What happened to me? I used to be the sort of person that loved hearing about the flying cars we’d all enjoy in the future. The very idea was thrilling, the technology ingenious, the potential inspiring. But now, when we get emails about new flying cars like this one called the Switchblade, I find I’m just a cranky, bitter old bastard. Because I don’t believe any of this bullshit anymore.
Do you even want to hear about this flying car? It’s basically the same damn story as every other flying car ever, but why the hell not, I guess, freaking Robb Report just recently wrote about it, like this is the one that’s actually going to happen, unlike every other goddamn amazing new flying car that’s just about ready.
Ug, fine. Okay. Here’s this one: it’s made by a company called Samson, the flying car is a three-wheeled thing with retractable wings and tail (hence the switchblade name), it’ll fly at 200 mph and 13,000 feet (they imagine—of course, they haven’t built it yet to see), they call it a ‘flying sportscar,’ it’ll cost about $140,000 ($500,000 for the Limited Edition model), and it’s supposed to make its first flight next spring, and begin deliveries by the end of 2018.
Ha ha ha ha ha bullshit bullshit bullshit. My god. Look what’s happened to me. There’s no way I can see a date about a year or two out for “expected deliveries” on a flying car and take it remotely seriously. Are they fucking kidding? Do they have no idea how many times we’ve been fed this line?
Oh, also, for this one, you have to build 51 percent of it yourself. Line forms here, people!
Really, though, the three-wheel part and the home-built requirements are by far the most probable parts of this whole plan. Three wheels means it doesn’t have to meet conventional four-wheel car safety or emission standards, which this won’t, ever, and the 51 percent. home-built part lets it be classified as an Experimental/Homebuilt aircraft.
Beyond that, though, the Switchblade is as much of a cliché of the flying car idea as you can imagine. The company puts out videos like this one explaining why we need flying cars:
Sure, traffic’s a pain, and the freedom would be great, and, yes, I love the idea of a flying car—but this video’s main point is that you can have so much more spare time if you can travel 300 miles in under two hours, an argument which only works if you ignore the fact that all your spare time will be devoured by the incredibly involved and lengthy process of getting your freaking pilot’s license and, oh, home-building 51 percent of your goddamn airplane-car.
I hate that I feel this way about something as cool as a flying car. I hate that all these flying car companies have made me like this, and now I hate Samson for doing it to me all over again.
Will they actually build this stupid thing? Maybe. I don’t know. It barely matters. Even if they do, they’re going to what, sell a couple to some bored rich dudes? This isn’t going to revolutionize personal transportation. We’re not all going to get pilot’s licenses and zip around in 300-mile jumps in these.
I’m such a miserable jerk. These people are just trying to do something interesting and fun and exciting, right? I’m sure they’re all fantastic people and wonderful engineers.
I just can’t help it. Flying cars announcements all sound the same now, touting the same things, making the same promises, and they all, invariably, come to jack shit.
Here’s my advice to Samson or anyone else thinking about making a flying car: shut up.
Seriously. Shut up. Don’t say a thing. Build your flying car. Just build it. Figure out how you’re going to manufacture them, figure out how many can actually, realistically, be sold, figure out a way to automate out the need for a non-freaking-trivial pilot’s license, figure out how the air traffic issues will be managed, figure out the failsafes, figure out the transition from sky to road figure it all out.
Then—and only then—send out your breathless press release. Send it out with pictures and video of the thing in action, and an invitation for media to try one out.
That’s the only way to do this now. We’ve literally been burned by flying promises for nearly a century, so all our goodwill and doubt-benefits packages have been used up.
And I swear, if I hear about another flying car that’s just two years away, I’m going to cry, loudly and publicly, and all those stupid fucking flying cars will have to watch and know that they did this to me. They broke me.
So shut up, flying cars. Shut up.