A New Flying Car Illustrates The Same Old Problems

For almost as long as there have been cars and planes, people have speculated that one day we will all get around in flying cars. They’d allow us to “avoid the traffic” by flying through the air instead of sitting in snarling traffic jams on the ground.

The Klein Vision AirCar hopes to be just such a panacea to our modern traffic woes, serving as a transformable flying car that can both soar through the air and drive on the ground. Let’s take a look at the prototype vehicle’s achievements, and the inherent problems with the underlying flying car concept.

It Flies and Drives

The AirCar is a somewhat futuristic looking, yet simultaneously dated, vehicle. It’s a two-seater with a big bubble canopy for the driver and a single passenger. At the rear, there’s a propeller and twin-boom tail, while the folding wings tuck along either side of the vehicle in “car” mode. At the flick of a switch, the wings fold out and lock in place, while the tail extends further out to the rear. The conversion from driving mode to flight mode takes on the order of a few minutes. The powerplant at the heart of the vehicle is a 160-horsepower BMW engine which switches between driving the wheels and the propeller as needed.

Unlike some concepts we’ve explored in the past, the AirCar has successfully demonstrated itself as a working flying car without incident. Additionally, it did so as a single vehicular package, without removable wings or other such contrivances. On June 28th, 2021, it successfully flew from an airport in Nitra, Slovakia, down to the neighbouring city of Bratislava in 35 minutes – roughly half the time it takes by car. Company founder Stefan Klein was behind the controls, casually driving the vehicle downtown after the successful landing.

The Aeromobil 3.0 concept as pictured in 2016, a forerunner to the AirCar.

The successful flight is the culmination of decades of work. Klein’s first attempt at a flying car was the Aeromobil I back in 1989, which was more of a light aircraft than anything approximating a road vehicle. This was followed by Aeromobil II which developed the transformation concept based around folding wings but remained a conceptual build rather than a fully functional vehicle. AeroMobil 3.0 was built in 2014, and took to the skies before crashing on May 8 2015 after entering a spin. A ballistic parachute enabled Klein to survive the incident. Later, Klein went on to leave the Aeromobil company to start Klein Vision and develop the AirCar.

The AirCar does a lot of the obvious things right. The car body itself is shaped to generate lift, and everything that can be made lightweight is. The convertible wings and tail are really fun to watch as they fold in for driving mode.

So What’s The Problem?

A car with folding wings that can drive around town as well as take to the skies might seem like it’s solved the problem of the flying car once and for all. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take into account all the practical issues around the entire concept. There’s a reason major automakers have never put serious efforts into such technology, after all.

The AVE Mizar was a 20th century attempt to turn a Ford Pinto into a flying car. It faced many of the same logistical issues as other concepts.

Building a car that can fly, fundamentally, is certainly doable, as the AirCar demonstrates. However, as the design shows, no new fancy technology was required to solve this problem. Thus, there must be some other reason we haven’t seen flying cars in great numbers already, and indeed there is.

While the AirCar may be called a “flying car”, more accurately, it is a plane that you can drive on the road. It still requires a pilot licence to fly, and it still requires the use of airports to take off and land. While air journeys may sometimes be faster on paper than the same journey by car, these analyses often completely ignore the significant administrative and logistical hurdles. Filing flight plans, running pre-flight checks, dealing with air traffic and securing a landing slot at a busy runway all take time which makes such journeys often slower than a car when everything is taken into account.

The simple matter remains that flying is hard. Keeping a car in between the dotted lines on the road is a task that many are able to handle, even if the road trauma statistics are higher than we might otherwise like. Controlling a plane, which can literally fall out of the sky if the pilot gets things wrong, is much harder, and carries much greater consequences. Multi-car crashes on the road are often survivable; air-to-air collisions are almost always fatal. Similarly, a poorly maintained car might leave its owner stranded and late for work. A poorly-maintained plane often leads to much more dire consequences.

In short, this isn’t the flying car for you, unless you’re already a light airplane pilot. This is much more a pilot’s car than it is a automobile driver’s airplane. But it’s also a snapshot of one man’s 30-year dream to make it a reality. And if you’re waiting to get your hands on one, they are taking orders, but if you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can’t afford it.

