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What Next, Flying Cars? The Roadable Aircraft Story

Jeffrey Syken

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward...”

(Excerpt from a contemporary Apple Computer commercial)

They had names like Dewey and Waldo and their creations were called Whatsit, Airphibian and Skyline Event – they were the rebels who defied the immutable laws of physics and sought to fit the proverbial round peg in the square hole by adding a third dimension to road travel: flight (even if it was just a few inches or 10K-feet above terra firma). It might sound crazy to the uninitiated, but the likes of automotive and aviation industry luminaries such as Henry Ford and Glenn Curtiss took it very seriously. Even America’s “Ace of Aces” – Eddie Rickenbacker, saw “Roadable Aircraft” (a/k/a “Flying Cars”) as the natural progression of the “Horseless Carriage.”

The dream began in the first decade of the 20th Century and lives on to the present-day. By the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, there were well over one-hundred serious attempts to design a practical flying car, yet it remains the “Holy Grail” of the inventors art. No longer synonymous with failure and ridicule (as in the days of Dewey Bryan and Waldo Waterman), serious research agencies like the DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency (DARPA) and automobile manufacturers like Volkswagen and Toyota are patenting and producing real-world prototypes of the future flying car. And then there’s the tinkerer, whose knack for invention just may move the human race forward all by their lonesome.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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