Flying Cars Soar at the Cradle of Aviation Museum

By: Kate Nalepinski
Flying Car Exhibit Li Home

Courtesy Jerelyn Zontini

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”—Doc Brown, “Back to the Future” 

Long Island is known for many things—beautiful homes, stunning beaches, incredible schools, arts and culture and wineries and restaurants and…traffic. But the days of being able to soar above the LIE and other highways and byways may be closer than you think.

The Jetsons and world fairs and our favorite DeLorean made flying cars a symbol of the future. Now here in February 2022, the concept vehicle becomes something of a reality in the newest exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

Cradle Of Aviation Museum Exterior

Courtesy Cradle Of Aviation Museum

With the launch (yes, pun intended, naturally) of the “The Future Is Now” at the Garden City museum, the “Personal Flight” aspect of the the exhibit spotlights Personal Air Vehicles, or PAVs, and brings that futuristic vision to life in a way even Marty McFly would envy.

“The dream of futurists has always been a flying vehicle capable of … moving people from Point A to Point B,” says Joshua Stoff, the museum’s curator. “PAV’s herald a new era of aviation.”

These on-demand aircraft—which are not quite planes nor helicopters—are capable of carrying one or more people, and unlike traditional aircrafts, they don’t require pilot qualifications for usage. Can true flying vehicles for the masses really be within reach? With the height to which aerospace technology has developed so far, Stoff says, “we’re right on the edge of that being technologically possible.”

Four working model PAV’s are on display in the exhibit, including a Kitty Hawk Flyer, powered by 10 DC electric motors, and a VertiCycle, an electric hoverbike that can take off and land vertically without relying on a runway. Alongside the exhibit is an interactive drone simulator kiosk, where visitors of all ages can learn to operate a drone like a pro.

While airborne automobiles may still feel a bit like the stuff of movies, Stoff notes that one could actually purchase a flying motorcycle right now, if they so desired. So how close are we, really, to flying cars? “I would say a car is probably 10 years away,” he says. “The technology is here.”

As exciting as the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s look at travel of tomorrow is with this exhibit, equally exciting is the future of the museum itself. Located on the Town of Hempstead Historical Site Mitchel Field—which served as a military airfield from 1917 to 1961—the museum is ever-expanding, Stoff says.

“We’re always looking for more things to add, and we’re always restoring things. The museum is really—there’s no end. It’s not like we’re done and that’s it. It’ll always be a living, growing thing.”

Learn more at cradleofaviation.org.