originally published March 21, 2012
Oh, the flying car.
It had to show up sooner or later. I’ve been bitching about the fact that we as a society have not moved on to the flying car ever since we started acquiring things that were cooler than the Jetsons, cooler than the future promised in Back To The Future Part II. Specifically, internet pornography. I mean come on. I can, with minimal research, track down video footage of someone having sex with almost any creature in the animal kingdom, but I still can’t do this with my car?
Something isn’t right. But maybe there’s hope, in the form of the Haynes Aero Skyblazer, today’s random beam from the great Wikipedian light. Just look at this glorious toy:
I don’t like to swear on here very often – most of my audience is made up of impressionable youth, aged 3-5 – but fuck yes. It’s stylish, it’s funky, and it’s flying! Well, the artist’s rendering is flying. According to the article, this is a project under development. The Skyblazer uses a single turbofan engine to shoot you around the skies while generating juice to operate the electric motor that you’ll use to tool around your local neighborhood roads. It’s not only the sci-fi dream of my youth, it’s eco-friendly. Am I the only one mentally calculating which internal organs they’d give up to own one of these?
There are two kinds of “roadable aircraft”: integrated and modular. A modular vehicle means you have to take off the wings (and possibly more) in order to make it street-legal. Screw that – the Skyblazer folds its wings under its shoulders like some sort of huggable Transformer, then tucks cozily into a single-car garage for the night. One pilot, three passengers, with a maximum height of 29,000 feet and a range of 837 miles. I think I just heard my inner child pass out and hit his head on a coffee table. Let’s click the external link to their site and check it out.
It’s okay. I’ve been doing this for eighty-one days. I’m a professional. A little digging and I’m sitting on haynes-aero.com. The Wikipedia article had news up to 2007 about control testing, wind tunnel checks and the 1/6 scale model that had been tried out. I’m sure the company will have more news.
Or maybe not. They have a neat little video that tells me why the idea of a flying car is so cool (DOES ANYBODY NEED THIS???). The only footage of the Skyblazer is in graphics that look like this:
They discuss some technology, some specs, the history of flying cars (THERE ISN’T ONE!!! THAT’S THE PROBLEM!!!), but there is no ‘News’ section. The only copyright date on the site is 2007.
No. No. No. I will not allow the internet to crush my childhood dreams once again, like it did that time someone sent me to a website that featured Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street CGI’ed to look like they are doing some dreadful, dreadful things.
I checked Google News – nothing. I even logged on to my school’s shared library of seven and a half zejillion articles, and I can’t find it. Here’s what I’m going to do. There’s a Contact page. I’m going to send a note to the dream-brewers at Haynes and see if I can get an update. Whether it’s good news or bad, if I get a response I’ll let you all know. Please keep the dream alive.
Since we’re dreaming, and since there are still 450 words frowning at me from across the room, demanding to be written, I’m going to have a look at some of the Skyblazer’s competition.
Here’s one – the Bryan Autoplane.
This one has already happened. Leland Bryan – and that is totally an old-timey transportation visionary’s name, isn’t it? – built it in 1953.
Nineteen-fifty-three? The flying car is older than the transistor radio?
Now my inner child just kicked something. We’ve been robbed. Leland got permission to drive and fly this in Michigan, and clocked up 500 miles of road driving and flying. He built an improved model. It could break a hundred mph and climb five hundred feet per minute. Sixty mph on the road.
The second model locked down 80 hours of flight time and 4000 miles of road travel before a road crash, probably while trying to pop a wheelie because Leland Bryan was just that fucking cool.
No problem, he scored himself a Chevy Corvair:
And with that he built the Model III. Well, he didn’t actually build the Model III around the Corvair’s body, he just used the convertible top motors to power the wing retraction. But it looked pretty cool in your mind before learning that, didn’t it?
If this had ended with a happy story, we would all be flying around in these things and I wouldn’t be drooling so much over the Skyblazer. Leland experienced 70 hours of flight and a thousand road miles before a flyby went wrong at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A poorly fastened wing section ripped off and right through the most awesome guy ever.
Alright, the video (and Youtube is truly a greater miracle than internet porn) just shows a little car that can, with some heavy lifting by you and an extra person who won’t fly with you, be outfitted to become a dinky little plane. But that’s the beginning. If I had time to get into the Rutan VariViggen (which was used in the original Death Race 2000), well… then I guess I’d be writing more about toys I will probably never own.
Let’s face it, we couldn’t all fling ourselves up and out our driveways every time we crave take-out sushi; it would be chaos. Even outside city limits, the logistics in avoiding collision courses would make one’s head explode. It could be that the Jetsons had it wrong. Maybe we’ll never be able to fly Elroy to the Little Dipper School. I still don’t have a multi-armed machine that will dress me either, or doors that open by themselves.
I’m counting on you, Haynes. Make the future happen. Bring us the Aero Skyblazer. You’ve got the brains, you’ve got the pretty animations. Take us to Jetsonville.
My Roomba is no Rosie.