Why the flying car may be too much for humanity

A Massachusetts company is readying the maiden voyage of a flying car. But will people ever be ready for this invention?

The founders of a company called Terrafugia are undoubtedly very, very clever.

All graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they formed the company four years ago with the aim of creating The Transition, a car that flies--not merely in the speed sense of "flies," but rather in the "takes off and does things planes do" sense.

The initial flight is planned for the end of this month or some time in February at an airport in upstate New York.

I am worried, not so much because I am suspicious of flying but because I am suspicious of people.

It's bad enough right now to trundle down a freeway and watch a demented Ford Focus or homogeneous SUV swerve from lane to lane, as if it were a supermarket trolley driven by a child. It's bad enough averting one's eyes when grandpas are crawling in at least two of the three available lanes, picking their noses and humming to Sinatra.

But can you imagine the things you tolerate on our roads and freeways being multiplied a thousand times in the air, at considerably elevated speeds?

This is an interesting picture. I think it's from some museum in Seattle. CC Sol Young

The Transition costs a mere $148,000, which means that there will be enough wealthy bad drivers willing to invest in this latest form of one-upmanship.

The inventors, being very, very clever, are aware of the problems.

"We're not going to have a flying car, as people think of it, for a while," Anna Dietrich, Terrafugia's chief operating officer, told Computerworld. "I would never say it's not going to happen, but today, the infrastructure is not there, nor is the training, nor are the avionics that would make the training unnecessary. What makes sense right now is a 'roadable' aircraft."

But what may not make sense is that these wonderful machines may fall into hands of crass destruction. Terrafugia (isn't this Latin for "I'm running away from the earth"?) has already received 40 orders.

Who are these orderers? Can we trust them? Who is going to breathalyze these people, if they break the speed limit? And to what new forms of air rage might these pilot-drivers resort?

Before Technically Incorrect's diligent and astute commenters tell me to down a Diazepam, I will cease worrying of my own accord. I know that the new Obama administration will have already considered the potential consequences of flying cars. I know that education programs are already being funded to avert the worst excesses of airborne humanity.

Must fly. I want to miss the traffic.

 

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