Cars of the Future - 1971
From: Cars of the Future - 1971
FLYING YOUR OWN CAR, INCLUDING A DETROIT PRODUCTION AUTOMOBILE, MAY BECOME A REALITY IN THIS DECADE.
Above- Artist's rendering shows what an Advanced Vehicle Engineers' Aircar will look like when airborne. Modified production Ford Pinto is utilized with an airframe and engine of a Cessna, which is detachable in minutes so car may be used on highways.
You may soon be able to fly your own personal car, a Detroit production automobile with modifications to include aircraft controls. Furthermore, the airframe and aircraft engine will be detachable and you can leave it at the airport and drive your car on the highway to your ultimate destination. That's what is now in the works by Advanced Vehicle Engineers (AVE) of Van Nuys, Calf., a firm which is engaged in building and marketing the Aircar.
AVE's Aircar integrates an FAA-certified airframe and engine on a conventional Detroit-built automobile such as a Ford, Chevrolet or Pontiac. The Aircar, using flight controls built into the car's dash panel, is flown by a licensed pilot sitting in the drivers seat. The Aircar is designed as a dual purpose vehicle.It can fly and be used for surface travel by detaching the airframe and engine within minutes.
According to Henry Smolinski, president of AVE, the Aircar is designed for short trips, business or pleasure. It will have a maximum speed of 150 mph and a cruising speed of 130 mph, with a range of 500 miles. The climbing rate for the Aircar is 750 feet per minute, while the take-off roll is 500 feet and speed 65 mph. He said the landing roll will be 500 feet.
Officials of AVE believe the public will accept their vehicle because it uses a certified airframe, such as that of a Cessna, and a certified aircraft engine, along with an automobile built to Federal standards. he said the Aircar's airframe/engine unit will be located at the airpark and a slightly modified automobile will be integrated into this unit by backing the car under the wings. The airframe/engine unit will be aligned on the car automatically by a self-aligning track assembly, then all the controls, instruments will be connected to the automobile, said Smolinski, He said a reverse of these operations will permit the car to be driven away minus the airframe/engine unit, which will be left at the airpark.
Smolinski said the first Aircars will use smaller cars such as the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega. Other models likely to be used in early production include the Firebird, Camero, Javelin and Toyota. Weight restrictions - 3800 pounds will be maximum for the automobile - will not permit full-sized cars such as the Cadillac, Oldsmobile or Buick. Smolinski said that 55 cars, including the Volkswagon, meet AVE's standard for an Aircar. The maximum gross weight for an Aircar with the airframe/engine unit will be 7300 pounds. The wing span is 38 feet, length 30 feet and height 7 1/2 feet.
AVE officials claim the Aircar will be no more difficult to fly than a conventional airplane. They plan to use women pilots for initial flights. A taxi run was to be scheduled early 1971, while an actual flight is slated for later this year. Smolinski said engineering and mechanical plans have been worked out and AVE needs only to complete its financing before getting its project off the ground.
The aircraft engine will operate at the rear of the car. It will be a reciprocating and turboprop, a Continental or Pratt & Whitney with 700 horsepower. Asked weather he thought there would be enough air coming around the car for the propeller to push the car forward, he said this should be no problem. "We are not doing anything outside of the state of the art of flying, " he explained. "Most cars today are aerodynamically designed. The only reason no flying production-type cars have been built before is because cars were heavier years ago and aircraft was not as advanced as today. Ground handling of an Aircar will probably be an improvement over conventional aircraft, plus the takeoff will be shorter."
The steering system of the automobile will be modified to control the ailerons by turning the wheel, and to control the elevator by moving backward and forward, and retractable rudder pedals will be mounted under the steering column. The pilot will flight-control the Aircar from the drivers seat. He will use 10 basic instruments installed in the dash panel - a compass, altitude, airspeed, aircraft rpm engine indicators, propeller control, aircraft engine power, ignition switch, oil pressure gauge, fuel quanity gauge, oil temperature gauge and aircraft navigation radio. The same steering wheel will be utilized for flying as for driving and it will be the same angle.
While the automobile engine will be used during take-off and for taxi runs, the car engine will be off in flight and power will be supplied by the aircraft engine.