98 thoughts on “A New Flying Car Illustrates The Same Old Problems

  1. The reasons listed above (flight plans… Harder to fly than drive) aren’t the reason these flying cars don’t work.

    They don’t work because a flying car doesn’t do flying or driving well.

    A car with heavy suspension (wheels, tires etc) aren’t needed in the air, and dragging those wings around town doesn’t help as a car.

    Repair takes on a while new level. A minor fender bender is now an airworthiness discussion.

    Insurance will be much more expensive.

      1. Doesn’t have to be – lift-generating implies it provides functional lift at some angle of attack – doesn’t mean when tilted at other angles its doing much of anything…

        You also have moving aero parts on it anyway, so its quite possible it actually has lots of downforce when on the road at its usual stance because the flaps etc are set in “road” mode to provide downforce…

        Either way if you are really going fast enough on the public roads for your traction to be particularly aero effected, you have a hefty fine or driving ban for speeding coming your way, at least in most places…

      1. Stock cars are reinforced because regular cars cannot do what stock cars do at high speed without breaking. A hard landing with a regular automobile could crack the shocks, suspension or axle. You need to know the weight limit for each axle. You also need either visual inspections or have some understanding of the force of a landing on the included suspension.

      1. Precisely. A hard landing in a rocket pack will be immediately obvious to the pilot, unless they have lost consciousness from shock due to the damage done to the “landing gear.”

    1. Repair to airworthy status isn’t really a problem as regards people doing a bad job.
      The FAA is quite clear on this: every year, the aircraft is inspected by a licensed A&P mechanic, or it loses its airworthiness certificate. The repairs are done by either a licensed A&P mechanic or by the manufacturer itself.
      That’s why aircraft rarely fall apart and you don’t see aircraft flying around with dents and missing lights: maintenance to a specific standard is required.
      The cost of this is quite high. For an older used aircraft, the ongoing yearly maintenance costs, especially the required engine rebuild, will eclipse the value of the aircraft.

      I also note that if you’re flying from small airports, you don’t have to worry about landing slots and filing flight plans is optional.

      1. The light plane that flew into a Ferris wheel at Old bar in NSW (Australia) a few years back was shown to be in rather a poor state of repair/ dodgey repairs and dubious credentials of the pilot. Luckily no one was seriously hurt.

      2. I flew on a low-cost airline where, on looking out of the window, a couple of screws were missing from the upper skin on the wing. Whether they had been left off or (more likely) not torqued correctly and worked themselves loose I don’t know. Luckily the panel didn’t rip off the wing (it’s probably a low-stress area anyway) and I lived to tell the tale….

      3. Not entirely true. I used to do all the maintenance on my aircraft myself. A&P’s just need to sign off. Of course wood and fabric from the 1950’s is a long way from this beast, but if you’re buying this thing you certainly have the money to just pay for any fixes

      4. I saw the jet for Value jet where is had an oil streak down the side of the fuselage at the airport. They changed their name because one of their planes crashed in the Everglades.

        Regardless, old planes crash at airshows.

    1. But a plane is expensive and a car is cheap.
      Except that cars are cheap because they are made in the millions and they have a lot more inherent failsafeness (broken engine = stranded on the side of the road, not an immediate lifethreatening problem), don’t require a pilot’s licence, don’t require landing slots which are also expensive because they are scarce (imagine a highway allowing one car every 1.5 minutes – which is really too much for even the busiest commercial airports), don’t require as high a grade of fuel and many, many other things. Also, even the cleanest, quietest planes generate considerably more externalities such as noise and greenhouse pollution than even an average car.
      Also, the capacity of the air is nowhere near the capacity of a modern highway, which can up to ~2000 cars per hour per lane per direction.

      1. As a pilot, I take exception with your last point. A highway is a narrow strip of two-dimensional space and you cannot leave the strip except at designated exits. Airspace is three-dimensional and virtually all of it is available for flight. In most instances, the only times airspace becomes crowded is near airports so takeoffs and landings are operations requiring care. But there are rules for using that airspace and at towered airports the traffic is managed by air traffic controllers. I would much rather fly a 500 mile trip in a true flying car (about 3.5 hours in my current flying option) than drive it for 10 hours with stops for food, gas and traffic.

