In the final part of our five-part interview with serial inventor and flying car advocate Dezso Molnar, he introduces his newest venture: a race series. With more than 100 flying cars on the road and in the air worldwide, Molnar believes the fastest way to take this technology to the next level is to get a community of inventors and aviators together and put their vehicles to the test in a competition on the West Coast of the United States. There’ll be categories for radio controlled, electric and unlimited flying cars, so there’s room for the full spectrum of innovators.
This week, Molnar has unveiled flyingcarracing.com, a site that brings together the 22 teams that have been invited to participate in the inaugural race in 2017. What follows is Dezso’s own words, describing his vision for the event.
On who should get into flying car racing
Racing budgets are massive. People respect racing, and the people that go there – birds of a feather meet at these races. The kinds of people you want to spend your time with if you’re a developer. There’s value in racing in that it creates a community around these machines and objectives.
The success of Dean Kamen’s FIRST project to me is inspiring, in that it has given a lot of kids at a high school level the ability to take their talents for machinery and their fascination, and create a competitive group that lets them work together, meet people from other schools and other nations, and go to these robotics competitions. Dean’s best quote is “It’s the only sport where every player can turn pro.” I’d like to create a similar environment for people out of high school, at the college level or young pros, who are done with school but still want to have that community. There’s a FIRST, but currently there’s no second.
Flying car racing’s for them, because bolting together an aircraft with an electric motor is no big challenge for anybody who has built a FIRST robot with all its control systems. If you compare the Street Wing to Van’s aircraft, the Van’s planes use gas engines and a thousand more parts than an electric plane, so electrics are much easier to build. Van’s has almost 9,000 aluminium planes flying – there’s a very robust kit culture for people that want to build their own aircraft parts, and there’s a group called the Experimental Aircraft Association which is a strong advocate for them.
What does a flying car race look like?
In the near term, it’s a race to fly and drive from El Mirage Dry Lake bed in California, North-East to the El Dorado Drone Port, which is an airport being constructed near Boulder City, Nevada.
It’s a 200-mile (322-km) course through the desert, the classic Route 66 on the ground, and there’s Class G airspace and about 15 airports in between. So if somebody has an ultralight aircraft, and it’s a flying car, they will be able to fly their aircraft over completely unpopulated areas and compete between those two spots.
With some of the vehicles that exist today, the owners are not licensed pilots so they can only operate under part 103 or the ultralight class, and fly under ultralight conditions. Some of the vehicles haven’t passed a smog check, I think theAeroMobil is one of them, so they’re not actually street legal.
Those vehicles will be able to do some drive activities on the lake beds. There’s another dry lake bed on the receiving side near Boulder City where we’ll be able to drive. At El Mirage, we can drive at unlimited speeds. So if somebody has a flying car that goes 300 mph on the ground, that’s not a problem, we’ll be able to do that at El Mirage. It’s federally allocated for driving at those speeds if you want. Once on the street, we drive the speed limit.