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What Happened To Flying Cars From The Jetsons?

As a kid, one of my favorite cartoons was The Jetsons. I’m sure my child’s mind enjoyed the plot twists and turns of George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy, but my real passion for the show was the technology: flying cars passing the skyscrapers that were built above the clouds on stilts, moving sidewalks, robots that cooked and cleaned. To me, the show was a realistic glimpse of the future; it’s what my juvenile self truly expected the 21 st century to be.

Well, it’s 2012, and the adult I’ve become has a question: where’s my flying car?

The Myth

Hands down, my favorite futuristic aspect of George Jetson’s life was his flying car. I loved watching him zip around the sky like a bird, playing the role of his own personal airline pilot. Of course, at the time I was watching these shows (on cable in the late 80s), I didn’t even know how to operate a bike, much less a motorized vehicle, but I didn’t see the point, really; by the time I hit 16, I’d be taking my driver’s license test in a flying car, not one with four-wheel drive and a stick shift.

The Reality

Of course, I didn’t get to take my driver’s exam behind the wheel of a flying car. But here’s the cool thing: I soon might.

The big buzz at this past spring’s New York International Auto Show wasn’t an automobile at all; rather, it was a car/plane hybrid by Massachusetts-based Terrafugia. The company’s name should give you a hint as to its products. Terra is Latin for earth or land, while fugia comes from the Portuguese verb “fugir,” which means to escape – and that’s literally what Terrafugia’s Transition model does. It allows you to escape the bounds of earth’s gravity.

The Transition isn’t quite ready for The Jetsons, though. One of the first road blocks? The price tag: reports suggest it could retail for $279,000. And that’s not all – while the Transition can literally transform from a road-ready vehicle to a light sports aircraft in 30 seconds or less, it still requires a runway for takeoffs and landings, meaning you won’t be able to traffic hop during rush hour. You’ll also have to pay for pilot lessons, as the Transition requires 20 hours of flight training and certification before you can get behind the wheel.

Volkswagen also generated a lot of hype this year when it unveiled its new hover car – which looks more like a wheel than an actual vehicle. And speaking of a wheel, this car doesn’t use one for steering; instead, the VW hover car uses a joystick to change directions. It relies on electromagnetic levitation to hover just a small distance off the ground and – best part – produces absolutely no emissions.

The Future

For the folks at Terrafugia, the future is now. The company is already taking orders for its Transition model, provided you can afford the $10,000 refundable down payment.

As for Volkswagen, the new hover car is still merely a concept vehicle. VW has yet to announce when or where it will be available on the market.

Reader, did you dream about flying cars like I did as a kid? What other technologies are you yearning to try in the future?



  1. I had frequent dreams about flying cars. I also used to love watching the Jetsons and that was what I thought things were going to look like. While I might never buy one of these cars it will be awesome to see them. I just wonder how they will play on policing them.

  2. Daniel,
    Yes, I also expected flying cars to be part of my young adulthood. But I also remember in my teen years seeing movies (e.g. The Fifth Element) and realizing it’d be centuries before we have flying cars. What a bummer.

    I want to eliminate traveling and just telepathically travel. No emissions, no time and no hassle.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. I’ve thought a lot about where technology is going in the future. As much as I want a Jetsons style form of transportation, I know the world isn’t ready for it. It’s hard enough building your own quiet space without having people buzzing over your house on the way to work. I can’t imagine the teenage pranks that would be played with one of those things! What about the already invasive papparazzi?

  4. Like you I loved the Jetson’s for the the tech stuff more then the cartoon itself. The flying cars always amazed me and honestly I never thought I had a chance of living long enough to ever see it. Now I think more and more things are possible but I dont really know if it is a good idea.

    As for me the two things I would love to see is being able to transfer from place to place like on Star Trek and the computers that were on Minority Report!

  5. When I was a kid, I dreamed of having a flying car, especially during the times when we get caught on a traffic jam. Driving (or flying) to your work without traffic, and being there in a just a few minutes would definitely be awesome. But, the one thing that would beat flying cars is being able to teleport from one place to another – just like in Star Trek.

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