Boeing Sky Commuter 'flying car' prototype sells for over $70,000

By David Flynn, July 6 2015
Boeing Sky Commuter 'flying car' prototype sells for over $70,000

That private jet will seem so passé if you could park Boeing's Sky Commuter flying car in your garage.

Looking like something from The Jetsons crossed with Battlestar Galactica (the shiny and silly '70s version, not the gritty 2004 reboot) – and a dash of Thunderbird 4 for good measure – it's one of three prototypes built in the late 1980s by Boeing engineers before the project was cancelled.

Unlike previous and mostly laughable 'flying cars' which were more like a regular vehicle with clip-on wings, the Sky Commuter was designed from the ground up as a jet for day-to-day personal use  – an aviation equivalent of the Volkswagen, if you will.

A gas turbine engine drove three fans via a helicopter-based driveshaft for vertical take-off and landing...

... with the thrust exiting the exhaust pushing the Sky Commuter along the ground or through the air.

The vehicle could theoretically cruise at around 135kph (85mph) over a range of 360km (225 miles).

We stress "theoretically" because despite claims by its creators that the Sky Commuter made several successful test flights there are no photos, no film footage and no witnesses outside the company.

Listed for auction at Barret-Jackson, it sold for US$71,500 (A$95,000) – even allowing for the fact that it lacked an engine.

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Doesn't sound like it would be too hard to source an engine and plug it in... and then presumably flip over and die in a fire. 

I'm surprised the prototype ever left the company, especially given its status as an almost certain death machine. No doubt there's some paperwork involved stating that Boeing can't be held responsible when you do, in fact, wind up at the bottom of a $70,000 pile of burning fiberglass.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

It actually looks a lot like James May's self-built motorhome on Top Gear that had a silver-painted set of vertical and horizontal stabilisers.

Clarkson: *smacks tailfin* "What's this for?"

May: "Stability."

Clarkson: "Rubbish!"

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 318

HA!!!   A Boeing with an Airbus style side stick!!

The fanboys heads must be spinning!!

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Car-plane compromise is indeed difficult one – it is hard to image that this thing will be convenient on bitumen. I would love to try one regardless :-))))

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Whenever anyone complains about the lack of a flying car in 2015, I tell them that a helicopter counts.

Of course a helicopter is expensive, noisy, sucks fuel like Gina Rinehart sucks milkshakes and is so difficult to fly that it requires a ridiculous amount of training. But those are inevitable qualities of a flying car, too. Because physics is a bastard.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Noisy – yes, but all other attributes not necessarily true. With modern avionics and automatisation flying helicopter is not what it use to be and at some extend may be even less demanding then flying plane - landing for example. Cost and fuel consumption is not that much for small helis – quite a few years ago I saw helicopter that you can purchase in the box and assemble by yourself. It cost about 80K and was diesel-powered consuming mere 5L/100km in cruise mode at more than 200 km/hr carrying a pilot and two passengers. Hovering though is always fuel hungry and maintenance is costly indeed. Problem with helis pretty much the same as with planes – despite ability to land “almost anywhere” in practice they still require dedicated pad and unable to run along streets, so once you landed you have to take car or walk to continue your commuting. So despite being enthusiastic with the idea I do not believe that we will see personal flying in masses during our lifetime.

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 5

There never will be a successful aircraft/car combination. The simple reason being the two applications are totally incompatible.

Taking to the air is such a vast leap from moving along the ground. The mere fact that every 2nd road vehicle wears scrapes, dents and buckled panels from contact with solid as well as moving objects, shows that any aircraft/car combination would spend vast amounts of time being repaired and certified airworthy again.

Perhaps, if by some miracle, some genius produced a self-healing lightweight material that returned to its original shape/form with no ill-effect, the aircraft/car combination just might - and I say, just might - become viable.


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