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The Army's Flying Scooter and Air Donut Were Basically UFOs

We once lusted after flying cars. We now dream of smartwatches.

by Derek Mead
Aug 29 2013, 4:15pm

The future we've got isn't the one we were promised. Sure, our lives are better than at any point in history, but where we once lusted after flying cars, we now dream of smartwatches.

Back in the 60s, however, the US military was less concerned with making everything "smart" and more interested in building badass vehicles of the future. This 1961 film reel touting Department of Defense's research capabilities, we get a peek at the military's work on hovercraft, from a floating scooter to a flying donut. 

I'd say the hovercraft scooter is probably the most practical for crusing around town—can you imagine?—but for a vehicle with "more refinements," the flying donut is your way to go. But if we're talking true progress, the hovercraft car, with its 50s design and lever-filled interior, is the crown jewel. That's the future I want to live in: The one where you seamlessly pilot your chromed cruiser from road to lawn to lake, all with a glass of champagne in hand.

Of course, reality eventually set in. As useful as a true all-terrain vehicle is, floating on a cushion of air makes for difficult maneuvering and massive fuel costs. So while militaries still utilize hovercraft—especially Russia, which relies on massive hovercraft to traverse the country's wilds—they've never gained huge adoption because they're expensive and complicated. It's too bad, because I really want that hover scooter.