Moller Flying Car May Be Grounded Permanently

from the the-future-just-crashed dept

For decades, futurists have predicted (and science fiction types have just assumed) that we're on the verge of having flying cars. It's pretty much the standard prediction. And yet, despite years of hype, the idea of the flying car has always been the technology of tomorrow. One of the most hyped up players in the space, Moller, has been talking about flying cars for years and years, without much to show for it. Now the company is admitting that after running through $40 million or so, it has "substantial doubt" that it will be able to continue as a going concern. Given how long the company has been at it without much to show for it, this isn't all that surprising. However, it means that our Jetsons-like future may still be a ways off.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Good riddance, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 11:23am

    Who needs this?

    Considering the driving skill of the average motorist I can't even fathom what it would be like to have every Tom-the-Pinhead able to pilot a flying bomb. Good riddance.

     

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  2.  
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    Overcast, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Yeah, I don't need cars crash landing in my yard or house.. heh

     

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  3.  
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    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Nov 20th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    The future isn't what it used to be...

    Reminds me of the song "The Future Isn't What It Used To Be", which was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2003 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. From the now-defunct group "Minstrosity":

    "Way back in the 1940's
    There were lots of magazines
    With their covers full of miracles
    And futuristic scenes;
    Individual flying cars
    That safely flew themselves,
    And folded into suitcases
    You stuck up on your shelves."

    (MP3 can be downloaded from http://www.minstrosity.com/record.html)

    As a private pilot, I can say that I am very glad that the mass-production flying car is not for real. In aviation, there is no such thing as a 'minor' accident, and when you run out of fuel, you don't just pull over and walk to the nearest gas station with your gas can. And the #1 cause of general aviation accidents is the pilot overestimating his skills (VFR flight into IFR conditions), a very common characteristic of automobile drivers (I also teach Texas defensive driving courses).
    --
    Texas CHL Courses

     

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  4.  
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    Mark, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 11:59am

    Where is my hovercraft?

    Flying car nothing, I want the hovercraft I was promised as a child. To glide along the road with a smooth ride, no more avoiding debris (I hope) and not having to feel every little dip and pothole. This is what I was promised as a kid and I want it!

     

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  5.  
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    S Caraway, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Emergency & Police Services

    Hello People,

    Imagine having the flying car for emergency services and rapid response police teams. In Australia, there are vast regions that are sometimes impossible to get to quickly by road. Yes, there might be a few planes or helicopters, but imagine having paramedics, fire, police and critical emergency services show up in much faster times then usual because they don't have to deal with ground traffic conditions. Even in the cities, having medical and police services, as well as highway patrol using the flying car would be of great benefit. Don't look at it as a detriment in society, but rather consider you and your family being in outlying areas anywhere in the world or in high rise buildings and you are immediately rescued because of the flying car and its capability. Let's look back at 9-11 when hundreds of people who were on the roof tops of the world trade center that could have been saved if the flying cars were available to emergency services. The use of the flying car is a bit too early for public use, but in cases of emergency and police services, it is ideal.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    VLJ's are the next step

    Very Light Jets are exactly what the name implies. Companies like Cessna and Diamond already have production models. Even Honda is creating one. VLJ's will lighten the congestion of major hubs by shifting traffic to smaller airports. While they are not flying cars they allow owners to get much closer to their destinations at about the same speed as an airliner but without the hassle of long security lines and lost luggage. We will see how today's ATC system handles them and from there see how, in the very very far future, flying cars will hold perform.

     

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  7.  
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    Barrenwaste, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    The technology is there

    The technology to make a self piloted flying car is there. However, due to it's cost and falibility, it'll be a few years yet before the private sector will see them. I for one, would love one, though I can see the arguement about the idiots who can't drive now and will insist on driving them. That said, I can't see it being anymore dangerous than the idiots make the roads now. About once a month I see a car parked in somebodies house and most every week I see somebody exploring the roadside in new and unusual methods. I think it's a shame that Moller is considering quiting, there is so much good that an affordable flying car could do.

