1962 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.
1968 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.