Modifications to the automobile will also include a special roof structure for attaching the airframe. There will also be changes in the rear suspension, special paneling installed under the car, and relocation of the fuel tank and battery. Some cars will have a better grade of tires installed. All cars will have disk brakes. Minor modifications will be made to reduce the weight of the automobile.
Smolinski said AVE has conducted preliminary feasibility and simulation testing by using a Cessna Skymaster airplane, which approximates the weight and configuration of the Aircar. He said the front propeller was feathered in flight using the rear engine only. Wing Flaps were lowered slightly to simulate the added drag of the automobile's body. "The pilot in this test said the performance characteristics of the aircraft under these simulated conditions were smooth and easy to control," said Smolinski.
The Aircar will have a vast market, according to Harold Blake, vice-president of AVE. "it will prove to be quite popular for business, recreation, racing, air taxi, patrol, military flying clubs, emergency and other specialized uses, particularly anything where transportation is required for point-to-point travel without interfering with transport modes or without exchanging vehicles."
Blake said marketing studies reveal that commercial airlines serve only 535 of the more than 10,500 airports in the United States.
Smolinski, inventor-designer of the Aircar, has some 50 inventions. Among his inventions are a six-passenger jet-propelled VTOL called "RCV" (Rapid Commuting Vehicle). He is a former project engineer with North American Rockwell, a leading contractor in the United States moon programs. A. M. (Kap) Kaplan, who worked on the "Pregnant Gumpy" (a special aircraft for hauling Apollo engines to Cape Kennedy), is the chief engineer for AVE. He was formerly employed by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, serving 14 years in the stress group. He was responsible for the structural design of the Constellation wings and empennage while employed as structures supervisor.
What will an Aircar cost? The minimum cost will be $14,900, which includes both a modified Pinto and a Cessna airframe/engine unit. The price of an Aircar includes lessons to obtain a private pilot's license. AVE officials said the average cost will run closer to $17,000 because most pilots will order radio electronics. Smolinski said AVE has already received 20 orders from people of all walks of life, including some with no pilot's license.
The Aircar is the only flying car using Detroit-built production automobiles.
Above- This is a 3/8 scale model developed by Ford Motor Company advanced designers to show how an aero-car, capable of operating in the air or on the ground, may appear.
One flying automobile with a different design has already been certified by the FAA. It is called the Aerocar and was invented by Molt Taylor of Longview, Wash., who took nearly 20 years to complete his invention.
Above- Aerocar, invented by Molt Taylor of Longview, Wash., has been certified by the FAA. It is shown in flight.
The Aerocar has it's propeller installed behind the tail, the first FAA-approved airplane to do so. Taylor claims the location of the propeller in the rear makes the Aerocar easier to learn to fly than the conventional airplane because there is less air turbulence.
Above- Propeller of the Aerocar is located behind the tail. Inventor claims this make it easier to learn to fly because of less wind turbulence.
Taylor has hand-built six Aerocars, the first Aerocar was first flown in June, 1968. Aerocar, Inc., however, has not been able to put it's flying cars into quanity production because of lack of capitol required to put such an expensive program into operation.
Aerocars, which use a Lycoming 0-320 engine (derated to 143 hp), have flight cruising speeds of 135 mph and a range of 500 miles. They climb at the rate of 700 feet per minute. Ground cruising speed is 60 mph.
Taylor's Aerocars have a fully retractable four-wheel landing gear which has three positions: (1) full extend, for takeoff and landing and for attaching and removing the wings-tail unit; (2) partially retracted, for normal road travel to permit the car to be lowered on the road for better stability, more conventional appearance and better ride; (3) fully retracted for flight.
Wings of the Aerocar may be folded and the airframe towed behind the automobile similar to a trailer.
Above- Wings of Aerocar fold up and airframe may be towed as a trailer to and from airport.
Taylor says that if he can get his Aerocars into quanity production they will sell for around $10,000.
Some advocators of flying cars put it simply: if man can go to the moon, why not flying cars? Who knows but that flying cars may become commonplace in this century.
Above- Engineers believe the day is not to far off when a conventional Detroit-built car will be flown by a licensed pilot sitting in the driver's seat and using flight controls in the car's dash panel.