Wired News :My Mother the Flying Car

A note from Adam Starchild:

   It's not an airship, but how about something like this to get to and from a stationary airship platform -- and have your ground transportation when you arrive.


 From Wired News, available online at:

My Mother the Flying Car  
By Courtney Barry  

2:00 a.m. April 30, 2001 PDT 

AUSTIN, Texas -- Get your pilot's license ready. A Jetsons-style
flying car might be at your dealership in the not-too-distant future.  

A retired Air Force pilot from Austin, Texas, has come up with a
design that incorporates the portability of a car with the aerodynamics and wings of an airplane.  

The model, in two parts, can be fitted together for use on the ground
or in the air by way of a simple attachment, much like a trailer hitch.  

Roger L. Williamson designed his Roadrunner model with a three-wheeled
car which, he said, bypasses the federal regulations for what's categorized as an "automobile," which is a vehicle with four wheels.  

The two-seater, with highway speeds of up to 80 mph, is about 21 feet
long, about the same length as a pickup truck with a ski boat attached.  

"I have been trying to design a practical flying car most of my adult
life, Williamson said. "There are hundreds of small airports where you can land an airplane but no rental cars are available. The real brainstorm came when I was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio in 1964; I came up with the idea of putting the car on top of the airplane."  

Williamson's design follows many prior attempts at building a personal
flying device.  

Wendell F. Moore of Bell Aerosystems designed an individual jet
backpack in the early 1960s that could lift one person and fly short distances. Then in 1973 a California company created a hybrid from a Ford Pinto and a Cessna Skymaster. It generated heated excitement until the aircraft crashed on its maiden flight.  

According to Steve Flanagan of the certification procedures branch of
the Federal Aviation Administration, the certification processes for aircraft in the U.S. are addressed in U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, specifically parts 23 and 21.  

Flanagan said that the current certification process requires several
steps. Categories are also broken down by the craft's weight and intended use. The FAA scrutinizes any potential aircraft for design security so that it's "safe enough for everybody to put their grandmother in and fly them off somewhere," Flanagan said.  

Flanagan said the Roadrunner "is a very fine idea, so long as the
airplane does not decide to leave the car at 1,000 feet altitude. So you say, 'How do we prove that that's not going to happen?' Probably you wind up getting into some special conditions there. Part 21 addresses those."  

Williamson said that in his design, the car will be connected to the
airframe with over-center hooks, which are securely locked when the two components are coupled together in flight.  

As for landing, he said, "All you have to do is retract the aircraft
nose wheel. Extend the tail support and release the hooks that couple the two components together. Next, start the ground engine, drive the auto component out of the fuselage and you are on your way."   

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Smart Cars Sense Hazards  
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Your Car: The Next Net Appliance  
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New DWI: Driving While Internet  
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Smart Check-In Cuts Airport Lines  
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Science Says Women Dig Fast Cars  
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Keeping Three Eyes on the Road  
Nov. 22, 2000 

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