Contents of this page are [click to go to]:
*NEWS BLOG revised 9:24 PM 11/19/2012

* Introduction;

* Feedback, Book Sale, Downloads, and Project CD Offer;

* Busting the Myths - The Inventor's Opinions of a Dozen Common Fallacies ;

* The Problem and a Solution;

* Background - On a New Path;

* A Typical Operation;

* The StrongMobile Aircars;

* StrongMobile Family of Designs - 3-Views & Data Sheets;

* A Vision of the Future - Come Along on a Trip/ Quiet Aircarport ;

* Business Plan for Research and Full-Scale Production;

* Full-Scale Mock-Up Pictures;

* Spreading the Good News About StrongMobiles with Mock-up Displays

* Contact Us

Links to more pages are:

*The History of the StrongMobile Aircar ;

* Safety, Risk Management, and Legal Aspects;

* Military, Law Enforcement, and Related Government Aspects;

*System Management Plan;

*Preliminary Design Overview ;

* Preliminary Engineering Calculations (Rev. 2011);

* More sketches and photos

* Test Plan for 9-bladed 36" Diameter Fan and Bifurcated Duct

* Construction, Operation, Servicing, and Maintenance ;

* The Air-Car Research Association;

Introduction


In 1917, aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss built a combination automobile and airplane,
but there is no record that it was actually flown.

In 1924, race car driver and WWI 'Ace of Aces' Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker said:
"Imagine the convenience of being able to drive around in the city, as is done nowadays, and
then when you start for some other town and get on a straight of way or enter a nearby pasture,
to unfold the wings on the machine and take to the air!
It will mean quicker transportation for the suburbanite, for people living at a distance from a large city,
and for the traveling salesman, who now uses the motor car and highways to cover his territory."

(Reprinted in the JULY 1924 issue of POPULAR SCIENCE at *Rickenbacker page 30,
The article summarizes as follows:
�How soon we shall fly our own machines depends, experts agree, on how quickly foolproof machines can
capture public confidence. Once that confidence has been gained and public demand created, quantity production
and lower prices will be possible. The wonderful history of the automobile will be repeated in the air.�
(Rich Strong's comment/invitation to the article resulted in several hundreds of visitors to this site.)
The article forecast a burgeoning market within 20 years, around 1940.

In 1940, Henry Ford, who had the first paved runway, the first radio airway, the Tri-Motor, and the Detroit Aircraft Corp.,
instead of Flying Flivvers, focussed on building thousands of *B-24 bombers, at a rate of one per hour and
unit cost of about half that charged by aviation industry for the same airplanes.
Ford has technical advice from Charles Lindberg,
(Although this was not without problems, described at *Uziel)
and support of Bill Stout's XC-65/107 *Skycar; he is often quoted as saying:
"Mark my word: A combination airplane and motor car is coming. You may smile, but it will come."
It's often read that Ford Motor did a survey about the *Moult Taylor's Aerocar around 1970 and was informed
by FAA that they could not manage the air traffic for a production run of 25,000 units per year.
The fallacy here is the assumption that all flights must be controlled by FAA,
when the fact is that most flights are made under Visual Flight Rules, VFR,
under the pilot's control, and do not need to be controlled by the FAA.
The story goes that the Ford folks offered to make Aerocars if Moult could come up with orders for 500 units.
His survey found that there were only a few hundred potential buyers, so the deal fell through.

Frances Hodgson Burnett said it this way:
"At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done -
then it is done, and all the world wonders why it was not done long ago."

Although "it" took Rich a very long time with hundreds of
studies, models, conversations, and advice and critiques from hundreds of experts and aircar lovers,
now you can "see it can be done" in this preliminary study of the best designs,
like "diamonds in the rough", of StrongMobiles for business travellers and commuters to
reduce their travel time, contrasted to driving, so their StrongMobiles pay for themselves.
As the designs have matured, they have stabilized, so you can be confident that they are practical and realistic.
A ballpark estimate for a worldwide fleet of 100,000 Strongmobiles at maturity, with each avoiding an
average of $100K per year gives a rough idea of the scope of the project - $ 10 billion per year.
In general, the market for Strongmobiles will involve the financial aspects and the psychic gratification
aspects for people who enjoy driving and flying and having freedom to travel for personal pleasure.

The concepts, drawings, and calculations are simple, but the inventor is confident that the
descriptions here may be sufficient for entrepreneurs to start up prototype development programs.
The overwhelming majority of the people Rich has talked with say they want a StrongMobile.
He keeps updating this website on a daily basis to inspire readers to spread the good words
and graphics and, eventually, to produce and use StrongMobiles.

 


You can view and/or download a video clip (2.2 mb, 2:00) showing a walkaround of the mockup
model in road mode in the hangarage and in flight mode at AirVenture at * newmovie.wmv

Your webmaster, Rich Strong, inventor of the Strongmobile, grew up with the old optimist adage,
"The Difficult we do immediately; The Impossible will take a little longer."

This leads directly to a quote attributed to his favorite role model:
"I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and
accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all
amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that
same plan his sole study and business."
Benjamin Franklin
Although this makes a good point, Rich modified it with a clarifying notion by another role model:
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. ." *Dwight Eisenhower
For the dreamer in Rich, "Imagination is More Powerful than Knowledge." said Einstein.
and "Nothing happens unless first we dream." Carl Sandburg
In the Engineering Arch at the University of Michigan, a plaque shows a rider holding a horse's bridle,
with a quote from the author of Green's Theorem about fluid flow measurement:
"If the theory and the practice don't agree, Then use your horse sense."
The StrongMobile Project uses a lot of planning that's based on *Meditation and *Operations Research Analysis.

The study is a condensation of a vision of retired Air Force Command Pilot-Aero Engineer Rich Strong;
it has grown as his part-time "labor of love" over a 50-year period, investing a quarter million dollars,
beginning with several years of working with Cadillac Motors and the Naval Air Reserve in Detroit.
Rich was inspired by his mother, who helped Ford build bombers, and Dad and uncles who worked at auto plants.
He is now operating from his home office nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where
he served for 20 years of flying transport planes and performing system safety engineering,
aircraft modification and flight testing, and lab research, after tours in jets and *Cessna FAC airplanes and *Ford MRC-108 FAC vehicles.
Rich also helped with space communications satellite and launch vehicle development.
The project has evolved from Rich's "dream car" to a vision of a regional transport system for business and commuting.

The core idea is to develop a vehicle that can do the most jobs for the most people at the lowest cost.
In particular, the designs offer an alternative mode of travel to people who
would otherwise be faced with wasting thousands of hours of lifetime while driving,
or changing back and forth from car to plane to car to plane to car.
The StrongMobile designs are a unique combination of over 30 features that includes 'push-button' transformation and:
1) a light-weight streamlined lifting body-fuselage with automotive engine and drivetrain;
2) retractable automobile technology suspension, wheels and wheel well covers;
3) a clutched ducted fan blended with the front wheel wells and with body-side
exhaust ports that direct flow onto the wings;
4) retractable wings that fold and swing to stow into the body, with covers;
5) transformable front and rear bumpers and horizontal tail surfaces;
6) spoiler ailerons, full-span flaps, and leading edge slats; and
7) driver and aviator controls and restraint systems.
The original designs are described in U.S. Patent 2,923,494 [ca.1960]and *3,612,440; however, those
patents are expired, so the designs described in this website are offered gratis-free for anyone to develop.

More than forty thousands of *Website Visitors (List) have viewed this study, including over a thousand schools,
so you may expect some custom builders, entrepreneurs, investors, developers, and manufacturers
to cut and polish these rough diamonds and make shining gems for you to drive and fly within a few years!
Given the ways that information spreads by word of mouth and the worldwide web,
there are many more who know about Strongmobiles.

(See a draft *Request For Proposals)

So, "when it is done", the "it" will probably look a lot like fleets of StrongMobiles.

On the other hand, attracting developers via the internet seems like fishing for tigers!
Although many have visited, only a few hundred have visited repeatedly, so there may not be
sufficient evidence of demand to convince potential manufacturers to undertake development.
It's a "chicken and egg" situation wherein people want to see it can be done before they order
and investors want to see the orders before they ante up their money to make demonstrators.
The inventor sees a key to solving this dilemma as the business travel market,
because it offers a high degree of confidence in demand, given the neutral cost.
The system was documented in the first *Strongmobile development report.
The next step will be some independent verification and replication of this information.
[Can you imagine a Presidential Commission investigating and reporting impartially?
In the late 1970's, *Roger Windblade, Manager of NASA's Subsonic Aircraft Office, convened a
meeting with representatives from FAA, DOT, and a dozen others to assess the Strongmobile.
The highway rep was interested in building airstrips at rest stops, *Aircarport, similar to the
Swedish system where highways are built to accomodate military aircraft, with hangars.
Although the meeting was great, then came the lightplane litigation crisis, fuel crisis, and runaway inflation,
and other factors, like Interstate Highways, so that U.S. Federal interest in the project faded away.
Likewise, Rich's focus turned from "roadable airplanes" to "flyable automobiles" and raising his family.
The resulting hiatus lasted for almost two decades. Many ideas persisted, inspiring Rich to renew activity,
with a greater appreciation for the potential uses of complete flyable automobiles.]

The current worldwide financial situation is forecast to last another year or so
[from 2011], but then those outfits with suficient Free Cash Flow, FCF, to
allow investment will likely take the plunge into StrongMobile development.

Maybe it's time for organizations to change from single-environment-based technology,
such as atmospheric airplanes and roadway automobiles, to a Service-Oriented Architecture,
SOA, technology that's based on a service system, such as regional personal transportation.
In simple terms, do whatever serves your purpose best, regardless of the single environment,
so that various modes may be used with easy transformation for intermodel transportation.
As an example, the literature about aircars may be found in aviation media, written by
folks with little background in automobiles and vice versa for automotive media, whereas
the travel media seems focussed on commercial aviation and nautical media.
Rich highly recommends Jo Anne Doty's article, *What Do We Really Know About Biz Av?

The inventor estimates that, based on a comparable development of an amphibian airplane project that
reported a cost of $20 million USD five years ago, development through prototype
demonstration and production of a dozen StrongMobiles would cost about the same,
with certification compliance costing about one-third of the total. The investment
payback, ROI, is estimated to take only a few years at a rate of $60Mpa for 2,000 units p.a.

To begin with, imagine a smaller-scale experimental prototype project,
wherein a team of custom car/plane builders use their skills and resources for
a year or so of volunteer work in a donated hangarage with donated
parts and materials to make one prototype vehicle. They may then use their aircar
as a prototype for making kit aircars for other folks to use.

In between the two extremes, there may be many levels of production manufacturing.

So, as of Winter of 2011, the main questions remain, "Who will do it and when?"
Who knows? Someone may be working on their version of a Strongmobile right now.

[The answer may lie with with Elaine Myers' critique of Rupert Sheldrake's *"100th monkey").]
While many older folks may ignore aircar technology, the younger generations seem much more interested,
as evidenced by the thousands of visits from technical schools and universities.

This item was picked up from the *GIZMAG site:
November 21, 2004
Adults may dismiss flying cars as the stuff of science fiction,
but for children, according to a new survey released by Honda,
only a flying car will do. Gizmag readers, of course, know that
such vehicles are already in development and that by the time
many of the children surveyed here are old enough to drive,
flying cars will be a common sight.
When Honda's UK arm conducted the survey, which asked children:
"If your car could do anything, what would it do?",
an overriding number (43%) wanted it to be able to fly.
The company commissioned the survey into what children expect
as it launched the new family-friendly Honda FR-V.
Over 400 children, 90% of whom were under the age of 10, gave some
fascinating insights into the next generation of standard specifications.
Maybe some toy manufacturers will make toy Strongmobiles for the kids?

Designing the 'Magic Dragon' aircar prototype is a personal "labor of love" work in progress.
The project is personally funded by the inventor at a $5K per year level. The design was begun several decades ago
and improvements are made daily. The design is now considered to be mature enough to proceed with prototype
development. The information provided here is offered so that individuals, groups, or organizations who are
interested in building their own Magic Dragons can participate in forming a cadre for further development.

