OSHKOSH – It’s not yet “The Jetsons,” but someday — perhaps sooner rather than later — flying cars will be as common as both cars and planes.

Commuters stuck in rush hour traffic always think, If only I had a plane, I could be there by now. And plenty of pilots fogged in by bad weather wish they could just drive their plane where they need to go.

So it’s not surprising that companies and entrepreneurs have tried to invent a commercially viable flying car for decades. Still, few vehicles are actually capable of flying and driving today, and none are rolling off an assembly line anywhere.

But at EAA AirVenture — where engineers and dreamers come to show off their ideas — a few prototypes are on display this week, as is an initiative by ride-sharing company Uber to move people around by air instead of car.

“People tell me all sorts of reasons why flying cars aren’t already a thing: regulations and safety,” said Sanjay Dhall, founder of Detroit Flying Cars, as he stood next to a prototype he hopes to fly next summer.

“But the real reason is compaction — taking the span of an airplane and compacting it into a midsize car so I can park it in my garage,” Dhall said Thursday at the week-long aviation convention.

Dhall patented technologies that telescope, turn and lock wings that compress into the front and back of the two-seat vehicle when it’s on the road. He hasn’t come up with a price because he’s still testing the vehicle, which will feature an electric engine for driving and an aviation engine for flying with a flight cruising speed of 125 mph and range of 400 miles.

Sam Bousfield, CEO of Philadelphia, Pa.-based Samson Motors, this week talked up his car/plane hybrid known as the Switchblade because the wings fold underneath the vehicle like a knife. Standing in front of a sign that proclaimed his creation the “World’s First Flying Sports Car,” Bousfield said the problem with planes is that most places people want to go — work, church, shops — don’t have a landing pad.

“We spend most of our time on the ground, but the future is in the air. This gets you there,” said Bousfield.

The Switchblade is a three-wheeled vehicle considered an experimental motorcycle. To solve the problem of instability with front-wheeled trikes, the center of gravity is in the rear. The body produces lift on its own like a space shuttle, Bousfield said, and it features a ballistic parachute for emergencies.

The target price is $140,000 for the kit plane/trike, which means it will be similar to home-built kit planes where folks buy all the parts and plans and assemble it themselves. In most states it will be considered a motorcycle, so owners only need to go to their Department of Motor Vehicles for certification.

Bousfield expects to make his first manned flight in late fall and then sell kits 12 months after that. So far, 57 customers have paid deposits, and 200 more are on a waiting list.

“It’s a matter of design. People in the past have tried to make a flying car but they didn’t have the materials. This is all carbon fiber,” said Bousfield, adding that the Switchblade has the power of a 2017 Corvette. “This is high performance in both modes. That’s why we call it the first flying sports car.”
By:Meg Jones