Friday, 22nd February 2013
DRIVE THE FRIENDLY SKIES – With many cities across the U.S. preparing for and hosting Auto Shows this time of year, there is always the anticipation of the newest and latest technology trends and ideas. Sleek, fast and high tech seem to be the golden words when it comes to raising the blood pressure of the male species. Having a fondness for compact and aerodynamically designed cars that can multi-task I wondered what ever became of the flying car mock-ups and the hopes of a successful flying car. After some research, I thought you might enjoy a peek at what I found out.
Men love airplanes and fast cars. Now they can have the best of both worlds in one vehicle, the Terrafugia Transition. The Transition is a two-passenger craft with front wheel drive that can be driven on the road including the highways and is made in the U.S. of A. Compact enough to fit in any standard sized garage, it meets all U.S. automobile safety requirements and comes fully equipped with airbags, crumple zones and roll cage. With its precision design and lightweight body, it averages 30 miles to the gallon.
Due to its smaller size it is capable of taking off with a runway approximately 1/3 of a mile in length, doing away with the need to always be at an airport since a flat large-sized piece of land will do. In order to prepare for takeoff, it electronically releases and folds down the wings while engaging its rear-facing propeller. In 30 seconds it is now ready for the pilot to taxi for take-off. Once in the air it can travel up to 460 miles at a speed of 115 miles per hour.
Considered a light sport aircraft, licensing requires only 20 hours flying time which is offered by the manufacturer; and with a rear cargo roomy enough to hold your golf clubs, what else could you ask for?
Designed by an aircraft company out of Fort Worth, Texas, a prototype is in the works to equip the Army with both air and land capabilities. The AVX-TX is a one- four passenger Humvee that seeks to accomplish a vertical take-off and landing, which is lacking in other manufacturers designs. In 2009, the Department of Defense sought after companies that could provide a versatile vehicle that could handle road, rough terrain, fly, and carry up to four passengers. Engineers mock-ups have the road to flight conversion taking less than a minute with the vehicle capability of being manned as a medivac or utilized as a resupply vehicle. The advantages of this type of craft in military situations is unlimited and extremely beneficial.
The Super SkyCycle (SCC)
Developed by Larry Neal of the U.S., the SkyCycle is a motorcycle/helicopter hybrid. It can reach speeds up to 55 mph on the ground and more than 100 mph in the air. Only available as a kit it costs under $40,000 with the drawback being that you’ll have to rely on your own craftsmanship and mechanical abilities.
The Maverick Flying Dune Buggy
In 2012, the Maverick was approved by the FAA to operate as an experimental home built air vehicle. A two passenger vehicle, it is road worthy and safe both on highways and or for use as an off-road terrain vehicle. Having the largest parachute approved by the FAA, the Maverick can deploy a parafoil and fly. Its designer has hopes for the Maverick being used by Native Indian groups, farmers, ranchers, pipeline inspection crews or anyone else whose job requires them to travel rough, roadless ground.
How is development going in other countries? So far, only Holland has developed a working prototype known as the Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V) which uses a 3-wheel base vehicle with an auto-gyro blade/rotor mounted on the top that folds over the body when not in use. Although this particular hybrid lacks the functionality of the larger Transition, it opens up possibilities of a different kind. Driven much like a motorcycle, its sleek design gives it a better appearance and cuts down on wind resistance. As this vehicle utilizes a rotor system like a helicopter, it needs only 540 feet of runway or road for takeoff, permitting flight to take place in smaller areas. With a flying altitude of about 4,000 feet, this also means the vehicle may be operated without filing a flight plan. Fuel economy runs about 28 mpg on the road and 9.5 gallons per hour when airborne. It can reach speeds of 110 mph both on the ground and in the air and has a flying range of 350 miles per tank.
Plane Driven PD-1,2 & X
The PD-1 is unique in its conception and design since it begins with the body of a plane and then transforms it into a road worthy vehicle. With the use of modified landing gear and wings that flow along the carriage rather then folding, it has produced a sleeker body line that is appealing to many buyers. Reaching speeds of 73 on the road and 140 in the air, it is a viable contender in the air-road market. An interesting note: In Washington State, the PD-1 is registered as a motorcycle due to its wheel configuration.
The possibility of driving and flying in the same vehicle may not seem like much of a convenience to most people, but science fiction and comic books have placed the desire to accomplish both deep within the dreams of many young boys, and we are at last beginning to see those dreams come true.