In 1960, a "ground effects vehicle" set a new speed record. Fifty-five miles per hour! With a tailwind! Woooo!
Let's read about the impressive feat.
55mph, with the wind at your back. The little article is brief, and doesn't mention what kind of record was set that day. Was it the fastest this particular hovercar ever went? The fastest speed achieved by ANY hovercar at the time?
What we can tell from the photo is that the speed test was run at what looks like an airfield or something. They always do this sort of thing way out in the open, like the Bonneville salt flats, just in case something goes wrong and they set the "fastest cartwheeling air car" speed record. Hey, fame is fame, right? A ground effects vehicle will need loads of room, especially at speeds greater than walking pace. I'd imagine that riding in a hovercar at 55 is a bit like being in free fall, but with less control over your direction and speed.
Next to wondering "Where's my damn flying car?" is the slightly more reasonable question "Where's my darn hovercar?", and well might you wonder. After all, here we are in The Future, and your pocket phoneputer is much larger than the one you had eight years ago. That's progress, right? You should feel entitled to expect to see a hovercar in your hovergarage.
Well, you don't want one. Hovercraft are fantastically loud, wildly inefficient, and take as long to stop as they do getting up to speed. They have wonderfully low friction with the ground, which sounds exciting, until you remember that a lot of the time, you like a little friction. This is also called "grip". You enjoy grip every time you turn your car without plowing through a grammar school. Grip is your friend. Hovercraft do everything with thrust vectoring. Going, stopping, turning, not dying. All of it is done by blowing around great wads of air, which, you will recall, is pretty light, squishy and blowy - not at all like a nice sticky tire with some weight over it.
Please enjoy Noted Captivating Oaf Jeremy Clarkson driving a Russian hovercraft. Of special note is the amount of time he spends sliding sideways, desperately whirling the steering wheel around, hoping to have some effect on the direction of travel.
There's better ways to get around, mate. Enjoy your motorcar. Here's more video of Clarkson making himself killed using an hovercraft. Please to enjoy it, along with your car.
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