Never let it be said Americans lack ingenuity or the ability to turn a cartoon into reality. Such is the case with the world’s first flying car. A Silicon Valley company has developed a four-seat flying vehicle and is now seeking Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. No, you haven’t started drinking early on this great American holiday.
Those over 50 may remember a flying car was the transportation method of choice for George Jetson – the 1960s cartoon character who delighted the imagination of millions. Created by Hanna-Barbera Productions, the comical Jetsons never had to wait in bumper-to-bumper traffic because George, Jane, Elroy, and Judy could quickly pile in a zippy little glass bubble and take off.
Now you can order one of your own.
Silicon Valley start-up ALEF Aero is advertising its “first real flying car” with the clever slogan “Rise Above.” The company’s four founders say the first prototype of this unique method of transportation was drawn “on a napkin in a café.” They thought “it would take about 6 months to build one” but admit on their website, “Boy, was this an underestimate.” However, the spirit of entrepreneurialism took hold, and they kept at it.
ALEF is currently taking pre-orders for the first American flying car. The electric ASKA A5 can travel 250 miles at a clip with speeds up to 150 mph. Better still, developers say they’ve figured out a way to get the vehicle into the air without the need for a runway. One can only imagine that such details are an important part of the game. But they must have figured out a few things to get this far. The vehicle “has already been awarded Certificate of Authorization (COA) and Special Airworthiness Certification by the FAA and has started flight testing,” according to Aerotime Hub.
To pique the interest of frustrated motorists, they also claim to be “building the solution to the issues of modern congestion.” The latest national studies maintain commuters in Los Angeles spend an average of 62 hours a year waiting in gridlock, but the worst traffic snarls of all are found in New York City, where it is estimated commuters lose 102 hours a year. This is why a flying car is every urban driver’s dream come true.
The ASKA A5 is “[d]esigned to drive on the street, take off vertically when needed and fly overhead above traffic,” the developers say.
It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s a Flying Car!
In the iconic movie Back to the Future, Doc Brown asserts, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” But without roads, skeptics posit that everywhere becomes a potential traffic accident waiting to happen. Living on the 15th floor of a high-rise? Well, that could be a problem. Running your harvester on the back 40? Don’t look now, but there’s a flying car headed straight for you.
Then there’s the criminal element. Go ahead and build a wall; the cartels will just go into aerial mode when they hit the border. Will US Customs give chase in their own aero cars? Will local police have flying vehicles of their own so they can snag someone for speeding? What about stop signs, red lights, and the rest, or will it be a free-for-all in the friendly skies?
The issues with cars taking flight are many and varied, but the founders of ALEF remain undaunted, and so apparently are potential buyers. The sticker price for the ASKA A5 is an “expected” $299,999. Consumers can pay $150 to line up in the general queue or $1,500 for a spot in the priority group. It’s unclear whether this is an el stripo or one with all the bells and whistles – but it appears that doesn’t matter. Aerotime Hub reports, “The company has already secured $50 million in pre-orders.”
Is this a great country or what?
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