Flying Car Fatigue


I was born in Texas and even by the tender age of 10, I knew what the oil-patch aphorism “big hat, no cattle” meant. If it was true in the 1950s, it’s just as true now. I thought of it when our news columns lit up this week with yet another artist’s conception of a flying car, this time from Terrafugia.There’s a dichotomy here. One branch of it leads to the daily working press which, on a slow news day, will pick up stories about flying cars and run them as though they’re legitimate glimpses into the future, replete as they are with fantastic speeds and unparalleled capability and convenience. Daily news editors needn’t be troubled by practical aerodynamics or physics because tomorrow they’ll be covering Justin Bieber’s hair in the same space.The second branch leads to us, the professional aviation media and we are supposed to place aviation stories into the real world where aerodynamics and physics do come along to dope slap the dreamy-eyed flying car impresario, just as has been happening for, oh, 75 years or so. We didn’t do that this week in our Terrafugia story. Played it as straight as an above-the-fold lead in the New York Times.But really, shouldn’t we occasionally just call bravo sierra on some of this stuff? Aren’t we in danger here of a little bit of flying car fatigue? I certainly am. I appreciate the dingbat factor in these stories and-wink-wink-I get that readers generally understand that on the seriousness scale, they rank somewhere between Elvis sightings and Phil Swift flogging Flex Seal by the metric ton.So I guess I’m in the mood to pipe up here. I’d like to see Terrafugia cease and desist on new concepts and bring what they’ve got to fruition. Or not. It’s hard enough to drag one design to market without distracting yourself with yet more concepts. Prove to us once and for all whether a flying car will work. Or not.I can stand only so much entertainment.