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closely matches your initial thoughts on a flying car?: |
This brings us down to two types of flying cars, for both of which airfields figure
into some phase of their usage:
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.
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
This machine is less complex
to build, requires fewer licenses to operate, and may well satisfy some people's
needs. You are still stuck with hangar or tie-down rent and significant operating
restrictions, such as how to get it to the airport initially, and always having
to return to the same airport to continue your journey by air. These limitations
are not applicable to the next category under discussion.
the TAW flying car category
The integrated machine
is basically a folded up airplane for highway travel. This machine sounds ideal,
however it too has some penalties. One of these depends on the sophistication
of the designer (spell sophistication as complexity and cost in almost all of
the units I've seen). It is relatively easy to conceptualize such a design but
far more difficult to practically deal with the machinery to make it happen reliably
as well as the conflicting CG requirements of a car and an aircraft, fuel storage
space and so forth. I now have what I consider to be a practical solution for
this design, but, although easier to convert, it still doesn't fit with my view
that most users will undoubtedly be driving a lot more than they are flying and
thus will be better served with an immediately available, more practical highly
economical car,(60 to 80 mpg) that does not expose the entire airframe too "expensive
to repair" highway damage.
As Paul Poberezny said in April
"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?
I chose this for the Volante for several reasons. I didn't
think the world was ready for the integrated machine on an economic basis. It
may well be that unit production cost at 100,000 vehicles or more per year will
be low enough for a large number of pilots to own, but it will be some time before
the market develops to that point. In fact, I chose the kit route for initial
introduction because I think the flying car has to demonstrate its projected value
before any entrepreneur will invest the magnificent sums required for automotive
type serial production; which is the only other route I can see to really low
We really need to learn the "real world" contribution
a flying car makes within the aviation spectrum before we know what it should
look like, how it will operate, what are its economies, all of its pros and cons,
considered within an evolutionary framework which simultaneously deals with necessary
regulatory and facility changes. Incidentally, with all of these uncertainties,
my hat is off to the current group of entrepreneurs working on such machines.
We each think that we know what the market needs and we may all be right for the
segment to which we cater.
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