- One of the two prototypes of the CanVairCar 118 in the 1940s.

The flying cars : an old concept.

The flying cars are an amazing topic to explore. After mentioning some real recent examples, it's time to analyse another aspect. Can we consider that kind of cars or that kind of planes are an old concept? The term 'flying cars' was used by the NASA in 2003 by creating a Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Sector Project. What were the concepts of flying cars in the previous centuries? Is it just a modern concept human invented during the 20th?

The births of the concept of cars and planes : from Icarus to Carl Benz.

In our History, men (and women) always dream of flying or travel with mechanical objects since the discovery of the steam engine. Nicolas Cugnot or Denis Papin were the first men to build an object which some primary technical and scientific properties which can works without a manned propulsion. The fardier, ancestor of the cars, is composed to a chassis, three wheels and a steam engine at the front of the structure. Only two prototypes were build between 1761 and 1771. That machine was tested by the French army and for driving as a car. Later, other projects came from all over Europe and America. At the end of the 19th century, Carl Benz and his wife created a tricycle called the Motorwagen considered as the first real and practical car.

(Credit : wikipedia © Roby)

What's about the aviation? Who doesn't know the greek myth of Icarus and Deadalus? The mythology is really interesting. How did men want to conquer the world by imitating the birds or understanding the physical laws. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote a Codex on the flight behaviour of birds and purposed some mechanisms for flight machines in 1502. George Cayley, a British engineer or 'the father of aviation' analysed and gave an exclusive explanation on the concept of the planes. During the 19th, he built first flying models of fixed-wing aircraft called gliders. The 20th marked the time of the experimental aircraft with failed attempts and successes of Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Wright brothers or Louis Blériot.

The flying cars : a long history of failed attempts and crashes.

Cars and plane are two different mechanical self-powered machines. Why some men wanted to created a hybrid transport? Who are those men and what were their positions in the developments of cars and aircraft to develop such hybrid things? The first of the men who created the real scientific prototype was Glenn Curtiss. He worked for the Wright brothers, American pioneers of the aviation. He conceived the 'Curtiss Autoplane" in 1917. Assembling parts of a triplane (Model L) and a Ford Model T together would have compared to the creature from the novel of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. If you know the end of the story, you're guessed, it was a bad idea.

The Curtiss Autoplane invented in 1917.

The next important attempt came from Waldo Waterman. At the end of the 1930s, he designed five roadable aircrafts called the Arrowbile considered as flying cars. The last prototype was built in the 1957. At that time, there was an aerocar was conceived by another American engineer, Moulton B. Taylor. Waterman wasn't an unknow in that adventure. Indeed, he helps Glenn Curtiss developping the amphibious aircraft in the 1910s. Unfortunately, he failed to not managed to commercialize his hybrid aircraft.

The last prototype of the Arrowbile renamed the Aeromobile later.

The Convair Model 116, the Convair Model 118 (1946-1948) and the Fulton Airphibian (1946) reflect the serious interests of the flying cars in the 1940s. Those roadable aircrafts reminds us the World War II pushed some men to find new hybrid transports. Unlike the British 'flying Jeep' (called the Hafner Rotabuggy) or the Antonov A-40, a soviet 'flying tank', the model 116/118 and the Fulton Airphibian were designed as civil roadable aircrafts. Russel Rogers, a pilot succeded the sixty-six test flights with the model 116. The production would have begun after the trials of the refined model named ConVairCar 118. Unfortunately, an accident and misunderstandings stopped the adventure. The Fulton Airphibian have never produced even if one of the prototype was certified by the Federation Aviation Administration. Robert Edison Fulton Jr didn't managed to impose his flying cars even he had names from the great American engineers and inventors.

The Fulton Airphibian from 1946.

In Europe, Luigi Pellarini designed and flew his Aerauto PL.5C in 1949 but has never produced it too. He tried to improve his prototype until 1953. At the end, he gave up his project. The same year, Leland Bryan began to develop his experimental roadable aircrafts until his death but never achieved to impose his model. Though his records during the test flights and a crash, the Bryan Autoplane prototypes stay experimental trials.

The nearly golden age of the flying cars.

The only european prototype was italian until the 1970s. German and French designers worked on projects called respectively the Wagner Aerocar and the Lebouder Autoplane after the italian prototype. The Wagner FJ-V3 Aerocar (1965) is not inspired to the Taylor Aerocar. The Jetson, an american TV cartoon is the source of that four places aerocar by Alfred Vogt. It's not simple a flying cars like the previous models. The Wagner aerocar is more a roadable rotor helicopter than a roadable aircraft. Between 1973 and 1977, a French amateur, Lebouder, built his Autoplane which was a performing modular roadable aircraft. Until the last moments of his adventure, our French guy won sportive competitions.

The AVE Mizar, a tragic attempt in the history of the flying cars (credit : Doug Duncan).

What was the first famous flying car in the popular history of the cinema and the tabloid. If you're a James Bond's enthusiast, you have heard about the sad end of the designer, Henry Smolinski and the president of the Advanced Vehicle Engineers (AVE), Henry Blake. The AVE Mizar would have been the first flying car produced officially. That flying car was a mixed thing composed to a Ford Pinto and a Cessna Skymaster. In 1974, the first models would have been available for $18,300 until $29,000. More than a new simple model, that flying car would have been the automotive star of one of James Bond's series, 'The man with the golden gun (1974). Unfortunately, that nearly success ended with the deaths of the inventors in 1973. In the 1980s and the 1990s, the only official known concept was the Aviauto thought by the Florida Institute of Technology.

How to conclude that long and amazing history of the roadable aircrafts or/and the flying cars? Conceived and designed as pratical hybrid vehicles during the two World wars, the flying cars have suffered from unseccessful adventures and mechanical failures. The new aeromobile 3.0 would be the new chapter of the flying car era. You can pre-order your aeromobil until december 2017 if you're a pilot and a automotive enthusiast.

Bump and share your opinion on the subject on #lifestyle and #drivetribers and in the comments.

If you have not read the previous article, you can do it :