Dezso Molnar sent me a link to an Economist article on the promise of flying cars yesterday. He commented that it was the “same old article on flying cars.”
Dezso should know. He’s been building flying cars for several years. I asked him to comment on the article. He wrote:
The writer refers to a generation disappointed. Baby-boomers have enjoyed the blessings of technical advancement unparalleled in history, and together traveled trillions of comfortable miles in airliners. Comparatively, they put little effort into making aircraft more personal.
A complete infrastructure for flight already exists, people only need to join in. Look up — the skies are virtually empty. The rules of the air are international. English is the selected language. Easy. We just need a few people like Mr. Dietrich to start punching holes in the pervasive myth that vehicles that drive the roads on rainy days can’t fly when its sunny. They most certainly can, and there is value in that.
And yes, the writer is correct, there have been some recent signs of progress, but to say the Transition is only a step on the way to a “true sky car that can take off and land anywhere”, is to say anything else is useless and dissuade development. The state of the art for any technology is what is now, and all improvements are stepping stones to the next one if people endeavor to go there. Has the auto industry progressed beyond the Model T, which burned gas that could run out, sat in long lines when the roads were full, required a license for the driver, had 4 seats and could get a flat tire? Not really. Perhaps it was good enough, and fortunately Ford did not wait to design a “true car”.
The good news is that the path is clear for flying cars to start traveling – no cel towers need to be built in support as for mobile phones, or steel tracks laid as for locomotives. As such, mass production is not required at this stage, just a fresh approach.
10 thoughts on ““Same Old Article on Flying Cars” in The Economist”
I’ve always said I’d like a flying car except, where I live people can’t drive normal cars. It seems as though once a week some idiot hits a house, let alone the countless fender benders. My car got hit in 4 times this past year none of which I was present for and none of which left a note. So as far as flying cars I’m kind of glad they aren’t out yet
As usual, this article completely misses the reason flying cars will never happen. It isn’t about the cars. It’s about security. If cars could fly, it would be impossible to secure any location, because fences would become moot. Add to that the fact that most drivers barely keep their ground-based vehicle between the lines, and you see that a sky full of flying cars would mean a ground full of crumpled vehicles and bodies.
Flying takes lots of money because the machines are more complicated, and it takes more training because it is a far greater responsibility. The mass public will never be ready to take on either.
Thank you. Everyone who writes one of these articles has some crazy “pie in the sky” idea that someday, everyone will have a flying car. People can’t follow the rules of the road. Is the future somehow magical in which people suddenly become responsible? I think not.
Though the idea has a very high “cool factor”, I never want to see flying cars available for the average person. General aviation is fine without flying car disasters messing it up!
As it stands now the automobile is the leading cause of death of children and violently kills more than 30,000 Americans a year. Almost all of these deaths are caused by drivers failing to pay attention to what they’re doing – very, very few of them are truly accidents. Given that people can’t safely handle driving the idea of Americans flying in large numbers truly terrifies me.
I think Dezso is on the right track: the “flying car problem” is mainly one of unrealistic expectations. People have been building, driving and flying such vehicles since 1937. Obviously it can be done, because it has been. The difficulty is that none of the flying cars to date – nor, I’ll wager, any flying car likely to be built in my lifetime – can match the fantasy that we’ve been sold by generations of sci-fi authors.
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