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Inventors Die Testing "Flying Pinto" (1973)

Remember a few months back when I made a joke about how dangerous a flying Ford Pinto would be? Well, in 1973 two inventors actually tried to create such a flying vehicle, and died while testing it. The article from the September 12, 1973 Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA) is below.

Known as "the flying Pinto," a combination of a Ford Pinto auto and Cessna airplane, the prototype plunged to earth about a mile from Ventura County Airport late Tuesday afternoon.

Killed were Henry A. Smolinski, 40, Santa Susana, and Harold Blake, 40, Los Angeles. They were the founders and top two officers of Advanced Vehicle Engineers, launched at Van Nuys in 1968.

Previously on Paleo-Future:


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Reader Comments (13)

see Wikipedia - AVE Mizar

July 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergoro

I imagine Advanced Vehicle Engineers closed it's doors soon after.

July 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFred

The two most deadly words ever combined:

Flying Pinto.

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

Could this be the origins of the "rocket-powered car in a cliff" urban legend that is such a darling of the Mythbusters?

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucario

Crazy memories... I was ten when this thing crashed in Oxnard. I was watching it fly over our house on Coronado and the wings just folded up. The engine powered up with a big roar then it disappeared in the eucalyptus tree line. I raced my bike over to the crash which was just off of Gonzales in Oxnard. Big mistake on my part... it was my first experience of human life tragedy. I’ll never forget it!

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDark Daddy

I find this whole Flying Pinto program very fascinating.Dark Daddy,its amazing you were there when it crashed.I would welcome any further details on the crash eye witness to the Mizar crash! Wow.
Those poor inventors who perished,however,at least it happened BEFORE they started selling them...imagine a whole fleet of them crashing in nearly every state in the nation.Dangerous!

February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

you can see more info about AVE - The Mizar - flying Pinto's

here ~~>

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCookieboy

Yes,I am aware of your nicely done website.I would like more info on the final fate of the flying Mizar though....more crash pics,more newspaper/Magazine reports,eyewitness interviews...etc....

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Dark Daddy ,
I would like to talk to you more about the Mizar

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Geez! Thanks *ever* so much.... I feel *really* old now.... I remember the flying pinto thing like it was yesterday. I still think of it, spontaneously, from time to time. Granted, I was really young, but I thought that it was the coolest thing I'd ever heard of, except for the space program of course. A plane for the common man! And I was *so* disappointed when it didn't work.... I can't believe it's so completely forgotten. Thank god people wouldn't have still called it "groovy" at that time, or I'd have to go out, get a couple dozen cats and call it a day. <sniffle>

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLia

The AVE Mizar was and still is the best ever car / plane design. It was absolutely brilliant and if not for the fault in the one attach point for the lower portion of the starboard wing strut, the concept would have been an immense success. Even the venerable Boeing 707 - the first successful passenger jet airliner suffered a tragic setback when an early prototype crashed. But fortunately Boeing did not let that incident put an end to the program and the Boeing 707 went on to revolutionize air travel and spur the proliferation of the airline industry. It is such a shame that the AVE Mizar project was not carried on into certification completion and production - it could have revolutionized personal and business travel. I predict that one day - someone will return to this design concept and make the dreams of its designers come true. As a person with an engineering background and a private pilot with 37 years of experience, I have no doubt that the AVE Mizar is without question the most practical concept for an automobile / aircraft hybrid vehicle. Because this brilliant design utilizes a production vehicle - it will have the best road performance of any car / plane concept and also have the ability to carry 4 or more passengers and their baggage on trips of up to 1,000 miles. I can also envision this concept mated to an electric vehicle utilizing the new low-weight high storage-capacity super-capacitors in place of the batteries currently in use. Additionally, the top of the wing can be completely covered with the new thin flexible solar panels thus enabling the car’s super-capacitor energy storage unit to be charged during flight. This design concept has so much potential and many incredible advantages over ever other car / plane design out there.
Revive The AVE Mizar Concept!

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill DeFalco

Bill, My brother Doug and I would really like to talk with you about the AVE Mizar.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

@Linda Shoot me an email at

May 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatt Novak

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