There were plenty of dream machines at the New York auto show, but one was unquestionably the dreamiest of all. James Milner, of Milner Motors, is working to make real the ultimate automotive dream: the flying car.
"Nobody has come up with a simple, workable design that is common sense. That's what I've tried to do here," says Milner, a retired United Airlines pilot. Down in the basement, back behind the GMC trucks, Milner had his prototype. The Milner Motors AirCar is a narrow, fuselage-shaped four-door, four-seat machine that has the track and wheelbase of a midsize sedan. Its 28-foot wings fold up over the fuselage, and its front wing retracts to half size, so that in "road mode" the car is only 7 feet wide and 7 feet high. Two twin-rotor rotary engines combine to produce 300 hp and drive pusher directed fans that power the vehicle in the air; a separate 40-hp engine provides terrestrial power. The rear wheels articulate forward and back 40 inches, moving rearward for road mode and forward to provide more rear weight bias to facilitate takeoffs in flight mode.
Not that this prototype has taken wing just yet. It's really just a design demonstration. The next step for Milner is to get an aeronautical engineering firm to help figure out how to make it fly, then ultimately to hand it off to a manufacturer. Then, at last, the dream, as described in the AirCar flier, will be realized: "You leave your garage, drive to the nearest airport, take off and fly to your destination airport, then land and drive to your actual destination." For anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic, that really does sound like a dream.