• Image about Federal Aviation Administration


The Jetsons cartoon debuted and instilled in a generation of impressionable youth the idea that a flying car would be part of the everyday-man-of-the-future’s birthright. The concept of a car that fit into a suitcase riffed on then common themes of folding for storage and ultimate convenience.


Mechanix Illustrated (now Modern Mechanix) predicted that by 2008, Americans would be riding to meetings in cars that went upwards of 250 mph and that used flight computers to steer and maintain a minimum safe distance between vehicles. It was a surprisingly accurate prediction of unmanned-aerial-vehicle intelligence, but the magazine’s stance on climate-controlled city domes was well off the mark.


What do you get when you combine the rear end of a Cessna airplane with a Ford Pinto? A death trap. Engineer Henry Smolinski quit his job at Northrop Grumman and started a revolutionary engineering company called Advanced Vehicle Engineers. His attempt at a flying car, called Mizar, foundered when the prototype’s wing fell off in flight, killing Smolinski and the test pilot. It also killed another promising concept of a cheap, reliable car for the masses.