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Flying cars have always been a part of our collective imagination, for better or worse

Google's Larry Page is just the latest to dream of winged autos

Today Bloomberg revealed that Google co-founder Larry Page is the force behind a pair of mysterious startups, Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero, both of which are working on plans for a flying car. This should come as no surprise, as eccentric billionaires have been infatuated with the idea of personal, roadable aircraft for decades. Even Henry Ford, the inventor of the automobile, spearheaded his own version, the Ford Flivver.

To be sure, the Flivver failed miserably. (The test pilot died in a crash.) And most flying car concepts remain just that — concepts. The fact that flying cars act as a stand-in for some distant, unattainable future isn’t a mistake. There are many things about flying cars that make them impractical, unworkable, and even wrongheaded. As The Verge’s Chris Ziegler aptly noted two years ago, “[T]he problem is that these aircraft don't solve any problems for normal human beings, nor do they even gesture toward a meaningful impact in the distant future.”

But damn, they look cool, right? I’m not trying to be a hater. Some of my favorite movies of all time feature flying cars, so if Page and his deep-pocketed peers want to turn this science fiction into a reality, more power to them. And Page isn’t the only one interested in the concept of roadable aircraft. Let’s take a journey through the history of the flying car, starting with some of the real-world concepts, and then ending with some of our favorite fictional versions. Strap in!


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