Personal aircraft, small enough to fit in a garage with the wings folded. Especially the one you could take the wings off at your destination and drive them into town. How many inventors have announced theirs in magazines, set up to sell to an eager populace, and went broke? How often have we read about them in science fiction, only to have them never materialize?
True, over the years they have tended to become anti-grav cars, skimmers, jump-cars, and lose their wings, but why are we all still stuck in rush hour, only dreaming of hitting the button and leaping skyward out of the jammed traffic?
Because then everyone would have one of the damned things, and they’d all be leaping up in our way. You think traffic is bad on the ground? Think of all the stupid and careless drivers you’ve dealt with just this week. Now picture them in the air with no pavement and lines to control them, no brakes (just crashing), and going all over vertically.
Yup, the FAA thought of that, too.
Frankly, my dear, whatever you call it, you’re talking about a light aircraft.
Light aircraft still requires a pilot’s skill to fly and, maybe more importantly, a lot of airspace because they’re more vulnerable to wind. Considering that so many people on the road seem to have gotten their driver’s license out of a box of Cracker Jacks, do you really want them up in the air? If you think a wreck on the road is bad for collateral damage — bouncing off other cars, hitting fences, maybe getting pedestrians — now add these jokers crashing into houses and schools through their roofs.
And that’s why we are never going to have flying cars as a common vehicle. Instead, they will be like cars in 1895 — rare objects that you take off from your driveway *if* you are one of the lucky few licensed for them.
Imagine though, steampunkly, if small planes had been cheap back in the 1880s, when things like licensing a person to operate a vehicle was unheard of …
I don’t think they would have been licensed any more than boats were. Since they don’t frighten horses and little old ladies down on the road, there wouldn’t be many ordinances passed regarding them. One sees this in stories and fiction of the biplane era, when for lack of airports people put down in meadows and on commons wherever they liked. Usually, whenever they needed to for gasoline or a night’s sleep.
Think about that when your yearning for a flying car cuts too deeply. They were imprinted on our brains via a line of writers going back to when automobiles hadn’t yet been invented: small dirigibles and some sort of air motorcycle show up and further the plot in The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Third Century in 1827. It’s a classic example of why crowds of little flying machines are a Bad Idea.