Friday, 8 March 2013

The flying car is still a bit of blue sky thinking

I WAS planning on doing a piece on Alpine's latest decision to go adventuring at Le Mans but then a mate sent me something which is much more up my street - an ad for a roadgoing aircraft!

The PD-2 is built by Plane Driven, an American company which, rather than going to the expense of creating a Jetsons-esque flying car has taken an existing aircraft, changed the wheels, fitted a second engine and made a few tweaks to turn it into something you can drive on a US highway. I briefly thought it was brilliant until I saw the $60,000 pricetag - and that doesn't include the cost of the aircraft before it's converted.

It also loses two of its four seats, you have to fill it up with two completely types of fuel, and - depending on which US state you live in - you have to have a driving licence, a pilots' licence and a bike/trike licence to actually use it in the way its creators intended. What the chaps at the Department for Transport would make of it I've no idea.

Far better, I reckon, is to use another marvel of flight as the basis for an automobile of the airborne variety - the picture you see above is of Yours Truly at the helm of a microlight, for a feature I wrote for GR8 Life Magazine nearly two years ago. I've always said that if I win the Euromillions there'll be one in my dream garage alongside the TVRs, Land Rovers and Jags, because microlights are like motorbikes you can take into the sky.

More importantly though, a roadgoing microlight would make much more sense than trying the same trick with a plane. A microlight is smaller, cheaper, has wings that are designed from the outset to fold away, can take off pretty much anywhere and - for someone used to classic car fuel bills - doesn't get through extraordinary amounts of unleaded either. All we need now is someone of Ed China's ilk to work out a cheap 'n' cheerful way to make that wonderfully revvy Rotax engine drive the wheels, and a way of convincing the powers-that-be that microlights belong on the A1 as much as they do an airstrip.

Microlights, then, are the best bet for a flying car you can actually afford. You heard it here first...

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