A Flying Car!

One of my favourite films as a child was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang*. While now, looking back, it doesn’t hold a candle to the almighty Mary Poppins**, it does feature an amazing car, which, just when the characters’ lives depend upon it, changes first into a boat, and then a plane.

I always thought a flying car was fantasy. But in a lecture on composite materials today, the lecturer showed us this photo:

Convair Flying Car

This is a Convair Model 118 ConvAirCar (also known as the Hall Flying Automobile)***. Only two prototypes were made. The first model had a crash (the pilot flew with little fuel, and escaped with minor injuries). This was perhaps enough to dampen any enthusiasm for the second model. It was envisaged that people would drive to an airport, attach the car to one of these aircraft, and then fly the rest of the way. It sounds a great idea, why did it never take off?****

P.S. A composite material is a material which consists of two distinct and separable parts, whose properties can be unique and superior to those of the constituent parts. Many natural materials, such as wood and human tissues, are composites. We have got better at making our own man-made composites, from simple ones like concrete and plywood, to more advanced ones like carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers. They are very useful in weight-saving applications. For example, about half of a Boeing 787 or an Airbus A350 is made from composite materials.

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*Adapted from a book by James Bond author Ian Fleming for the screen by Roald Dahl. Quite a pedigree!

**Why, for instance, does real-life Cockney Dick Van Dyke feel the need to put on an American accent? Even when his Dad and kids in the film are English? 

***The car detaches from the plane.

****Boom boom! Groan!

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2 responses to “A Flying Car!

  1. Pingback: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be | Steven Clarke's Blog

  2. Pingback: The Flying Car Rises | Steven Clarke's Blog

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