A Pinto for Icarus: Smolinski and Blake

d 1973 Van Nuys, California

Contributed by Bill Higgins, HIGGINS@FNAL.FNAL.GOV

Henry Smolinski and Hal Blake founded Advanced Vehicle Engineers in Van Nuys, California. Their gimmick: put flight instruments and controls in a 1971 Ford Pinto. Saw the cabin and front engine off a twin-boom Cessna Skymaster, and attach the rest of the aircraft to the rear of the Pinto with the wings over the roof and the pusher engine snugged up against the hatchback. Fly the Pinto to an airport near your destination, unlatch it from the wings, and drive it where you want to go. No need for rental cars...

It worked (though the aero-engine failed on the maiden flight, and the pilot had to *drive* back to the hangar). It got great publicity, as flying automobiles always do; see *Hot Rod* for August 1973, page 116. It got a distributor: Galpin Ford of Sepulveda, California.

Alas, sometime late in 1973, Smolinski and Blake climbed aboard the "Mizar" and rolled down the runway. During the takeoff, the peculiar marriage of wheels and wings divorced, and the Advanced Vehicle Engineers found themselves sailing through the California sky in a very un-advanced vehicle, a wingless Pinto.

With the death of the two principal developers, the Mizar project dissolved. The world is still waiting for production of a commercial roadable aircraft.

(While you're waiting, I recommend a look at *From Wheels to Wings*, by Prof. Palmer Stiles of the Florida Institute of Technology. It's a collection of drawings from significant flying-car patent documents. These pictures would improve the fantasy life of any motorist.)


Later: Feb-2002

Robert Munro found a whole page on the Mizar, with pictures and description, taken from the 1973 "Complete Ford Book":

Mitzar, Flying Pinto?

Yes, the flying car looks just as ridiculous as you would expect.

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