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Flying Cars Ready To Take Off

Bob Simon Talks To Inventors Who Build Personal Flying Machines


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Inventor Paul Moller told 60 Minutes Correspondent Bob Simon that the gasoline-fueled Skycar is designed to cruise at 300 mph, at an altitude of 20,000 feet. | Share


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(CBS) Have you ever dreamt about the day you can buzz around in your very own flying machine? Well, that day may be sooner than you think.

The folks at NASA have built something called “The Highway in the Sky.” It's a computer system designed to let millions of people fly whenever they please, and take off and land from wherever they please, in their very own vehicles.

And here’s the good news -- a lot of people are building machines you’ll be
able to buy.

One of those people is an inventor named Woody Norris. This week, he will receive America’s top prize for invention. It’s called the Lemelson-MIT award -- a half-million dollar cash prize to honor his life’s work, which includes a brand new personal flying machine. Correspondent Bob Simon reports.

It's called the AirScooter, and self-taught inventor Woody Norris says it goes on sale later this year.

Norris, 66, asked one of his test pilots to demonstrate the AirScooter for 60 Minutes on a hilltop outside San Diego, Calif. It can fly for 2 hours at 55 mph, and go up to 10,000 feet above sea level.

"Look how quickly it stops, hovers, sideways, sideways, straight down," Norris tells Simon.

Everything is controlled from the motorcycle-like handle bar. Push it forward and the two counter-rotating blades pivot forward. Push it back and it goes back. Norris says you won’t need a pilot’s license if you fly it under 400 feet in non-restricted air space. And he’s going to sell it for $50,000.

A lot of inventors have tried to cash in on personal flying machines. One, built in 1956, was known as Molt Taylor’s Aerocar. You could detach the wings and haul them behind you. But they failed to catch on because they were too expensive and hard to fly in bad weather.

More important, there was no way to really manage all the potential traffic from millions of them buzzing around -- that is, until now. And that’s because NASA has come up with a plan to make personal flying machines a reality.

Bruce Holmes is one of NASA’s chief strategists and has served in the White House, where he worked on the future of aviation. He showed Simon a flight simulator, a new computer system that can be put into any new airborne vehicle. He says it will make flying easy, and will manage all the new traffic up there.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Highway In The Sky Program
NASA's Web site.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
Web site for flying enthusiasts

AirScooter
Woody Norris' Web site.

Skycar
Paul Moller's Web site.

CarterCopter
Jay Carter's Web site.

Trek Aerospace
Harry Falk's Web site.

The Flying Platform Project
Performance Aviation Manufacturing Group

The Skyblazer
Skyblazer Flying Car
by Haynes-Aero

Roadable Times
Flying Cars & Roadable Aircraft