Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Flying Crosley

Several aircraft designers succeeded in building workable flying cars during the 20th Century, but none caught on. Price was one roadblock to success. Another was the fact that no matter how many times Mechanix Illustrated and similar magazines published photos or drawings of flying cars serenely making there way above snarling traffic jams, there was always the danger of too many aircraft. Can you imagine just 10 percent of automobile drivers going airborne? The stupid mistakes, the air rage, the breakdowns--thousands would be killed every years.

Still designers and manufacturers continue to try. Until some science-fictional crash or stasis field can be perfected--something that will absorb all the energy of a collision or crash--I don't think we'll see flying cars as daily drivers.

Powel Crosley never built a flying car, though he did own over a dozen airplanes in his time. And his famous COBRA engine powered the Mooney Mite, a single-place airplane (breaking cranks and other problems had Mooney switching to Lycoming powerplants). A Crosley engine also provided ground-power to two Consolidated Vultee (aka Convair) flying cars. Dubbed the ConvAirCar, Convair's idea was to unitzed the whole system. An independent fiberglass car body (shown here) had a Crosley CIBA engine in the rear, and onto it could be strapped a wing with booms, tail and control surfaces--and a big Lycoming aircraft engine.

It was ill-fated. One crashed when the pilot ran out of aircraft gas--he was watching the automobile gas gauge rather than the avgas gauge. The second was given to an aircraft museum, which burned down. More on this in later posts.


Pat said...

Just finished reading CROSLEY. I grew up in College Hill in the 70's, but didn't know half the history in your book. I kept googling the locations to see that they were around the corner of our Budmar address. As an Aiken alum, I wonder if our school should have been CROSLEY high?

Great book, thanks for writing it,

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John wright said...

I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

Mike Banks said...

Hi, Pat,
I agree. As you know, Mr. Aikin was Powel's father-in-law. Yet the Crosley name was more prominent