     

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  8.  
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    WarOtter (profile), Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Did you know...?

    By 1980 we will be living on the moon. You can take that to the bank.

     

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  9.  
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    You Never Know, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:30pm

    So, what has happened to his latest concept? From what I know all that was holding up production was government regulated flyways. Even with out this he has a stable and very maneuverable design, he just never has had FAA clearance to fly it as an experimental aircraft. Sounds like political side stepping because Mr Moller wouldn’t grace someone’s palm with a little under the table cash…

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Emergency & Police Services

    yeah, we got those...they're called helicoptors.

    I like how you tied 9-11 in there too, you should also try to mention that it's "for the children"

     

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  11.  
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    rob, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Five words to send chills through anyone's spine..

    Lindsay Lohan driving flying car.

     

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  12.  
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    Conman, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    Loving it man, absolutely spot on!

     

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  13.  
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    S Caraway, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    Hello 10.

    You like that connection (9-11), but where were those helicopters during this emergency?

    Yes helicopters work fine, but not every ambulance, police or other emergency service personnel can fly one or because of the blades, they are incapable of landing in most congested locations.

    So, what you are saying is that everyone should have a helicopter?

     

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  14.  
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    Naaaay sayers only say Nay, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    ... Oh yeah, since we can all surely fly helicopters just as easy as our current bumper cars.

    Helicopters are a bit, um, 1960's don't you think? Might be time for something a bit more advanced and less fragile/ failable - not more. Remember, copter pilots and their machines can make good police men, but good police men are a far cry from ready to fly. (Unless of course you're an action hero, which might be cause to anonymize your cowardliness---I mean identity).

     

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  15.  
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    It was the car! Really!, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Five words to send chills through anyone's spi

    ...You mean to say that Lindsay was just a pretty hood ornament and Herbie really would have been better off by Himself?

     

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  16.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    Yes helicopters work fine, but not every ambulance, police or other emergency service personnel can fly one or because of the blades, they are incapable of landing in most congested locations.

    So let's just give the emergency personnel flying cars so the jets can injure more people with high wind gusts and blazing hot temperatures. Flying cars are silly and not realistic at this point in society.

    Now a hover car with bumpers would be awesome! No more life threatening accidents, although I bet it would still hurt to get hit by one as a pedestrian.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Who needs this?

    Actually, the only technology holding this back is the automated pilot. The programmers just can't get three dimensional space and collision avoidance AI to work together yet.

     

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  18.  
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    Who needs this?, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Who needs this?

    Will that automated pilot also make sure you've done required maintenance, fueled up, avoid wind sheer, storms? Will it be able to detect telephone poles, power lines, guide wires, the tops of trees? Will it check your IQ to see if you should even be behind the 'wheel'?

    A flying car is a great idea but it is impractical unless you can completely eliminate the human from the operation of the vehicle.

     

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  19.  
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    Shane C, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Murphy's flying car?

    History tells us that when someone declares something as "impossible, improbable, or too far in the future," someone usually comes along and proves them wrong.

    Perhaps Moller publicly folding their operation will end on a positive note? It may spur someone else with a different view point, better technology (no offense to Moller intended), and better political wrangling, into operations.

    Shane

     

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  20.  
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    claire rand, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 2:21pm

    cyberpunk

    ever seen the cyberpunk series or roleplay games? they have a rarther nice 'flying car' used as an ambulance/light apc and a sports version for silly money.

    take a pegasus engine from a harrier that isn't looking and put it in a minibus..

    ok there would be more to it than that.

    i think the problem isn't designing a working flying car, its doing one at a price someone will actually pay, then having someone insure *you* enough for the lawsuits when some moron crashes it.

    I seriously can't see a 'flying test' similar tot he standard of current driving tests, where the ability to read the language the signs are in isn't considered important...

    it may be for the best these things are a little way off.

    btw cyberpunk had these things in common usage in 2010... amazing, accoring to the predictions we sould have an empire in space by now... sigh...

