Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A flying car: Science fiction becomes science fact

Just saw this in the Washington Times:

An important moment in the history of aviation doubled as a milestone in the history of motoring in early March when a small, privately held corporation successfully tested its first "roadable aircraft" -- a roundabout way of saying "flying car."

The vehicle, known as the Transition, looks somewhat akin to a futuristic Volkswagen Beetle but features wings and a propeller at the rear.

The test took place March 5 on a runway at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York, where the Transition flew a short distance before landing on the same stretch of tarmac. The flight lasted only about 30 seconds but was enough to confirm the vehicle's reliability. The test pilot, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Phil Meteer, said he was satisfied with the vehicle's smooth handling.

Oh, I dunno. I'd be suspicious of any flight that only lasted 30 seconds. Granted, that's 14 seconds longer than the first Wright Brothers flight, but they flew several times a day after that.

The flying car has been a stock image in science fiction, from "Blade Runner" to "The Jetsons," ever since the first airplane was flown by the Wright brothers in 1903. Several have been designed over the years, but none has managed to get off the ground, mostly because of lack of funding.

The first known attempt at such a vehicle, the Curtiss Autoplane, was built in 1917. This aluminum contraption failed to fly but reportedly took a few small hops in the air.

Pretty intersting article, on some of the other attempts to make a flying car. Check it out.

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