Consumers itching to purchase one of the first Kitty Hawks to roll off production can sign up for a three-year membership with Kitty Hawk for $100. Members will enjoy a priority placement on the waiting list and a $2,000 discount off the Flyer’s retail price, which the company will disclose once the vehicle goes on sale.
History of the Flying Car
Although having never been mass produced, the Aerocar is considered to be one of the first “roadable aircrafts,” or “flying cars,” ever developed. Moulton Taylor of Longview, Washington, designed and built the original Aerocar in 1949, which is now displayed at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The silver-winged, yellow model measures 21 feet, 6 inches long, has a 34-foot wingspan and can accommodate one crew member and one passenger. The Aerocar I was able to reach a maximum speed of 117 miles per hour. There were four Aerocar I models, one Aerocar II and one Aerocar III that was a rebuilt Aerocar I model.
In 1956, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) granted Taylor civil certification for his Aerocar. He then attempted to mass produce his invention with the Ling-Temco-Vought corporation. The one hurdle Taylor faced, however, was the provision that he needed to attract 500 orders for the Aerocar. Garnering only half that number, Ling canceled all production plans for Taylor’s Aerocar.
No matter how appealing the concept of a flying car may be, there are genuine challenges that designers must face when attempting to develop a workable product. It mostly boils down to physics. One problem is the force the vehicle’s suspension must take. With land vehicles, suspension allows for easier handling and absorption of road bumps. This might seem to be inconsequential with a flying car, but the vehicle eventually needs to land. In order for the vehicle to fly, any added suspension weight requires that weight must be taken from another area, such as the frame or seats. In addition, to keep weight at a minimum, a flying car must get by with only one engine. This presents a challenge because a flying vehicle must be able to switch engine power from wheels to propeller in the way a land auto’s engine transfers power to the wheels through the transmission.
Uber’s Goal for 2020
Notwithstanding all the practical challenges facing the flying car, Uber has predicted that it will have the ability to carry passengers in flying cars on a mass scale by 2020. Even if all the technological kinks can be ironed out by then, the company will still need to deal with the additional massive salary and maintenance costs.