Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Still Waiting for Our Mini-Chopper

November 13th, 2009 · 3 Comments

FutureHelicopterIt just seemed cruel to cap the week with Ms. O’Donnell’s execrable work, so we’re gonna give you a retro-futuristic treat: a World War II-era view of the rise of personal aircraft. The pamphlet’s title really says it all: Will There Be a Plane in Every Garage? The answer, as you might surmise, is a qualified “yes,” though the authors did foresee the mini-helicopter someday becoming Joe America’s backup means of vehicular transport:

The helicopter will do many things that it is impossible for a car to do, and it will do many things that the car can do, only much better. It can land almost anywhere, even on swampy marsh land or on water (with rubber bag floats). Where it can’t land, as in thick forests or on rough, rocky terrain, it can hover in mid-air a few feet over the spot and lower a rope ladder by means of which you can reach the ground.

On the other hand, it would not be practical for you to jump into a helicopter and flit down to a newsstand a few blocks away to pick up a Sunday paper. You’d be better off using an automobile on such a trip through city streets. The auto and the helicopter supplement each other very well. You can use your car in crowded congested urban areas and your helicopter for all other travel.

We are appalled by the fact that this has not yet come to pass. If only we could enter some sort of suspended animation until such a reality came to be—or at least until our savings account accrued enough interest so that we could buy a car.

Also of interest in this series of wartime pamphlets: What Has Alaska to Offer Postwar Pioneers? (Aside from the stated 146-100 male-to-female ratio, that is.)

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Captured Shadow

    Off topic, but kind of related by way of the slow pace of technological change – I can’t remember what comedian ranted that “We put a man on the moon, but we STILL can’t put metal in a microwave”!

    Anyway a personal helicopter would be cool. Do you think a personal jet pack would end up being the Segway of the air?

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    If they ever develop a microwave capable of dealing with metal, I think we’ll have truly reached the vaunted End of History.

    I actually think it’s a good thing that personal aerial transport hasn’t yet broken big. The accidents caused by people making sudden changes in altitude would be ruinous. See here for a Slate piece I did on the topic a few years back:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2082929/

  • Brian Moore

    A friend has recently become obsessed with this:

    http://www.iconaircraft.com/

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