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Entries in popular mechanics (7)

Saturday
May072011

Urban Airport of the Future (1926)

The fine people at Popular Mechanics recently published a book that deserves a prominent place on every retrofuturist's bookshelf. The Wonderful Future That Never Was by Gregory Benford looks at technological predictions that appeared in the pages of Popular Mechanics from 1903 until 1969. The prediction below was an attempt to address what was seen as an inevitable problem; how to land personal aircraft in busy cities. The solution here was to erect a gigantic landing port supported atop four skyscrapers.

Since the airplane has become a factor in commerce, the question of suitable landings within city areas has grown in importance. One plan calls for an immense stage to be erected on top of four skyscraper towers, to span 1,400 square feet. The entire platform can handle 80,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of freight yearly.

 

Tuesday
Feb222011

Flying Carpet Car (1958)

Andrew A. Kucher [right] with Anastas I. Mikoyan [left] (Life Magazine, 1959)

In 1958 you'd find no greater advocate for the hovercar than Ford vice president Andrew A. Kucher. Kucher was on a media blitz in the late 50s and early 60s, being quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street JournalMechanix IllustratedChicago Daily Tribune, Popular Mechanics, Automotive Fleet and below in Arthur Radebaugh's syndicated Sunday comic, Closer Than We Think.

Kucher is credited with having conceived the idea of the hovertrain in the 1930s, a precursor to today's Maglev trains which use magnets rather than compressed air to achieve a similar effect. Newspapers from April, 1958 describe a three foot long hovercar model that was shown to reporters in Detroit. Riding on a cushion of air, Kucher described how this "Glideair" car could one day achieve 200-500 miles per hour since it didn't have tires which burn up and lose traction or control. An Associated Press piece even quotes Kucher as saying that such technology would be in use in the "foreseeable future."

For the love of Hugo! If God had intended that we fly he would've attached propellors to our feet! Amirite? Amirite?!!?!?!

Look, pa, no wheels! Use of a thin layer of compressed air may allow autos to hover and move just above ground level.

A pipe dream? Not at all. The concept (already proved) comes from scientist Andrew Kucher, vice-president of engineering at one of our major motor companies. His people are studying how to maintain stability. Special highway engineering is one way. Another is skillful design, evidenced already in experimental ideas from the staff of motor stylist George W. Walker.

Today's earthbound cars won't turn into low flying carpets right away. But it may happen sooner than we think!

 

As always, thanks to Tom Z. for the color scan of this panel from April 6, 1958.

 

Previously on Paleofuture:

 

Sunday
Feb282010

Science on the March (1952)

This illustration by Alexander Leydenfrost appeared in the fiftieth anniversary issue of Popular Mechanics (January, 1952). It depicts "science on the march" and even includes a chart explaining the various elements of the image.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Monday
Jun182007

How Do You Like Them Apples?


I guess "Where's my Jetpack?" can no longer be the battle cry of the paleo-futurism movement.

Mexican start-up Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana (TAM) offers its custom-built TAM Rocket Belt for $250,000, which includes flight and maintenance training. On a full tank of hydrogen peroxide the belt weighs 124 to 139 pounds (the bigger the pilot, the bigger the belt), and provides 30 seconds of flight. TAM's sole competitor is Jetpack Inter national, a Colorado-based company that sells what it calls "the world's longest-flying jet pack." Technically speaking, it's true — the hydrogen-peroxide-burning Jet Pack H202 can stay in the air for 33 seconds, 3 seconds longer than TAM's model. The H202 weighs 139 pounds, and is competitively priced at $155,000, flight classes and all.

See also:
Where's My Jetpack? (2007)
Jet Flying Belt is Devised to Carry Man for Miles (New York Times, 1968)
Jet Pack Video (1966)
A Wonderful Day to Fly (1980)

Wednesday
May162007

New York in 1960 (1935)


This cover to the March, 1935 issue of Popular Mechanics purported to illustrate New York City in 1960. The image is featured in the book Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future.

See also:
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)

Wednesday
May162007

Anachronisms of the Future (1911)

The June 17, 1911 Evening Post (Frederick, Maryland) ran a blurb about "Anachronisms of the Future."

An article in Popular Mechanics suggests some historical absurdities which future authors may attempt to perpetrate on the gullible public. The illustrations show Joan of Arc at her sewing machine, an X ray examination of a civil war soldier, the sinking of the Maine by bombs dropped from an aeroplane, George Washington posing for his photograph, etc. With the lapse of centuries historical boundaries are apt to become hazy, and these anachronisms which appear impossible now may pass unchallenged later.

Monday
Mar192007

100 Miles per Gallon! (1992)


The end of the article says it all:

"...sometime in the near future, you will be able to go to your local dealer and buy a car that incorporates much of what you see here. And it will get 100 miles per gallon."