Why We Don’t Have Flying Cars


Whenever people speak about the present state of technology they always complain about the lack of flying cars. “Where are the flying cars?” they say, spilling rum as they aggressively gesture, “we were promised flying cars.” More than world peace, immortality, or permanently chilled beverages, the flying car is desired as proof that we have indeed made it to “The Future.” But they simply can’t appear overnight, and even if they could, where would we park them? Exactly.

We must take incremental steps. Before we move on to flying cars, let’s at least start with something simpler, like hovering cars. You’ve got to hover before you can fly. We’ll begin somewhere off the ground, say an inch. That’s as good a place to hover as any. The important thing is not touching the ground (although when the first hovering car is presented to the public, it will in actuality be suspended by tiny wires, with the engineers behind the curtain, panicking for fear of discovery).

Once we’ve mastered the inch high hover, we can move another inch off the ground, then another, and keep raising the hovering car until a child of about eight or nine can walk under it. Oh what a utopia it will be! No longer will potholes and speed bumps impede our driving. No longer will kids chasing balls or dogs chasing kids chasing balls be hit by cars. They will only feel a heavy burst of hot air beneath the car and return safely home to play. And consider the cool futuristic sound all the hovering cars will make, like a hair dryer on a low setting.

Take a look at all those hovering cars (here we are using our imagination). From an aerial view you can’t even tell they’re hovering (and how’d you get up there anyway?), but standing at street level, as many are forced to do, it looks quite impressive. Suddenly we’re not complaining so much about a lack of flying cars. We’re a proud hovering people.

But then you know how it is: a few complainers (“Still it would be nice to fly”), a few patriots (“Why should Americans settle for hovering?”), and a few kids (“You can totally hover off a cliff”) start trouble, and convince the public that we ought to be flying. Which brings us back to where we started, or where I started. I don’t know how you got here.

From what I can tell by reading local traffic reports, people can barely handle moving on a flat 2D plane. You add the ability to move up and down and who knows how we’ll mess it up. Someone might crash into the face of God. What the dreamers or the futurists (futurists?) need to understand is that with new freedoms come new responsibilities, as well as new laws, and definitely higher insurance rates. Once you have that flying car in your garage (and the hovering car half in a dumpster), you can’t just take it wherever you want. The rules of traffic on the ground are going to apply in the air. If people fly in every direction they please the amount of accidents will shoot through the roof (and that is disturbing, considering someone might be on that roof, landing a helicopter).

Every rule observed on the ground will become more complicated. When changing lanes for instance, you will have to signal in all directions, for cars above, below, to the right, and to the left of you. As well, pedestrians will still have the right of way, except now they’ll be on jetpacks. Watch out for that jetpack, they explode!

We must also consider the transition to flying cars. It’s not as simple as a patch for software. A city would not be able to function with flying and land-based cars, partly due to logistics, but also because of the hostility the pavement pushers would feel towards the airheads (which is probably how they’ll refer to each other). You implement flying cars, and next thing you know people are being fined for not having flying cars. That’s not an America I want to live in.

There are endless questions which need addressing. What about a special lane for rocket bikes? What if you run out of gas while looking for a place to park? What about all those idiots who’ll try to fly to outer space? What about flying car accidents? You get out of the car to exchange information, and suddenly fall to your death. Whoops.

It won’t just be dangerous for us up there. What about the birds? Imagine them, smashing into the windshield, getting stuck in the exhaust pipe, hitching a ride on the bumper (“Just take me out of here man”). What if the entire species stops flying out of laziness? The last thing we need are a bunch of hobo birds.

You see, someone needs to think these things through. Robert Kennedy liked to ask “why not?,” well I’ll tell you why not, because of them hobo birds, because you can’t just allow the average Joe or the mediocre Pete to take 3000 pounds of metal into the air. It wouldn’t be safe for people in the air, it wouldn’t be safe for people on the ground, and it would definitely ruin my view. If we are so desperate to change our form of transportation, and want to increase efficiency but also maintain safety, it’s probably best to go with some sort of air pressure tube system, or high-speed levitation, or a trackless train. Until then, try a brisk walk.

And remember, the future is now! But also in the future.

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image – Martin Dufort