Previous in series: Where is my flying car?
Let’s consider: I live in Laporte, PA, and have an office in the Foresight suite in Menlo Park, CA. That’s a distance of about 2800 miles, and I could drive it in about 40 hours, a full working week. That’s a substantial commute.
Of course, I don’t drive, but fly. I live within about 3 hours of a couple of airports, Philadelphia and Newark, that have non-stops to the Bay area. For various reasons I use Newark, but they’re roughly equivalent. Driving to a local airport, checking in, flying to Newark, and changing flights takes longer than driving directly. (Believe me, I’ve tried it. Philly, in particular, is really bad for losing luggage.)
So the airliner, from gate to gate, takes about 6 hours for the flight, which is quite an improvement over 40. But we have to add the 3 hours driving in, 2 to get through security and check-in and boarding, 1 more for getting luggage and a rental car on the other end, and yet another 1 for driving to the hotel, the air trip takes a total of 13 hours. If I had a flying car that went door to door, it would only have to travel 215 mph to beat the commercial carrier — and it would be a lot more comfortable, non-intrusive (I could carry nail clippers in my pocket and a bottle of spring water!), and allow me if I wanted to stop in Kansas City for ribs.
If you exclude my somewhat extreme situation — I’m a nature lover and live in the unspoiled mountains — cut 2 hours off the trip for the huddled masses living within an hour of a major airport, and another for cutting it close at check-in. You still have a 10-hour trip, and your flying car is still better at 280 mph.
This is 70-year-old technology, folks. Frank Fuller, Jr. won the Bendix Trophy in 1939 at an average speed of 282.098 mph. Most WWII fighter planes did over 300. In ’46 a P-51 took the Bendix at 435.5 mph.
For shorter trips, the car advantage only gets bigger. To visit my mother in Nashville, I actually do drive the 13-hour trip — you can do it in a long arduous day or two easy ones. A 300 mph aircar would do it in under 3 hours. Within the same distance is almost all the Eastern Seaboard of the US (and as far west as Chicago) and the vast majority of the population of Canada. And yet there is nowhere I can fly commercially in the same time, from my house.
If I had a flying car, I could visit my mom twice a month instead of twice a year.