Henry Ford was an incredible innovator and a true visionary. While best known for founding Ford Motor Company, and revolutionizing personal travel, he was also able to look far into the future. In 1940, Mr. Ford claimed, “Mark my words, a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.” He was certainly way ahead of his time.
In 1970 Ford Motor Company took an interest in Molt Taylor’s Aerocar, a flying car that trailered it’s wings while driving. But that deserves it’s own story. Ford entered the aviation arena, when from 1925-1933, the company produced the Ford Trimotor, an American three-engine transport aircraft. A total of 199 Ford Trimotors were made and only a handful are still flying, strictly at special aviation events where people can pay for the thrill of being a passenger in one of these historic aircraft.
Let’s fast forward to 2011, at a TED (Technology, Energy and Design) Conference where Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, past President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, and great grandson of Henry Ford was speaking about a future beyond traffic gridlock. Ford stated: “…the freedom of mobility that my great grandfather brought to people is now being threatened, just as the environment is.” With 800 million cars on the road in 2011, Ford said that estimates were for it to rocket to between two and four billion cars by mid century. “Today the average American spends about a week a year stuck in traffic jams, and that’s a huge waste of time and resources.”
Looking at this traffic problem in the bigger scheme of things, Mr. Ford explained why he thought congestion would lead to lowered productivity, a weaker economy, and a decrease in people’s quality of life. Interestingly enough, Mr. Ford argued that more of the same (more cars, faster cars, more roads, etc.) is not going to be the solution. In his TED talk he makes a very compelling call to “our best and brightest” for their help in solving the far-reaching problems our current transportation system has created.
While Bill Ford doesn’t specifically speak about flying cars, he certainly leaves the door open for innovative solutions. Flying cars, in high enough numbers, could definitely be a part of the big solution.
Traveling from point A to point B – directly – is always the most efficient way to go. A flying car provides the ultimate in point-to-point transportation. It gives you the convenience and efficiency of going from your garage to a local airport, then flying to your destination and driving the final distance – all in the same vehicle. DOT (Department of Transportation) studies have shown that taking 3-5% of the vehicles off the road during peak traffic times, increases the speed of the remaining vehicles by 50%. This is an impressive win-win scenario. The flying car operators get where they’re going much faster and the drivers remaining on the ground go twice as fast. Who would argue with that?
I think Henry Ford would be proud, not only of his forward-thinking great grandson, but also of the handful of flying car companies working so diligently today to make a difference.
– Martha Hall Bousfield
Sam Bousfield, designer of the Samson Switchblade Flying Car, pictured with the Ford Trimotor at an EAA Event in Lincoln, CA.