     

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  21.  
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    Duhhh, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    Get the facts

    For those who bash Moller in fear that joe sixpack will be crashing his flying car into your house, realize that Moller was dreaming of an automated car - joe sixpack wouldn't be allowed to use the controls. That's probably what killed the idea. Failure-proof software is an oxymoron.

    Too bad he didn't try to just build a VTOL flying car that required a trained pilot. That might have worked, but I still doubt it. He's had decades to actually fly a prototype, but has it ever flown untethered? If you think the FAA is stopping him, count how many experimental aircraft take off every day. Heck, Burt Rutan went into outer space (and picked up a nice $10 million prize doing so), so don't tell me Moller couldn't get a few thousand feet off the ground by now.

    Oh well, at least his muffler was a good idea. Now all those profits are gone. Better than a drug habit, I guess.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    Helicopters are a bit, um, 1960's don't you think?
    Actually, helicopters have been around a bit longer than that.

    Might be time for something a bit more advanced and less fragile/ failable - not more.
    OK. How much do you want to spend? Many people complain that flying cars (i.e. helicopters) are too expensive already.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 3:08pm

    Re: The technology is there

    The technology to make a self piloted flying car is there.

    Oh sure. Go ahead, try it.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    So, what has happened to his latest concept? From what I know all that was holding up production was government regulated flyways.
    Huh? We've got plenty of those: they're called air traffic corridors. Besides, that hasn't kept helicopters out of the sky has it?

    he just never has had FAA clearance to fly it as an experimental aircraft.
    Yeah? Well, you have to be "airworthy" first.

    Sounds like political side stepping because Mr Moller wouldn’t grace someone’s palm with a little under the table cash…
    Plenty of other experimental aircraft builders get into the air without that.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    No the children were on the bottom floor

     

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  26.  
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    QuoteMark, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 4:36pm

    A flying car in every driveway.

    An automated car cheap enough for everyone is the science fiction populists dream. I think it would only need to be cheap enough to replace chauffeurs, taxi drivers, and bus drivers to make a profit. If that were possible we would have them. Watch the DARPA challenge this year to see how close we are.

     

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  27.  
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    Andy-OH!, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 4:48pm

    It was an interesting place to work...

    My first engineering job out of college back in the early 90's ("We'll fly next year for sure!). Got to design, build, blow-up...errrr, test rotary engines. Paul is one trippy dude...I never could figure out if he's a genius or a whackjob. The best thing I learned from him was how to talk to a crowd. He could walk into a semi-hostile room, start talking and you could see (non-engineer)people start to come around. He is smooooth!
    As far as his flying car concept...well, think about how much power it takes 8 (!) engines to push enough air to lift 1500+ pounds up into the air - that is the mother of all leaf blowers! I always figured the fastest thing on that vehicle (if it flew) would be the gas gauge needle.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 5:34pm

    stop stop stop

    Why are so many of you advocating removing the human element? Why don't we let people get behind the wheel of these flying cars and let Darwin sort them out? Not only would that (eventually) make the skyways safer, it would help with world hunger too!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 6:20pm

    Re: stop stop stop

    Because the terminally stupid have a knack at taking out the innocent. Build me a smart car that will kill only the stupid and I will buy one for my in-laws.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 6:28pm

    If you want to end world hunger..

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 7:16pm

     

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  32.  
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    Barrenwaste, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 8:59pm

    The technology IS there....

    1) To 23, the technology is there. But just because I can research and coalate the data doesn't mean I have the ability to build something. I have problems building anything with more than three working parts, let alone a flying vehicle.

    2) For the morons spouting off about burning bystanders....the concept Moller was using didn't use jets. In fact, I haven't seen a flying car concept that does use jets since they came up with the hovercraft concept in the 40's.

    3) You can't take the human out of the equation, even if you did have an infalible computer piloting program. Some enjoy riding from time to time, but a program that gets you from here to there will be a bit hard on the side trips.