The Air-Car Research Association, TACRA, was established in 2005, so anyone can join by sending an
application at *Associate Application.
As of summer 2009, nobody has joined TACRA.

One may assume that there are many folks who are not only curious about aircars, but actually would buy or
lease and use them if they were available. However, production by a manufacturer is controversial
because of the uncertainty regarding return on investment, "ROI". The StrongMobile Development Program is intended to
provide an alternative way for Dragon Drivers to construct their aircars as amateur-built aircraft, with
plans and parts to be made available, in about three person-years of effort. Initially, a group of builders
may organize as a "Lead Cadre" to build two or three or more Dragons, on a co-owner basis.
Their organization may be formalized as a non-profit charitable organization. Some Dragons may be
built for personal use and some more to sell or lease to others and so pay for the personal Dragons.
A network of Dragoneer Centers with facilities for parts and kits, building, and testing
may be developed. Later on, the Centers may be used for training, rentals and leasing, and servicing.
Franchises may be used in cooperative information-sharing and specialized building. Some teams
may grow into production factories, doing purchasing and distributing, sub-assembly, and parts
for others. Eventually, some teams may build Dragons for resale and become manufacturers.

Development and production of the "Magic Dragon" aircar is considered to be a viable enterprise
that would satisfy a niche market and provide a profitable venture for an extensive period of time.
This may involve a planned operational use of, say, 10,000 Dragons in about 10 years, 20,000 in operation
within 15 years, and,ultimately, tens of thousands of aircars in use within 20 years. Within a decade,
FAA type certification may be obtained to allow charter/taxi or other commercial use.
There may be many other applications that may be done better with StrongMobiles,
such as defense liaison as a dual use program. Others may include high-urgency cargo.

As previously mentioned, Rich Strong has a background of the mid-1900s Detroit
automobile industry of mass production. It's perhaps worth noting that the
auto industry made many contributions to the aviation industry in WWII, such as the
North American P-51 Merlin engines that were made by Packard Motor Car Co.
Rich served as an aircraft mechanic, working on the Grumman Hellcats and Avengers
made by GM Eastern Aircraft Division; and Vought Corsairs made by Goodyear.
These were made at much lower costs than their counterparts made by aviation manufacturers.

Some folks may be discouraged when they are exposed to misinformation, such as
the misleading article by Sharon Weinberger in POPULAR MECHANICS January 2011,
"Beyond the Flying Car", which begins with: "The flying car-it's...elusive dream...
But the engineering challenges remain as formidable as ever."
The article omits mentioning this project and how the challenges were met and overcome,
and generally describes the myths that are busted in the second part of this webpage.

According to CNN's MONEY, "It's easy to blame the lack of investment capital on the economy -- the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) recently reported that fund raising among venture firms and is at its lowest level since 2003 -- but some investors say there's another reason why these innovators are facing hard times. For most venture capitalists, there has to be a strong demand for the technology they're investing in, regardless of the economy," says Emily Mendell, VP of strategic affairs at the NVCA. "In terms of automobiles, VCs are really focusing on alternative energy and making the cars that already exist run better."

One may assume that the usual action at this stage of development is to do a market survey.
As an example, it's often read that Ford Motor did a survey about the *Aerocar ca. 1970 and was informed
by FAA that they could not manage the air traffic for a production run of 25,000 units per year.
The story goes that the Ford folks offered to make Aerocars if Moult could come up with orders for 500 units.
His survey found that there were only a few hundred potential buyers, so the deal fell through.
Nobody has responded to this website's surveys in over six years, so,
one might reasonably conclude that there is no market for StrongMobiles.
However, it may be that most potential users are simply waiting for an opportunity to buy one.
So, one might wonder what a good current mass media survey about StrongMobiles might show.

{ Ed.note: Although most of this website is a matter of showing how efficient Strongmobiles may be,
there is another aspect that must be mentioned that is devoid of logical "left-brain"
kinds of thinking. It is best summarized by reporting the way that AirVenture visitors
reacted to the mockup model. One person remarked that so many spectators seemed to be
awestruck, staring wistfully at the model for long times. I wonder what they were
dreaming of -- what they were imagining. I wonder what you are thinking of as you read this.
If you're like me, when I sit in my model and daydream of driving and flying, well....
take a look at the photo above of me sitting in the model. When I held the steering
wheel and looked out at the wings, I saw something that nobody had ever seen before.
The AirVenture fans who sat in the model seemed to be spellbound, so I waited quietly
for a few minutes for them to enjoy their daydreams. Whenever I do a presentation
about the project, there are a few people in the audience who react the same way.}

* Back to CONTENTS Menu


Feedback, Book Sale, Downloads, and CD Offer

Feedback

You can show your "gut reaction", Thumbs Up or Down, in the * Survey2
with your forecast of when the first ten thousand StrongMobiles will be in use
and/or your preferences for your StrongMobile in the *Full Survey.

Book Sale

This website information is now available in book form from your favorite bookseller (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)
for $69, with grey-scale grafics, titled THE STRONGMOBILE FLYING CAR PROJECT,
published by VDM/Verlag Dr. Muller, ISBN 978-3-639-16934-8, for 49.00 Euros.


D O W N L O A D S * A N D * P R O J E C T * C D

You can download and view a pdf file of these webpages as of summer 2010 in printable book format,
4.2 mb, 82 pages, 8.5" x11", with internet links and color graphics at *SDR31.pdf

You can Download cost, schedule, and technical calculations in an Excel spreadsheet at * Master Plan

You can download and view a MS * PowerPoint Slideshow (13 mb)

Just for fun, you can cut-out, make and fly a small paper model of a * StrongMobile Glider

You can download a video clip (2.2 mb, 2:00) showing a walkaround of the mockup
model in road mode in the hangarage and in flight mode at AirVenture at * newmovie.wmv

You can have a CD with the PowerPoint, spreadsheet, database, movie, and these *webpages in .pdf
for only $ 7 plus $3 S&H (Ohio residents add $.70 tax); send check or Money Order to *Rich.

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU

Busting the Myths - The Inventor's Opinions of a Dozen Common Fallacies

If you're curious about flying cars and surf the web for information about them, you'll
probably find many different pieces written by self-appointed "experts" on the subject.

One of the most-often searched-for websites about *Wikipedia/Flying Cars shows two kinds of them:
a) Flying car (fictional) and b) Flying car (aircraft). This website is dedicated to yet
another category, that is, c) Flying car (automobile), as different from "Roadable aircraft".
Please be assured, this website is not concerned with fictional " *Supercars" or "Batmobiles";
the designs that are shown are based on conventional automobile designs, while meshing with
standard aeronautical engineering and operation practices, without any limits on either mode.
You can note that even if you're really interested in "personal regional transportion systems", such
keywords will yield search results about mass transit systems such as suburban or short-range rail shuttles.

In many discussions about flying cars, a dozen rhetorical fallacies are often seen or heard, such as:

1) Fallacy: cars are too heavy to fly;
Opinion: While true for conventional cars, Strongmobiles are technically sound for adequate performance,
when designed with the usual aeronautical engineering methods within the state of the art,
to provide daily round trips between and within most regional city pairs.
Over the past few decades, the automotive industry has been working diligently to reduce the weight of
their products as a matter of fuel economy, which has paid off in terms of overall performance.
In the same period, engine power-to-weight ratios have increased significantly.
As an example of an automobile with excellent aerodynamic and mass properties,
you can see Bill Green and Craig Henderson's 1500 pound *Avion
You may notice that the Avion has exposed wheels, whereas Strongmobile wheels are covered.
You can see the mass properties estimates and calculations for StrongMobiles at
*Master Spreadsheet and *Calculations.
StrongMobiles are the only designs with lifting body technology, a critical distinction.

(More about this in the design section.)

StrongMobiles are NOT intended to be *Light Sport Aircraft, operators must have a Private Pilot Certificate.

2) Fallacy: "average" drivers are too dangerous to fly;
Opinion: True, but not a reason for blocking aircar use for some drivers who are safe. Most drivers are expected to
continue to use the current system of roadways as they are so convenient and easy to use.
The inventor expects most drivers cannot afford the cost of an aircar for personal use.
Licensed pilot-aviators are much better trained, regulated, and qualified than
"average" drivers (the inventor expects that perhaps 2% of drivers will use aircars); since
new pilots may expect to spend about $7,000 for flight and classrom instruction and *Biennial Aviation Medical Exams.
Instruction with Certificated Flight Instructors seems to weed out the unsafe students.
They may need learning to radio Air Traffic Control (*Air Traffic ), for *local airport and *Flight Plan, and
Biennial Flight Reviews with an FAA Certified Flight Instructor to join the ranks of the half million Private Pilots;
Bear in mind that, during WWII, hundreds of thousands of guys and gals were trained to fly,
although the casualties in training accidents were comparable to the losses
from combat. Commercial Pilots need to pass an annual Bruceton Stress Test and Airline pilots are required
to pass even more stringent regulations. Sport pilots are barely regulated, but their flying is
much more restricted. Ultralight pilots ditto. Many people are simply afraid to fly, as shown
by statistics that 90% of Americans have never set foot in any kind of aircraft.

[from AOPA Pilot] Studies have been done in the past on the value of flight simulation in GA training. The bottom line is that all have found they are effective. *Redbird is taking it to a new level. The students will become completely proficient in the maneuver or task in the simulator before ever touching an airplane. This concept is being taken so far that the company has received approval from the FAA for no minimum airplane time�for the private pilot certificate. It's not inconceivable that someone off the street could get a certificate with five hours in a real airplane.
A typical sour-grapes article about aircars is at *Evolution

On the other side, *The Center for Auto Safety acts as a "watchdog" activity.

3) Fallacy: the sky is too small for millions of aircars,
Opinion: control is adequate enough for thousands of aircars; you can see some of the *Flight Rules
There are currently about 200,000 general aviation aircraft in the U.S.; the inventor expects
to increase this number by about 100% within twenty years, to about half a million.
EAA AirVenture *air traffic control clearly shows how to control thousands of aircraft movements.
*Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems will enhance air traffic control.
Most flying is done in fair weather under Visual Flight Rules, "VFR", with pilots controlling
their flights by flying at specified altitudes such as 3,500 or 4,500 feet above Mean Sea Level,
"MSL", and using "see and avoid" rules, to avoid traffic and terrain collisions and clouds.
Electronic traffic collision avoidance systems that display other transponders would be helpful,
especially in high density areas such as the U.S. northeast region.

4) Fallacy: airplanes are too noisy to allow accessible airports;
Opinion: StrongMobiles are designed to be much quieter than conventional airplanes (77 PndB vs. 103) and
are expected to be only as noisy as conventional automobiles, due to the automotive muffling and ducted fan design.

The importance of this feature is described at *AOPA Noise;

5) Fallacy: aircars would cost too much;
Opinion: While the popular dream of "an aircar in every garage" may be unattainable,
the inventor believes that there does appear to be a viable niche market to justify development;
thousands of business travellers who make a half-dozen or so trips per month will believe that
avoiding their payroll and travel costs on a time basis plus profit gain will offset the costs of their StrongMobiles;
Strongmobile designs may provide more economical and superior performance when compared to
using automobiles and aircraft for regional business travel and for recreational travel.
Regional commuters may enjoy the convenience and speed of flying to and from workplaces and home.

