1917 When aviation was in its infancy, legendary aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss built a car fitted with a four-blade propeller mounted on the back and 40-foot aluminum wings jutting out of each side. He called the craft an Autoplane. It never flew, but Curtiss’s vision of a world transformed by personal air vehicles remains.
1928 On February 25, test pilot Harry Brooks crashed a tiny airplane while pursuing Henry Ford’s dream of putting an aircraft in everyone’s garage. The 350-pound single-seat monoplane was nicknamed the Sky Flivver. While the flivver was not exactly a flying car, Ford planned on making air travel as common as automobile travel by selling the flivver for an affordable $500. The automotive legend predicted that the aviation and car markets would merge but ended the flivver’s development when Brooks’s airplane fell apart in midair.
1937 The first successful flying car was built by Waldo Waterman, who designed a high-wing monoplane with flylike (no pun intended) wings that folded against the fuselage; it was called an Arrowplane. This evolved into the Arrowbile (later Aerobile), whose three-wheeled car was powered by a typical 100-horsepower Studebaker engine. You can see an Aerobile up close at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an extension of the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum, in Dulles, Virginia.