This Road Air
was the first prototype, and last production model built
by Herbert Trautman.
The idea of making a car that could fly had always
been a fascination for Herb.
The idea for a plane/car combination was first
conceived of in the aviation pioneer days prior to World
War I but technical limitations of the time prevented
any serious progress to be made.
Interest was rekindled in the late 1920ís when
ideas and activity flourished.
A few successful projects flew and all had one
thing in common, they were neither good cars nor good
depression squelched any further interest until after
World War II.
A gentleman by the name of Fulton, designed
a flying car that the U.S. Navy actually backed during
the war. It
first flew in 1946.
By the time this 'Obese Piper Tri-Pacer' look-alike
was certified in 1950, Herb Trautmann had begun construction
of the Road Air.
Unfortunately, the performance of the Fulton Airphibian
could not keep up with the demands of powerful turnpike
cruisers that the American public was looking for.
In 1952, the Fulton Aircraft Company was disbanded.
Undaunted, Herb continued to build his dream car
until it was completed in 1959.
After finishing his dream flying
car, Herb was ready for his maiden flight.
Herb climbed in, locked the hatch, started the
Road Air and began to taxi.
Feeling comfortable he began to get the feel of
the Road Air on faster and faster runs.
Finally, he lined up into the wind, applied full
power and headed down the runway.
At about 90 mph the Road Air lifted off the ground
to about 3 feet.
As Herb soon began to loose control, he set the
Road Air back on the runway averting disaster.
After going home to clean his underwear, he put
it in storage, never to be flown again.
When Kermit purchased
the Tallmantz Collection in 1985 the Road Air was on loan
for display by Mr. Trautmann.
When packing the collection for shipment to Florida,
Herb, in his eighties, came out for a visit to decide
what to do with his aircraft.
He had no place to store it and when Kermit offered
to take it back to Florida, Mr. Trautman signed over a
Bill of Sale and gave it to him on the spot.
In 1996 the Road Air was restored to
It is sometimes taken by trailer to trade shows
and events as an attention getter to help promote Fantasy
of Flight. On
one promotional outing, the Road Air was taken down to
the local U.S.A. Speedway and driven around the track
for a quick demonstration.
the engine running, the fixed-pitch pusher prop provides
the thrust to move the car forward down the road and for
are brakes to stop the Road Air, 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 Road Airís 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, the pedals that operate the flight
rudders in the rear also turn the front wheels for steering
on the ground.
donít always get what you want, but you always get what
you need. Maybe
it was destiny that the Road Air ended up here in Florida
to show to the world one manís Fantasy of Flight.