When it comes to American made cars there are as few that as well known as the Ford Pinto for being a terrible car. Some go as far as to blame cars like the Ford Pinto for being the reason that Japanese car manufacturers were able to come to the United States and take over the industry. But that did not stop one company from believing that they could turn the Ford Pinto in a car that could not only drive on the road but could fly as well. This was an ambitious project because the Ford Pinto had a hard enough time driving on the road and had issues that made it a dangerous car for flying. Namely the fact that the Ford Pinto tended to catch fire if it was tapped on the rear bumper.
Advanced Vehicle Engineers in 1971 and until 1973 decided that they would try to combine the Ford Pinto with Cessna Skymaster. The company was founded by Henry Smolinski, who graduated from Northrop Institute of Technology with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He founded the company with the goal of creating a car that could drive on the road and easily take off and fly.
The design of the car was done as a matter of simplicity. The Cessna Skymaster has a pod-and-twin boom design that made it perfect for attaching to a car. After removing the engine and passenger space of the plane they were able to attach the air frame to the car. The Ford Pinto was chosen partially because it was a lightweight car, a necessity for the Skymaster frame to be able to lift it in the air. The company planned to have the air frame custom built for the Ford Pinto once they were successful in getting their Cessna/Ford hybrid off the ground.
By 1973 there were two prototypes of the flying car built. It was named the AVE Mizar and several taxi tests were performed in May 1973. The car was fitted with a Teledyne Continental Motors 210 horsepower engine which would be used for driving on the road and for takeoff, but once the flying car was in the air, the engine would be shut off. The car would land on all four wheels and then telescoping wing supports would allow the frame to be tied down. The air frame was also designed so that it could be easily unbolted from the Ford Pinto.
The AVE Mizar had its first test flight on September 11th, 1973. Click Next to see what happened.