The flying car
A flying car or roadable aircraft is a type of vehicle which can function both as a road vehicle and as an aircraft. As used here, this includes vehicles which drive as motorcycles when on the road. The term "flying car" is also sometimes used to include hovercars and/or VTOL personal air vehicles. Many prototypes have been built since the early 20th century, using a variety of flight technologies. Most have been designed to take off and land conventionally using a runway. Although VTOL projects are increasing, none has yet been built in more than a handful of numbers.Their appearance is often predicted by futurologists, and many concept designs have been promoted. Their failure to become a practical reality has led to the catchphrase "Where's my flying car?", as a paradigm for the failure of predicted technologies to appear. Flying cars are also a popular theme in fantasy and science fiction stories.
In 2009 the U.S., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated the $65 million Transformer program to develop a four-person roadable aircraft by 2015. The vehicle was to have had VTOL capability and a 280-mile (450 km) range. AAI Corporation and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts. The program was cancelled in 2013.
The Parajet Skycar utilises a paramotor for propulsion and a parafoil for lift. The main body consists of a modified dune buggy. It has a top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h) and a maximum range of 180 miles (290 km) in flight. On the ground it has a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) and a maximum range of 249 miles (401 km). Parajet flew and drove its prototype from London to Timbuktu in January 2009.
The Maverick Flying Dune Buggy was designed by the Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center of Florida as an off-road vehicle that could unfurl an advanced parachute and then travel by air over impassable terrain when roadways were no longer usable. The 1,100-pound (500 kg) 'Maverick' vehicle is powered by a 128 hp (95 kW) engine that can also drive a five-bladed pusher propeller. It was initially conceived in order to help minister to remote Amazon rainforest communities, but will also be marketed for visual pipeline inspection and other similar activities in desolate areas or difficult terrain.
The Plane Driven PD-1 Roadable Glastar is a modification to the Glastar Sportsman GS-2 to make a practical roadable aircraft. The approach is novel in that it uses a mostly stock aircraft with a modified landing gear "pod" that carries the engine for road propulsion. The wings fold along the side, and the main landing gear and engine pod slide aft in driving configuration to compensate for the rearward center of gravity with the wings folded, and provide additional stability for road travel.
The Super Sky Cycle was an American homebuilt roadable gyroplane designed and manufactured by The Butterfly Aircraft LLC. It is a registered motorcycle. At the 2014 Pioneers Festival at Wien (Austria) AeroMobil presented their version 3.0 of their flying car. The prototype was conceived as a vehicle that can be converted from an automobile to an aircraft. The version 2.5 proof-of-concept took 20 years to develop and first flew in 2013. CEO Juraj Vaculik said that the company planned to move flying cars to market: "the plan is that in 2017 we'll be able to announce ... the first flying roadster." In 2016, AeroMobil was test-flying a prototype that obtained Slovak ultralight certification. When the final product will be available or how much it will cost is not yet specified. In 2018, it unveiled a concept that resembled a flying sportscar with VTOL capability. The Aeromobil 2.5 has folding wings and a Rotax 912 engine. It can travel at 200 kilometres per hour (124 mph) with a range of 690 kilometres (430 mi), and flew for the first time in 2013. On 29 October 2014, Slovak startup AeroMobil s.r.o. unveiled AeroMobil 3.0 at Vienna Pioneers Festival.
Klein Vision in Slovakia have developed a prototype AirCar, which drives like a sports car and for flight has a pusher propeller with twin tailbooms, and foldout wings. In June 2021, the prototype carried out a 35-minute flight between airports. It was type certified as an aircraft in January 2022.
The Terrafugia Transition is a roadable aircraft intended to be classed as a Personal Air Vehicle. It can fold its wings in 30 seconds and drive the front wheels, enabling it to operate both as a traditional road vehicle and as a general aviation aeroplane with a range of 500 mi (800 km). An operational prototype was displayed at Oshkosh in 2008 and its first flight took place on 2009-03-05. It will carry two people plus luggage and its Rotax 912S engine operates on premium unleaded gas. It was approved by the FAA in June 2010.
The production-ready single-engine, roadable PAL-V Liberty autogyro, or gyrocopter, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2018, then became the first flying car in production, and was set to launch in 2020, with full production scheduled for 2021 in Gujarat, India. the PAL-V ONE is a hybrid of a gyrocopter with a leaning 3-wheel motorcycle. It has two seats and a 160 kW flight certified gasoline engine. It has a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph) on land and in air, and weighs 910 kg (2,010 lb) max.
On 15 April 2021, Los Altos, California, became home to the world's first consumer flying car showroom. However, as yet there are no certified flying cars in production.