for example, is pushing its flying vehicle as "a Cost-Effective Complement
to Traditional Airborne Policing.
According to a press release I received from the
company, "with helicopters and other adaptable aviation playing a vital
role in supporting law enforcement throughout the U.S., airborne technology is
becoming an important accessory tool for more police and fire departments. The
number of public safety agencies with flying drones has more than doubled since
2016, with over 900 police, sheriff, fire and emergency agencies utilizing
Into this abundance of flying things comes Skyrunner's
flying car, which the company says "now offer(s) an innovative
accompaniment to traditional airborne policing, with many citing their
cost-effectiveness and adaptability to responding in emergency situations, no
matter the terrain." According to CEO, Stewart Hamel, such vehicles can be
used in airborne searches by "first surveying from the skies, landing on
the ground and driving to location, offering additional mobility to traditional
SkyRunner's vehicle, with its parachute-like
airfoil, looks like a cross between an ATV and an ultralight aircraft. It also
looks like it would be a blast to fly! And it can be more cost-effective for
first responders to use when responding first. For example, the Mk. 3.2 retails
(according to the website) for $154,000 USD. Compare that to the
cost of an entry level Robinson R22 Beta II,
which arguably is the closest rotary wing competitor, starts at $297,000 USD.
On the other hand, a Robinson will keep you
drier when it rains than the open-cockpit SkyRunner.
I used to fly in a four-seat Robinson when I
filled in doing traffic reports a few years ago and it was a real blast, except
the damn traffic reports kept interrupting my enjoyment of the flights…
Comparing a helicopter with an "ultralight-compatible"
is anything but an apples-to-apples comparison, of course, and SkyRunner also
notes that such all-terrain flying vehicles are complementary to helicopters because
they can reduce operational costs significantly while also increasing mobility.
Plus, "many flying cars take automotive grade fuel, a much less costly
alternative to leaded aviation fuel which cost law enforcement agencies $34.9
million in 2007."
Not only that but, as SkyRunner claims, the
operating costs for helicopters include numerous other factors "such as
helipad or airport landing fees and storage costs," which they say are
"non-factors for flying cars."
I hate to sound elitist, but in many ways, I'd
rather see first responders zipping around in flying cars than "regular
folk" who may be more prone to texting and driving and other such banes of
today's driving public. And I wonder how they're going to keep these vehicles
from slamming into each other and plummeting to a painful conclusion.
Technology can take care of a lot of these issues
(think 3D versions of self-driving cars), but the challenges are
large. Still, imagine the freedom, let alone the excitement and the fun.
I can't wait to try one! But I'm not holding my