On 19 February 2001, the Aurora Beacon News published a column by Benjie Hughes consisting almost entirely of out-of-context quotes by a single person.
Collected wisdom of an aircar buff
By day, Bill Higgins is an engineering physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia; by night, he is a student of mankind's continued quest to build a car that flies like George Jetson's did. Higgins recently gave a slide presentation at Aurora's SciTech museum in which he tried to explain why, in this third millennium A.D., we still have to make do with cars with wheels on them.
Here are a few of Higgins' pearls of wisdom.
"Turning your airplane into a car is only one approach to getting around."
"You've got to be careful not to fall off. Of course, that's true for any aircraft." "The airplane is not a good personal vehicle to have on your driveway. Unless you live on a runway."
"The Aerocar is probably the most famous of all the flying automobiles, and the most successful. In the sense that five were built."
"The vehicle of tomorrow is actually a vehicle of yesterday."
Photo of AVE Mizar by Doug Duncan
On the Mizar, essentially a Ford Pinto with plane wings and an engine, first built in 1973: "This looked as if it could really amount to something. Until the accident."
On the Trans Air Systems TAS102, a flying motorcycle: "This isn't really a vehicle. It's a picture of a vehicle with a picture of a pilot pasted into it. Maybe it'll get built someday."
On what constitutes proper protocol for those who pilot blimps: "Alcohol and hydrogen do not mix."
"I wouldn't recommend trying to pedal an aircraft."
"Most of the problems a car has are surviveable. If you're in the air and an airplane stops running, you have a much bigger problem."
"A helicopter costs a lot of money. That's why we don't have helicopters in our driveways."
"If you want to be a helicopter owner, you need to either have a chauffeur or take lots and lots of classes."
"Folding airplanes probably have not seen their true day yet."
On "reverse weight," which causes things to fall upward, as used by Buck Rogers: "If we had some of that, we could make great advances. I would recommend looking on really high mountains. Or possibly other planets."
On proper rocket-belt attire: "You've got to have rubber pants because you don't want any of that stuff spilled on you."
"Jet fuel is basically kerosene, but you should ask for it by name. Don't try to run your jet engine on the generic stuff."
"At the country club, people pull up in their big, shiny cars. Why shouldn't they pull up in their Autogiros?"
"I can guarantee you that if you build a flying automobile you will get your name in the newspaper. It's just something that people love to read about and the press loves to cover."
"It's nice to know the jeep actually got to fly at least once."