Flying Cars: Will we ever get the promise from Back to the Future?

Flying Cars: Will we ever get the promise from Back to the Future?

Road Trip Llama, Mike Gagnon, 2020, Digital Mixed media. Copyright M. Gagnon 2024.

Road Trip Llama, Mike Gagnon, 2020, Digital Mixed media. Copyright M. Gagnon 2024.

 

Flying cars. The quintessential symbol of a future that, somehow, never quite became the present. Picture it: zipping above traffic jams, dodging potholes with ease, and never again having to argue about whether you took the wrong exit. So, why are we still rubbernecking on highways instead of whooshing through the skies in our personal air-mobiles?

First off, let’s talk about physics, because it refuses to be ignored. Flying isn't just a matter of strapping wings onto your sedan and hoping for the best. It requires overcoming gravity with a significant amount of lift and power, not to mention a whole new level of safety concerns and regulations. Imagine the fender benders, but at 2,000 feet. Yikes.

Then there's the small matter of infrastructure. Or, more accurately, the colossal, sprawling infrastructure we’d need. Air traffic control for cars? Check. Skyports in every backyard? Uh-huh. Not to mention the rigorous training and licensing beyond a simple DMV road test. Your parallel parking skills won't help you when you're trying to land on a dime in gusty winds.

And let’s not forget the environment. Our planet is already giving us the side-eye for our current carbon footprint. Flying cars would likely guzzle fuel with the thirst of a teenager after sports practice, making electric vehicles look like the saints of the roadway. Unless we find a way to power these bad boys with dreams and rainbow wishes, the environmental impact could be a tough pill to swallow.

Economically speaking, developing, producing, and maintaining flying cars would cost a pretty penny. The price tag on these futuristic chariots would make luxury car brands look like bargain bin deals. We’re talking about a vehicle that needs the mechanics of a car and an airplane rolled into one. Not exactly something you’d find a coupon for in the Sunday paper.

Lastly, there's the human element. We can barely agree on pineapple on pizza, let alone the myriad of regulations and ethical considerations flying cars would introduce. And if you think road rage is bad now, imagine it with the added dimension of altitude. "Hey, you cut me off at 3,000 feet!" doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for neighborly love.

So, while the dream of flying cars remains alive and well in movies and the imaginations of optimistic futurists, the reality is grounded by a mix of technological, environmental, regulatory, and economic challenges. It seems we're stuck with terrestrial commuting for a bit longer. But hey, at least we have podcasts and car karaoke to keep us entertained on the ground.

Thanks for reading,

Mike

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