     

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  33.  
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    Tack, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 9:45pm

    I'

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 10:15pm

    Re: The technology IS there....

    I have problems building anything with more than three working parts, let alone a flying vehicle.
    The I doubt that you really know what you're talking about. Anything is possible for the person who doesn't have to do it themself.

     

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  35.  
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    Barrenwaste, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 10:24pm

    Re: 34

    Doubt all you want, I don't really care. But, since we have footage of the damn things in the 50's you'd have to be stupid to do so. Just because I cannot do a thing doesn't mean it can't be done. I can't make microchips either, or tires. I haven't circumnavigated the earth yet but I'm fairly certain it's round.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 10:26pm

    Re: The technology IS there....

    I did some research and "coalated" some data and came up with proof that flying cars are real!!!

    Of course, I have other research that proves that Santa Clause is real too.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 10:36pm

    Re: Re: 34

    Doubt all you want, I don't really care. But, since we have footage of the damn things in the 50's you'd have to be stupid to do so.
    You're delusional if you think you've got footage of a "self piloted flying car" (as you called it) from the 50's.

     

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  38.  
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    Barrenwaste, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 11:46pm

    Re:37

    During the last years of World War 2 and into the Korean war the American government experimented with VTOL. The experiments eventualy lead them to the helicopter, but one prototype in particular was notable for it's shape and propulsion. It was shaped like a flying saucer and powered by fans. It never amounted to much because at the time they couldn't solve a particualar problem they had with the gyroscopes. However, they did achieve tethered VTOL with the one man prototype.

    A few years ago scientists developed a computer system capable of driving vehicles along a predetermined path. A few months later they achieved much the same thing, only the program could choose it's own path.

    Add the two together, now that we can reliably achieve VTOL and the subsequent flight with fans, and you have a flying car. It isn't impossible. From what I have read the biggest problems have been keeping the price down on the vehicle and working out a few quirks in the pilot program. Well, that and fuel efficiency. Takes a lot of juice to power something like that, but it can be done.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 12:53am

    Re: Re: The technology is there

    Oh sure. Go ahead, try it.
    For your information, they've had that technology ever since they captured that alien spacecraft they've kept hidden in area 51 back in the 1950s.

     

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  40.  
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    Bill, Dec 3rd, 2007 @ 2:48pm

    So what's the problem?

    I find it hard to believe that with 40 million you can't put an aircraft in the air. This company has been taking peoples money and pissing it away on all the wrong stuff. I guarantee you give someone 40 million and they can put together a vehicle capable of lifting off for private use. Moller can get lost. I'll continue reading about the two retired veterans making their own for a fraction of the price and are not a bunch of cowards when it comes time to test it out. I also hate them constantly complaining about the insurance company. If you let the government rule what you do as a scientist you are setting yourself up for failure just like moller. I doubt the wright brothers had geiko backing them up.. ha ha.

     

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  41.  
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    Dr. Doug Haynes, Feb 3rd, 2008 @ 8:45pm

    Flying Car to space flight per AST/FAA

    Dr. Haynes (Top MSCD graduate) goes 100% Green by sending his UFO into 2008’s Black History Month

    This is why we need to recognizes Black History Month year in and year out?

    Dr. Doug Haynes joins many other “earth first” human inhabitants (African heritage decedents) in leading the word into the righteous path of existence by creating the first 100% non-polluting atmospheric and outer space flying machine. Dr. Doug E Haynes recognizes that his aviation and aerospace industry has been a major production contributor in the destructive over creation of CO2 greenhouse gasses and as its leader he successfully moves to reverse this damaging behavioral pattern by creating a 100% Green flying space car.

    Back in 2003, on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first powered flight, Dr. Haynes demonstrated to the FAA, AST and millions of spectators around the world the superior capabilities of his non-polluting Haynes Saucer UFO looking prototype flying machine. Doug’s Saucer easily displayed the ability to out fly all current civilian / military VTOL, STOL, and conventional flying devices The proof of this superiority over aircraft, helicopters and spacecraft was displayed proudly on national and international television and video tape many times over. The Haynes Saucer also displayed the amazing ability to fly forward and backward at the same speed without expelling any green house enhancing gasses thereby making it the trasperatation vehicle of preference for the 21st century.

