1959 Trautmann RoadAir
This RoadAir was the first prototype and last production model built by Herbert Trautmann. The notion of making a car that could fly had always been a fascination for Herb.
The idea for a plane/car combination was first conceived in the pioneer days of aviation prior to World War I, but technical limitations of the time prevented any serious progress. Interest was rekindled in the late 1920s when ideas and activity flourished. A few successful projects flew, and all had one thing in common: they were neither good cars nor good airplanes. The Great Depression squelched any further interest in the concept until after World War II.
During the war, the U.S. Navy supported the development of a flying car called the “Obese Piper Tri-Pacer.” It was designed by Robert Fulton and first flew in 1946. By the time it was certified in 1950, Herb Trautman had begun construction of the RoadAir. Unfortunately, the performance of the Fulton “Airphibian” could not keep up with the demands of powerful turnpike cruisers that the American public were pursuing. In 1952, the Fulton Aircraft Company was disbanded. Undaunted, Herb continued to build his dream car until it was completed in 1959.
- Year Built — 1959
- Wingspan — 25′
- Speed — Sub-sonic
- Gross Weight — 1,000 lbs
- Engine — Continental (85 hp)
With the engine running, the fixed-pitch pusher prop provides the thrust to move the car forward down the road and for flight. There are brakes to stop the RoadAir, but there is no provision for backing up. To get the aircraft ready for flight, the cockpit “front hatch” is opened and handles are pulled to open doors that are located on the outside lower part of the RoadAir’s body. The wings are folded out, where they lock in place, and the doors are shut tight. Controls are similar to an aircraft with a control column and rudder pedals. To “drive” the Road Air on the ground, the pedals that operate the flight rudders in the rear also turn the front wheels for steering.
It is my understanding it briefly got about 6 inches off the ground, but no further testing followed. I acquired it as part of my Tallmantz Collection purchase in 1985.