History of Flying Cars a Perilous One

But Terrafugia hopes to change all that
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2012 1:52 PM CDT
History of Flying Cars a Perilous One
This March 23, 2012 photo provided by Terrafugia shows the Transition during its first flight. The vehicle has two seats, four wheels, and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car.   (AP Photo/Terrafugia.com)

(Newser) – Terrafugia has gotten plenty of press since completing an eight-minute test flight last month, and the company plans to sell the two-seat Transition for $279,000 if it wins regulatory approval next year—it says it already has around 100 pre-orders. The fact that a flying car could become a reality in 2013 has the Los Angeles Times taking a walk down memory lane, reminding us that the Transition is hardly America's first stab at a flying vehicle.

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In fact, there are some 400 other patents and applications for flying cars, according to the US Patent Office, but Terrafugia says its version's simple design puts it ahead of the rest. Among some of history's less successful attempts:

  • Henry Ford tested his 15-foot-long Ford Flivver in 1926, but only built three or four of his "Model Ts of the Air"; production was halted after the test pilot died in a crash off the coast of Florida.
  • The ConvAirCar came onto the scene two decades later, and managed to fly for an hour in 1947. But production on the vehicle was also stopped after a fatal crash.
  • The Mizar, a mash-up of a Ford Pinto and Cessna Skymaster wing, was no more successful: The designer and his pilot died in a 1973 crash.
(Read more flying car stories.)

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