MY LATE FRIEND, THE WONDERFUL BOB FULTON, INVENTED THE FIRST FEDERALLY CERTIFIED FLYING CAR
IT WAS CALLED THE AIRPHIBIAN
Designed by Robert Edison Fulton, Jr., it was an aluminum-bodied car, built with independent suspension, aircraft-sized wheels, and a six-cylinder 165 hpengine. The fabric wings were easily attached to the fuselage, converting the car into a plane. Four prototypes were built.
In December 1950, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) (later to become the FAA) certified one of the prototypes and gave it an 1A11 Aircraft Specification, N74104. Lou Achitoff, was the CAA test pilot.The N74154 is the aircraft that is today in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
The craft made its debut in November 1946 at Danbury, Connecticut, and they were built in Danbury by Robert Fulton, President; Franz Alverez, VP and Engineer; Ted Polhemus Mechanical and Electrical Master; Frazer Dougherty, Test Pilot; Wayne Dasher (Dash), top flight A&E Mechanic; Fred Underhill, Tool and Die Maker; Ross Stevens, Aeronautical Engineer and Structural Engineer. Financial concerns forced Fulton to sell to a company that never developed it.
TERRAFUGIA ARE FOLLOWING IN A FINE TRADITION
THIS THING, THE TF-X—A CAR WITH A DIFFERENCE—WILL BOTH DRIVE AND FLY AUTONOMOUSLY—AND YOU CAN HAVE ONE IN 8-12 YEARS.
BOB WAS A LITTLE AHEAD OF HIS TIME.
The following is from www.gizmag.com – a site I peruse with great pleasure every day. It does wonders for my morale. It focuses on technology and the ingenuity of mankind. When we are not shooting ourselves in both feet, we can be remarkably creative.
Flying—after being broadly similar since WW II apart from the introduction of jets—looks like evolving dramatically over the next couple of decades.
Amongst other developments we are going to see:
- Electrically powered aircraft—both hybrid and solo (if we have a major battery breakthrough, which I think is likely).
- Airships again. Because they are slow, yet able to life a great deal, the focus is currently on cargo, but I think we may see airships carrying passengers as well. It’s such a cool way to fly.
- Drones. These are going to be ubiquitous—a prospect I regard with mixed feelings.
- Autonomous aircraft.
- Autonomous flying cars.
- Much faster autonomous helicopters. Here, I really mean vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) because I’m far from sure they will look much like helicopters as we know them today. Currently, tilt-rotor technology looks to be in the lead but it is not the only contender.
Terrafugia says the aim of its vehicles is to provide "true door-to-door transportation." The TF-X is designed to seat up to four people and will have computer-controlled flight that that will allow the operator to simply input the desired destination before letting the vehicle take off (from a level clearing of at least 100 ft in diameter) and fly itself.
To enable flight, the TF-X design has fold-out wings with twin electric motor pods attached to the ends. The motors are powered by a 300 hp engine and can move from vertical to horizontal positions as required for taking off, cruising and landing. A ducted fan will provide thrust, and the vehicle will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), as well as a 500 mile (805 km) flight range.
As with taking off, the plan is for the TF-X to land autonomously, though says Terrafugia points out that the user will have the final say regarding whether it's safe to land. Once back on the ground, the car's wings will fold down in a matter of seconds to make it suitable for use as a road-going plug-in hybrid once again.
The one-tenth scale model will be tested at the Wright Brothers wind tunnel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where the Transition was also tested. The testing will help to measure the drag, lift and thrust forces of the new design. Simulations of hovering flight, transitioning to forward flight
and full forward flight will also be carried out.
Terrafugia says the TF-X will be another 8-12 years in development.