        1. The real question is, how far we want to go, also literally. Since flying has become cheap, a 1000 mile trip is no longer something special. People now fly all over the world instead of driving all over the country. Before cars became cheap, they stayed even closer to home. But were they happier because of it? I think not. The opposite is the case: Owning a car has become a must for many people. If flying cars become the new normal, so will the noise of aircraft everywhere and any time.

          1. > Before cars became cheap, they stayed even closer to home. But were they happier because of it? I think not.

            Before cars became cheap major parts of the U.S. were covered with a dense network of, hold to your hat, railways. You now railways, right? Steel bars laid in pairs on the ground so trains could smoothly roll on them. You know trains? We used to have trains.

            Whether people were happier with trains I do not know but the perspective of road traffic extending into the airspace is not something I look forward to. Also, now that even in Europe trains are rarer and more expensive than they used to be many people have the choice of either settling right next to their place of work or else drive a car. Whether they are happier for it do not know.

          2. Before fast transportation, inbreeding was a huge problem in the countryside.

            Few farmers actually had horses for transportation. Most loads were hauled by oxen, and people didn’t really travel much more than ten miles – just far enough to walk home before sunset at the end of the day. The bicycle alone was a social revolution because it enabled men to go courting women in the next town over.

        2. The issue is more complex than the sky inherently having more space. It does, but each aircraft needs drastically more space around it to operate safely. Cars can fly (pun intended) down the highway at 75 mph all day with barely more than 20 or so feet between them front and back, and 5 feet side to side. There’s no turbulence, it’s trivial to match the speed of surrounding cars, mechanical breakdowns and even high speed accidents are often free of major injury. I believe small VFR aircraft are required to maintain at least 500 feet between aircraft, different models have drastically different optimal speeds, mechanical failures are extremely dangerous and major accidents are virtually always fatal.

          Yes, right NOW, you might rather fly, but that’s because there’s so little air traffic. In a supposed future where every personal vehicle is a flying car, probably not.

          But a major issue I didn’t see mentioned is weather. You can reliably drive a car virtually 365 days a year, where flying in even modestly inclement weather requires a major increase in training and proficiency, and there are many days when flying a small aircraft is impossible. We used to vacation in Florida (from NY) every winter for 10-15 years. Only 3 of those years were my father and I able to fly his small Cessna, with the weather scuttling our plans every other time. And on one of the successful 3 trips, we were forced down by weather in NJ, had to get a ride home, and return a week later to fly the plane the last leg of the trip.

          Flying small aircraft will not match the practicality, availability and reliability of road travel for lifetimes to come. I love flying, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not a viable means for every day travel.

  2. “They’d allow us to “avoid the traffic” by flying through the air instead of sitting in snarling traffic jams on the ground.”

    Seems we should be tackling the “generates a traffic jam” problem, rather than the after the fact consequences aka this carplane. As usual people solving the wrong problem.

    1. Hey, easy there bud. Intelligent root cause analysis isn’t allowed on the internet…

      LOL. Your point is so dead on to so many “solutions for the symptoms” we have in our world.

    1. Indeed yes… but wouldn’t it be great to have an unlimited budget to spend on any pet project you like?!

      This guy has the right idea as far as I am concerned. He could play the stock market with his millions, make his wallet fatter, and do nothing to advance science/technology/society/etc.

      It will never “fly” (as a solution to any problem of significance), but I would rather see this than what I do see in the world – an overabundance of Gordon Gekko’s.

  3. As a pilot, no, flying is not more difficult than driving. Literally just hold the stick/yoke after setting the throttle and prop. The only hard thing about flying is landing and administrative stuff. I learned how to fly when I was 14, long before I got my driver’s license, and guess what? I was shocked by how hard driving was in comparison. Constant traffic, everything moves much faster, relatively, and you have so many more rules about what you can and can’t do. Please, make sure the authors of these articles have any kind of experience at all in the field they write about before publishing articles by them. This site gets closer and closer to popular science with each passing day and it sucks to see what was once a blog full of interesting hacks go to “wow science is sure dandy!” like every other technical publication.

    Ps, if anyone knows a decent website like hackaday used to be, please let me know.