See USA TODAY's *Flying Their Own Planes Saves Time and * NBAA Letter.
In addition to the core markets of business and government operators, production for
broader markets of recreational travellers and commuters may justify mass production.
plus some of the millions of millionaires who enjoy traveling and flying may use StrongMobiles; and

An easy read that summarizes business flying is at *Business

6) Fallacy: aircars are less than optimum airplanes or optimum cars;
"It's like trying to mate a pig and an elephant," says Lionel Salisbury, editor of the Roadable Times,
a website that has made him a de facto chronicler of roadable aircraft attempts.
"You don't get a very good elephant, or a very good pig."
William T. Piper Sr. was never concerned that the flying automobile would ever replace
lightplanes such as his famous Cub. He summed up his reasoning in his 1949 book Private Flying:
Today and Tomorrow:"Aerodynamics being what they are, the roadable plane is neither a good
plane nor a good automobile. In the air it is held back by an enormous amount of drag due to the
ungainly sedan body and automobile wheels. On the ground, the light weight essential for flying
works against its performance as an automobile, making it frail and flimsy in comparison with
ordinary cars."
A roadable Cub? Not likely.
More recently, Mark D. Moore, manager of the Personal Air Vehicle Exploration
Project at NASA's Langley Research Center, opined, "When you try to combine them, you get the
worst of both worlds: a very heavy, slow, expensive vehicle that's hard to use."

(Note that Mr. Moore is an advisor on the Transformer TX project for DARPA.)
In the *AOPA blog, Carl Dietrich of Terrafugia opined:"The Transition is not a Flying Car.
It is a Roadable Aircraft. You may think I�m being contentious in making that distinction,
but it is critically important to set expectations properly. This is not anyone�s vision of a
�flying car� as perpetuated by the media (including the title of this post);
a flying car is a pipe dream almost by definition at this point.
( Ed.: Enphasis added.)
The Editor of FLYING magazine replied to an invitation to visit this website as follows:
"bottom line flying cars are both bad cars and bad airplanes, just like floating cars are
bad cars and bad boats." Mac McClellan, Flying

Recently reported on the EAA website:"Mac McClellan and Flying magazine, the publication for
which he served as editor in chief since 1990, have parted ways over what McClellan described as
a philosophical disagreement with publisher Bonnier Corp." Mac will cover industry news for EAA.
Opinion: Mac does not identify what flying cars he refers to;
there are only three other projects that qualify as flying cars - ,*LaBiche FSC and *Sokol AFA 400 and maybe the*Haynes Skyblazer

Such thinking does not address the specific problem of reducing travel time on
frequent regional business trips and commuting. Airplanes cannot be driven around town and
automobiles are restricted to speed-limitted roads, pure and simple.
When you compare the simple Strongmobile transformation to the complex and slow
process used by pilot-drivers nowadays, it's reaslly a "no-brainer" to choose.

If you want a rigorous analaysis, then you would begin with an equation that presents a
balance of the benefits and penalties for the operation. You can think of the expense of
driving your Strongmobile with the wings and tail burdening and vice versa for flying
with the road drive and then evaluate the benefits of the time savings and compare it
to the alternative of flying and driving and transferring.

Legacy lightplane manufacturers tend to regard flyable automobiles as humorous, as
shown by * Cessna Tri-phibian
"If WHAT YOU KNOW about THE PROBLEM does NOT SOLVE the problem,
then WHAT YOU KNOW about THE PROBLEM is the real underlying problem."
Will Rogers said it this way:
"It's not that I don't know enough, but it's that I know too much that ain't so!"
Notice that none of the criticisms for flying cars in general gives any
specific criticisms of the StrongMobile designs in particular.
Rich concludes that there is a hidden agenda/message in this kind of critique,
that is, Strongmobiles appear unusual and ungainly, particularly when
they're in road mode, with the empennage standing out. Rich thinks this will be
acceptable to the potential users as a matter of individual distinction.

7) Fallacy: flying in small private airplanes is too dangerous;
Note: It's assumed that driving in cars is acceptably safe.
Opinion: Experienced business managers put a priority on safety, so they look at the U. S. historical data
that shows vehicles have about 1.54 fatal accidents per 100 million miles driven,
as compared to 22 fatal accidents per million hours flown in "general aviation".
However, flying StrongMobiles may be much safer in contrast to "general aviation",
whose statistics include hazardous activities such as bush flying, crop-dusting,
pipeline patroling, urban helicopters, antiques, warbirds, racing, and exhibition flying.
If you figure that airplanes average 150 miles per hour, [22 per 150 million miles]
then general aviation airplanes have a rate of
14 fatal accidents per 100 million miles flown, about 1 per 7 lifetimes.
So, you can conclude that driving is about 11 times safer than general aviation flying, that is
that is on a par with riding motorcycles, driving under the influence and/or while fatigued
and/or sleepy, or driving while using a cellular telephone.
The inventor was informed that about 25% of the cost of lightplanes is for liability insurance.
Flying Strongmobiles is expected to be much safer, when you consider their * safety features , for about half the rate.
The main safety feature, of course, is that flying avoids the hazards of driving.
A very small percentage of aviation accidents are attributed to *Drugged Pilots; fewer than one per day for all USA pilots, 1999-2003.
StrongMobile designs are intended to comply with US DOT Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Automobile crash testing is explained at *Mello article

The inventor knows of no system safety assessment reports for general aviation airplanes;
likewise, there is no known insurance analysis for either airplanes nor pilots.
The European ICAO requires a Safety Management System for aircraft weighing over 12,500 pounds.
The FAA reports that the majority of flight accidents are attributable to pilot error.
However, the Dayton Pilots Club uses a matrix to show risk of a specific flight.

If you assign a probability of 1:100 to the >31 risk and a value of $10M to loss of family,
then the dollar risk for such a flight would be around $100,000.
Note that the procedure uses simple addition of the various factors, as if they were totally
independent of one another. In reality, there may be significant interaction between them,
so that there may be multiple emergency combinations, "MECs", that call for multiplication,
rather than addition, of the factors by a probability of an interaction and a score for it.
A more detailed method is provided by the Air Safety Foundation's *Flight Risk Evaluator
Note that, although the ASF evaluation has 15 factors, they are also independent;
it does not have a factor for "NECESSITY", which Rich Strong feels is the most important factor.
The modelling methods described at *Strongware show a better way to assess risk.
An example is shown at *C25 XL spreadsheet

If you estimate production of Strongmobiles at 2,000 per year for 20 years,
flying 1,000 hours and driving 10,000 miles per year, then you could expect to have rates
around [20,000 Strongmobiles times 20,000 hours] 40 fatal accidents for unpredictable reasons,
(such as operators having cardiac arrests, falling asleep, birdstrikes, or altercations with passengers),
and a similar number of statistically predictable and preventable accidents, as described in *Ditty
Tom Haueter, director of the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety, says, while continuing to fly
into bad weather is a common error, running out of gas is also "way at the top."
National Transportation Safety Board officials say what baffles them is the frequency with
which pilots run out of gas. In the past five years, according to the NTSB, fuel exhaustion was
the cause or a factor in 238 small plane crashes in the U.S., killing 29 people.
You can read a typical story in a report by the National Transportation Safety Board, *NTSB
Maybe StrongMobiles should have an interlock between the fuel quantity gage and the Magic
button so it can only transform to flight mode if the fuel tanks are nearly full?
Looking ahead, you may consider *Computer Diagnostics
"The skies, like the seas, are terribly unforgiving of even the smallest mistakes."

8) Fallacy: The regulatory structure isn't set up right now for the mass distribution of such a vehicle;
Opinion: The legal requirements are quite clear, as shown by the aircars that have operated in the past.
They must be operated and maintained according to instructions, including *records of maintenance
(An example of what NOT to do is at *poor maintenance)
Dual licensing is required. Strongmobiles may be considered as either automobiles or as airplanes,
depending on the configuration. [If power fails during transformation with wings halfway spread and so on,
then maybe there will be questions, until power is restored.]

9) Fallacy: Aircars must have vertical take-off and vertical landing capability;
Opinion: Strongmobile designs are aimed at a minimally radical technology to fit into the
current travel systems, that is, roads and airports or runways, including sod airstrips.
There may be a limited market for VTOL aircars; however, the complexity, risk, and cost of
powered lift must be considered with the limitations of available safe portals, trained
operators and noise levels. There are no quiet VTOL aircraft known to the inventor.
The known technologies generate significant levels of downwash winds that require clear areas
for heliports that are almost as large as those required for STOL operations.
Helicopters usually make approaches and departures along paths that are similar to
airplane paths, that is, sloped; only rarely do they make truly vertical for very long.
[Note that the DARPA Transformer requirement is for a 1:6 slope for climb-out at sea level
and 1:10 otherwise; the latter figure is comparable to Strongmobile performance.]
The U.S. Coast Guard's "Interagency Helicopter Operations Guide" Chapter 8 is at *IHOG(pdf).
Braking a StrongMobile to a full stop at a moderate half G will require seven seconds and
360 feet; note that the required approach and hover space for a heliport is the same distance.
Given the requirement for approach zones in opposite directions, heliports are envisioned as
only slightly smaller than STOLports.
For cost comparison, Robinson Helicopters quotes a price of $250K USD for a two-place R22,
which does not include any road capability.

10) Fallacy: Flying is only for men;
While only 6% of current USA-licensed pilots are female, the inventor expects
StrongMobiles to have a much greater percentage of female operators.
Rich constantly checks with the beloved spouse, Rosa Maria, for opinions.

11) Fallacy: Most flying is done for fun.
Opinion: FAA records show that 3/4 of flying is for business.
When the inventor was washing planes to earn money for flight instruction at Detroit City Airport,
he noticed that the General Motors fleet had almost a hundred airplanes based there.


Rich queried EAA about using LSAs for business, to which EAA replied:
"In the preamble to the sport pilot and light sport aircraft regulation the FAA provided the following comment about this limitation: �Section 73 of proposed SFAR No. 89 stated that a sport pilot would be limited to sport and recreational flying only. Sport and recreational flying, however, was not specifically defined in the NPRM. That limitation is removed in the final rule and replaced with prohibitions against acting as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft when carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire, for compensation or hire, or in the furtherance of business. This change better describes those types of operations it intended to restrict when it proposed that a sport pilot would be limited to sport and recreational flying only.�

The Christian Science Monitor reported that Terrafugia expects to produce about 300 to 400 Transitions per year.

12) Fallacy: Airports make most of their income from renting hangars, tie-down space, and parking,
so flying cars replacing airplanes will make airports a money-loser.
Opinion: Landing and take-off fees, maintenance, training, and sales rentals may suffice.

It seems that the main conclusion that can be made is that there are generally three groups of
peoples' feelings about StrongMobiles: 1) some just don't get it; 2) some doubt and want
assurances; and 3) some really love it and want one of their own.
(Which group are you in?)

So, it seems that much of the literature is concerned with myths and half-truths that really
have no bearing on the reality of a practical flying car, so let's leave them behind and
look forward to the future. Here are some thoughts that come to mind.

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin

"Prediction is difficult...especially about the future." Niels Bohr

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." Mark Twain

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

"The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history"
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

" If you don't have a consensus that it is nonsense, you don't have a breakthrough." Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites

" Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail..." Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher

" Now, voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find.." Walt Whitman

Those who say, " It cannot be done!" should not interrupt the person who is doing it. Chinese Proverb

" When you design your aircraft, distort the specifications to be different!" Prof. Ed Lesher, U.Mich., Speed Record Pilot
(The inventor, true to his Detroit background, specified the maximum production, which led to an aircar.)

At the end of the movie,Back to the Future, Doc Brown says to Marty,

" Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."

" The greatest obstacle to scientific progress is the illusion of complete knowledge."
Prof. Disney, Hubble Telescope Committee

"Die you will when stop learning you do." Yoda in STAR WARS

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU

The Problem and a Solution

The problem is that most business people are located in hundreds of city-markets, with many that are 200 to 500 miles apart,
and even farther by fuel-wasting, time-wasting, congested, low-speed-limitted, grid-locked, zig-zaggy road routes,
or on islands surrounded by water without any road routes. If they wish to visit other businesses in a one-day trip, then
the question is, "How far away can you travel, out and back, by car in a day trip?" The answer is - "about 200 miles."
You may wish to drive the 200 to 500 miles and back in one day, but, the highway system is too slow
to allow you to fulfill your wish, and is
*Forecast to be even more congested and hazardous, more expensive, and slower.
Freight hauled by trucks in the U.S. is expected to nearly double by 2035, and
truck traffic is growing 11 times faster than road capacity.
The interstate system was made for defense trucks and other highways have not changed much.
So, if you need to go 200-500 miles, then you need to plan for a two-day trip, with an overnight
in a motel or hotel.
Business travellers and urgent cargo movers could increase their productivity and profitability, while
decreasing hassles by flying quickly between cities AND driving easily within them in one day.

