I was told that, in the future, we would have flying cars. But if you believe the patent records, we have had flying cars for nigh on a century! Practically since the airplane was first invented! It’s almost as if there were some reason, whether commercial, practical, or perilous in nature, that kept people from actually driving a flying machine or flying a driving machine.
Enter the hero of this story, Augustus J. Harpstrite, with his Combination Air, Land, and Water Plane: https://patents.google.com/patent/US1579654A
Not satisfied with merely bridging two elements, Mr. Harpstrite sought to master the three media of movement. The motive force on land and in the air was to come from the main propeller 22, while the back propeller 17 was to be used asea.
Where does the lift come from? Well, it doesn’t have proper wings, like a modern airplane would. Instead it has that huge scoop on top. The idea is that you get moving fast enough with the propeller that the tilted plane 25 lifts you off the ground. This is lift due to the “angle of attack,” and boy howdy, it looks terrifying.
There a few other interesting features, like the hidden top propeller, separate doors for use on land and at sea, and safety lines “to ensure a parachute action in an emergency.”
I did not find a record of Mr. Harpstrite’s attempts or prototypes, nor any obituary that would have suggested that his death was the result of high velocity or drowning. I think we can conclude that, having obtained his patent, he balked at the task of actually making the thing. If he had, I like to think that some element of fame or infamy would have endured.