    1. Pilot here too (got my driver’s license first tough). Absolutely this.

      And I’ll add, if only people required to get training similar to what pilots do before actually getting their licenses, the roads would be a hell of a lot safer.

      1. Especially in favor of drivers having to pass a medical and a practical driving exam every two years, like pilots do.
        There’s a big downside in that the cost of recurrent testing is very regressive.

          1. In states with mandatory car inspections performed by non-government mechanics, people with defective cars routinely seek out mechanics who will pass almost anything. Physical human inspections will be no different.

          2. @Chris Maple: I moved to a country with mandatory yearly maintenance checks and so you know what I don’t see any more: broken down cars! It’s an amazing luxury that I don’t get caught in traffic jams anymore because someone broke down up ahead. I also feel safer in my own vehicle as well as when buying used.

            So no, for the 99% they don’t skirt the rules because it’s just easier to follow them, and you get better results because of it.

            (The driving test here is harder too. Literally as hard as when I got my pilot’s license. It means everyone is trained a lot more before they can drive. I’ve also noticed I don’t see any car accidents either. It’s gone from several a day in America to several a year here)

    2. I don’t think flying is more difficult. But if you have a minor failure in your car your first incentive isn’t looking for fields maybe 5 km away that are fit to park your car – while entering that field in full highway speed. Nor do you do an advanced weather report before getting into your car, or run a multiple-page check list, nor do you let your car check by a qualified engineer every couple of dozen hours of usage. Nor are you trained to operate a two-way radio and for the precise procedures (although reading and understanding traffic signs can’t be taken lightly either).

      Knowing what to do in the case of all the things that can go wrong, is what makes piloting harder than driving.

      1. Teaching my kids to drive: I told them, anyone can steer and push the accelerator and say they can drive. But what driving is about is knowing what to do when things go wrong… with the car, with the road, with other drivers, with pedestrians, with [add your own word here]

        1. Driving is also about not tailgating, knowing who has the right of way, not speeding, and dozens of other things that keep the driver from being a hazard to themselves and others.

    3. Congrats on your accomplishments as a pilot. I can appreciate your perspective here, but I don’t think it’s fair to condemn this video clip’s posting to Hackaday. This guy Klein is one of us. He’s got a vision and has put in the long hours and engineering expertise to accomplish a cool feat. I especially like the end of the video where people were cheering him as he arrived at his destination in his car.

      Weirdly, my eight-year-old son asked me just today why there aren’t flying cars… Now I can show him this video and talk to him about the headwinds involved…

      1. The beef is not with the video, but the uneducated author of the article, and the general trend of the website of late. I have no problem with this video, I just wish that the coverage of it contributed anything more than standard flying car hype and falsehoods about flying being more difficult than driving.

        The guy who made the flying car is to be commended, certainly, it is an impressive achievement.

    4. +100500

      Even landing is not so difficult when you felt it and got it once. Just another thing like riding a bicycle, extremely hard to explain, but when you got it, it is not so hard.

      > This site gets closer and closer to popular science with each passing day and it sucks to see what was once a blog full of interesting hacks go to “wow science is sure dandy!” like every other technical publication.

      In the old good times, I’d more expected a project like that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQK9m_OBVgY to see here, but now that kind of hacks are obviously not welcomed. And all that safety trolling…. Time to remove “hack” from HaD name, isn’t it?

      > if anyone knows a decent website like hackaday used to be, please let me know.

      Me too, please.

      1. Each reader here, is looking for different stuff. Hacking covers a lot of ground, many fields. Anybody can submit tips and articles, if you want to help steer the site to your interests. I like seeing a wide variety. This flying car is 30 years worth of hacking. Started with a dream. Not every hack is practical, or soon to become commercial products. Hacking is more about satisfying a need, with the tools and materials that fit within your budget and experience. Not a huge fan of projects, where the dream is to produce a commercial project, since construction details are kind of lite, to discourage some one else from beating them to market.

        I really don’t think Hack-a-day has really change it’s goals all that much. They provide whatever they can dig up on the internet, tips, and articles submitted. Criticisms in the comments, likely limit what people are willing to submit, or publish. Lot of negativity, for one reason or another. It’s tough enough to post a project, modification, repair online, and deal with all the requests, and answer questions. Think most have other things they would rather be doing, but feel an obligation to be politely address.

