The dream of flying has accompanied man kind since the Middle Ages. Since the advent of industrialization and the combustion engine, the fulfilment of this dream has become ever closer. But not enough, that you had invented the plane and now could rise into the air, one wanted to take off with the automobile.
The film „Chitty Chitty Bang Bang“, shot in the 1960s, is set in 1910 and tells the story of a flying automobile. But this fiction has never existed like this. This movie has been shot exactly in the time when one dreamed of being able to take off in the air with the automobile. Drawings from the 50s and 60s show future visions with flying vehicles in the form of jet fighters or flying saucers.
In 1940, Henry Ford promised that the flying automobile would come. Ford’s design department in 1958 actually presented the model of a flying automobile, the Volante Tri-Athodyne. A concept with three rotors that are integrated into the body and the car should float up. But it stays with the concept model. Ford believed in the idea and emphasized that the future flying vehicle would look similar.
A real breakthrough brought the US American military in 1956 with their Piasecki VZ-8 off-road vehicle, which could also take off. Three prototypes were built at Chrysler, Curtiss-Wright and Piasecki. The version of Piasecki has been declared functional and has also undergone field tests. The mobile could lift off high, but the military declared the vehicle as not usefull in real combat fighting, as the war strategy has changed.
Fred Barker, a former engineer at Boeing, designed the Sky Commuter, a 2-seater, 4.3-meter-long flight-powered vehicle in the 1980s, which, similar to Ford’s Volante Tri-Athodyne model, featured three flattened hover propellers integrated in the bodywork. The Sky Commuter has been built only once and was sold in Ebay in 2008 for around $ 89,000.
More and more companies have since dedicated themselves to the development of a flying automobile. There is a clear distinction between the aviation vehicles participating in road traffic and the pure VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) vehicles.
The Slovenian company AeroMobil is already well advanced. Their flying car has already completed a few flight tests and received Slovenian aviation certification. The wings can be folded out laterally and the rear propeller provides the necessary drive.
Only recently, the US American company Kitty Hawk tested their prototype of a mobile vehicle on the outskirts of San Francisco over the open water. The Kitty Hawk looks like an oversized Octocopter with a seat. Its functionality is proven in any case. It remains to be seen what the production model will look like.
Two months ago, Gulf Technology Exposition (GITEX) introduced the new vehicle for the Dubai police, the Scorpion-3 Hoverbike. A propeller-driven hover motorbike for one person which can float and fly about 15 meters above the ground.
Terrafugia introduced in 2012 the prototype Terrafugia Transistion TF-X. A flying car in which the wings can also be folded out. The two-seater is powered by a propeller at the rear. The term „terrafugia“ comes from Latin and means „escaping from the ground“, just as the dream of ascending with the automobile into the air.