The VIEW from here

I want my flying car!


Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

This is a reprint from an earlier column

H aving grown up in the later years of the 20th century, I remember people and some television programs talking about how it is likely we would have flying cars by the 21st century. I know back when I was a kid having a flying car sounded like a great thing and I figured by now, in this day and age, we’d all be flying around instead of still being stuck on the roads behind incessantly slow drivers who can’t seem to even do the speed limit.

Apparently, though, innovation and reality clashed on this subject, because we can’t even build an affordable automobile with an alternative fuel source, let alone a Jetson’s style flying car.

But wouldn’t it be cool?

As I understand from doing some research there are prototype flying cars and even some traditional automobiles which can convert into flying machines, but the costs for these right now are exorbitant.

One company, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, is selling a car that turns into a plane in just 15 seconds, for around $200,000.

That sounds like a lot of money, but then add to that the costs of licensing and certification to pilot a so-called “flying car.” I can just see the politicians slobbering all over themselves as they think of all the fees they could charge for someone to be licensed to drive one of these babies.

Of course, there are other drawbacks to this futuristic concept. Getting insurance may be a little tricky. Think it’s a pain in the neck to get affordable insurance on a car these days, imagine how much the pencil-pushers will charge us for flying cars?

There’s also the dilemma of finding a place to take off from in a flying car. Apparently someone had the foresight to make sure no one would ever be able to get away with owning a flying car because it is apparently illegal to take off from any road in the U.S., unless it happens to be in Alaska.

Sarah Palin, where are you when we need you most?

It’s too bad all the people who predicted we’d have flying cars by the 21st century failed to include with those prophecies the complications that exist with finding an affordable and dependable mechanism by which such vehicles could achieve flight.

Science fiction has given us examples of flying cars, such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the sleek aircars seen in Bladerunner, but the technology to keep these vehicles afloat is never really explained.

Our best scientific minds are going to have to figure out the whole alternative fuel situation and make ground cars so they are no longer dependent on oil before we turn our sights to the skies.

Realistically, I doubt we’ll ever see the day when such a vehicle is available and mass-produced — at least not in my lifetime. And if they do, they’ll also have to overcome the problems of parallel parking and air-traffic congestion for a whole new breed of drivers.

Until that day comes, we’ll always have science fiction to remind us of the flying cars we’ll never likely see.

ggould@mihomepaper.com


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