In just a little over a hundred years since human's first documented flight, there has been major advancements in aviation. This evolution if you will, has made the way we travel a much different and enjoyable process than ancestors that traveled to the "new country" by boat. Did Orville and Wilbur ever envision a change like this? Did aviation experts, engineers, or enthusiasts ever think we may someday live like the Jetsons? Probably not but it seems we are getting closer all the time.
Just take a look at a few items now available for aviation. The Ipad, what an amazing little gadget this has been. It has changed the way all of us preflight, navigate, and entertain the kids during the long cross country. Also, just the other day I flew a Piper Archer III with the Avidyne Flight Deck System, equipped with PFD, MFD, Flight Director, full Autopilot, and two Garmin 430's. This small general aviation aircraft is better equipped than some commercial aircraft on long international flights. These items are just the tip of the iceberg, imagine what will be on display at the 2012 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, in July. New avionics, pilot supplies, engines, and even aircraft which brings me to the major reason for this rant.
Imagine transporting an airplane just like you do a jet ski, or better yet driving to the airport in your airplane. These two new concepts that many of us have seen are transforming us into that Jetsons way of life. Both the Icon Aircraft and Terrafugia flying car design are categorized as Light Sport Aircraft essentially meaning these aircraft can be utilized in sport pilot training. Keeping within the speed regulations for sport aircraft means you won't get to far away lands very fast. However, these efficient, sexy flying machines should have a major impact on recreational flying for local pilots. In a sense it is a way for more individuals the opportunity to enjoy flying in their own backyard.
The Terrafugia flying car has foldaway wings when in road operation and can be unfolded and locked into place on the ramp. According to the Terrafugia website the automobile/airplane will get 35 mpg on the highway, and use 5 gph during flight operations at around 100 knots. Terrafugia has combined the the concept of traveling to an airport and the flight itself.
Check out Terrafugia here: http://www.terrafugia.com/index.html
The Icon Aircraft also has a foldaway wing design. It can be loaded onto a trailer and backed down a boat ramp for deployment into the water just like a boat. It will also have a optional retractable gear design in order to operate from any airport and after you take a look at it you will agree it has a very sleek sports car design.
Check out Icon Aircraft here: http://www.iconaircraft.com/index.html
These new aircraft innovations are both safe, efficient, and a exciting to see. The passion and concepts that aviation companies such as these create a great buzz for our industry. These creative aircraft are just two examples of the many exciting things coming to the market in the near future. The next airplane concept I hope to see during a Google search is one that folds up into my briefcase like George. Imagine what the future of Aviation will bring.
Happy Independence Day,
Travis B. Ammon