Building the World

TRANSPORT: If cars could fly


Flying cars have long been a dream: this one’s from 1947. But new models are coming to a sky near you, soon, Image: “Convair Model 118” from 1947. Wikimedia, public domain, Included with appreciation.

If the car changed history, even more so: the airplane. Now these common modes of transport must, themselves, change. Transport contributes 25% to CO2 emissions, from the burning of fossil fuels. We are seeing adoption of electric vehicles, encouraged by automobile manufacturers’ new vehicles and installation of charging networks. Air travel has not made the transition to zero-carbon as easily: aircraft are simply too heavy to run on batteries. But what if cars could fly? And do so on electricity?

“Back to the Future” starring Michael J. Fox featured a flying car. Image: wikimedia. Included with appreciation.

Alef, in California, has invented a flying car that drives on regular roads, and then transforms into a biplane. For the sum of $300,000 you can go “Back to the Future.” And, it’s electric. Pal-V, made in the Netherlands, will cost $599,000; or $399,000 for a sports edition: both models include training in the price. AirCar is a hybrid car/plane that runs on a BMW engine using gasoline: it can fly 600 miles once it morphs from car to aircraft.

“Cormorant” from Israel Defense Forces, built by Tactical Robotics LTD, Image by Timus Saban, 2016. Creative Commons 4.0. Included with appreciation.

What’s the market for flying cars? Morgan Stanley estimates it will be worth $1.5 trillion in 2040. Some Tesla investors have expressed support, and technologies like AirCar, Pal-V gyrocopter, and Alef might interest the military, like the above Cormorant flying vehicle used by the Israel Defense Forces, or NASA where vehicles roaming planets need to travel by land and by air. Since Daedalus, innovative humans have found inspiration from Nature where birds strut the ground, then fly through the sky. Will we soon join them?

“Seagull in flight,” by Mark Buckawiki, 2017. Wikimedia Creative Commons 1.0 Donated into the public domain by the author, and included with appreciation.

Kleinman, Zoe “Flying car completes test flight between airports.” 29 June 2021. BBC.

Vallance, Chris. “The flying car that could turn into a biplane.” 21 October 2022. BBC.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Un

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