If you want to avoid wasting "windshield time" and conversion time to get
more "face time", then you might think of flying as a quicker way to go.
There are thousands of nearly-empty small airports you could use to fly in nearly-empty skies;
however, most airports are located out of towns, so you will need some form of
road transportation, such as rental cars or taxis, to get to and from your destinations in
towns and suburbs, along with the hassle of transferring from car to plane and vice versa.
Airplane owners and renters still waste precious time, hassling from car to plane and vice versa, such as
parking, transferring baggage, renting and returning cars (if cars are available), and readying and securing their
airplanes, spending two to four hours in the processes, on average.
If their airplanes are really fast, doing over 200 knots, they may be able to travel out and back about 500 miles,
if they don't object to doing four conversions from car to plane and renting car and vice versa - quite a busy workday.
Airline travellers must deal with even more problems of scheduling, ticket cost, reservations, hub-and-spoke routing,
narrow seats, problem seatmates, overbooking, lost baggage, rental car costs, security queues, baggage restrictions,
being stuck on the tarmac for hours, and long-distance flights at hubs require linking trips from other locations.

WHAT IF your car had wings and could fly, so you could travel twice as fast and twice as far - 500 miles?
An optimum solution to the problem may be automatically transformable aircars that
combine the speed of airplanes and the convenience of cars,
trading the conversion hassles for pushes of your Magic button, with StrongMobiles.

You may like an introductory discussion about * Disruptive Technology
As progress continues in both the automotive and aviation fields, interest in
vehicles that can be used in both areas continues. Automobiles are becoming
lighter in weight, more efficient in propulsion, and more aerodynamic in shape.
Airplanes are becoming easier to fly, more efficient, and easier to navigate.
While the Interstate highway system is expected to provide a convenient but speed-limited
means for travelling between many areas during the next 20 to 40 years,
there will still be many other areas that remain hard-to-connect and/or require
long driving times. Furthermore, congestion on metropolitan freeways
continues to grow, so the 'cross-town' commute between suburbs calls for
problem-solving.

The main purpose of the Dragon aircar is to provide a single vehicle for
personal and business door-to-door transportation. In addition, the
value as a recreational travel vehicle is appealing to many of us.

The main pay-off for StrongMobile operators is a much more productive life time
resulting from much more frequent and personal interactions with their regional neighbors.
Strongmobile drivers may be identified by their Operating Areas, rather than by hometowns.

Typical users who might fly around a thousand hours per year will gain around
a thousand hours of productive lifetime per year, as contrasted to driving on roads.
( This is about an average of three 400-mile round trips per week.)
The underlying theme of the aircar is to trade off the high cruise speed of
the expensive fast aircraft for quicker and more convenient trips by reducing the
time lost in changing from automobile to airplane and vice versa.
A typical round-trip day trip with a radius of 420 miles to
destination is figured to take the same time via Strongmobile aircar cruising at
140 knots as with a 200 knot airplane or 500 knot airliner, due to the time
savings for conversion from road to air and vice versa. The figures are in a
spreadsheet and chart at *Trip Time Comparisons.

The graphic shows cumulative minutes on the left abscissa. The StrongMobile shows as the best way to go,
based on a very conservative performance estimate of 140 knots true airspeed (160 mph.)
You can get around 33 m.p.g. by cruising at around 100 knots; range will be 1,000 miles.
For a daily commute of 60 miles, cruising at 100 instead of 140 would add only ten minutes.


Obviously, a faster aircar would be desirable; however, the power required would be very expensive.
The rule of thumb shows that, for the same payload, drag, range, etc., power increases as the fifth power of the fractional
increase in speed. As an example, for 1.4x speed increase, power required is 1.4EXP5, 5 times as much power.
You could assume that the cost increase would be roughly the same kind of rule.
In contrast, even though automobiles are technically capable of faster speeds, the highway
system is limited to the same speeds of a half-century ago and there are no plans to make
autobahn-type unlimited speedways available in countries other than Germany.

For a comparison with driving six days a week for a maximum usage, using a
Strongmobile would avoid wasting 4 hours per trip, times 300 trips = 1,200 hours per years.
This allows for week-end recreational flying, maintenance, and weather,
assuming that the pilot is instrument rated. Assuming a load factor where
40% of the trips are by the pilot only and 60% include a passenger, for a
factor of 1.6, this gives 1,920 hours per year. Figuring the value of the users
at about $100 per hour, the savings amount to about $192,000 per year
as compared to driving. From this, one should subtract maintenance,
such as engine overhaul and the difference in fuel costs.
Maintenance such as engine biennial overhaul may be estimated
at about $40,000. One may assume a fuel cost of $3 per gallon for aviation fuel or
premium automotive fuel, fuel burn rates of 2 gallons per hour while driving
and 7 gallons per hour for flying. This results in $6 per hour for driving and
$21 per hour for flying. Fuel costs for driving would be 10 hours at $3 per hour,
or $30. Fuels costs for flying would be 6 hours at $30 per hour, or $180.
The difference would then be $150 per round trip. The annual fuel cost
difference would then be $150 times 300 trips, or $45,000. This would then
result in a net savings of $192,000 - $40,000 - $45,000 = $107,000.
The value of the time savings would quickly provide recouping the investment
in leasing or buying an aircar in about two years.
The underlying benefit of business opportunities should also be considered.
The aircar may replace the automobile to a large degree, saving on that expense.

The ultimate benefits are that the aircar provides: an increased radius of travel
for business; or shorter workdays to provide more personal quality time; or
more time for vacation travel. You can figure out the times for your trips and
see how much time you would save if you used an aircar instead of only driving
your automobile. You can work out the cost comparisons for an aircar versus
a combination of a car and a plane. Needless to say, there are many obvious
side benefits to having an aircar instead of frequently switching from car to
airplane and vice versa. The pure recreational benefits of using an aircar are
a bonus. Development and production of the "Magic Dragon" aircar is
considered to be a viable enterprise that would satisfy a niche market and
provide a profitable venture for an extensive period of time. Ultimately, this
may involve several thousands of aircars in use within several years.

Aircar technology is "expanding and will soon be exploding,"
says Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center.
Flying cars are "not only feasible but inevitable," states Bushnell.
Behind their development are three driving factors/desires, need and technology.
For starters, "people want these things," says Bushnell, who was constantly reminded of that
fact while lecturing on the topic for about 15 years and being repeatedly asked by attendees
about where they can purchase one. He said:
"...And as for the need for aircars, our heavily congested highways attest to that on an everyday basis."

The growth in residential airpark communities continues as shown by * Airparks
By law, each of Ohio's counties has a local airport. You can see a recent change to rules at * FAA Through-the-fence letter.

A recent post to the CNN Money story puts some humorous perspective on the situation, by "Truckboy":
"This is a ridiculous idea. Why would anyone want to pack their luggage into one of these vehicles in the comfort of their own garage? Then totally miss the thrill of getting nearly naked at airport security? And what sort of benefit are we really talking about anyway. Traffic is kinda fun. I got stuck in holiday traffic last weekend and did 25 miles in 3 hours. Why would anyone want to bypass that and travel 350 miles in 3 hours? I say no way. I'll meet my friends in Nantucket the old fashion way...2 hour drive to wait 45 minutes for the 3 hour ferry, to wait 45 more minutes to offload, to drive another 30 to the house. Hey, does this thing have cupholders or what?"
(Yes, the mockup model does have cupholders.)

You can view a satirical report about automaker attitudes at * Onion News (2 minutes)

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU

 

Background

The StrongMobile AirCar Transport System, SMACTS, is intended initially for frequent, regional VIP
business travellers. It is expected to be quicker, quieter, more cost-effective, more convenient, and safer with
more freedom and less hassle than other current systems. The SMACTS is based upon the StrongMobile
as the vehicle subsystem that could fit into the existing aeronautical and highway systems.
StrongMobile operators are free to select their schedules and routes to suit their own requirements, without
wasting time to change modes from road to air travel and vice versa.
Instead of coping with airport terminals or hangars, they can simply transform
from one mode to another with the push of their Magic button.
The main objective is to provide maximum value to society, that is, production of units,
annual seat-miles of travel, travel time avoided, accidents avoided, and enhanced qualities of life.
StrongMobile operators can open the doors to many trips that are beyond their reach with traditional ways.
The shortest distance between two places avoids wasting time and fuel.

The following maps show typical 420 nautical mile day trip radii.




The inventor, *Rich Strong, retired Air Force Command Pilot and Aerospace Engineer,
has been developing the design for over fifty years in his spare time.
He will welcome any developers to take over the lead of the project for the next phase
of designing and building and testing the prototype and production versions of the
StrongMobiles for a potential market of thousands of operators who could avoid millions
of wasted hours while driving and changing modes and a billion-dollar industry.
A developer may act as system integrator and work with sub-contractor/partners who develop the
various subsystems, such as: chassis, suspension, power train, interior, flight surfaces, and so on.

You can estimate that, for each hour that you spend flying, you can save an hour, compared to driving.
You can also estimate that you can extend your driving distance by flying twice as fast to go twice
as far in the same time, so you can expand your territory by a factor of four times as extensive.
The wrap-around cost plus profit of typically $100 per hour for each of the two
pilots flying about 1,000 hours per year will more than pay for the cost of the StrongMobile in
a little over one year of use, so the net overall expense is revenue neutral. After the payback period,
the StrongMobile becomes a tool for increasing revenues and profits. Organizations that acquire
their StrongMobiles on a lease basis may realize benefits within a few months.
Many government organizations will undoubtedly find various uses for StrongMobiles, including defense.
Organizations may operate fleets to provide charter transportation for employees and clients.
Export markets will undoubtedly be valuable and further increase potential sales and uses.

As development and production for business travelers proceed and start-up costs are amortized,
investors and manufacturers may choose to expand markets by cutting prices, so
other aircar users, such as commuters and recreational travelers, may enjoy operating StrongMobiles.

However, even though thousands of people have seen presentations by the inventor at professional
meetings or have visited the website, no potential developers have contacted the inventor.


You should note that the basic patents, 2,923,494 and 3,612,440, have long since expired and that all of
the patent information on this website is in the public domain, so anyone may use it.
The actual text and sketches are copyrighted, so you should request permission to copy.
(However, there is much that is not included herein; the inventor would be pleased to provide consultant service.)

While many travelers may be contented with driving their cars on short trips and using airliners for long trips,
many others will feel that they are still lacking an efficient way of travelling routine medium trips. Many, if not most, pilots
must be content with renting or leasing an airplane to fly and then renting a car at the destination. As one wag said it,
"Airplanes can take you from a place where you don't want to be to another place where you don't want to be.".

A realtor website *realtor website reports: "....A recent study by the National Association of REALTORS�
concluded that a major factor in selecting a home was commuting distance from work.
So where would people choose to live if they could travel 150 to 300 miles in an hour?
Would they live in different states from their employers, different countries, or settle in remote areas?...."

Likewise, business industrial parks may benefit from having an aircarport nearby.

The high cost and inconvenience of flying airplanes discourages potential airplane owners and pilots who would
prefer to use an attractive, reasonable, and practical aircar. Much of the inconvenience has been designed out of the
StrongMobile aircars, such as dealing with tie-downs, wheel chocks, using step-stools to check fuel, using steps and
handholds for entry and exit, only one cabin door, noisy too-narrow cabins with no air, steering with feet, left and right
brake pedals, anxiety about rough landings, towbars and towing machines, elaborate engine displays and controls,
and so on, and that lethal propeller spinning around. (See an example at *Prop accident).

