China may have a traditional and conservative culture, but it is offset with an optimism that looks to the future. Back when Pudong in Shanghai was first being developed in the 1990s, among its first buildings was the space-age Oriental Pearl Tower, an aesthetic reflected in other architecture throughout China like the CCTV Tower in Beijing.
It’s this kind of forward-thinking that have lead Chinese dreamers to come up with the Sailing, a hybrid-vehicle that is capable of both ground and air travel.
Unveiled this week at the third annual Chinese National Helicopter Exposition, the Sailing is made by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Taken from the two Chinese characters for “excel” and “antelope”(赛羚 sàilíng), the vehicle has six propelor blades that can extend and retract from the car, allowing the vehicle to take to the air whenever necessary. The People’s Daily Online reports that the Sailing can “land and take off vertically” and is “capable of hovering, flying forward and yawing.”
There are already big plans for the Sailing. China helicopter aviation deputy general manager and director of the China helicopter aviation design and research center Hong Jiao says that the Sailing represents the future of aviation in China. Hong envisions the Sailing being used by the military, and also says that it is sure to have a civilian use as well.
At present, air space in China is tightly regulated and fully controlled by the country’s military. During the run-up to the September 3 military parade, the use of air space by civilians was either highly restricted or banned, as was the use of radio waves and the purchase of aircraft.
While we’re all looking forward to seeing more of this flying car, previous unveilings of similar vehicles in China have led to wide-spread confusion.
In 2011, Volkswagon China released a video featuring a hovering car that caused some people in the West to erroneously believe that China was mass producing a “flying car”. However, what people failed to realize is that the video was part of Volkswagon’s “People’s Car Project” in which contestants from around China were asked to submit designs for a futuristic concept car.
As seen in a second video, the first video was part of a massive ruse played upon the winner of the contest. As part of her reward for submitting the winning entry, the winner got to see her concept come to life as realized through special effects.