In 1949, Moulton B. Taylor created the first AEROCAR. It was exactly 50 years ago! His company was AEROCAR Co. of Longview, Washington.
The Sweeney’s 1956 AEROCAR Model 1.
The AEROCAR 2000 is a modern and high performance version of Molt’s 1950’s AEROCAR. It is under construction at this time in my shop in Black Forest, Colorado. Many things are different since 1949! The opportunities are new and demanding. The most significant enabling factors for a practical new flying car are:
- The ADVANCED GENERAL AVIATION TRANSPORT EXPERIMENTS. This is a joint venture of government and private industry created by NASA and the FAA to revitalize general aviation.
- The Global Positioning Satellite ( GPS ) system of 24 geosyncronus satellites is in place for flight and ground navigation.
- Lotus Cars of Norwich, Hethel, England, introduced the light weight Lotus Elise sports car in 1996.
The Molt Taylor Flying Car Concept
There are two valid ways to make a practical flying car. One is to develop a combination car and plane and to certify it as one system under DOT, FAA and EPA. This includes the advanced flying automobile such as Branko Sahr’s project. It will require great investment to develop and will be very expensive. The other way is the Molt Taylor concept in which an existing DOT and EPA certified car is used as the ground vehicle of the flying car. A flight module is attached to this car which is certified by the FAA as an aircraft. It would be relatively inexpensive to develop and own. Initially, however, the AEROCAR 2000 will be available as an Experimental Aircraft under the existing homebuilt regulations of the FAA.
The car is the new Lotus Elise. It is a lightweight 1510 lb. two-seat roadster. The flight module is powered by a separate twin-turbocharged 2.5 liter V8 engine also produced by Lotus. It produces 350 hp, yet weighs only 491 lbs. complete.
The projected empty weight of AEROCAR 2000 is 2580 lbs. Add the pilot, fuel, baggage, passenger, the gross weight comes up to 3450 lbs. With 350 horsepower available for take off, it should have excellent acceleration, climb and cruise speed.
The Elise is a modern light fun sports car. Its features are:
mid engine, aluminum chassis and light fiberglass body.
The Flight Module
To fly this car, a flight module is attached. In its flight mode, the AEROCAR 2000 is a high wing airplane with conventional rudder and elevator. The flight engine operates a three-blade MT electric constant-speed propeller, which is positioned just above the car’s windshield. A drive shaft and gearbox connect between the V8 flight engine and the propeller. The engine’s position is above and behind the pilot and passenger. This arrangement minimizes aerodynamic drag for the aircraft and the propeller is safely up and out of harm’s way. The flight module includes the wings, tail, empenage, engine and propeller.
Ready for flight, the AEROCAR 2000 is a handsome plane. It has excellent aerodynamics.
When converting from car mode to aircraft, the driver would simply back into the flight module, make two connections, pull the module into position and latch two connectors then attach the wing lift struts. Everything for flying comes onboard the car in making this connection. When separated, everything airplane is left behind. This is the key to the AEROCAR design. This also means that the car is essentially unaltered from its original form and is a pure automobile when driven.
The car backs into the flight module to make the connection. Then six attach pins are secured.
The Lotus Twin-turbo V8 flight engine is liquid cooled. The cooling system of the flight engine shares the car engine cooling system. This design saves weight by flowing the flight engine’s coolant through the car’s systems. When the flight module is connected, coolant can be circulated by either the flight engine or the car engine and cabin heat and defroster are available.
The 350 hp twin-turbocharged Lotus V8.
The propeller speed reduction unit.
The Design Process
Getting to this point has been a five-year project. Five computer-based design programs have been applied. The first is Computer Aircraft Designer. It is a sophisticated design program, which integrates the actual shape of a plane design with performance and stability analysis. The second is a series of performance programs published by Martin Holliman. These programs are part of a series of design study books on aircraft engineering by Mr. Holliman. The third and fourth design programs are produced by DARCorp. These are high level computer aided design programs called AEROcad and Advanced Aircraft Analysis. And, the fifth is a computer flight simulation program, X-Plane, by Laminar Research. This program simulated the airplane’s design in flight on a computer screen. It has its own internal flight analysis programming.
The rendered side view shows absolute control of external surface
An isometric view of the complete airplane in all three dimensions.
These three study programs have resulted in the present shape and performance predictions of the AEROCAR 2000. Now, it is up to me to build it as it is designed. I am very confident that the prototype will perform exactly as predicted and demonstrated by these studies.
|Normal Cruise speed:
Max Cruise speed:
Take off/Landing speed:
Max Loaded Weight:
A Unique Control system
The real challenge is not in the shape and configuration of the machine as car or plane, but in how it will be controlled as a plane. Because it is a flying car, it cannot be operated just like any other airplane, Cessna, Piper or Beechcraft. Not only do we have a car’s steering wheel in front of us which we must use and no place for rudder pedals, but also there are regulations to work with or work around. The major emphasis for the AEROCAR project has been to solve these requirements.
The AEROCAR 2000 will have two control systems. The car system is essentially unchanged. The primary flight control system is electronic. Servos at each flight control surface are electronically operated by a full-time flight leveler guided by solid-state pizo electric gyros. We call this AutoFlight. The secondary system is purely mechanical. An overhead control stick is directly linked to the ailerons and elevators. The car’s steering wheel is always connected to the steer the front wheels and the airplane’s rudder. The intended effect of this system is to make flying the plane just like driving the car. The angle of driving turns is commanded by the angle of the car’s steering wheel. AutoFlight makes the airplane turn only to the angle of the steering wheel. The airplane always wants to fly straight and level, until the pilot commands a turn or to climb or descend. Coordination of the flight controls is managed by the electronic flight control system. Servos, as used in high-performance radio-controlled model aircraft, will directly control “servo tabs” on each of the five aircraft control surfaces.
The pilot manages engine power with his right foot using the car’s accelerator. The accelerator pedal is operating an electronic servo at the flight engine’s throttle valve. This is coupled with a “cruise control” just as we use in driving on the freeways. It maintains a pre-set engine power. There will be a hand-operated throttle in the overhead panel of the flight module as a mechanical back up.
Instrumentation and Navigation Display Systems
The car’s instrument panel is a color flat-panel high-resolution LCD display, by DigiFly of Italy, showing information on the plane’s speed, altitude, attitude, engine RPM, temperatures and pressures. There will be two data processors, one for car information and one for aircraft information. The display will switch modes from one to the other for driving or flying. In the car mode it shows speedometer, engine RPM, fuel quantity, oil pressure, coolant temperature and system voltage. When flying it shows airspeed, altitude, and rate of climb, fuel quantity, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and system voltage.
The car’s actual steering wheel is a Telxon 1194 Pentium touch-screen display computer with built-in GPS receiver. This shows all the navigation information for driving or flying. It also is capable of voice input and response. It is a ruggedized computer with a magnesium case and shock mounted internal drive. The computer can be enhanced later for many other functions for driving or flying, such as autopilot integration into the AutoFlight system.
Telxon navigation display system.
The DigiFly instrument display system
This is the Next Generation of Personal Transportation
These electronic systems, especially the level flight controller, are essential for a flying car. For any flying car design to be marketable, it must appeal to a motorist and require skills not much more complicated than driving. A conventional airplane does not need these systems. Eventually, a flying car will be sufficiently sophisticated that a pilot’s license, as such, will not be required. This is a goal of the AGATE program; its emphasis is on simplifying and improving the safety of flight in general aviation aircraft. The AEROCAR 2000 will introduce this new generation in personal transportation.