You might be wondering what a pure airplane version of a Magic Dragon would be like.
You can imagine removing the road drive from a StrongMobile, along with the transaxle.
The removal would avoid the cost and weight to the tune of several thousand dollars and
about 300 pounds. The bumper-tail would be unnecessary, so that could be simplified to
save or avoid more cost and weight.
The wing could be simplified to eliminate the stowage and be made fixed;
this would also eliminate the wing bay stowage door magic. Ditto the tailplane tip magic.
The fan clutch can be replaced with a simple direct drive.
So, the end result would be a very nice airplane.

Looking at Simplifying Obsolete Aviation Practices, "SOAP to cleanup messy chores", much of this inconvenience could be
eliminated easily. (Question: When was the last time you checked for water in your car's fuel system?
Answer: Never, the fuel has additives to absorb the water.)
The other side of the coin also has drawbacks, as in * Dragon Driver Ditty , where the perils
of bad weather are contrasted to the perils of the highways (impaired drivers, obstacles,
and so on), to be sung to the tune of "If you're happy...clap your hands.

The modern highway system is equivalent to a modern Utopia where one size fits all, regardless of the individual
requirements of travelers. Given the biological limits of humans, such as the need for rest stops and sleep, and the
available modes of transport, the distances to be traversed within those limits oftentimes do not permit reasonable travel.
Many potentially valuable and desirable trips are simply not made, but could be made with a StrongMobile

In the past, about a hundred different designs for "roadable airplanes" or "flying cars" have been patented;
a few were built and operated. However, they required rather awkward and time-consuming ways to transform from car to
plane and vice versa. Most of them left their wings and tail at the airport, while others dragged them behind as trailers.
In contrast to a 'roadable airplane', the inventor defines an 'aircar' as a fully integrated airplane and automobile, with
automatic transformation. Details of the "magic" are described in * Preliminary Design.

At a recent meeting of several aircar developers led by Stephen Cook of C.F.C. LLC near Detroit,
the host, Alexander "Sandy" Munro, asked why they thought the time was ripe for aircars. The inventor replied that
the availability of technology such as low-cost, high power, lightweight, fuel efficient engines opened doors; others mentioned
the increasing need for door-to-door regional travel. This inventor was gratified to hear Sandy remark,
after viewing the various presentations, that the Dragon was the only crashworthy design .

The * SYSTEM MANAGEMENT PLAN provides for bringing a new group of people into aviation,
rather than relying only on the traditional group. However, it should be mentioned that the automotive and aeronautical
industries in the U.S.A. appear to be highly specialized nowadays and seem reluctant to engage in producing vehicles
that require "cross-over" technologies, such as aircars, due to regulatory restrictions and liability concerns. Of course, as a
Professional Engineer specializing in System Safety, the inventor intends to comply with the regulations.
[ * Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and * Federal Aviation Regulations]
More on this is at: * Safety, Risk Management, and Legal Aspects;

The observation that traditional vehicle makers show such little interest in aircars may be a blessing in disguise,
since it reduces the competition for the fresh start-up business. Therefore, it's more likely that far-sighted entrepreneurs will
lead the production, particularly in foreign countries. Perhaps the military will see a potential for using a general-purpose
utility vehicle for liaison, as a "Dual-Use Program", thus providing for a valuable defense asset while satisfying a viable
civilian market. Until such time as developers emerge, the main activity will continue to be concentrated on the website
program. Responses to the TACRA survey may identify both potential kit builders and users and potential factory-built
Dragon buyers. The inventor recognizes the simple fact, based on the current indications, that the survey results may
indicate a non-zero probability of an empty set, that is, there may not be a viable market for aircars after all.

Thomas Kuhn wrote about the paradigm shift process in his book, * THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION,
wherein he describes how people first reject a new idea (denial), then oppose change (delusion), and finally, when the idea
succeeds, say that they knew all along that it was a good idea (decision).
One may assume that StrongMobile developments will follow the same process.

Therefore, in view of the success of the home-built kit movement, it seems only logical that the initial
cadre will be composed of folks who would make their own Dragons, either by themselves or in teams. Reports indicate that
there have been no liability lawsuits for homebuilt aircraft, since the builders assume the liability for their creations.
The advantage of this would be that many minds working together will come up with better products.

For more background, read * History

Back to * MENU


A Typical Operation

When people ask, "What will a StrongMobile do for me?", the inventor's answer is in terms of the design specifications for
making a medium-range day trip. Annual utilization is envisioned as 1,000 flight hours, flying 20 hours on three days per
week, plus monthly weekend vacation trips. The road mileage is estimated as a dozen or so twenty-mile trips per week, for
an annual milage of about 12,000 miles. You can compare it to making an automobile trip in the same times
covering less distance. Some operators might fly as much as twice this.

The graphic shows cumulative minutes on the left abscissa.

The standard StrongMobile trip is defined as a one-day 500-mile radius combination of road and flight modes in phases:


1. [ 7:30] Pre-planning in road mode and inspection at home;
2. [ 8:00] Drive to home airport;
3. [ 8:30] Transformation from road to flight mode (pre-flight checks);
4. [ 8:35] Flight to destination airport and refuel (140 knots true/161 mph for about 420 nautical miles;
(With an average wind at cruising altitude of 6,000 feet of about 20 knots, the actual groundspeed for a round trip would be
about 155 mph, for a 30-knot wind, GS would be 148 mph, and so on.)
5. [11:40] Transformation to road mode;
6. [11:45] Drive to business destination;
7. [12:15] (Lunch) Conduct business or recreation for a couple of hours;
8. [14:15] Drive to destination airport and refuel;
9. [14:50] Transformation to flight mode;
10. [14:55] Flight to home airport;
11. [17:55] Transformation to road mode and refuel; and
12. [18:00] Drive to home by 18:30.

You can get around 33 m.p.g. by cruising at around 100 knots; range will be 1,000 miles.

THE STRONGMOBILE IS IDEAL FOR TRIPS WITH MULTIPLE DESTINATIONS AND TRANSFORMATIONS,
SUCH AS A ROUND ROBIN WITH TWO OR THREE DESTINATIONS..

    • 1. [ 7:30] Pre-planning and inspection at home;
    • 2. [ 8:00] Drive to home airport and Transform;
    • 3. [ 8:35] Fly to destination A airport 140 KTAS for 210 air miles;
    • 4. [10:05] Transform and drive to destination A;
    • 5. [10:40] Conduct business or recreation for 1 hour;
    • 6. [11:40] Drive to destination A airport and refuel and Transform;
    • 7. [12:15] Fly to destination B airport 140 KTAS for 210 air miles;
    • 8. [13:45] Transform and drive to destination B;
    • 9. [14:20] Conduct business or recreation for 1 hour;
    • 10. [15:20] Drive to destination B airport and refuel and Transform;
    • 11. [15:55] Fly to home airport 140 KTAS for 210 air miles;
    • 12. [17:25] Transform to road mode and refuel; and
    • 13. [18:00] Drive to home in time for supper.

Many trips that cannot be done within schedule and budget constraints
with non-aircar technology may be made easily with StrongMobiles.

For longer flights, such as overnight, or 3-day trips, insert refueling stops between steps
4 and 5 and again between steps 9 and 10. The fuel tanks can hold 40 gallons, for an
endurance of five hours at a 8 gal/hr burn rate.

For long-range planning and operational analysis, you can consider your personal situation
and develop and use various plans, such as this.

For comparisons of various modes of travel, you may go to * Triptimes or
download an Excel spreadsheet and do your own comparisons at
* Tripcalcs

Looking at it from another viewpoint, users may use the same time and extend
their range of operations. As an example, if one spends six hours a day in travelling
by car to go on a 180-mile round trip, then he or she could extend the range to
a round trip of over 420 miles, with reserves. The operating area is thereby quadrupled.

According to K. P. Rice, quoted in ROADABLE TIMES, "Statistics indicate that the average pilot
does not fly enough to maintain proficiency in all types of weather. However, with a flying
car, the pilot can drive to the airport, take off, fly up to the edge of a weather system, land,
drive to the other side of it, continue flight to his destination airport, and then drive the car
to his final destination." Magic Dragon Drivers may use combination trips to have flexibility in
selecting airports with flyable weather at any step in their travel plans.

A comparison of environmental impact in terms of fuel between travelling by Dragon
or by car and faster airplane, where the Dragon takes five minutes to convert and the
car and plane takes a half hour to change shows another benefit. For the same
door-to-door time, the Dragon saves time in conversion with a little electrical energy
versus the faster airplane that burns much more fuel to save the same time.
It's like the old fable of the race between the hare and the tortoise or the
current "hurry up and wait" comments. As an example, for the typical trip
described above, the Dragon at 140 and the fast airplane at 200, the
power required increases dramatically. The standard calculation shows the difference
as about [200/140]exp5 = about SIX TIMES as much power required, with a
corresponding increase in fuel usage.

As progress continues in both the automotive and aviation fields, interest in
vehicles that can be used in both areas continues. Automobiles are becoming
lighter in weight, more efficient in propulsion, and more aerodynamic in shape.
Airplanes are becoming easier to fly, more efficient, and easier to navigate.
While the Interstate highway system is expected to provide a convenient
means for travelling between many areas during the next 20 to 40 years,
there will still be many other areas that remain hard-to-connect and/or require
long driving times. Furthermore, congestion on metropolitan freeways
continues to grow, so the 'cross-town' commute between suburbs calls for
problem-solving.

The main purpose of the Magic Dragon aircar is to provide a single vehicle for
personal and business door-to-door transportation. In addition, the
recreational value as a sport vehicle is appealing to many of us.
The underlying theme of the aircar is to trade off the high cruise speed of
the fast small aircraft for quicker and more convenient trips by reducing the
time lost in changing from automobile to airplane and vice versa. Likewise,
the aircar trades off the typical automobile's capacity for airplane
components. A typical round-trip day trip with a radius of 420 miles to
destination is figured to take the same time via Magic Dragon aircar cruising at
140 knots as with a 200 knot airplane or 500 knot airliner, due to the time
savings for conversion from road to air and vice versa. The figures are in a
spreadsheet and chart at
*Trip Time Comparisons.

For a comparison with driving six days a week for a maximum usage, using an
aircar would save 4 hours per trip, times 300 trips = 1,200 hours per years.
This allows for week-end recreational flying, maintenance, and weather,
assuming that the pilot is instrument rated. Assuming a load factor where
40% of the trips are by the pilot only and 60% include a passenger, for a
factor of 1.6, this gives 1,920 hours per year. Figuring the value of the users
at about $100 per hour, the savings amount to about $192,000 per year
(less maintenance such as engine overhaul) as compared to driving. From this,
one should subtract maintenance such as engine overhaul and the difference
in fuel costs. Maintenance such as engine biennial overhaul may be estimated
at about $40,000. One may assume a fuel cost of $3 per gallon for aviation fuel or
premium automotive fuel, fuel burn rates of 2 gallons per hour while driving
and 7 gallons per hour for flying. This results in $6 per hour for driving and
$21 per hour for flying. Fuel costs for driving would be 10 hours at $3 per hour,
or $30. Fuel costs for flying would be 6 hours at $30 per hour, or $180.
The difference would then be $150 per round trip. The annual fuel cost
difference would then be $150 times 300 trips, or $45,000. This would then
result in a net savings of $192,000 - $40,000 - $45,000 = $107,000.
The value of the time savings would quickly provide recouping the investment
in leasing or buying an aircar in about two years.
The underlying benefit of business opportunities should also be considered.
The aircar may replace the automobile to a large degree, saving on that expense.
Your StrongMobile expenses may qualify for tax reductions; AOPA has info
about this on its website at
*AOPA Business Tax Info

The ultimate benefits are that the aircar provides: an increased radius of travel
for business; or shorter workdays to provide more personal quality time; or
more time for vacation travel. You can figure out the times for your trips and
see how much time you would save if you used an aircar instead of only driving
your automobile. You can work out the cost comparisons for an aircar versus
a combination of a car and a plane. Needless to say, there are many obvious
side benefits to having an aircar instead of constantly switching from car to
airplane and vice versa. The pure recreational benefits of using an aircar are
a bonus. Development and production of the StrongMobile aircar is
considered to be a viable enterprise that would satisfy a niche market and
provide a profitable venture for an extensive period of time. Ultimately, this
may involve several thousands of aircars in use within several years.
The StrongMobile is considered to be a viable candidate for the flight trainer
market, even without any road drive, because it can provide a introduction
to flying with a familiar setup similar to a conventional automobile.