        Hint: Don’t just read the Hack-a-day articles. Click the embedded links, to the actual project pages. Many projects are hosted on sites, with many other projects, either from the feature hacker, or many. You might be surprised with all the other stuff you find there. The YouTube videos, should be viewed from the YouTube site, rather than the embedded. The video description often has more details an links. The comment can also provide some interesting links as well. Hack-a-day provides the basics, and an operatunity to further explore, if you chose to take advantage. Perhaps the authors presume everybody reading, also have a hacker mindset, and will obviously follow the leads given on their own, if interested in doing so. I like that approach, since sometimes a short article is easier to read, and good enough.

        1. > Hacking covers a lot of ground, many fields. Anybody can submit tips and articles.

          > They provide whatever they can dig up on the internet, tips, and articles submitted.

          Unfortunately, that is not true for modern HaD. You will hardly find here something like tv-b-gone or pulsejet powered bike now. Things like microwave gun from microwave oven or using old mobile to establish your own cellular base station is no-go too. Hacks is not about combining conventional parts into conventional device in conventional way. They also don’t need to be completely toothless. And they are definitely not about something made by some commercial company. I even posted a lnk to illustrate that obvious difference between real hack and some enterprise grade prototype made with million dollars investments and dosen people in R&D. Hacks are also potentially reproduceable by average hacker. Do you know anybody here who could reproduce that AirCar? Hardly. But a lot of readers are definitely able to build the flying thing from my link if they want to.

          So, I’m searching a new platform, where you could find and post everything unconventional and sharp-toothed from using bipolar transistor in reverse connection or storing cheap night electricity for using at daytime up to something like a project of building and launching unofficial and unlicensed Earth satellite using, say, high altitude baloon as platform for garage build booster rocket carrying cubesat-like payload soldered on the kitchen.

    5. Very well said; I am not a pilot but am very fascinated with the pilot profession even to the point where I have worked my way through FAA handbooks. I have a lot of respect for people that have gained a private pilot’s license due to this. There is definitely more control over flying, but a comparison of driving to flying as done here is ignoring some of those details. Most drivers couldn’t get past ground school, nor could they pass a rigid driving test.
      My view is jaded a bit by living in CA where stop signs are merely a suggestion, but in general, it’s the same everywhere as far as the competence of the average driver compared to that of the average private pilot. Astronomical difference.

    6. Could it be there aren’t as many people hacking stuff together? Products are becoming less hackabke as well, not to mention with repect to that, as time passes hackers have to become more well rounded in all disciplines, electrical, mechanical to mostly software now. There is also alot to say of ‘stirring the imagination’ that comes from a story, may not disount that as it is possible the reader base has within it some who are just beginning to seasoned hacker pros. IMO there are multiple reasons to have content cover a wide range of topics, even if it doesn’t present itself as text book hacking. I personally like to focus on the creating part of what most of these articles cover, sometimes a hack, sometimes not. This act of creating something is a connection for some people. Put that in a funnel, I don’t think it is a good move.

      1. “Could it be there aren’t as many people hacking stuff together? Products are becoming less hackab[l]e as well”
        Less hackable…
        I’m not sure I agree with that,
        Some firmware is locked down quite securely, but HaD often shows “side attacks” to compromise those (e.g. power glitching).
        I’m thinking Bus Pirate (and similar gadgets), and that most(?) companies design circuits with SPI, or CAN, or some other protocol that offers hackers a doorway.
        Also, just a few short years ago, it was expensive to learn about any one processor out there (6805, 8088, R4000) you had to buy (and buy into) a manufacturer’s development kits, software, debuggers to know what was really going on in a circuit. Now, a lot of manufacturers such as ST make/sell inexpensive dev boards and tons of datasheets and applications are available on the Internet.
        Also, the prices of components are a lot cheaper than a few years ago (e.g. buying a resistor at Radio Shack or making the $20 minimum order for a mail order supplier).

        I some ways, I believe we are in a golden age of hacking.
        (and I haven’t really touched the software tools out there.)

