Volante: A Look at Design and Prior Flying Car Efforts
Also see "The Role of the Flying Car."
What Type of Flying Car Should I Own?
This brings us down to two types of flying cars, for both of which airfields figure into some phase of their usage.
1. The " leave a piece at the airport" (LPA) type of flying car, which leaves the flight component at the airport when the car drives away. You must return to the same landing place to fly again.
2. The "take-it-all-with-you" (TAW) flying car, which does just as its title suggests. Post landing, in some fashion, all of the parts go with you, so that you can travel to another airport to continue your flight again.
There are two types of vehicle in this latter category. I borrow Lionel Salisbury's "Roadable Times" definitions here.
a. The integrated flying car with wings and empennage that fold and store aboard, plus a prop that is simply stopped and disengaged, leaving you to essentially drive an entire, albeit folded up, airplane on the highway.
b. The modular flying car. In this case the car becomes just a car. The flight component lifts off to wait at the airport until you return or it folds into a trailer or some such appendage and can conveniently be left behind or taken with you.
Consider the LPA flying car.
Next, the TAW flying car category:
First, the integrated machine.
As Paul Poberezny said in April 1976:
"All who have owned airplanes know that their investment sits on the ground probably more than 95% of its lifetime, either in the hangar or tied down out in the elements. As I have often said, one must have a strong love for aviation to tolerate such a vehicle."
Why not get some usefulness out of your investment when it isn't flying?
Next the modular flying car.
The Volante has two
engines for several reasons
2. Power required to fly is much in excess of that to drive, and a better engine match can be achieved if the proper size engine is available for each function. Mileage per gallon is also better when a matched engine is used for driving and here is where an unexpected bonus accrued to the Volante car. Because it is so light and streamlined one can expect to get between 60 and 80 miles per gallon, great with today's four dollar per gallon gas which might rise even further.
3. An aircraft engine is designed to run at high power and "get by" when on the ground. Too much taxiing will often result in fouled plugs. Alternatively, spark retard, power limiters and a cooling fan can be added as Molt Taylor did with the Aerocar, again a complication probably requiring FAA testing and approval.
I want to emphasize that I am trying to build a vehicle that will bring more people
into aviation at lower cost and more usefulness not just appeal to the elite few.
I did many configuration drawings and even built another flying car prior to the
presently flying design.. As I said above, even this No. 2 design has evolved
further in a production model that I will show you later. I tend to have to learn
by experience and what I think I have learned is that "the devil is in the
details," You don't want to need a large toolbox and to service a lot of
complex fallible machinery when you land on a dark rainy night in "Nowheresville,
This paper is intended to complement the second paper which follows, entitled "The Flying Car Can Revolutionize Private Aviation" so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the "nickel and dime" advantages and disadvantages of owning a TAW flying car. I'll just list a few below. Remember, the flying car is both an automobile with all of the simplicity, ease of operation and versatility of that 20th century creation, PLUS it is an airplane with an excellent cruising speed. There is no hangar or tie down rent - you drive the whole thing home and keep it on one side of a two-car garage avoiding outdoor weathering costs or hangar rent..
The Volante is:
Transportation (for sure) at a destination. Not all airports have rental cars
which are a pain in the neck anyway.
The vehicle shown to the right is the second Volante designed and built by K.P.Rice. The original made some 300 flights and the car portion was driven frequently. That machine was dismantled to provide components for the new design. The same car was much modified for use in the current Volante
These pictures show the first Volante in flight and road configurations.