If you routinely fly on one-day trips where you do not need the baggage capacity,
then you can have an auxiliary fuel tank installed, so you can go out and back
without stopping to refuel.

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU


The StrongMobile Aircars

The inventor's background as a worker in the automobile industry, as an aircraft mechanic in the Naval Air Reserve,
as a Command Pilot and Aerospace Engineer in the Air Force, and as an instrument rated Commercial Pilot gives him a
broad view of the personal transportation scenario.
The development story is described at
* History

When the inventor was studying Aero Engineering, his instructor, Ed Lesher (world lightplane speed record holder)
admonished students to "distort the specifications", that is, design something different. This inventor, having been born
and raised in Detroit, chose to emphasize the potential production quantity as the primary driver. His preliminary design of
an aircar was graded "A+". The design was the basis for the second patent, #3612440, the predecessor of the StrongMobile.
The inventor then decided to improve the design to incorporate a complete automobile aspect, rather than
being limitted to a roadable airplane design. This change required many redesigns to accomodate the
additional weight of COTS automotive components, such as road drive and suspension.
The design was re-named "Magic Dragon".
(Not to be confused with the non-magical deHavailland/Hawker/Beech DH125 "Jet Dragon", nor the "Sky Dragon" blimp.)
Several folks asked the inventor why he calls the mock-up of the StrongMobile the 'Magic Dragon'.
He explained that, since all of the more obvious names had already been used previously by others,
he recognized that the fanjet blows out of the gills and flying dragons are the only critters that have four legs and wings.,
so he decided to call it "Puff, the Magic Dragon".
Persons who operate the Dragons may think of themselves as "Dragon Drivers" or "Dragon Masters".
(Note: This also avoids confusion with mythical creatures such as Bellerophon, Devadatta, Burak, or an oil company's mascot.)

The sketches at "Current Design Views" show the license and registration as "N142MD"; the "142" sums up the essence
of the StrongMobile as one "1" vehicle for "4" two "2" modes of travelling, both driving and flying, without any changing of
seats or baggage from one vehicle to another and back again. Likewise, the StrongMobile logo, in the form of an Oriental
ouri-bouri symbol, shows the flying and rolling modes working together as a system, where there are some flying aspects
in the rolling and vice versa.

The main design desiderata for the Magic Dragon are that it should be simple, safe, convenient, and attractive.
The last item is considered to be a parameter that is impossible for the designer to measure, since, like beauty,
this is in the mind of the potential users.
"Handsome is as handsome does" seems to be appropriate.
As an example, the StrongMobile half-scale model has brought out
exclamations of "Way Cool!- Good Luck!" from the many folks who have seen it.

While the true beauty of the StrongMobiles can only be experienced in actual operation,
the design that provides the operation is very unique.

Briefly, a two-seat StrongMobile trades the two rear seats of a typical automobile for its flight components,
or, said another way, it trades the two seats of a four-seat airplane for the added weight of the road components.
In the same way, the four-seat version trades off two seats of a six-seat airplane for road components or two seats of a
six-seat automobile for aircraft components. Thus, the users can pay just as much cost and burn twice the gas to carry
half the payload in half the time, with freedom to choose their own times and places and door-to-door convenience.
(Note: at about 20 m.p.g; no data is available for cars m.p.g. at 160 m.p.h. for comparison.
Can you imagine driving on an Interstate Highway at 160 miles per hour?!)

While it's relatively simple to set down the desired performance, the task of designing a machine that has a good chance
of achieving this performance is quite another thing.
(Even though the inventor was a member of Mensa and Intertel,
and had the help of many mentors stretching back to the beginnings of inventing, the design has been under study for
several decades on a spare time basis, due to the problems involved.)

The main features of the Magic Dragon are that:
1) it is a fully integrated automobile and airplane that carries its wings and tail with it; and
2) transformation between airplane and automobile modes may be done with a push of a button, like magic.
The process is described in the link to the part about "PRELIMINARY DESIGN OVERVIEW".


The main consideration for the center of mass is that it be located midway
between the front and rear wheels AND that it be slightly forward of the wing.
The key element of aerodynamic stability and control is that speed is
determined by the balance of weight versus aerodynamic force trim, rather than engine
power, as with an automobile, while engine power determines rate of climb or descent.
This requirement is shown in the engineering calculations page.
and in the sketch of the StrongMobile in flight configuration,
with the centers of pressure shown.

Engine and road drive design is driven by the requirement for heavy-duty 'workhorse' operation with high availability
and minimum maintenance. The use of converted automobile engines and drive trains that can go for 100,000 miles
between scheduled maintenance actions (other than Lube, Oil, and Filter) is highly desired for maximum availability.

The propulsion controls and instruments are simplified to eliminate traditional aircraft items such as magneto switches,
mixture controls, primer controls, propeller pitch controls, carburetor heat, cowl flap controls, and so on.
The Subaru conversions, by
* Eggenfellner
give excellent fuel efficiency of 0.3 lbs/hp/hr. Mr. Eggenfellner has replied to the inventor's query about suitability of his
engines for StrongMobiles to the effect that they would "fit nicely."
Another candidate might be a Diesel engine that would provide reduced fuel fire hazard
and greater chemical efficiency, such as the
*Delta Hawk
Other more powerful potential engines for the four-seat StrongMobiles are the
*Vesta LS1/2 conversions.
Other automobile engine conversions are described at
*CONTACT! magazine


The ducted fan is bifurcated to exhaust along the sides of the body and the wing root, so
the top and bottom of the body are not exposed to the jetwash and so have less drag.
You can see that the 3' x 5' "bellmouth" maw provides the equivalent of a 4' diameter duct;
the fan will reduce the static pressure on the maw and so increase the net thrust.
(If this creates unacceptable fan vibrations, then a more circular design may be used.)

The fan may be adapted or custom-made COTS by manufacturers such as * AeroComposites.

The enclosed fan is expected to reduce the noise level from about
107 pndB for a conventional propeller to about 70 pndB.
A conventional off-the-shelf automotive muffler system will be used.

An adapter from the engine to the fan and the road drive shaft is required and must be developed. The drive train uses
a drive shaft from the engine to the rear wheels transaxle.
The Subaru engine drives all four wheels; the front wheel drive may be disconnected to save weight.
An alternative is the Corvette transaxle, which has an excellent record, costs about $3,000, and weighs about 250 pounds.
Similar mechanisms may be adequate.

Back to * MENU


Current StrongMobile Design 3-Views & Data Sheets

The following sketches display the basic StrongMobile Magic Dragon and several variants.
The basic two-place design may be tailored to fit the needs of various operators, while
sharing common elements of design for economies of scale.


During take-off, the tail provides a temporary down force to raise the nose and generate body lift for flight.


Shorter Take-Off & Landing versions are feasible for those who desire more utility.



Operators may choose to use two Dragons for many jobs that require four seat capacity
or use the four-seat version; however, the design and development of the four-seat version
is considered to be a challenging venture.
For those who need more capacity, a six-cylinder, four-seat stretched version may satisfy.


For those who need four-seat capacity AND STOL capability, a bi-plane version.

Those who have a need for speed may like the SpeeDragon concept.

For the ultimate concept, a six-place limousine/camper/cargo version.

Since StrongMobiles may be especially well-suited for islanders to use, the risk of frequent
over-water flying and associated hazards should be considered. Hazards such as unforecast
foul weather closing airports and emergency landing sites and engine and/or electrical failure
and unavoidable ditching lead to requirements for controllable water landing and survival.
In addition to islanders, there are many congested urban areas where the best and sometimes
the only empty space for landings is on water such as rivers or lakes.
The inventor has been designing a variation of the Magic Dragon two-place StrongMobile that
may use inflatable hulls that may provide survivable ditching, as shown.
You can see the technology at
*Inflatable Floats.
The deflated and stowed floats would be inflated on demand from a gas bottle.
(This may lead to future triphibian Dragons that could launch and land on water.)

A variant was conceived for the *Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Transformer Project
that incorporated wing-mounted lift fans, as with the
*Trek fan to achieve VTOL performance.
DARPA desire is to power the fans electrically with ring-type motors,
rather than pneumatically, as was done in the unsuccessful Ryan XV-5
* Vertifan ; and the *Rockwell XFV-12 .
However, the electrical power system required may be problematical.

Note that the design may also incorporate the inflatable hulls for triphibious operations.

Back to * MENU


A Vision of the Future

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
Robert Browning

Once you have tasted flight,
You will forever walk the earth,
With your eyes turned skyward,
For there you have been,
And there you will always long to return.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Although no developers have shown any interest yet, you may imagine being in the
near future when they do home-build or custom-build or mass-produce StrongMobiles.

The following story assumes that the inevitable has occurred and developers and
manufacturers make StrongMobiles available for you to buy, lease, rent and use.

You can imagine there are many people who wouldn't think of climbing aboard a small airplane,
but who would have no problems in getting into an aircar that looks, sounds, and feels like their own cars
(except for all those added instruments and controls on the dash).

For flying, you can fold the top half of the steering wheel back and down onto the lower half and see the panel better.
The top center display panel shows the area forward and downward during descent and approach via CCTV or
* FLIR

Maybe you are an experienced pilot/aviator, or maybe you tried the usual flying and gave it up due to the
hassle and inconvenience, or, maybe you are a busy traveler and have been attracted to flying and
driving instead of only driving all day and some nights.
You looked over the website and then got a demo ride in a StrongMobile and then signed up as a launch customer
when you compared your current business travel with the advantages of using a Dragon. You bought or leased
a StrongMobile from your dealer or maybe it's in your organization's fleet. Maybe your StrongMobile has a
Commercial Off-The-Shelf, COTS, chassis from your favorite car manufacturer, with purpose-built airplane parts
from your favorite airplane manufacturer.
Perhaps you and your team of a dozen or so
Dragon Drivers have built your fleet of StrongMobiles from kits either at your team factory or at the regional
StrongMobile factory with quick-build set-ups.
Maybe your group has contracted with a custom builder to make some StrongMobiles.
You have been trained in the systems and operations and practiced in a simulator.
You're used to the people gawking at your 'jet car', with notions of 'leaving on a jet plane'.
Now you have the freedom to simply get into your StrongMobile
at home or work and perform much of the pre-flight in your 'hangarage' out of
the weather, since it's less than twenty feet long and eight feet wide.
You do your flight planning, check for Temporary Flight Restrictions, "TFRs", on the web
at
*TFRs, and with your Flight Service Station.
You can load your passenger and about 130 pounds of baggage or cargo or special purpose equipment.
If you're travelling light with no baggage, you and your passenger could weigh up 260 pounds each.
If you're travelling solo, you could flip up the right seat and load an extra 195 pounds in the unobstructed space available.

The system design recognizes that the majority of business trips, around 80%,
are made with only one or two people at a time. If your organization optimizes their travel system, you
may combine two StrongMobiles flying and driving together and provide for four people in a trip.

Perhaps you and your spouse have your own two-seat StrongMobiles so you can do your own things separately and,
whenever the occasion calls for both of you traveling to the same places, you can travel together with your kids.

If you're operating the four-seat StrongMobile, then you can load up two more passengers and their baggage,
or you can remove or flip up the rear seats and load up their equivalent in cargo, about 400 pounds.

