Every time you get in a traffic jam, you dream of pulling a lever, adding wings to your car, and soaring over the rest of the poor drivers. And then you wonder: Where's my flying car? The truth is, flying cars have existed for decades. You just wouldn't want most of these.


Here's the totally insane history of flying cars, in pictures.

Convair Model 116 and 118, or the Hall Flying Car

After the end of the War, in 1946 Hall and Tommy Thompson from the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (later renamed to Convair) designed and built the two-seat Convair Model 116.

This prototype completed 66 test flights, and Hall designed another model, named the 118 (or the Convair Car). Two prototypes were built.

(via Flickr/San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

The Curtis Autoplane

It was able to hop, not fly — but this three-winged creation of Glenn Curtiss was the first attempt to build a flying car. It was shown at the Pan-American Aeronautic Exposition at New York in February 1917.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Flight Magazine, 1917, Flickr/Ars Electronica and Google Patents)

Tampier Roadable, 1921

A Frenchman René Tampier successfully built a four-wheeled bi-plane with foldable wings and introduced it at the Paris Air Salon in 1921, after a two-hour drive in the city.

The pilot sat facing the tail when driving.

(via Bonhams and Corpus Historique Étampois)

Windmill Autoplane, 1935

The foldable blades allowed people to drive this plane on the streets.

(via Popular Science and Modern Mechanix/Jul 1935)

Autogiro Company of America (AC-35)

The Autogiro Company of America's parent company, the Pircairn Autogiro Company contracted with the Bureau of Air Commerce to build a roadable autogyro.

It was tested between 1936 and 1942, but did not enter production.

(via 1000aircraftphotos, Wikimedia Commons/Babbage and Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

The first real flying car: The Waterman Arrowbile

Three years after Waldo Waterman built his first flying aircraft, the Waterman Whatsit, he completed a submission to a government-funded competition with his new tailless, two seat vehicle named the Arrowplane (W-4). After its success, the engineer built the W-5, which had easily detachable wings, and a propeller. It could fly at 112 mph (180 kph) and drive at 56 mph (90 kph), thanks to its 100 hp Studebaker engine. The Arrowbile first flew in February 1937.

Six aircraft were built, until 1957.

(via Popular Science, Wikimedia Commons/Mark Pellegrini and PDTillman)

The world's first helicopter-car, the Dixon Flying Car

This was built by Jess Dixon of Andalusia, Alabama around 1940.



JESS DIXON, of Andalusia, Ala., got tired of being tied up in traffic jams, so he designed and built this novel flying vehicle. It is a combination of automobile, helicopter, autogiro, and motorcycle. It has two large lifting rotos in a single head, revolving in opposite directions. It is powered by a 40 h.p. motor which is air-cooled. He claims his machine is capable of speeds up to 100 miles an hour. – according to Modern Mechanics (Nov, 1941)

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Fulton FA-2 Airphibian

Thi aluminum-bodied roadable aircraft made its debut in November 1946 and was constructed by Robert Edison Fulton Jr. Four FA-2s were built.

(via Popular Mechanics, Jul 1952/Google Books and Airphibian.com)

Taylor Aerocar, 1949

Designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington. Six were built: four Aerocar Is, one Aerocar II and one Aerocar I that was rebuilt as an Aerocar III.

(via Museum of Flight, Gomotors and Wikimedia Commons/Hummel-1961)

The Bryan Autoplane

The first model was designed and constructed by Leland Bryan in 1953, but two improved models were built in 1957 and 1970. All three prototypes could fold their wings.

Curtiss-Wright VZ-7, a flying jeep, 1958

This VTOL aircraft was designed for the US Army by the Curtiss-Wright company. Two prototypes were delivered in mid-1958, but weren't able to meet the Army's standards. The project was cancelled in 1960, and the prototypes were returned to the Curtiss-Wright company.

One of them still exists today in storage at the United States Army Aviation Museum collection.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Bernd vdB and Diseno-Art)

Wagner FJ-V3 Aerocar by Alfred Vogt, 1965

The four-wheeled flying automobile with a 4-seat cabin was based on the 2-seater Wagner Rotocar (1960) and the Wagner Sky-Trac helicopter, built by Alfred Vogt in 1965.

The Wagner Rotocar III



After some quite succesfull tests in the late 1960s, the design was sold to HTM. The company abandoned the project in 1971.

(via Wikimedia Commons, Schöner Ausflug, Carstyling and Helicopter Postcards)

AVE Mizar, 1973

Smolinski and his partner, Hal Blake, founded Advanced Vehicle Engineers in 1971 to design and build a flying car. Their first (and only) prototype was the AVE Mizar, which combined a Ford Pinto with a rear end of a Cessna. The wings fell off during a routine flight, killing both of the engineers.

(via Curb Side Classics and CarStyling)

Terrafugia Transition

The carbon-fiber Terrafugia Transition is in development since 2006, but first flew only in 2009. On the road, it can drive 70 mph (110 kmh) and 93 kn (107 mph or 172 kmh) in the air and have a flight range of 425 nmi (489 miles or 787 km).

(via Wikimedia Commons/MarkWarren 1 - 2)

Further reading: Rocket Cars of the Cold War