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SNAPSHOTS 2011 - The Aerocar


Molt Taylor's 1949 Aerocar
 at EAA AirVenture 2011
            The Aerocar ready to fly                                         The Aerocar flown by Ed Sweeny                                   The Aerocar ready to drive 
One of the many highlights of EAA's AirAdventure 2011 was the attendance of the Molt Taylor Aerocar owned by Ed Sweeney.  It was designed by Molt Taylor and the prototype was built in 1949.  In 1959 Molt Taylor even gave Ed Sweeney lessons to fly in this same Aerocar.  It was designed to fly like an airplane but the wings and tail could be detached and it could be driven on the road like a car.  The wings could be towed behind the car if desired.  It took only 5 minutes to convert it from car to airplane.  It has a wingspan of 34 feet, uses a 143HP Lycoming 0-320 to cruise at 100mph and carries two people.
Not only was it on display but it also flew during the Saturday afternoon airshow.  It was a rare opportunity to get to see it on display, let alone to see it fly that only a few lucky people get to witness.  That was worth the trip to AirAdventure by itself.  Not only that but two of the five Aerocars built were on display at AirAdventure 2011.  The first prototype built in 1949 is on permanent display in the EAA's Museum at Oshkosh, WI.  It is a rare opportunity to be able to see two of the only five Aerocars in existence in the same location on the same day.
All five of the cars built are still in existence but only the one owned by Ed Sweeney still flys.  The other four are in museums and not flyable.  This wasn't the first time I had seen Ed's Aerocar.  He had it on display at Reno in 2009 but unfortunately it wasn't flown.  The Aerocar is so rare that that was the only other time I have seen an Aerocar other than the one in the EAA Museum. The idea of a flyable car resurfaced at AirAdventure in 2006 with a solid model of an idea for the Terafugia flyable car.  Two years ago it made its maiden flight and before long you may be able to purchase one.  Last I heard they were taking orders.  At least one other type of flyable car is in the design stage and there were plans for at least part of the car to possibly be built in Lawrence, KS.  So stay tuned, a flyable car may be in your future.
Ed's Aerocar was originally owned by Bob Cummings, a 1960s TV sitcom star who bought it 1960.  He featured it several times on his comedy show, "The Bob Cummings Show".   I still remember it from the TV show but I was really young at the time.  Legend has it that Bob Cummings even gave rides in the Aerocar to Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.  Ed has owned the car since 1988 and both his sons fly it.  His grandson even soled in the Aerocar on his 16th birthday to get his pilot's license.  Then he drove it down to the license bureau and got his driver's license in the Aerocar on the same day.  The first and only person in the world to do so.
Molt Taylor had worked many years developing the Aerocar and eventually received the airworthy certificate but after only five cars were built the government put restrictions on engine emissions for cars.  Molt's Aerocar was unable to meet the new restrictions and Molt ceased production.  Your government at work to make things better.  Wouldn't it have been neat to be able to go out to the airport and see these flying on a regular basis or driving around town today?
Molt Taylor's Aerocar isn't alone in history.  For an article covering several aircar designs click on this link:   Or this link on flying cars:

Don Thun