You can drive with your companion or your cargo to your local airport or
organizational airstrip or private road, since you only need a quarter mile of runway.
Maybe you have made your own
*airstrip.
You feel right at home, with the familiar conventional automobile controls and feeling.
You can do your engine checks as you drive and warm up the engine and cabin
(or cool it with the
* air conditioner).
You could file your
*Flight Plan via cell phone with FAA at home before you leave.
You could use one of the electronic flight planning systems, such as
*PocketFMS

Many of the thousands of public-use airports may be within ten to twenty miles
of your home base; perhaps you have access to the many private or corporate airstrips.
Eventually, you may use a Strongmobile Quiet Aircarport like this, nearby a business park, or
entertainment or sports park. An application for making one is at
* FAA 7460-1
Aircarports may be located adjacent to highways, "highway to runway to airway" and v.v.

You can imagine that business users would have places for package delivery, such as UPS, FedEx, Rush, and so on.
The parallel STOL runways could accomodate hundreds of movements on a daily basis, with minimum conflicts.
The X-plan runways minimize the need for *Cross-wind Landings
You can see the regulations about obstructions at
*Part 77 slideshow
When you arrive there in the run-up area, you can turn off the engine, then, like a magician,
push your StrongMobile FLY button to transform your car into an airplane.
You may hear the electrical actuators and motors humming and the solenoid
locks clicking into place, the wings spreading and unfolding, the tailplane spreading,
the flaps lowering, the wing bay doors closing, the rear bumper changing into a
streamlined fairing, and the front bumper raising, all in about one minute.
Now your StrongMobile is in the Duplex Mode configuration.
The "Magic" not only transforms the aircar from automobile into airplane,
but it also allows you, a car driver, to transform from car driver into pilot-aviator.
(You should do a walk-around inspection of the flight locks, just to make
absolutely sure that the green light on the FLY button is showing the truth and
to feel the natural winds and see the sky all around.)
You move the gearshift lever into Neutral, then over to the Fan position to
engage the fan and re-start the engine and notice the jet breeze coming from the outlet nozzles.
You lower the rudder pedals and move the upper half of the steering wheel so you have a clear view of the
instruments and controls. You place your left hand on the throttle and line up for take-off.
You apply max power, engage the friction lock, and accelerate to take-off speed.
You place your feet on the rudder pedals and shift your right hand from the steering wheel to the center control stick.
When your airspeed indicates around 70 knots, you ease back on the stick to raise the nose and
feel your Strongmobile hunker down from the load and drag on the tail, then, as the nose rises,
you feel the body lift take effect, ease off the back pressure, and feel the wings lift force making your take-off.

When you have your climb rate established, you can raise up the wheels and wing flaps.
When you see the green lights for the wheels and flaps UP to complete the magical
transformation from automobile to airplane, then you can trim your speed and
retard your power setting for climbing. When you reach your cruising altitude,
then you can re-trim your speed and reset your power for cruising.

 

 

If you have the optional autopilot, you can set your altitude and heading and engage it,
then relax while keeping an eye out for traffic and weather and the passing scenery,
while monitoring your air traffic control radio traffic.
( What a contrast to the stress of driving on crowded highways!)

You can then fly a few hundred miles in a few hours, extending your operating range far beyond
the typical distance you could drive your car in the same time, about twice as far.
If you're not in a hurry, you could fly at around 100 KIAS with 40% power and burn
4 gallons per hour and have a range of about 900 miles.
You could make two flights a day for a 3-day weekend getaway a thousand miles away.
If the weather forecast precludes taking off at your home base airport,
then you could drive to airports that are suitable and take-off;
likewise, for landing at your destination.
You could also fly part-ways, land and drive under bad weather and
then take-off and continue flying.
You can drive and fly in the privacy of your own aircar all the way there and back.

A recent AOPA news blurb reprinted from the WALL STREET JOURNAL shows
By saving "a billion gallons of fuel a year," the NextGen air-traffic control system will pay for itself
within a couple of years, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told a Senate panel on Thursday.
In pressing lawmakers to speed up funding, Babbitt acknowledged his agency had probably failed
to "make the business case" for the massive overhaul.

You will probably use the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System, * WAAS ,
for navigation and approaches to airports that do not have ground-based navigational aids.

You might watch your Dragon's shadow passing the traffic on the highway below,
especially when traffic is slowed down or stopped due to congestion,
construction, accidents, or curves. Maybe there's no road at all below,
if your destination is beyond the shores on an island or peninsula or in the mountains.
You can plan your flight to by-pass the congested airspace around jetliner hubs and
densely-populated urban areas.

Should weather problems cause you to run short of fuel, you can fly a course that
provides for landing at an alternate airport, or, worst case,
if you actually run out of gas, gliding to an emergency landing strip, or field, or woods.
(Although it may be tempting, landing on a road or golf course is NOT recommended, since
there's the risk of hitting someone. Likewise, you might imagine landing on the median
of an interstate highway, but the inventor has never found any that would be safe.)


The pilot said he ran out of fuel and landed on Hiway 101 in California.
You can read about another
*Freeway Landing
As an excellent example, you can read how a pair of teen-age girls managed their
*emergency landing
Photo by Celinda Emison.
Your power-off glide ratio will be about 10-to-1, so, from an altitude of about 8,000 feet to sea level,
you may have about ten minutes to pick a place within 10 to 15 miles and set up your approach for landing.
You can listen to a 20-minute MP3 learning session from experts at
*Emergency Landings

On a clear day, you may occasionally see another StrongMobile within a mile.
You may be aware that your flying is so quiet to those folks on the ground that
they will not even notice your StrongMobile flying over them.
Instead of the typical airline bag of nuts, you can snack with your favorite foods and beverages,
in the privacy and comfort of your StrongMobile.

You may have selected the turbocharged and supplemental oxygen option so you can cruise above much of the weather.

You could land at an airport near your destination, push your Magic button to transform your StrongMobile
into an automobile, and then drive on to your business or recreation.
You can do face-to-face real-time meetings or load and/or unload your cargo, or attend events.

Whenever you choose to, you could drive your StrongMobile back to the airport (the same
or a different one), transform it and fly to another destination, or fly it back to your local airport,
transform it and then drive it to your home or business. Note that, in contrast to traditional
transformations between car and plane, you can spend the time you saved during
transformation in flying farther. As an example, if you spend a half hour in a traditional
transformation and only ten minutes with your StrongMobile (including refuelling), then you
save a total of forty minutes and you can go 80 miles farther, at the same speeds.
Note that, for many trips, the StrongMobile's cruise speed of 140 KTAS equates to a
traditional fast airplane cruising at about 200 KTAS, on a door-to-door average speed
basis including transformation time, when you take ten minutes to transform your StrongMobile
(mostly refuelling time) , versus a half hour to change from one mode to the other mode
with cars and planes. You can forget about tie-downs and tow machines and hangar fees
and other paraphernalia like them. Likewise, you can by-pass the parking lots and
airline terminal and the hassles they represent.

One fan noted that some airports do not have refuelling available;
however, Magic Dragon Drivers could easily drive to a local gas station and fill up.
One who tried to fill up his airplane is described at
*FAA case
(Note the FAA comment that using autogas did not present any danger.
This story is for real and will likely crack you up.)

Premium gasolines may be ethanol-free
* EAA comment 1 and *EAA comment 2
This is especially useful when the forecast weather turns sour or plans change and
Magic Drivers have the choice of flying or driving without changing vehicles.


You can refuel at an automotive service station with
* Automotive fuel
There is some concern about using autogas due to
* Phase separation
The government is considering phasing out
*Avgas
The logical conclusion is to use *Mogas
The differences between winter and summer gasolines is explaineed at
*Oil Drum

The advantages of StrongMobile operation, with quick and easy transforming effort, become even more apparent
for cases where visits to multiple destinations are required, so-called 'round robins'. As an example, one may consider
shorter trips of, say, two hundred miles, visiting two or three destinations in one day. Some users may want to routinely
trade off the baggage capacity for fuel capacity so they could eliminate a refueling stop. There is space available
in the 50-gallon tank that could provide one hour more endurance than the standard 40 gallons.
For day trips with minimum baggage, the weight allowance may be used for king-size pilot and passenger.

Obviously, you could make an extended "Grand Tour" of several days.

When the work-week is done, you could use it for recreational travel.

OR Maybe you would prefer to charter a trip and have someone else do the operating for you.
Ditto for hiring a charter service with a chauffeur-pilot.
You could simply call up your charter taxi service or corporate transportation office and make arrangements.

OR maybe you need to make a long-distance trip from an airline hub; you could fly to a small airport nearby,
drive to the hub airport, park your aircar there, and fly on the airline. You could do the reverse when you get back.

OR Maybe you have to move a few hundred pounds of urgent cargo a few hundred miles.
The seats may be made to be stowable or removable and replaced with containers for cargo.

OR Maybe you and your companions want to drive and fly your Dragon for the sheer enjoyment of
dancing with the winds and enjoying the bird's-eye views, as you expand your day-trip neighborhood
beyond the airport gates to experience
*High Flight in the wild blue yonder and be your Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

In general, you can plan your trip for various situations:
Plan A - VFR or IFR direct without problems [probability of 80%, average 140 mph]; or
Plan B - weather or TFR deviations of less than one hour [probability of 15%, 120 mph]; or
Plan C - deviations of more than one hour, but less than two hours [probability of 3%, 90 mph]; or
Plan D - Driving only [probability of about 2%, 50 mph], or
Plan E - Airports and Roads closed [probability of less than 1%], or
Plan F - Aborted trip en route and overnight or more delay [probability of less than 1%].

OR You can make local trips on the roads and highways, when it's more convenient to simply drive your Dragon.

A very thorough review of the flyable car scenario may be viewed at Lionel Salisbury's * Roadable Times


A brief review of current contenders by Rich Smith is at
*Symscape

* BACK TO CONTENTS MENU


Business Plan & Financial Model for Full-Scale Production

The plan is to reach out to a non-legacy broad market composed of organizational
users who need to travel regionally and frequently, about two-thirds of buyers.
The production plan is to first make high-end versions (flagship class) for maximum
value and investment pay-off, then make lower priced models.

When people ask, "How much will a Magic Dragon cost to build and own and operate?",
the honest answer is,"Whatever people are willing to pay for it.".
A rough estimate for a basic home-built version, individually or group-built
for a fleet, is about $90,000, with the cost of the engine and
power subsystems accounting for the lion's share.
Buying a factory-built Magic Dragon may cost twice as much
to pay for labor and overhead, with savings in scale.
Of course, an aircar inherently is an automobile, so this must be factored into the cost
equation, since it avoids the cost of an automobile. The savings in travel time and convenience
and extension of travel range would exceed the cost for many owners, renters, or leasers.
Insurance costs may be lower, due to the safety features described at
* Safety, Risk Management, and Legal Aspects.

One may assume Magic Dragon life cycle of 10 years; calculations are for 10 years at 1,000 flight hours and
10,000 road miles per year. For business use, owners may expense the cost of leasing or owning and operating their Dragons.

With a service life of about ten years, the components for transformation should be designed for about 10,000 cycles.

Kit builders may plan on investing a few hundred dollars per week over a period of a few years of part-time
work. As an example, they may spend an average of $400 per week over three years, for a total of about $60,000,
while working an average of about twenty hours per week. The Dragon Lair central kit factory may provide the chassis
and suspension with the power subsystems, including transaxle and fan.

Investors/prospective buyers would be informed of TACRA survey results regarding prices for manufactured or kit Dragons.
During the survey period, a concurrent cost analysis may be done to determine the required funding; when the investment
required and the survey match, the program light will turn green. As an example, "Plan A" would involve 1,000 Dragoneers
willing to deposit 10% of the price toward development, with a guaranteed delivery price of $190K for a manufactured and
certified basic Magic Dragon. "Plan B" might involve 1,000 Dragoneers willing to deposit 10% each for a guaranteed
delivery price of $145K for a kit they would build on the 51% rule, without certification.

The finances of the three main players in the buying or leasing scenario are described below.

