We have seen an upswing in general interest in vehicles that can fly… and travel along the highway. Some call them flying cars while others express outrage at this term. Let’s say just that they are multi-purpose vehicles that allow one fly and drive along highways, which is quite something.
This expectation has been aroused by several news items and presentations coinciding in a short time, like Airbus’s interesting Pop.Up or Uber‘s announcement that it would have a global fleet of these vehicles by 2020.
Even though many believe these kinds of devices are inherent to the extraordinary developments in aeronautics in recent years and particularly the technology developed for unmanned vehicles, the truth of the matter is they are nothing new. Aeronautical and automotive pioneers had already had some ideas along these lines at the beginning of the 20th century, almost at the same time as the first aircraft had taken to the air.
The first of these hybrid devices which caused a certain stir was conceived by Glenn Curtiss in 1917. It was called the “Curtiss Autoplane” and it flew just 15 years after the Wright brothers’ first attempt at flying. The novel car-aeroplane was presented with great expectation at the Pan-American Aeronautical Exhibition held in New York. The cabin was made of aluminium, it was equipped with three seats and was powered by a four-blade rear-mounted engine. It used the wings of a Curtiss Model L, which could be taken off for road use and had four wheels, the front two of which could be steered, like any other car of the time (or today).
As from that model onwards, many inventors and manufacturers attempted to satisfy mankind’s dream of moving around without limits through the air and on the ground. Some were more successful than others.
This infographic compiles the most relevant flying-car prototypes from the first one designed by Glenn Curtiss to the 1960s. We will go over the newer models and some proposals that are about to be put forward in an upcoming infographic.
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Source: Own work. Special thanks to Manuel Castellanos for his data collection.
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