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updated: 12/14/2010 10:01 AM

Kids ask: Are hover cars coming soon?

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  • Moller International's Skycar.

    Moller International's Skycar.
    Courtesy Moller Int.


"When will a hover car be made?" asked students in Elis Diaz's fifth-grade class at O'Plaine School in Gurnee.

What if a fire engulfed the entire 27th floor of a downtown skyscraper and it was up to you to save the employees who were trapped?

You'd jump in your Firefly, a four- to six-passenger vertical flying vehicle that looks like a mini UFO, grab the loudspeaker to announce that help is on the way, and then zoom up 240 feet to the spot where the employees were screaming for help and load them into the vehicle, then fly them to safety.

Sound like a scene in a sci-fi movie?

If it was up to Paul Moller, a rescue using a vertical flying vehicle would be a routine occurrence.

Moller's California-based company, Moller International, has created and is manufacturing vertical flying vehicles what they call volanters and will be delivering them to government and private owners next year.

Moller is producing the Neuera, a saucer-shaped vertical flight vehicle, its emergency response version called the Firefly and the Skycar, a four-person mini-plane.

"The only vehicle that can come up to a skyscraper and save people is the Firefly," Moller said.

The benefits of the Firefly and its recreational counterpart, the Neuera, when compared to something traditional, such as a helicopter, is the new vehicles are lighter weight, less expensive and can fly into tighter spaces.

The Neuera, which looks like a shrunken flying saucer, lifts about 10 feet off the ground. An all-terrain-type vehicle, the Neuera can be used over mud, water, marsh or desert.

In-town flying would probably be limited to emergency response use only. The Firefly is an emergency response vehicle and can gain altitudes of 2,000 feet while hauling a load of up to 750 pounds.

The Firefly is the type of vehicle that could be relied on for a variety of rescue needs, such as hurricane or earthquake response missions.

The Skycar looks like a toy propeller airplane and is only big enough to fit up to four passengers.

"It's a commuter car," Moller said.

Specs include speeds of up to 395 miles per hour, a 750-mile range and altitudes of up to 25,000 feet. The Skycar is fueled by ethanol.

Among those lining up to purchase the car are government border patrol agencies, farmers interested in taking a bird's-eye-view of hundreds of acres of property, and people who just want to own a Neuera for the fun of it.

Moller said there have been 67 deposits made for Skycars, and the owners will be able to order them in any color they wish.

If you think you might want to own one of these flying vehicles, start saving your holiday and birthday gift money now. Skycars will be sold at an auction, to be held early next year, and Moller expects the selling prices to reach up to $500,000 each.