Saturday, 17 March 2012

Sky's the limit: World's first flying car!

Sky's the limit: World's first flying car on the market at £800,000 (and it's been in the air since 1946)

Magnificent men: The two-seat Aerocar was first designed in 1949 and now looks set to fly off the forecourts

If waiting in traffic jams leaves you ready to explode, the solution is finally here.

Drivers can switch from the road to the air in minutes at the wheel of the world's first flying car - which is on the market at a sky-high price of £800,000.

The two-seat automobile can reach speeds of 60mph on land and up to 110mph at 12,000 feet, despite being more than 60 years old.

The Aerocar, which is one of just six ever built, is expected to fly off the forecourt when it is sold by Illinois-based Courtesy Aircraft on behalf of Yellowstone Aviation.

Inventor Moulton 'Molt' Taylor began work on the car in 1946 and it became the world’s first road-legal flying car when he built the first prototype three years later.

But the sci-fi style vehicle, which boasts a propeller on the end of a long tail cone, initially failed to take off.

Length: 21 feet
Wingspan: 30 feet
Weight: 2,100lb
Range: 300 miles
Maximum speed: 110 mph
Cruise speed: 100 mph
Take-off speed: 55 mph
Road speed: 60mph

In November 1949, the prototype could not get off the ground after accelerating slowly down a grass runway.

One month and a number of modifications later, the Aerocar made its first official flight out of Longview, Washington, and Mr Taylor started to get funding from interested investors.

The first three models were sold for a hefty $25,000 (£15,800) each with a plan for mass production. But the firm struggled to get the 500 orders needed to make the car marketable.

Mr Taylor had designed the Aerocar to be able to convert from car to plane in less than 10 minutes.

He once said: 'The changeover from plane to auto can be made by a women in a fur coat and high heels.'

He wanted his brainchild to have wings which could fold back and allow the car to tow the rest of the plane.

The flying motor rolled off the U.S. company’s production line in 1954, its 150 horsepower coming from a 5.2-litre, four-cylinder engine.

Ron Twellman, curator at the EAA AirVenture Museum, said: 'Molt Taylor’s Aerocar was the first roadable aircraft to be certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

'Less than a half dozen of this original model were produced, though Molt continued working on other models for the rest of his life.

'It is special because it was the first roadable aircraft that you could order from the factory.

'With such a small number produced and with most of these already in museums where they’re likely to stay, the opportunity for an individual to purchase one is quite rare.'

But the Aerocar does has one winged nemesis, after U.S. firm Terrafugia’s ‘Transition’ was approved to be driven on road in 2009.

Despite the gap in time between the two models, however, their performance is remarkably similar.

The $250,000 (£155,000) Transition has a top flying speed of 115mph, driving speed of 65mph and range of 500 miles.

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