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Sat, Mar 01, 2008

Milner Flying Car Latest Attempt To Meld The Road With The Air

Will Debut At The New York International Auto Show

by ANN Managing Editor (And Resident Motorhead) Rob Finfrock

Let's face it -- in most "serious" aviation circles, the idea of a flying car is met with raised eyebrows, at best -- and at worst, outright disdain. There's arguably fair precedent for those attitudes, given the less-than-stellar proposals to date... from flying Ford Pintos, to the still resolutely-earthbound Moller concepts.

But there are signs of life, and innovation, in this segment. ANN reported in 2006 on the Terrafugia, a "roadable aircraft" now under development... and while we're still skeptics, most ANN'ers are also quite willing to be proven wrong.

It was with a similar, measured "hmmm..." I read recently of the latest flying-car concept, to be formally unveiled later this month at the prestigious New York International Auto Show. Developed by Jim Milner, the Milner Motors AirCar is billed as a four-seat advanced-composite car that you can fly to your destination, fold up the wings and drive it down the highway.

The Aircar features a foldable main wing in the rear of the vehicle and a canard lifting surface in the front. For trips up to 1,000 miles, the AirCar will provide the fastest door-to-door travel times possible, according to Milner

When airborne, the 28-ft wingspan, 3,000 lb. maximum weight AirCar will cruise at 200 mph for up to 1,000-miles, according to the company. Power comes from two rotary engines that drive dual 28-inch pusher ducted fans.

Once on the ground, the wings fold to 7-ft wide, and a separate 40-hp engine powers the car up to 85 mph. The initial prototype is non-flying but driveable, and demonstrates it is possible to design and build a car that not only flies, but is also an airplane strong enough to drive on public roads.

As a flight instructor, airline pilot, and successful entrepreneur, with over 35 years in the aviation industry, Milner believes he is well-positioned to deliver on the promise of bringing a flying car to market.

He's also hedging his bets just a bit -- as in addition to the flying car concept, Milner will also unveil a streetbound gas/electric automobile concept in New York -- arguably, a more bankable concept in today's fuel-conscious automotive market, that continues to buy Toyota Priuses in droves.

The ElectriCar (above) is a four-door, lightweight vehicle, that shares most of the same basic design concepts as the AirCar, but without the wings and ducted fans. The sleek vehicle -- which actually looks quite stunning -- will be displayed alongside the AirCar in New York.

Time will tell whether Milner's AirCar will become the 21st-Century equivalent to the Model T... or, something more like this. Stay tuned.

FMI: www.milnermotors.com

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