        There is still a Wild Frontier out there for those who seek adventure!
        (Me? I’m content to sit in my easy chair and read about other’s exploits)

    7. Came to the comments to say the same thing about flying being easier. And I’ve fallen out of the sky plenty of times, you just stop the falling and fly straight again. It’s only the passengers which seemed to care about that type of thing 😁

      Everything else in the article seemed correct though. The training, logistics, expense, and consequences are all much much harder and that’s the true limiting factor of flying cars. The author did very well highlighting that

    8. Sorry dude, wrong, just wrong. Airplane: fly too slow? dead. Fly too fast? dead. Fly to heavy? dead. Fly into wind shear? dead. Fly after dark with no IFR rating? dead. Fly into clouds with no IFR? dead. Fly and find out your fuel was too low? dead. Etc, etc, etc, etc. by a hundred times. Flying is WAY WAY WAY harder than driving. And I’m a pilot AND driver.

  4. “The simple matter remains that flying is hard.”

    I’ll leave this pun here: That’s why we need self flying cars! Gives the “autopilot” a whole new meaning!

    Now, let’s just hope no one takes this pun seriously…

  5. “Everyone having a personal aircraft” is a fantasy which has been going on since Popular Mechanics articles and the like from at least a hundred years and it will never happen.
    Most articles never mention what would happen in rush hour if there was a simple towering cumulus creating a wind shear or microburst. You would see planes falling out of the sky like rain.
    Or the occasional (easy to get into) graveyard spiral or inverted flat spin, careless fuel depletion, etc
    Couple that with the fact that average drivers are idiots, daredevils, careless, distracted, etc., and should never be permitted within 100 yards of an aircraft.
    It would be easy to say it will all be automated and aircraft won’t need pilots. If this was possible , why don’t you see this technology in half million dollar GA planes?
    Remember the last time you started to drive to the store and got in a rainstorm where you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you, or an ice storm that overwhelmed the windshield wipers?
    Ice and flight doesn’t mix.
    Or the neighborhood fast and furious wannabe kid that can’t drive without screeching the tires and getting into wrecks?
    Nope. It will never happen.

    1. “Most articles never mention what would happen in rush hour if there was a simple towering cumulus creating a wind shear or microburst. You would see planes falling out of the sky like rain.
      Or the occasional (easy to get into) graveyard spiral or inverted flat spin, careless fuel depletion, etc”

      What world do you live in? You’re out of you mind!

      There have never been so few accidents related to flying in history as today. You write this as if a plane fell out of the sky every day. That is so far from the truth I can’t even put into appropriate terms.

      And don’t compare idiots driving around with piloting planes. It is a completely different set of skills, mentalities, training and testing requirements.

      If only people were required the same level of training for as a pilot before they were able to get a driver’s license.

      1. “There have never been so few accidents related to flying in history as today.”

        This is true, but useless without context. Commercial aviation is the safest method of travel, but that’s not where flying cars fit in. They’re part of “General Aviation”, the proper name for every random personally-owned airplane. They’re trending safer over time, but they still come in around the same fatalities rate per hour as motorcycles.

          1. I guess part of that is Motorcycles might kill the ‘pilot’ who screwed up (or just got unfortunate), but are massively unlikely to do anything serious to anybody else, or even much damage to their property. Obviously they can cause harm to others, but its not really common…

            Where even a light aircraft piloted by a moron, or after some horrible unpredictable failure is an order of magnitude more impactful on whatever they smash into, faster, heavier, more combustible fuels – and if you are making them flying ‘cars’, which implies common in and around built up areas that odd accident is going to get expensive for innocent bystanders fast, as you just can’t help but hit something that matters when so surrounded by people… As it stands now your private plane or even massive commercial one going wrong isn’t very likely to harm anybody not on the aircraft – they are generally kept away from built up areas as much as possible..

    2. My understanding is that GA design is pretty stodgy, in large part because type certification is difficult and expensive. Full automation will come, but it won’t be soon.

  6. “pilot’s car”: this makes sense.
    The point about airports and rental cars is true for “larger” airports, but not for rural ones.
    I am not a pilot, but the issue of flight-plans is probably worthy of expediting. These vehicles seem to be fairly low-flying, not airliner altitude? A dedicated or expedited air-corridor should be possible. (There is a drone air-corridor in New York.)