    As Europe and South America migrated in America from try to take false credit for being the first to establish a FAA/ AST registered spaceline company Dr. Haynes and his Blue Ridge Nebula Spaceline (www.blueridgeairlines.com) organization moves on to connect their state of the art, UFO, non-polluting technology to his newly developed flying car /space shuttle vehicle (Jetson Mobile category). As we all know a true Jetson category vehicle must be able to fly in and out of space as a disk shaped platform with out polluting the environment. Thank God that today only the Haynes Sauces has this FAA/AST registered capability. So while others continual to build conventional copy cat rockets / spaceships or return to building same -O- same stick shaped rockets that serve to gunk up the environment. The international community encourages Dr. Haynes and his spaceline management team to maintain their leadership in working toward cleaning up our polluted atmosphere in orbit (Space Junk) and on earth (green house gasses). Now that’s true leadership with safety responsibility and obedience’s to God at the forefront.

    Dr. Haynes believes that this is why we must celebrate Black History month year after year since so may people try to take the African heritage ingenuity and multitalented based advancements for themselves while negatively stereotyping its majority global population base at the same time. Every one now recognizes the African community as the first humanoids to occupy the earth so we have to take the lead in helping to erase the damage that the industrial revolutions transportation devices created immediately, not when it’s cost effective.

    So as the leader of the civilian passenger/cargo space transpiration industry Dr. Doug Haynes once again points the way to the right path for us all, as an African descendent is called to do by God, and prays that we all strive to work together as one people on earth to clean up our mistakes ASAP.

    Come celebrate 2008 (Black History Month) with Dr. Haynes, the first to create a 100% Green flying car /spaceship, and his Blue Ridge Spaceline management team, the true initiators of the civilian passenger / cargo space flight transportation industry, while we show off our stuff and teach the youth of Colorado the true path to success.

    As always God bless you all

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Dr. Doug Haynes, Sep 20th, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    stop infringing / plagiarizing our disk technology.

    09-18-2008
    DARPA, BOEING and Virginia Tech please stop infringing / plagiarizing our disk technology.
    Dr. Haynes, DEHAS In and the world first Space airline “ Blue Ridge Nebula Spaceline” (www.blueridgeairlines.com) prepare to demonstrate the advanced flight capabilities of the Haynes Saucer-7 and -8 craft, either in Colorado or New Mexico, next month. we
    The company ask DARPA, BOEING and Virginia Tech to stop infringing / plagiarizing our technology via the DARPA BAA 08-31 rotating retracting winged disk solicitation managed by Michael D. Blackstone That’s why we have a Black History month celebration and acknowledgement periods yearly, to keep others from stilling our accomplishment in front of God and you. Dr. Haynes was the first to successfully build and fly our patted aerodynamic rotating gyro disk on NBC television with retractable wings capability way back in 2003 in relation to the FAA/AST and X-Prize space race competition which we ran second in at the time.
    As always you’re welcome to come along on our historic adventure in aerospace science.
    God Bless You all.

     

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  43.  
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    smarterthanyou, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Emergency & Police Services

    your an idiot. a helicoptor does not have the capabilities he was refering to, urban capabilites. a flying car would be able to fly directly next to a window and have someone simply step across to safety. also as a general ambulance a helicopter can't land to offer assistance in 90% of urban environments. so suck on that anonymous coward

     

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  44.  
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    Medina, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 3:59am

    Hey stop saying bad words.I know we have all freedom of speech but please respect some others opinion.

     

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  45.  
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    Shine (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 10:32am

    I don't think flying cars are safe. Can you imagine if 2 flying cars crash on each other? The debris will all fall down and you wouldn't want to be down there when this happens.

     

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