Remember those advertisements of the 1950s and 1960s that talked about fancy gadgets of the future like flying cars?
Our interest in space and technology was just starting to come to light. We were told cars would soon be able to take off in the air and cruise at warp speed and might one day break the speed of light, essentially teleporting us places. It would only take us an hour or two to get from Los Angeles to New York, minutes maybe. Who needs airplanes when you can cram the family into your top-speed station wagon?
A half-century later, we can snicker at these ads. Planes still take four hours and change to go cross country. But are we on the cusp of a new age where some of these technologies could come true in the future? Everyone laughed at the idea of GPS navigation systems back in the 1940s and 1950s to guide people around, yet smartphones utilize that technology today.
New advances in aviation technology are making flights not only safer, but planes can go faster as well. For starters, airplanes are made with lighter materials than in previous generations. Expensive hydraulic equipment is replaced with lighter-weight electronic gadgetry. Planes are less bulky but are built with improved scientific and physics technology. This development could help planes use less fuel and let planes go longer without costly refueling stops.
Advances in GPS technology may reduce the need for guidance by air-traffic controllers. No one is predicting tower controllers will fade into oblivion, but on-board GPS equipment could help pilots reach their destinations with minimal guidance. For example, online websites like Skygeek’s GPS Shop offer inexpensive GPS technology built to steer pilots around heavy traffic and potential pitfalls like severe weather and foggy conditions.
We are already seeing the future of flight inside the aircraft as well. Gone are the days when clients could use bulky Air Phones to contact people on the ground. Remember the technology that let you plug in a pair of headphones to listen to scratchy on-board radio stations?
Now customers, regardless of whether or not they fly inexpensive flights, may have access to touch screens that feature satellite radio. You may be able to pass the time by watching back-to-back episodes on demand of your favorite TV show, instead of the in-flight movie. Live sporting events may be available on some aircraft, so if you have a fear of missing your favorite baseball team in action, TV technology may enable you to watch your team play.
Most airlines offer Wi-Fi, or wireless internet, on board domestic and international flights. It used to be people that used computers or tablets couldn’t browse the Internet, but now they can. It may not make a flight faster, but it sure can pass the time until you’re on the ground.
Warp speed and flying cars may be 100 years in the future… or it could be 20, depending on how fast the technology develops and creates new innovations. Regardless of whether these are pipe dreams, there is no doubt flight has changed dramatically and future upheavals may be ahead. It is a far cry from the days of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.