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c. 1920s -1950s

A century of hoping cars could fly

But where would you park this thing?

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: January 1946, Texas, Garland, Flying Auto (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

For many of us, the fact that we do not yet have a flying car is a source of ongoing disappointment.  The future—or the idea of the future—has always included the ability to whizz through the air in a Jetsons-esque car with wings.

But the idea of a flying machine that one can drive dates back further to the nineteenth century—the concept was first patented in 1910. 
And engineers returned to again and again to the concept across the 20th century, as these pictures show. 

Prototypes are still in development, even now—but it may be in vain. Like many hybrid products, the flying car is a compromise, lacking the strengths of either car or plane—not to mention the significant parking challenges.  The Jetsons future may only ever be a fantasy.

Au Bon Marche company issued comical futuristic ad cards like this one of a flying car.
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
A car with wings and a propeller protruding from the radiator grille drives through Times Square, N.Y. It was the invention of A.H. Russell of Nutley, N.J.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
A combined car, boat and airplane.
Keystone/Getty Image
Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.
Henry Ford, 1940
A flying car.
Uullstein bild/Getty Images
A Texan Flying Auto
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
The ConvairAirCar had an engine capable of 130 horsepower.
Corbis/Getty Images

Hobbes: ‘A new decade is coming up.’

Calvin: ‘You call this the future?? HA! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the flying cars?’

Calvin & Hobbes, December 30th, 1989
The Airphibian which converted from car to plane. The car backed into the fuselage, and the propeller fastened to nose.
Eileen Darby/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
The Convair Model 118 ConvAirCar.
SDASM Archives
A crashed ConvAirCar.
SDASM Archives
By 1953 motor-cars will be obsolete, because aeroplanes will run along the ground as well as fly over it.
Sir Philip Gibbs, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, 1928
An unconventional American car adapted from the fuselage of a light aircraft.
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Moulton Taylor’s Aerocar. The aerodynamic elements had convenient stowaway wheels that formed their own trailer for road-going travel.
Walt Woron/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images
The Jetsons, comprised of George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and Astro, flying in a space car in a space age city.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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