Back to the Future: Flying Cars in 2015?

“Doc, where are we?  WHEN are we?” Doctor Emmett Brown, Marty McFly and his girlfriend Jennifer careened through the sky in their flying DeLorean.  Doc had a hover conversion done in the year 2015, the time period which the three now found themselves in.  When watching the film Back to the Future II, we now we laugh saying “there’s no way we’ll have flying cars in 2015.”  At least that was always my response.

Apparently I was wrong.  Flying cars are already here as prototypes which will be hitting the consumer market in 2012!

Let’s take a look at the top models contending for the flying DeLorean’s position as coolest flying time machine. (Traveling at high speeds has been proven to be minuscule increments of time travel for you time travel fans out there.)

Terrafugia presents the Transition:


A company by the name of Terrafugia has perfected the art of auto meets aero with a vehicle that can transform from car to plane in only 30 seconds!

The Transition can fly at 115 mph and reach 65 mph on the road. On the ground, with its wings tucked up and in, it can fill up with fuel at a normal filling station and fits in an average size garage. It is set to go into production this year and will be available for consumers by 2012.

Terrafugia Transition Specs:

The Transition®

Every pilot faces uncertain weather, rising costs, and ground transportation hassles on each end of the flight. The Transition® combines the unique convenience of being able to fold its wings with the ability to drive on any surface road in a modern personal airplane platform. Stowing the wings for road use and deploying them for flight at the airport is activated from inside the cockpit. This unique functionality addresses head-on the issues faced by today’s Private and Sport Pilots.

Terrafugia’s award-winning MIT-trained engineers have been advancing the state-of-the-art in personal aircraft since 2006. Now you can streamline your flying experience with the revolutionary integration of personal land and air travel made possible by the Transition® Roadable Aircraft.

Performance

 

Max, Vh:
Cruise, Vc:
Stall, Vs:
Range:
Takeoff: 

100 kts (115 mph, 185 km/h)
93 kts (105 mph, 172 km/h)
45 kts (51 mph, 83 km/h)
425 nmi (490 mi, 787 km)
1700′ (518 m) over 50′ obstacle
Gross Takeoff Weight:
Empty Weight:
Useful Load: 

1430 lbs (650 kg)
970 lbs (440 kg)
460 lbs (210 kg)
Fuel burn at cruise:
Useable Fuel:
Milage on road: 

5 gph (18.9 L/h)
23 gal (87L)
35 mpg (14.9 km/L)
Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)

 

Convenience

Rear wheel drive on the ground
Automotive-style entry and exit
Two place, side by side
Automated electromechanical folding wing
No trailer or hangar needed
Cargo area holds golf clubs

Safety

Drive in case of inclement weather
Proven 100 hp Rotax 912S engine
Full vehicle parachute available
Modern glass avionics
Automotive crash safety features

Dimensions

Driving:
80” (2m) tall
90” (2.3m) wide
18’ 9” (6m) long
Flying:
78″ (2m) tall
26′ 6″ (8m) wingspan
19′ 9″ (6m) long
Cockpit:
48” at the shoulder
Carry-on luggage
Golf clubs
Two place, side-by-side

Training
Become a Sport Pilot in as little as 20 hours of flight time in a Transition®-specific course. For existing pilots, get comfortable quickly with the familiarization training included with every Transition® delivery.

Order Today
Place your refundable $10,000 airframe reservation deposit here.

____________________

 

Moller presents the Skycar:


The next flying car we will look at is the Moller Skycar.  Although this flying car has already experienced fame and disappointment, Moller International announced that they have scheduled a demonstration flight of its ethanol-fueled M400 Skycar Volantor. This invitation-only media event is scheduled to take place on October 11, 2011 in Vacaville, CA. Over 250 members of the domestic and international press have already indicated an interest in attending this flight.

I guess we’ll see what this flying car really can do come October.  For now here’s a picture and the specs on the Moller Skycar, definitely the most aesthetically appealing of the bunch.

Moller Skycar Specs:

SKYCAR SPECS
M400X Skycar
Passengers 4
Vertical takeoff and landing Yes
Emergency parachutes Yes
Fuel type Ethanol
Noise level at 500 ft (Goal) 65 dba
Dimensions (L x X x H) 19.5’ x 8.5’ x 7.5’ 5.9 x 2.6 x 2.3 m
Operational ceiling 36,000 ft 10973 m
Takeoff and landing area 35 ft dia 10.7 m
Max speed @ 25,000’ (7620 m) 330 mph 531 km/h
Max speed @ S.L. 360 mph 579 km/h
Cruise speed @ 25,000’ (7620 m) 305 mph 491 km/h
Rate of climb @ S.L. 4,800 fpm 1463 M/min
Max range (Gasoline equiv.) 750 miles 1207 km
Max mileage >20 mpg <11.76 l/100 km
Max net payload 750 lbs 340 kg
Gross weight 2,400 lbs 1088 kg
Nominal Power (continuous) 720 hp 537 kW
Boost power avail. 1,155 hp 861 kW
Disc loading 140 lb/ft2 684 kg/m2
Maximum L/D 12.5 12.5

 

Believe it or not a flying car has already been involved in a hit and run published recently in the news!  Employees at Import Cars of West Chester, PA returned to work on Sunday to find eight of their high-end vehicles in need of repair after an unknown driver crashed into them from above.  The pre-owned cars were damaged after a driver allegedly went airborne, landed on top of them and drove away, leaving police with no suspect.  “It’s very shocking — it’s amazing,” said shop employee Chris Albertson. “I’ve never heard of it anywhere. We are amazed whoever did it was able to drive off after it happened.”  The damaged cars included Jaguars, BMWs, Audis and a Cadillac, according to the police report.  The most damage was done to a Jaguar, which ended up with thousands of dollars in damage on its hood and front.  “It looks like he came and slammed down on the car… If you look here you can see the tire mark with the tread from the tires coming across the hood,” Albertson explained while pointing to the dinged up car.  Albertson believes someone was traveling down Market Street, hit a curb and pole and went airborne, causing his or her car to roll over the luxury vehicles parked at the dealership located at 700 E Market St.  “A little upset that nobody stopped or said or did anything,” said Albertson.  The shop plans to settle with their insurance company, get the cars repaired and decide what to do from there, according to Albertson.  The dealership is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.  [Source: NBC Philadelpia]

So, given that it’s only 2011 and we still have 4 years to get a DeLorean flying I would say we have a pretty good chance of making it happen.  Wouldn’t you like to be driving/flying a DeLorean in 2015?

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.