The Jetsons Meet Miami’s Paragueros* | March 2007

 

AirScooter

This is the AirScooter II, the vehicle that won Mr. Norris a $500,000 award. Looks more air than scooter to me. The AirScooter II is supposed to retail for $50,000.

Moller SkyCar

This is the Moller SkyCar M400. It is the flying vehicle that was featured in the TV special I mentioned in the article. But it’s expensive; it costs nearly one million dollars.



Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I’ve noticed recently there’s been some buzz about flying cars.

Think about it: flying freakin’ cars.

The Jetsons are what usually come to mind when the phrase “flying cars” is uttered or seen somewhere.

I recently saw a special about the future on cable television that included a segment on flying cars. I should note that, at least from a technological and even a financial point of view, flying cars are not too far off in the future.

In fact, in 2005, a man by the name of Woody Norris won a half-million dollar award for inventing what he calls the “AirScooter.” According to Mr. Norris, his machine will cost $50,000–about what you’d pay for a high-end SUV–and you wouldn’t even need an FAA license if you stayed under 400 feet and away from restricted air space.

Flying cars have actually been around since at least the 1950’s, but they had been impractical until recently. That’s because of a relatively new development courtesy of NASA, which has brought flying cars closer to our everyday reality. The agency has developed a computer system that could keep track of millions of flying vehicles and could even control them.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it? But here’s my problem: anyone here try driving around Miami lately?

Yep, that’s right. We all know how awful drivers are here. Now, imagine the horror of these drivers FLYING around, a few hundred feet over our heads.

Think about it for a minute. Seriously.

For starters, how many people do we see running red lights and driving past stop signs without even slowing down in the least? And we expect these SAME PEOPLE to stay under 400 feet and avoid restricted air space?????

All of a sudden, our everyday bad-Miami-driving headaches will take on a new dimension. Imagine the following taking place in the air:

  • Getting cut off
  • Right turn from the extreme left lane (or vice versa)
  • Turn or lane change without turn signals
  • Blocked intersections
  • Talking on a cellphone while driving
  • Drivers putting on make–up or eating
  • Hit and run accidents
  • Drivers arguing with their children
  • Drivers who ARE children

Yes, the possibilities for mayhem in the air are endless.

In addition to all these concerns, I have like, a gazillion questions. If there’s a traffic jam in the air, does that mean we have to hover in place? And if so, isn’t that going to burn fuel like crazy?

What kind of brakes does a flying car have, air brakes?

Are we going to have rubberneckers in our skies too and if so, what in the heck are they going to be looking at a few hundred feet in the sky?

Will we have speed bumps and traffic circles in the sky?

Are the radio station traffic reporters going to be on the ground and look up at traffic jams and accidents in the sky?

Is anyone going to make a “hybrid” flying vehicle?

Will Toyota become the number one flying vehicle manufacturer in the world?

I already have ideas for bumper stickers for flying vehicles. Here are a few:

  • If you can read this, back off, we’re in the air doggone it!
  • Watch my tail and ailerons, not hers!
  • George Jetson (or Jane Jetson) for president
  • Pray for me, I fly I-95!
  • Get off the cellphone and fly!
  • Mockingbirds: Nature’s Speed Bumps
  • As a matter of fact, I DO own the sky!
  • Fly it like you stole it
  • Why drink and drive when you can smoke pot and fly?
  • I brake for birds
  • My other flying vehicle is a broom
  • My other flying vehicle is a Cessna

For that matter, would you want to get close enough to a flying vehicle in the sky to read a bumper sticker posted on it?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against technological progress. I just think that Miami drivers on the ground drive as if their heads were… in the clouds. And somehow, I don’t think their driving will get any better when their heads are quite literally in the clouds.



* Paraguero is a Cuban slang term for a bad or crazy driver.