Flying Car Set for New York Auto Show (2009)

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
flying car set for new york auto show 2009

The flying car is The Concept That Will Not Die. And here's another version, the Milner AirCar, due to be introduced at the New York Auto Show later this month. There's absolutely no reason why cars can't fly, or why airplanes can't drive down a road. All it takes is wings and a propeller in the first case, and folding or removing those wings plus something to drive the road wheels in the second. Robert Fulton (grandson of the same-named dude who built the first practical steamship) did it quite well in the late 1940s. His cute little Fulton Airphibians flew lots and drove plenty back in those halcyon post-World War II days, when returning vets dreamed of a helicopter in every garage and Cessna was advertising its airplanes as being so simple to fly that you could "drive it up and drive it back down." But the current realities of satisfying both FAA and DOT regulations in the same vehicle on the one hand, and teaching a new generation of driver-pilots to deal with thunderstorms, crosswinds, icing, navigation and instrument flying when they can't even handle a half-inch of snow on a road on the other, give new meaning to the word insane.

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  • Kevin Kevin on Mar 05, 2008

    Think how spectacular the crashes will be. And we'll have a whole new category for casualties -- cars falling out of the sky onto your head. And the insurance....

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Mar 05, 2008

    Don't blame Robert. I wrote it for him, since I've been flying since 1967. You'd never shoehorn a flying car into the LSA category. Too heavy, too powerful. It would require certification. And despite its parachute, the dreadful safety record of the Cirrus SRs, which I first flew as a prototype, show what happens when you get the drive-it-up/drive-it-down crowd aloft. Roadable gyrocopters? Do you have any fling-wing time? (I do.) Those things have been killing people for years, especially the Bensons.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 05, 2008

    SW, Check out These guys are no Mollers. Let's not start the Cirrus debate. I have always maintained there was something wrong with them that no one had figured out. It may be the rudder system which they recently changed after finding that they can jam. It might be avionics. I don't know but I have argued rather successfully that blaming the pilots is groundless. They draw from the same pool of pilot/customers as everyone else. All the A&P's I have talked to say the plane has many more problems than the competition. I have yet to fly a gyro, but the latest generation are supposedly much more stable. I know the older ones have a bad record, but I am presently buying the industry line that it was inherent instability in many of the old designs that caused much of the crashes. At any rate, they require less runway, and that's the key. Still, it's not weather and training that will kill the flying car, it's other things. Do you agree that the gyrocopters are easier to fly than fixed wing?

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Mar 05, 2008

    It's not the rudder that jammed, it's the ailerons. I flew in the very same airplane with the test pilot who was killed two weeks later when the ailerons jammed, and it was no mystery. And they draw from the same pool that the Vee-Tailed Doctor-Killer did. Even someone so pro-GA as my friend Dick Collins will tell you that. Nothing is as easy to fly as fixed-wing. I can teach an eight-year-old to fly an intuitive aircraft.