It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an SUV!
For the past two years, I’ve had the honor of driving my son to his middle school each morning.
Although we’re 50 miles away from the roadways mentioned, we listen to the morning traffic report on Nashville’s WWTN and make scatological wisecracks about all the “backups,” “pileups,” “slow movements,” etc.
By the time Gideon finishes college, traffic reports may be dramatically different – dealing more with ALTITUDE than attitude.
According to USA Today, several companies are already accepting pre-orders for high-tech FLYING CARS. Some of the engineering marvels would require runways like an airplane; others would employ VTOL technology like a helicopter. Some would require a driver/pilot; others would be computer-controlled. But all would turn our ideas about transportation upside down.
Slovakia-based AeroMobil is asking more than $1 million each for its inaugural vehicle, due out in three years. Obviously, such price tags will reek of conspicuous consumption and fan the flames of class warfare.
The first wave of owners may find themselves soaring above the traffic-jammed commoners and making proclamations such as, “Let them eat cake. Let them use SHORTER-RANGE AMMUNITION. Yikes! That last one was close!”
The affluent will enjoy the new toys for a spell; but unless they’re really safety-conscious, other aspects of their lifestyles will suffer. (“Darling, I found the perfect new nanny; but I flew a little too close, causing her to drop her umbrella and plummet to her death…”)
I’m sure there are heart surgeons or A-list performers who could really benefit from the ability to complete a 2-hour trip in 15 minutes; but for many buyers, it would be just a status symbol and a sign of impatience. (“I really, really need to zoom into the city to attend a meeting about the value of …um, er…TELECONFERENCING.”)
Sure, Uber is anxious to expand its ride-sharing service to flying cars, and mass production may eventually make ownership mainstream; but we risk opening a whole new can of worms.
Once we get to the “white trash” editions, “cloud storage” will take on a whole new meaning. Sky motorists will eye each Nimbostratus cloud warily, as it may harbor umpteen junker cars up on helium blocks.
Most people have at least a passing thought of “Wouldn’t it be neat to fly above the gridlock?”; but advertising agencies will have to be extra careful to seal the deal. No retread of “Like a rock” quite works when you’re cruising way above the skyscrapers. “The Heartbeat of America” is okay – unless it morphs into “the Heartbeat of America As It Gets All White-Knuckled and Says Its Prayers.”
The flying cars will certainly change our idioms. Instead of fighting over who gets to ride “shotgun,” people will compete for the “tailgunner” position. Insurers may dread the day when “hitting on all cylinders” gives way to “hitting on all Verizon towers.” Someday “where the rubber meets the road” will become “Where the windshield meets the flock of Canadian geese.”
Federal regulators have a million questions to answer before flying cars become viable. Don’t be surprised if new rules require a pat-down and cavity search just to open the glove compartment.
The USA Today article arrives just weeks before the 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight. Future fliers will have their own hopes and dreams – mainly, “I hope the mechanic wasn’t drunk when the fuel gauge was instaaaaaaaaaaaaaaled….”
©2017 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.