  7. These will perpetually be showboat toys rather than practical transportation. If nothing else the annual inspection/service cost formalities will keep them out of service for long periods. What’s that you say? Bring out one of the other flying cars to take its’ place while it’s at the A&Ps?

    1. I’d agree with showboat toys, but for a different reason – they simply don’t scale. Sure, this can cut your commute to the capital in half – but unless the airport has the vehicular throughput of a 3-lane highway, this can’t work for “everyone” even if AirCars grew on trees.

      Over 1,000 aircraft land in Atlanta every day, making it .. I believe the world’s busiest passenger airport. If you want to scale this to every 60-minute commute that wants to cut it down to 30 minutes, 1,000 vehicles starts to look like a very small number.

      It is an impressive hack though.

  8. To quote a famous actor, I would say, I gotta get me one of these. Will Smith from I. D… This has to be done because it just has to be done! This concept car come reality from working at the start with a POS like a Ford Pinto to a BMW powered air foil bodied ultra light weight Flying 2 seater Car. Who cares how well it drives for now or flies for now? The future is here and it will improve ! I have no doubt about it. Come on people, we’ve surely by now seen enough movies of Star Wars and all the other productions with flying cars, even the Jetsons for Pete’s sake. Science Fiction becomes reality, that’s a fact of life even if it takes longer then we expected.

  9. Flying cars will never be a thing until you remove the “car” part and you remove the person’s ability to control it directly.. More of an automated drone that is in wireless communications with all the other drones near it, which plots its own course, flys, and lands at the destination without the using having to “fly” it at all.

    The only way it’ll ever happen.

    You think idiot distracted drivers are a problem on the ground.. They’ll never be permitted in the air.

  10. This reads entirely like the author has no idea of what being a pilot is like. He certainly does not know anything about filling out flight plans for sure.

    IFR — Instrument Flight Rules. – All airliners and any pilot that want to have an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Clearance to fly in instrument conditions (in the clouds) will file an IFR flight plan. Once the aircraft is released for take off, ATC has positive control of that aircraft through providing “Clearances” for routing and altitudes from the departure to the destination airports. An IFR Flight Plan automatically insures that ATC will provide possible conflict alerts with other traffic.

    VFR — Visual Flight Rules. VFR flight plans are more a “safety net” for pilots that are flying in VFR (clear weather) conditions. VFR Flight Plans aren’t required in the US. The pilot files the VFR flight plan stating the departure and destination airports, planned routing, and estimated time of arrival at the destination. If the aircraft doesn’t arrive by the specified time, then a search and rescue procedure is called into play. The pilot must specifically “close the flight plane” to keep that S&R from being triggered. With a VFR flight plan the pilot can pretty much choose his own destination and routing with the exception that the aircraft must remain outside of the various forms of “special use airspace” unless and until they get permission to enter.

    Flight Following — This is an enroute traffic advisory service which ATC provides on a workload available basis (which is 99% of the time) that informs participating aircraft of other aircraft where there might be a potential conflict. Although not strictly a “flight plan,” ATC tracks participating aircraft providing new frequencies for the each following ATC area during the flight and if there is an issue for the pilot or aircraft, ATC is only a Push to Talk button away. Like a VFR flight plan, the pilot chooses where to fly, subject to the same restrictions. Pilots can file an VFR flight plans and/or ask for Flight Following. But there is NO requirement to do either.

    Flying (and the training/testing for it) are very different from driving. Any idiot can manage to get a driver’s license. A pilot’s license? If flying cars were to take off (pun intended), a real lot of people would be forced to stick with public transportation.

    1. And that works fine with the skilled, responsible pilots out there. But it wouldn’t work if the average pilot was on the same level as the average car driver, and if there were as many planes as there are cars.

      1. Again, strict training and passing criteria, would keep the pilots from being just like the same level as the average car driver.

        When something is held to a tougher standard, a lot less people would be able to take into the skies.

        Here in the state where I live, a driving test takes less than 15 minutes, and it pretty much this: make sure student uses turning signal, can do a 3 point turn, back up x number of feet/meters without the need to correct side to side movement and the ability to stop at stop signs and stopping the car before the pedestrian lane (when they even take the student in a route where there is a pedestran lane). Then just renew your license by showing up and asking for a new one every so many years.

