This Road Air was the first prototype, and last production model built by Herbert Trautman. The idea of making a car that could fly had always been a fascination for Herb. The idea for a plane/car combination was first conceived of in the aviation pioneer days prior to World War I but technical limitations of the time prevented any serious progress to be made. Interest was rekindled in the late 1920’s when ideas and activity flourished. It first flew in 1946. By 1950, Herb Trautmann had begun construction of the Road Airand, Herb continued to build his dream car until it was completed in 1959.
After finishing his dream flying car, Herb was ready for his maiden flight. Herb climbed in, locked the hatch, started the Road Air and began to taxi. Feeling comfortable he began to get the feel of the Road Air on faster and faster runs. Finally, he lined up into the wind, applied full power and headed down the runway. At about 90 mph the Road Air lifted off the ground to about 3 feet. As Herb soon began to loose control, he set the Road Air back on the runway averting disaster. He put it in storage, never to be flown again.
Called the Roadair, the car has a body 15 feet long and 7 feet 10 inches wide. As an auto, it rides on a tricycle gear, the single rear wheel driven by a small gasoline motor. As an airplane, the wings fold out from the body to a 25 foot wingspread. A 75-horsepower airplane engine drives the single pusher propeller. Twin rudders and elevator are located in the rear. Expected retail price was approximately $10,000.
Estimated cruising speeds are 90 miles per hour in air and up to 75 on ground. FAA experimental license has been issued. Roadair operates us auto or plane from same controls. Same action moves rudders and wheels. Wings fold up inside body.
When Kermit purchased the Tallmantz Collection in 1985 the Road Air was on loan for display by Mr. Trautmann. When packing the collection for shipment to Florida, Herb, in his eighties, came out for a visit to decide what to do with his aircraft. He had no place to store it and when Kermit offered to take it back to Florida, Mr. Trautman signed over a Bill of Sale and gave it to him on the spot.
In 1996 the Road Air was restored to runable condition. It is sometimes taken by trailer to trade shows and events as an attention getter to help promote Fantasy of Flight. On one promotional outing, the Road Air was taken down to the local U.S.A. Speedway and driven around the track for a quick demonstration.
Engine: 85 hp Continental
Wingspan: 25 ft
Gross Weight: 1,000 lbs