As a kid in grammar school I enjoyed reading articles in The Weekly Reader about what life would be like in the future. Of course, I stated reading those articles in the late ’50s and “the future” they referred to was the distant 1970s and 1980s. According to these futuristic predictors, we could expect to be whisked along on moving sidewalks, as self-driving automobiles sped along on nearby futuristic roads. Looking up, we could expect to see skies filled with my favorite futuristic invention – flying cars.

Well, neither the moving sidewalks nor the self-driving cars ever showed up in the 1970s or 1980s, but apparently those dreams never died. Designers are still working on self-driving cars, but tests drives are not going too well. When the onboard cameras of self-driving cars are confronted with a condition as simple as fog, the car becomes blind, which isn’t what you want any car to do – self-driving or otherwise. As far as moveable sidewalks and flying cars were concerned, I figured they were still a ways off.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw this bold headline in last Sunday’s paper: Flying car expected to come to market in three years. That’s right. In three years you could enjoy what one designer refers to as your own “personal aviation.” No more drives to the airport for you. No more security lines or baggage fees for you. All you’ll have to do is go out to your driveway and jump in your personal airplane, rev up the engine and take off to enjoy “personal aviation.” One designer quoted in the article says he wants to change flying from just a fun hobby to making flying cars useful.

The article says: “The promise of a mass-produced flying car has taunted aviation enthusiasts for generations.” I’ve been waiting for that promise to be fulfilled ever since I read those articles in my Weekly Reader in grade school. Now, flying cars are only three years away and I can’t wait to buy mine.

What could possibly go wrong when our skies become filled with flying cars? Who can object to thousands of our fellow-Mainers out enjoying a “personal aviation” experience.

Imagine a Memorial Day weekend where more than half the tourists arrive in flying cars. Imagine thousands of pilots in flying cars above 295 driving as reckless and as inconsiderate in the air as their earthbound colleagues are driving below them. Flying car critics – and there are a few about – say flying cars will make lousy cars and lousy airplanes.

Designers say they’re working hard to make them a little less lousy.

They say small planes are virtually useless in bad weather. With the flying car, you land at one of the country’s more than 5,000 airports, push a button to fold up the wings and strike out onto a crowded highway until the weather improves.

Another selling point – I guess – is that flying cars will run on regular unleaded gas, which is cheaper and cleaner than aviation fuel.

Carl Deitrich says flying cars are inevitable. “I wouldn’t waste my time if I didn’t think we could change the world.”

Maine skies will never be the same, and that’ll be a change.

John McDonald is the author of five books on Maine, including “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia: A User’s Guide to Useless Information.” Contact him at [email protected]

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