Blue Skies

FAA Licenses
First Flying Car

For some, the news come with considerable delay. Terrafugia Transition, a cumbersome-named car that can take off from a small runaway, fly at 115 mph and ride on a regular road, became the first car licensed by the FAA after 100 years, when motorcycle manufacturer Glenn Curtiss designed and flew the Aeroplane.
Many others came and went before and some are still being tested. As with many other modern inventions, it’s usually the war-driven mentality that leads the charge, thinking about practical ways to transport weapons, for example, or soldiers.
The delay in having cars flying above us can be considered even longer than a century, if you think about the Spinner, from Blade Runner, and countless other examples created by the science fiction literature.
For critics, safety are the most blatant reason why we shouldn’t be allowing weekend pilots to have fun overhead. Two-seater Terrafugia doesn’t need airbags, crumple zones and roll cages, but some ponder whether such features would be of any comfort in case of a fall from a high altitude. The same argument is invoked often against the use of helmets for parachuters.
But the FAA says this flying car is safer than an ordinary light aircraft because it’s not allowed to fly in inclement weather, for example, although any pilot will tell you that up there, the weather changes faster than you can say May Day. It’s also lighter and smaller than the Aerocar the sitcom actor Bob Cummings used to fly in the early 60s.
More than safety concerns, though, cost will be the biggest deterrent for instant popularity of the new artifact. At $194,000 suggested retail price, it certainly won’t be the first choice for the majority of potential car buyers around the world. Most likely it’ll be the “entertainment du jour” of celebrities and famous ball players, at least for a while, that we’ll read all about on People or US.
So for those who’re still expecting the future as “what it was supposed to be,” of flying cars and private rockets and automatic appliances (which, in a way, are already with us) and the worlds envisioned by Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick or even The Jetsons, this news comes somewhat already deflated.
But to keep it all in perspective, it’s always useful to remember that cellphones, for example, which Bill Gates correctly predicted only 15 years ago, are hardly ever present in such “literature of anticipation,” as it used to be called, Dick Tracy notwithstanding. And that the Internet, well, you got the idea.
The future is always one of the possibilities, not one just full of it, subjected and influenced by a myriad of variants that maybe only the String Theory can successful predict. Apart from that, we need the writers, the poets, the visionaries to usher us to the new possible eras.
These lunatics usually come up with a radical new world view, not because they were searching for one, but because it was necessary to bridge and jell some combination of several, discrepant views they imagined. In other words, if I need to get to tomorrow, and I need to get there fast, I’d better off skipping the next flight and create a complete new wave to get me there on time.

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