        Learning to fly a car, takes at least 40 hours of training (rare that anyone manages to do just 40, even just 50), pass a rigorous written test, multiple test flights with an instructor witnessing that you did in fact do what you were supposed to do, and a medical exam that you must also pass on a regular basis. You must be proficient in math because they practical tests do not allow you to just punch numbers into a calculator, you need to use a slide rule so you need to understand what you’re doing.

        Getting your drivers license is like eating chocolate. Getting your pilot’s license is like eating the chocolate from the cacau tree you planted, took care of, harvested the fruit, processed it into chocolate, tempered it correctly so the chocolate came out right and only then you eat it.

        1. I do wonder, if these became affordable there might be enough pressure from the public that the FAA would be pushed into diluting the rules much the way they did with sport pilot, but even moreso. The FAA is notoriously independent and rigid but with enough political pressure any government agency will eventually bend. (Example: colleges that have had vaccination requirements for 100 years suddenly getting rid of them this year because of political pressure.)
          It’s entirely possible there could be a Bubba-level FAA license for fixed-wing, tied to ownership of a semi-autonomous, non-modifiable/mechanically sealed vehicle, daylight only, one passenger only, gps-bounded, only user-controllable while in class G airspace, like Sport Pilot Minus.

  11. I’ve been attending the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) fly in for about 25 years and each year look for flying cars. Almost every year there is a concept flying car there but I’ve never seen one fly in front of the crowd. There are strict rules about safety and none seem to meet those rules yet. However the flying car of the 60s has flown but nothing new has. Recently the trend has been toward 3 wheel vehicles which are classified as motorcycles. These are easier to get certified for road use than a 4 wheel car. But that trend seems to have run its course now that vertical take options exist. At this last EAA, there were two vertical take off aircraft that I saw fly. One, the Volocopter flew in the air show last Tuesday and is a multicopter design. The other called the Opener, flew at the ultralight area. It’s also a multicopter but with 2 staggered wings to enhance forward travel. From what I’ve seen, these vertical take off aircraft are closer to commercialization than flying cars are.

    1. Speaking of tail sitter aircraft, this was in the news last week and caught my attention:


      Seems something like the MonoRacer would make a good candidate for conversion to flying:


      To make it truly useful it would have to be VTOL but that brings us around to Moller’s Skycar and hp to weight ratios, etc ad nausem.

      MIght as well give all your charitable donations to CERN and hope they figure out anti-gravity.

  12. I am somewhat surprised that nobody mentioned that a two-seat plane/car would be wildly inefficient cost/energywise compared to other means of transportation. It would always be a folly of rich men with no concern toward their environment.

    1. Much like current cars, and look where we are with that.
      Never underestimate the desire for individual transportation, and the cost reduction of mass production to satisfy that desire.

  13. Wonder how it is for safety in an automotive crash. Being made light – is it also strong enough to not crumple up
    like tinfoil in even a low speed “fender bender” collision. (How well can it protect the occupants when a big
    truck piles into it.)

  14. 90% of my driving is to the hardware or grocery store, dropping something off or picking something/someone up. Show me a flying Escalade where I can pack folding chairs, groceries, soccer bags, a full cooler, 2 daughters and their friends and drive 150 miles to a soccer tournament with the AC and stereo on full blast, make it through a Chic-fil-A drivethrough, Crew carwash and Car-X 10 minute oil change. Wouldn’t want to leave it out front of my local Lowes while I shop.
    Still, VERY COOL, but in no way practical for the masses, of which I am one. Will wait for the $15,000 Model T version that everyone else has already bought :)

  15. It would definitely be legal to takeoff and land from roads in certain states/cities. The FAA doesn’t restrict where you can takeoff or land (except at controlled airports), and although many states have laws against taking off and landing on public roads there are several that don’t. In Idaho to my understanding it’s explicitly stated that it is legal in fact as long as you aren’t interfering with traffic

    1. FAA requirements are you have to maintain 500 feet clearance above the surface except over sparsely populated areas (this is a poorly defined term) but in those areas you still have to maintain 500 feet of clearance from the nearest structure, person, or vehicle.
      So while possible, it’s not going to be convenient.
      (Also roads are *terrible* places to use as runways because they have signposts and traffic lights and worst of all power lines that are hard to see until it’s too late.)

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