List o’ Top Ten Hybrid Carplane Inventions

List of Auto Plane Hybrid Roadable PlanesThis is a list of some of the prototypes developed in a bid to create a roadworthy vehicle that can also take to the skies.

10. AVE Mizar

List of Top Ten Roadable Car Planes - AVE MizarList of Top Ten Roadable Car Planes - AVE Mizar flying

The AVE Mizar was a flying car built between 1971 and 1973 by Advanced Vehicle Engineers (AVE) of Oxnard, California. The company was started by Henry Smolinski, a Northrop-trained engineer. The prototypes of the Mizar were made by mating the rear portion of a Cessna Skymaster to a Ford Pinto. The pod-and-twin-boom configuration of the Skymaster was a convenient starting point for a hybrid automobile/airplane. The passenger space and front engine of the Skymaster were removed leaving an airframe ready to attach to a small car. AVE planned to have their own airframe purpose-built by a subcontractor for production models, rather than depending on Cessna for airframes.

Production was scheduled to begin in 1974. AVE stated that you could drive/fly your own Mizar off the lot for between US$18,300 and US$29,000.

AVE Mizar flying with Porsche

AVE Mizar flying with Porsche

On September 11, 1973, during a test flight at Oxnard, California, the right wing strut detached from the Pinto. Some reports say the wings folded and others say the Pinto separated from the airframe. An air traffic controller, watching through binoculars, said the right wing folded. Smolinski and the pilot, Harold Blake, were killed in the resulting fiery crash. Even though the Pinto was a light car, the total aircraft was already slightly over gross weight without passengers or fuel. One observer reported that the wing struts were attached to the car with sheet-metal screws and that “…everything was really bad.” However, in addition to poor design and loose parts, the National Transportation Safety Board reported that bad welds were partly responsible for the crash.

9. Wagner Aerocar

List of Top Ten Roadable Car Planes -wagner_aerocar

The Aerocar was developed in the era of space-age futurism, and looked the part. It looked slightly like the Jetsons flying car, with a large bubble cockpit, tailfins, and disproportionately small wheels for a car. It’s was developed from the Rotocar III design which was based on the Sky-trac 3 helicopter. On ground propulsion to the wheels was through a hydraulic linkage to the engine.

A prototype with the registration D-HAGU was completed and flown in 1965. The Franklin 6AS-335-B engine was replaced with a 134lb, 420shp Turbomeca Oredon turbine engine with a front mounted gearbox. The design was sold to Helikopter Technik Munchen (HTM). HTM suspended development of the Aerocar in 1971.

8. Bryan Autoplane

List of Top Ten Roadable Car Planes - bryan autoplane

Leland Bryan built his roadable aircraft in the town of Milford, Michigan. As a roadable aircraft the aircraft was required to be registered by both the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the Michigan Motor Vehicle Administration (MMVA), with road propulsion provided by propeller thrust. The Model I was approved for limited flight, in the experimental category. by the CAA, managing to accumulate 500 miles of road driving, and flying for the first time in 1953. The improved Model II achieved 80 hours of flight time and 4000 miles of road travel before a road accident. During repairs the Model II was rebuilt with two-seats becoming the Model III Autoplane, with a Continental A-75 engine and convertible top motors, from a Chevrolet Corvair, to extend and fold the wings.

After accumlating 70 hours of flight time and 1000 road miles, the Model III crashed during a flyby at the 1974 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) airshow, at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when an inadequately secured wing section parted company killing the designer. At the time of his death Leland Bryan was in the process of designing the Model IV Autoplane, based on a Rutan VariViggen.

7. Curtiss Autoplane


The 1917 Autoplane, designed by the aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, is cited as the worlds first flying car. The Autoplane married a flivver (resembling a Model T) to a biplanemake that triplane. The car, patented in 1919, was capable of short hopsbunny hops, to be exact. It tried but never achieved sustained flight – though it never truly flew, it did manage a few short hops. Glenn Curtiss was the chief rival of the Wright brothers. The Autoplane had three wings, a boxy, car-like cabin, and four large wheels. The motor drove a propeller that was located in the rear.

The same company formed in 1929 is today known as Curtiss-Wright Corporation, through the merger of 12 Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies. Its still in business and still in aviation.

6. Arrowbile


Developed by Waldo Waterman in 1937, the Arrowbile was a hybrid Studebaker-aircraft. Waterman (1894-1976) was an airplane engineer with a flair for creative design. Like the Autoplane, it too had a propeller attached to the rear of the vehicle. The three-wheeled car was powered by a typical 100-horsepower Studebaker engine. The wings detached for storage. The project failed due to lack of funding.

5. Airphibian


Robert Fulton developed the Airphibian in 1946. Instead of adapting a car for flying, Fulton adapted a plane for the road. The wings and tail section of the plane could be removed to accommodate road travel, and the propeller could be stored inside the plane’s fuselage. It took only five minutes to convert the plane into a car. The Airphibian was the first flying car to be certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the predecessor of the the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It had a 150-horsepower, six-cylinder engine and could fly 120 miles per hour and drive at 50 mph. Despite his success, Fulton couldn’t find a reliable financial backer.

4. ConvAir Car


The ConvAirCar was designed by the American Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss for the aviation company Consolidated-Vultee. This was a re-engined development of the Model 116, designed by Theodore P. Hall. The ConvAirCar debuted in 1947, and offered one hour of flight and a petrol mileage of 45 miles per gallon. Unfortunately a crash which occurred only 3 weeks after its first flight, and the resulting negative media quickly put any potential investors and customers off the project.

3. Avrocar


The Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar was a VTOL aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. (Canada) as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War. The vehicle, which looked like a flying saucer, was supposed to be a lightweight air carrier that would move troops to the battlefield. Two prototypes were built as “proof-of-concept” test vehicles for a more advanced USAF fighter and also for a U.S. Army tactical combat aircraft requirement. In flight testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolved thrust and stability problems that limited it to a degraded, low-performance flight envelope; subsequently, the project was cancelled in September 1961.

2. Aerocar

Aerocar - Towing the wings

Aerocar - setting up

Inspired by the Airphibian and Robert Fulton, whom he had met years before, Moulton “Molt” Taylor created the Aerocar in 1949. The Aerocar was designed to drive, fly and then drive again without interruption. Taylor covered his car with a fiberglass shell. A 10-foot-long drive shaft connected the engine to a pusher propeller. It cruised at 120 mph in the air and was the second roadable aircraft to receive FAA approval. 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.

1. The Terrafugia Transition

The Terrafugia TransitionThe Terrafugia Transition

A light aircraft that can convert into a road-legal automobile, this vehicle is to go into production after being given a special weight exemption by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
Light sport aircraft licenses require just 20 hours’ flying time, making them much easier to obtain than full private licences.
The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot – an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land – it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered. *more Terrafugia pics here*

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