The price of the latest Ford monoplane is $37,000, with the promise that after the first 100 machines are sold it may, however, drop to $28,000. Edsel Ford has declared that eventually, "we hope to put a machine in the air that will be proportionately as cheap as our pleasure cars."
A few days after this declaration, Henry Ford celebrated his sixty-third birthday by exhibiting his long-looked-for "sky flivver," the secrets of which had been guarded for months. This little monoplane, weighing only 350 pounds, is one of the smallest single-seaters ever built. Its wings measure only twenty-two feet across, and its fuselage is only fifteen feet long.
"At present the plane should be regarded entirely as experimental," said Mr. Ford. The experiment, however, gives testimony that the flying car for the man of small means is more than a dream..
For one thing, the little plane has a new arrangement of flaps to give it quick upward lift from a small space. In one demonstration, when the machine was started at the rear end of the hangar, by the time it left the hangar entrance it was sailing through the air. Later, observers watched it spin down a country road like an automobile, the tail skid having been replaced by a wheel, thus demonstrating how easily the owner of such a machine could drive it from his home to any open place for takeoff.
At present the "flivver" is driven at a speed of 100 miles an hour by a three-cylinder air-cooled motor. This will be replaced, it is said, by a two-cylinder engine that will reduce the weight of the machine to 310 pounds. . . .
How soon we shall fly our own machines depends, experts agree, on how quickly foolproof machines can capture public confidence. Once that confidence has been gained and public demand created, quantity production and lower prices will be possible. The wonderful history of the automobile will be repeated in the air.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.