MANUFACTURER:
Develops aircar - borrows/invests $20M for engineering, tooling;
Sets up plant, human resources, suppliers, insurers for production;
Produces 2,000 units per year at unit cost of $95,000;
Produces parts for maintenance and repair;
Sells aircars and parts for 30% profit ($30,000) for $60 Mpa before taxes for 2,000 units;
Sets up dealer/buyer financing at 10%, earning 10%-prime rate of ~6%; and
pays off loan at $ 50M/yr for 5 years.

DEALER/LESSOR:
Sets up sales and service, training, and leasing;
Purchases X aircars for $125,000 each at 8% interest for 20 years with monthly payments of ~$2,000X;
Leases aircars for 100 hours per month, 1,000 hours per year, at $200 per flight hour;
Pays operation and maintenance costs of $75 per hour $7,500 per month each;
Pays for facility, employees, etc. ~$4,000 per month spread over X;
Earns profit of $15,000 - $7,500 - $2,000 - $4,000 = $1,500 per month each;
Performs service/maintenance/repair as required; and
Operates training center and charter-taxi services.
Sells outright Y aircars for 20% profit ($25,000 each) at $150,000.

OWNER/LESSEE:
-Users cost $100 per hour each of two, operate flying 6+ hours per day, 25 hours per week, 100 hours per month;
-Owner buys aircar on $150,000, 10-year 6% loan for $3,000 per month;
-Owner pays fuel, maintenance, insurance of $125/hr for 100 hrs, $12,500/mo;
-Owner avoids user costs of $200/hr for 100 hrs, $20,000/month (net cost avoidance of $4,500/mo);
-Lessee leases for $200 per hour to lessees ("wet"); or
-Cost avoidance of $200 per hour for each flight hour, based on typical trips, $20,000 per month, saving
=$20,000 - $20,000 lease cost = $00 per month net cost.

As an alternative, development, test and evaluation, and production may be done by a group of Makers:
Lead Develops aircar - invests $20M @ 12% for 20 years startup with $1M from 20 makers;
Makers produce 100 units per year at unit cost of $75K, ( ~$7.5 M), earning $10k per unit, repay $1M;
Produce parts for maintenance and repair and accessories;
Sells units and parts for 15% net after-tax profit (~$1.5 M); and
Sets up dealer/buyer financing at 10%, earning 10%-prime rate of ~6%.

Several co-owner organizations or individuals could time-share use of their StrongMobiles and share expenses.

Other factors such as prestige, business opportunities, quality of life for users should also be considered.

After production of the two-seat version gets underway, the manufacturer may wish to pay off the start-up loan or
go into development of the four-seat version. When the loans are paid off and production ramps up, then the market may be
ripe for lower-priced versions for a broader market.

One last comment about patents and intellectual property. Although it may seem questionable, the inventor looks at it
this way. He has published most of the changes to his last patent on the web and in professional publications, such as
an
*SAE paper, to make sure the invention is in the public domain so that the changes cannot be patented by anyone else
and so block progress. He realizes that investors would prefer to have exclusivity; however, he feels that it's more important
for many to compete on the basis of merit, rather than assuring one party large profits. So, anyone may feel free to use
any of the features that he has published, with attribution to www.strongware.com.
Note: Rich's role model, Ben Franklin, did not patent any of his ideas.

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The Full-Scale Mock-Up Model


Work on the full-size mock-up model is complete. After building the half-scale model and displaying
it to the public directly and in various publications and presentations and gaining confidence in the general acceptance of
the Magic Dragon design, the full-size model construction was begun. The barn was built in 2001 and 2002 to house the
mock-up model, at a cost of about $5,000 and a year of work. The decision to omit any power in the mock-up model was
made to shorten the build time and avoid costs, with the main goal of presenting the overall model to the travelling public
and potential developers as soon as practical. Much more detail and realism are built into the full-size Magic Dragon model,
such as the Chevy Geo Metro suspension and rack and pinion steering, seats and steering wheel, and the movable flight
surfaces. The mock-up was and is very useful for defining and refining the many dimensions, from both technical and general
acceptance viewpoints. Dimensions for the cabin were considered first, since people don't change much over time.
The control arrangement was checked out with simulated operation.
The design for using the steering wheel, brake pedal, and accelarator pedal only for driving and
the Joyce stick, rudder pedals, and throttle only for flying was verified,
so a minimum of re-training and change of habits is needed.
This emphasizes that the throttle controls rate of climb and
the stick (with elevator trim button) controls speed.


The semi-stowable steering wheel (1) is for driving. The center "T" stick (2) is for flying. Flight throttle (3) is on left door. Road gear shift (4) is for driving. Accelerator pedal and foot brake (5,6) are on the floor as usual. Rudder pedals (7) are stowable for driving.

The basic chassis framework was built first to provide a basis for the rest of the design.
Adapting and attaching of the automotive components, suspension, wheels, tires, and steering, steering wheel, and
seats from recycled compact car parts was done next. The fan, maw, and duct were mocked up and installed. The use
of composite materials (Bondo, reenforced screen) was built into the maw and duct. The cabin, seating (from recycled
compact car parts), doors, and controls seem comfortable. Glazing the windshield, side windows, and skylights were
relatively simple. Details such as safety belts and mirrors were added, along with cup holders. Throughout the
designing and building, close attention was paid to defining the dimensions and improving building skills, including
the sequence of construction. Many areas were brought to light, including the overall size and weight
(about 3,000 pounds). Lesson learned: the suspension needs to be bigger wheels (13" to 14") and stronger suspension.
Most of the skin construction consisted of flat or single-curvature panels, except for the intake maw and centerbody,
the outer duct walls, the windshield crown, the wingroot fairings, and the fairings at the top of the fins joining to the
tailplane. This implies that tooling costs for production will be lower, with man-hour estimates of 2,000 hours initially
decreasing to 1,000 hours with learning.


The high point of the project occurred when the model was rolled out of the barn and the wings were spread
and locked in place. All in all, the inventor is pleased with the mockup and spends many hours sitting in the cockpit,
simulating operations, including cross-wind take-offs and landings. (The inventor also verified the use of the left-hand
throttle and right-hand stick-yoke operation, similar to his experience flying the F-16 simulator.) He also checked visibility
and simulated enjoying the view from inside, and having a car steering wheel and looking out at the wings.


You are cordially invited to visit and view the mock-up model. Call, E-mail, or write Rich to make an appointment.


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SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS

Several activities introduced the Magic Dragon to the public in the past few years:

    • The half-scale model was displayed in the 2002 4th of July "Parade of Planes" in the Dayton area;
    • The model was displayed at the 2002 U.S. Air And Trade Show;
    • Advertisements were published in EAA's SPORT AVIATION;
    • A presentation was given at the EAA AirVenture 2000 and 2001;
    • Feature articles were published by James Cummings in the DAYTON DAILY NEWS
      and by Brian Albrecht in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER;
    • A presentation was made at the Engineers Club of Dayton's Barn Gang;
    • The inventor spent much of the year 2001 constructing the "Dragon's Lair", a barn type of facility
      in which a full-scale mockup was to be built;
    • The inventor was a guest on National Public Radio's TALK OF THE NATION on January 3rd for
      interview on the segment on futuristic cars;
    • The inventor presented papers at the Society of Automotive Engineers conferences in March, 2002
      in Detroit,
      * Magic Dragon, and in April in Wichita;
    • The inventor presented for a Sigma Xi meeting at the General Motors Technical Center in June 2003;
    • The inventor presented the slide show at the EAA AirVenture 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005/6/7/8 Forums
      (audiotape is available from dcyeoman@juno.com ask for #5-5-8;
    • Presentations were made at the AIAA/ICAS International Symposium in Dayton on July 14-17, 2003,
      as a poster session and at the EAA AirVenture on August 1st as a talk.
    • MSNBC Science Editor Alan Boyle mentioned this website on his website in November 2003,
      resulting in over 1,000 requests above the usual 24 requests per day.
    • Presentation was made to the Dayton-Cincinnati Section of AIAA in March 2004; and
    • Poster exhibit and forum presentation were performed at AirVenture 2004.
    • Poster exhibit and forum presentation were performed at Sun 'n Fun in 2005.
    • This website has had over 10,000 hits from over 4,000 hosts and organizations; this includes
      several manufacturers, dozens of government organizations, including defense, dozens of universities, and
      over a hundred international organizations. You can view a partial listing of visitors at
      *Visitors

The website ISP reports that hundreds of Universities and School Districts have visited.

A sampling of 200 recent visitors show the distribution among those that are:
non-identifiable, business, academic, and governmental.

With about 30,000 requests over the past few years, a counter was installed on March 1st, 2006.
On average recently, around 800 visits were received monthly;

however, this has decreased with the economic recession to around 150. You can ignore the first '1' digit.

free counter
Rent DVDs

Several activities were accomplished in the 2005 year to inform folks about the Magic Dragon Project.

A presentation was given to the Dayton-Cincinnati Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Conference.

A slide show presentation was made at Sun n' Fun in April

A poster and videotape exhibit was shown at the AOPA Fly-In and Open House at Frederick MD in June, where a hundred or so folks picked up brochures, surveys, and CDs.


Monday, August 01, 2005
The Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA,
* AirVenture � 2005 was a truly big show,
with many thousands of people attending. My exhibit display site was very well located at an intersection of roads
leading to and from the show. I estimate about ten thousand people took a look while passing by and about a thousand
took photos of the Magic Dragon full-size mock-up model. Many were curious about what the placard announcing the
mock-up meant, so I explained it was a model preview of the future. Hundreds of viewers were very enthusiastic about
the project and the unique design of the Dragon. About a hundred or so visitors sat in the cockpit and wiggled the
steering wheel and flight controls; all were pleased with the roominess. Several news organizations sent reporters to
make photos and gather facts about it. A visitor wrote my son Ed, who is a NASA-JSC engineer-manager with a yen
for a Cozy, that "there was nothing like your father's exhibit anywhere else at EAA". He noticed there was someone
there every time he passed". One visitor remarked, "Looks like a fighter plane". One said the cockpit visibility was
poor; he was invited to check it out from the pilot's seat; he did, then said it was much better than he had imagined.
About a hundred visitors picked up PEP survey and member applications of the non-profit
* Air Car Research Association.

. Several news organizations sent reporters to make photos and gather facts, such as * Aero News Network
by Rob Finfrock, with a repeat by Deidre Woollard in
* Luxist .

The EAA Museum�s TIMELESS VOICES folks who interviewed the inventor at Sun n� Fun were very impressed and the
AirVenture photographer made several photos.
Many visitors asked detailed questions about the technical aspects, such as the lifting body and the ducted fan.
Some of the frequently asked questions concerned the proposed engine, the make of the chassis, and performance.
Some visitors asked about the cost; I explained that the convenience of the Dragon would lead to higher production
and lower unit cost, about $140k. Overall, the exhibit was a resounding success in terms of verifying the acceptance of
the Dragon design and business scheme. Some discussed the investment potential for venture capitalists, bearing in
mind that the invention is in the public domain so anyone can make and use Magic Dragons. The forum presentation
also was very good. One attendee asked if the intended usage of 1,000 flight hours per year was correct, since it equated
to about three hours per day; I explained that the Dragon was intended to be a heavy-duty workhorse. One visitor
summed up his reaction when he said, "Now, this is the kind of new idea that we came to AirVenture to see."
(If a supply of certified Magic Dragons had been available, then many visitors said they would have
placed an order for them on the spot. )

AirVenture 2006/7/8 was minus the mockup model due to the inventor's recovery from a quadruple bypass operation;
however, forum presentations were made.
The AirVenture 2009 forum was scrubbed so the inventor could visit his grandson's birth.


The model is currently being stored.

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FEEDBACK AND CONTACT INFO

You can send Emails to * Rich Strong.


Who's Doing This?* Rich Strong's Curriculum Vitae

Contact Rich at 937-236-0361. Recording machines are used.

Before you send a fax, call the vox so fax can be enabled.

USPS address is: R. A. Strong, 7514 Belle Plaine Drive, Dayton OH 45424-3229

Copyright 2009 Richard Allen Strong. All rights reserved.

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