Flying Cars: The sky’s the limit

Blog Submitted by Michael Frankfort, Co-Chair of STAO Elementary Curriculum Committee
Check out this article by Perry Lefko (Special To The Star)
The reality of a flying car is closer than you may think – just don’t call it that.

Did you hear the one about the car that could fly?

The concept of a car that can fly has been portrayed in movies and on TV, but fantasy is moving closer to reality, according to aviation experts. However, getting the go-ahead from transportation and aviation authorities could delay takeoff.

A small number of companies in the world are designing a prototype car-aircraft for personal use. On a far bigger scale, variations of a helicopter or drone powered by electric motors — and with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities – are in development and have been linked to flying cars.

That said, flying cars are a misnomer.

“The word flying car has no meaning in either the automotive industry or the aviation community,” said Todd Petersen, a pilot and the co-founder and chief technology officer of Ellis and Associates. It is the consulting arm of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Lacuna Technologies, which helps cities and agencies better manage transportation in the air and on the ground through open-source solutions.

“Flying car is a media-term mostly, associating with science fiction and movies and things like that and the projection of what’s to come,” Petersen said. “Car companies aren’t working on flying things and aircraft companies are not working on things that need federal highway standards.”

Kenneth Swartz — a Toronto-based aviation analyst and consultant who has been following and reporting on the vertical flight industry for 35-plus years – offered a similar explanation of the misused term.

“It’s applied quite loosely these days in the popular media and has generated a lot of confusion,” Swartz said. “Some people are deliberately using it to stimulate the public imagination.”

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