If there’s one thing Burt Rutan is good at it’s turning dreams into reality. His Voyager was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. And his suborbital SpaceShipOne not only claimed the $10 million Ansari X-Prize but is helping in motion the dream of private space flight. So, who better to transform the long-running fantasy of the flying car into something real?
With the unveiling of his Model 367 BiPod, Rutan and his firm Scalred Composites become the latest in a series of visionaries – dating back to at least Henry Ford – hoping to find a functional way to combine a car with an airplane.
It isn’t quite George Jetson’s briefcase aerocar. The BiPod uses an unusual design with, as the name suggests, a twin, pod-like fuselage which not only provides two cockpits but protected storage for the wings and tail surfaces while operating on the ground. The right pod handles airborne duties, the left takes control on the ground.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the BiPod is its source of power. Rutan – who developed the concept before retiring last April – has always been a fan of light and energy-efficient designs. He’s been experimenting with personal electric aircraft for more than a decade. And with the Model 367 he has adopted an extended-range electric system that is quite similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt.