Passenger Drones Are Almost Here

Driverless cars are coming. Exciting? I guess. But that’s not what captured my imagination growing up in the 1960s.

What excited me (and all of my friends) were FLYING CARS. Not because it was the transportation of choice for George and his family

But because it was the subject of serious journalism. And, for a 12-year-old kid, it didn’t get any more serious than the Weekly Reader. Most of the news I digested from the Weekly Reader is long forgotten. But through the decades, I’ve clung to the promise that airborne vehicles are right around the corner.

Speed, altitude, propulsion… they were just minor details that science would inevitably work out. If not in the 1970s, then surely by the 1980s.

Alas, it was not to be.

The closest I came to piloting a flying car was taking over the controls of a seaplane in the Gulf of Mexico. I was on a business trip. My client, a chemical company, wanted me to meet its customers on a cluster of oil rigs sitting 20 miles offshore. The company’s salesmen were not only experts in the chemicals they supplied but also licensed pilots.

The pilot of the plane that was carrying us to our destination asked me if I had a license. I said no. He said, “That’s okay. Do you want to fly the plane anyway?”

How could I say no to that?

With a lot of guidance, I managed to land the plane amazingly close to the rig we were visiting. It wasn’t a flying car, but it was pretty damn close.


Flying Drone Taxis Set for Takeoff

I don’t have to be satisfied with “close” anymore. Flying cars – or, as they’re now called, passenger drones – are right around the corner. As in… NEXT YEAR! That is, if nothing bad happens.

Some bad things have already happened. The traffic up there is not as crowded as it is down here, but drones have already been involved in several accidents. So drone operators need to be extra cautious in testing and rolling out these babies.

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Kate Monroe 2 months ago Member's comment

Andrew Gordon, nice article. But are you telling me that someone really let you land his plane when you had zero experience doing so? Sounds very risky and foolhardy to me. Glad you enjoyed it though.

Gary Anderson 2 months ago Contributor's comment

Fascinating, but they look risky, dangerous, even.

Danny Straus 2 months ago Member's comment

Ever since I was a kid I've dreamed of a flying car like in the Jetsons. Always enjoyed sci fi movies featuring the same. But yes, realistically it would be a nightmare. Too many accidents on the roads as it is - and those only a 2 dimensional plane. Add up and down and there's even more accidents.

Terrence Howard 2 months ago Member's comment

And don't forget traditional planes - or maybe flying Greyhound buses if we are talking about the future. Throw in a slew of Amazon delivery drones and it becomes a congested nightmare!

Bindi Dhaduk 2 months ago Member's comment

Excellent point. Planes need air traffic controllers and sophisticated equipment to avoid a collision. And I've read there's a shortage of controllers as it is.

Gary Anderson 2 months ago Contributor's comment

You hit it Bill. Who would separate all this, and how could all this junk in the sky be safely separated?