A flying car can solve quite a few problems that you face in your day-to-day life, but is it possible to develop such a car? The term may refer to those cars that double up as aircraft as well as those that are specifically designed for flying. As for the cars that are designed to fly, they have been more often restricted to science fiction; the animated sitcom, titled 'The Jetsons' is perhaps the best example of the same.
Flying Cars (Road-able Aircraft)
Not many people are aware of this, but human attempts to develop cars with the ability to fly can be traced back to the times when airplanes were yet to be invented. More recently, many of these attempts have tasted success―in varying degrees though―and the end result is cars that can fly (or perhaps aircraft that can be driven on the road.) Technically, a flying car, also referred to as a Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) or road-able aircraft, is an aircraft, which can also travel on the road. As of today, there exist several examples of the same―all of which resort to some manual or automatic process to shift between the two modes. While some of these models have the parts required to fly attached to them, others have detachable parts which can be kept at the airfield.
The 'Curtiss Autoplane' developed by Glenn Curtiss and the 'Sky Flivver' developed by Henry Ford were some of the notable attempts of developing flying cars in the history. The first successful attempt though, was the Aerobile―developed by Waldo Waterman in 1930s. Waterman demonstrated his flying car for the first time on March 21, 1937. Powered by a Studebaker engine, the Aerobile had the ability to rake up a maximum speed of 112 mph in air and 56 mph on land. More models on similar lines were developed in the years to follow. Some noteworthy examples that exist today are Parajet Skycar, Terrafugia Transition, Magic Dragon Aircar, Milner AirCar, etc. Similarly, several other models including the Haynes Aero Skyblazer and Aerocar 2000 are currently in development stage, expected to hit the road (and sky) in near future.
Cars of the Future
As for the future, the first thing to come to your mind would be a car with jet-propelled engine, which starts with a vertical uplift and flies in air. A concept which was restricted to science-fiction movies, such as The Jetsons and The Last Starfighter, finally seems to be coming true. As most of the future flying cars are still in their concept stage, it is very difficult to determine as to how they will work in the future? A look at most of the concept cars in this category reveals two important attributes: first, the absence of any visible means of propulsion (as in case of airplane,) and second, the absence of wheels. These cars will be typically characterized by vertical take-off and landing. The absence of wheel highlights the fact that these cars will be different from road-able aircraft.
While the concept of cars which are specifically designed for flying is in its development stage, the concept of road-able flying cars is ready for a take off. Several American companies are in the process of developing such cars which can make it to the air. One such company is Terrafugia, which is in the process of developing the Transition Roadable Aircraft. If the insiders are to be believed this car will have the capacity to fly over a distance of 500 miles in one go, and that too, with a mere gallon of fuel. If this car, or any other flying car for that matter, makes it to mass production level, we will be able to get rid of half of our traffic woes for sure.