Having been to Alaska several times, with only the old fashioned means of transportation, I would like to paint a picture for you of what it could have been like in a flying car. First off, for those who have never been to this vast, wild state, let me tell you that the geography can sometimes make it seem like you’re in another country or even another planet.
Due to Alaska’s large expanses of water and land, many people travel by plane. One beautiful town, Homer, is so remotely situated that it has been nicknamed “where the road ends.” I’ve never heard of a place like that in the lower 48. Instead of being stopped by the lack of roads and vast terrain to travel, what if you had a plane that was also a car?
The opportunity to explore – hiking, fishing, camping, exploring – could open up greatly if you have a vehicle that both flies and drives. There are so many small airports that don’t have all the support structure that large ones have. They don’t have rental cars, restaurants, etc. The Switchblade Flying Car has a predicted range of over 500 miles. That’s enough to get you almost 3 hours of flight, cruising at up to 175 mph. And the Switchblade runs on automobile gas, not hard-to-find, airport-only aviation fuel.
About 30 years ago, I traveled thousands of miles from California up to Alaska to visit family and see some of the wonders of the State. We finally came to the day we had most been looking forward to – our visit to Denali National Park. Mt. Denali, also known as Mt. McKinley, looms 20,310 ft. above sea level – the highest mountain peak in North America. Due to weather conditions in the summer, there is only about a 40% chance of getting a partial view of the mountain. The wildlife there is spectacular, with grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, Dall’s sheep, etc. To minimize pollution and vehicle impact on the animals and the landscape, no personal cars and trucks are allowed inside the park.
We knew we could only drive in via park bus, but what we didn’t know until we arrived at the front gates one morning at 8:00am, was that visitors were required to advance purchase their tickets into the park. They were sold out for that day. Being unable to change our plans and come back the next day, we were all extremely disappointed, to put it mildly. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a flying car back then, but if we had, it would have saved the day.
As it was, I was determined to at least see some of the famous Denali scenery. I convinced my husband to splurge on a scenic flight in a twin-engine propeller plane – the smallest aircraft I’d ever been in, seating about 9 passengers, as I recall. It was a cloudy day and the pilots thought it unlikely that we would see much of the mighty mountain. For about 20 minutes, we flew along a beautiful valley, eagerly looking for wildlife, but seeing none. Then, as we neared the highest peak of Mt. Denali, the clouds almost magically parted and the bright sun streaked through them, giving us a truly breathtaking view of the snow capped spectacle!
I had never seen anything so majestic, so pristine and so close up. The air was smooth enough that the pilot took us within probably 2,000 feet of the peak, which loomed above us. It seemed close enough to touch. The only sounds I could hear were the “click, click, click” of the cameras most of the passengers were shooting and the happy sighs we made at the wondrous sight. It was a gift – one that we would not have been granted if we were stuck on the ground. And in a flying car we could have gone where we wanted, when we wanted.
– Virginia Hall
Photo by David Mendosa http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/