Where’s My Flying Car? ‘Back to the Future Day’ Holds Disappointment, Promise

Terrafugia's Transiotion flying car promises to cut travel time by rising above traffic jams.
Terrafugia’s Transiotion flying car promises to cut travel time by rising above traffic jams.

Having arrived at “Back to the Future Day” you might be as disappointed as I am that there are no flying cars or hoverboards buzzing around. Either mode of transport would shave priceless time off commuting, vacation trips and even everyday errands. But for now, we still need roads.

For most motorists, getting around is, if anything, increasingly difficult as more cars and trucks hit the highways and the national asphalt infrastructure struggles to keep up. Driving a nimble, engaging sports car or – even better – riding a motorcycle can stave off the boredom and monotony, but congested traffic often blunts even their enhanced fun factor.

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A motorcycle can make your commute faster, if a bit more dangerous.

After writing about the auto industry and road-testing cars for 18 years I feel like I am running out of clever, subtle ways to avoid the misery of traffic jams while finding good, scenic and challenging stretches of pavement where high-performance machines can stretch their legs. Come to think of it, our 1998 Subaru wagon can’t properly air itself out on the clogged roads around our northern New Jersey home. I often imagine lifting off and flying above the traffic to reach destinations without losing time to red lights, lane-blocking buses and lumbering landscapers’ trucks – the scourge of suburbia.

It is not as if manufacturers aren’t trying to catch up with standards set forth in the 1989 film “Back to the Future II,” in which characters time-traveled forward to 2015.

Luxury-car maker Lexus demonstrated a working hoverboard over the summer – including a stunt show. Woburn, Mass., company Terrafugia seems close to receiving the Federal Aviation Administration’s stamp of approval for its Transition flying car, which can drive to the airport, unfold its wings at the press of a button and fly away. Several other companies are also trying to lure more people into the air with a variety of new personal aircraft.

The Icon A5 amphibious aircraft can land on water, runways or grass airstrips.
The Icon A5 amphibious aircraft can land on water, runways or grass airstrips.

I believe a growing number of people are seriously considering the option of flying in their own aircraft on certain trips for which driving takes too long and flying commercial is too demoralizing. While I have loved airplanes since childhood it was the hassle of driving the indignities of airlines that eventually pushed me to get a pilot’s license. For now we still drive to Maine for summer vacation, but I have every intention of figuring out a way to fly there within a few years.

Today, though, most folks are looking at a future behind the wheel, and we plan to keep you up to date on options for making the trip as enjoyable as possible.

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