A Future with Flying Cars

by Avonlea Brown

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… Flying car?

Flying cars have been making appearances in books and television since the early 1900s. Kids in the late 1960s dreamt of flying away on a car with fold-out red wings like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and that dream was reimagined for kids up to the early 2000s with the flying cars from “Meet The Robinsons.” But recent announcements and videos have revealed that flying cars could become a reality as soon as the next generation.

In the 1940s, the first feasible attempts at flying cars were made by American Engineer Robert Fulton and the Aircraft company Consolidate-Vultee. Fulton created his version of the flying car in 1946 when he adapted current aircraft technology to a surface traveling vehicle. 

Instead of adapting a car for the air, Fulton adapted a plane for the ground, he called it the Airphibian. The final product was a plane that had a detachable tail and wings, leaving a body with wheels. The Airphibian was the first flying car attempt to be approved by the Civil Aviation Administration but never went to market due to compromised technology and financial difficulties. 

The opposite attempt was made by Consolidated Air in 1947, they called it the Convaircar. This flying car had a full aircraft unit that detached from the roof for driving and then reattached for flying. The product looked like a car with an aircraft resting on top of it. It survived two test flights but failed its third flight and was deemed unsuccessful. 

Recent attempts at flying cars in China, Germany and Slovakia, among other countries, have yielded successful results and hope for flying cars in the near future. China announced its success with a flying automobile in November of this year, and the flying taxis have already been tested in Dubai. 

The only current obstacle to flying cars is finding space in busy cities and urban areas to build landing sites for these cars. Preparations such as flight pads and roof openings have been made in several countries in anticipation of flying cars, but limited space points to flying cars being used only in certain situations. 

One article by CNN says that companies hope to work together with governments “to establish a physical regulatory infrastructure for flying cars in urban areas, and people will be able to use the flying cars within limited regulated spaces in just five years.”

Companies involved in flying cars seek to make sustainable air transportation that will unclutter roadways and reduce carbon emissions. Flying cars would seem the ideal solution to environmental problems and appease complaints of bikers and pedestrians. 

But some people don’t see flying cars as a future to look forward to. Jay Kinsinger, an Associate professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, believes that flying cars are more harmful than helpful. 

“If you think about all the congestion on the roads today and try to picture that in the air,” Kinsinger said, shaking his head. “Airplanes don’t have breaks the way cars do.” 

Kinsinger believes that trains, buses and trams are the future of transportation. He has seen public transportation in other countries solve all the problems currently that flying car companies are promising to solve in the future. 

“I would love to see more public transportation used in this country,” Kinsinger said. “I’ve gone to Europe and they all use trains and busses, there is almost no need for anyone to have a car there.”

Kinsinger’s concerns are echoed and expanded upon by many critics today. In an article by the Wall Street Journal, the weaknesses of flying cars are “noise, the lack of airspace not already claimed by airports in cities like New York, and the necessity of retrofitting existing structures to be strong enough to accommodate flying vehicles and also provide them massive bursts of electricity for charging.”

Though reports seem optimistic, flying cars could have a long way to go before the public will be able to enjoy the casual air travel that George Jetson did. As people continue dreaming of a Coruscant-like future, they should remind themselves that this technology still has many barriers to surpass before it becomes practical. 

*all photos are Creative Commons licensed for use 

Avonlea Brown is a sophomore Journalism student and writer/editor for Cedars. She enjoys traveling, reading, and watching movies with friends. 

Photo Credits:

Photo Credit: Bzuk, CC0 1.0 <https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en?ref=openverse> , via WordPress

Photo Credit: Bzuk, CC0 1.0 <https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en?ref=openverse> , via WordPress

Photo Credit: verchmarco, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse>, via WordPress

1 Reply to "A Future with Flying Cars"

  • comment-avatar
    Lewis November 16, 2022 (11:55 am)

    I can’t believe we still haven’t figured out how to make flying cars! It’s been over 50 years since The Jetsons first aired and we’re still using primitive ground-based transportation.