Roadable airplane

Aerocar

Aerocar International's Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) was an American roadable aircraft, designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington, in 1949. It is the most successful and probably the most famous "flying car" design to date. Although six examples were built, the Aerocar never entered production.

Design and development

Taylor's design of a roadable aircraft dates back to 1946. During a trip to Delaware, he met inventor Robert E. Fulton, Jr., who had designed an earlier roadable airplane, the Airphibian. Taylor recognized that the detachable wings of Fulton’s design would be better replaced by folding wings. His prototype Aerocar utilized folding wings that allowed the road vehicle to be convertible into flight mode in five minutes by one person. When the rear licence plate was flipped up, the operator could connect the propeller shaft and attach a pusher propeller. The same engine drives the front wheels through a three-speed manual transmission. When operated as an aircraft, the road transmission is simply left in neutral (though backing up during taxiing is possible by using reverse gear.) On the road, the wings and tail unit were designed to be towed behind the vehicle. Aerocars can drive up to 60 miles per hour and have a top airspeed of 110 miles per hour.

Testing and certification

Civil certification was gained in 1956, and Taylor reached a deal with Ling-Temco-Vought for serial production on the proviso that he was able to attract 500 orders. When he was able to only find half that number of buyers, plans for production ended, and only six examples were built, with one still flying as of 2008 and another rebuilt by Taylor into the only Aerocar III.

The six models

There are four Aerocar Is, one Aerocar II, and one Aerocar I that was rebuilt as an Aerocar III.

N4994P

N4994P (1949, originally N31214) is yellow with silver wings. It was the very first Aerocar and is on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum.

N101D

N101D (1954) is owned by Yellowstone Aviation Inc. in Wyoming. It is on display at the Golden Wings Museum located on the south west side of the Anoka County-Blaine Airport.

N102D

N102D (1960) is yellow and green. It was the last Aerocar built and is the only one still flying. It is owned by Ed Sweeney and is often on display at the Kissimmee Air Museum located at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Kissimmee, Florida. It was previously owned by actor Bob Cummings and it appeared on his television show.. It has also appeared in James May's Big Ideas on BBC2, Sunday September 28th 2008. Inspired by this vehicle, Ed Sweeney is currently developing the Aerocar 2000 via his Aerocar firm.

N103D

N103D (1956) is red/black with red wings. It has been owned by Carl & Marilyn Felling of Colorado since 1981 and is currently for sale by Marilyn Felling with an asking price of $3.5 million. It once flew Fidel Castro's brother, Raúl Castro in Cuba. It also was a traffic-watch plane for a KISN radio station in Portland, Oregon. Last flown in 1977, the aircraft is no longer airworthy and has been in storage ever since. This Aerocar is the only Model One in original condition, down to the decals on the dash. N103D was recently advertised for sale with the notation that can be readily displayed "as-is" or can be easily restored to flying condition.

N107D (Aerocar II)

N107D (1966) is an Aerocar Aero-Plane, or Aerocar II. It is not a roadable aircraft but is based on the original Aerocar design. Only a single example was built. It is presently located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

N4345F (Aerocar III)

The sixth Aerocar (N4345F) is painted red with silver wings. It was the final flying car effort by Moulton Taylor. The vehicle began life as one of the original Aerocars, but Taylor bought it back from a customer after it had been damaged in an accident on the ground in the 1960s. From there, he considerably re-built it as the Aerocar III, replacing the original cabin with a sleeker, more streamlined one (although it still fell far short of the sporty lines that Taylor had originally wanted to give it). Taylor was able to attract some interest from Ford, but ultimately, no production resulted. The single prototype is now displayed at Seattle's Museum of Flight, where it is displayed wearing registration N100D.

Aerocar I & III Specifications

Aerocar I

Characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 0 in (10.36m)
  • Height: 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
  • Wing area: 168 ft² (15.6 m²)
  • Empty: 1,300 lb (590 kg)
  • Loaded: 2,100 lb (955 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: lb (kg)
  • Powerplant: 1x Lycoming O-290, 135 hp (100 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 112 mph (172 km/h)
  • Range: 300 mi (480 km)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (3,658 m)
  • Rate of climb: 550 ft/min (168 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 12.5 lb/ft² (61 kg/m²)
  • Power/Mass: 0.06 hp/lb (100 W/kg)

Aerocar III

Characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 21 ft 6 in (6.58 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 0 in (10.36 m)
  • Height: ft in (m)
  • Wing area: 190 ft² (17.7 m²)
  • Empty: 1,500 lb (682 kg)
  • Loaded: 2,100 lb (955 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: lb (kg)
  • Powerplant: 1x Lycoming O-320, 143 hp (107 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 135 mph (216 km/h)
  • Range: 350 mi (560 km)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (3,958 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min (m/min)
  • Wing loading: 11 lb/ft² (54 kg/m²)
  • Power/Mass: 0.06 hp/lb (100 W/kg)

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Schultz, Jake. A Drive in the Clouds: The Story of the Aerocar . New Brighton, Minnesota: Flying Books International, 2006. ISBN 978-0972524926.
  • Winchester, Jim. The World's Worst Aircraft: From Pioneering Failures to Multimillion Dollar Disasters. London: Amber Books Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-904687-34-2.

External links

See also

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