The folks at NASA have built something called "The Highway in the Sky." It's a computer system designed to let millions of people fly whenever they please, and take off and land from wherever they please, in their very own vehicles.
And here's the good news: A lot of people are building machines you'll be
able to buy.
One of those people is an inventor named Woody Norris. And, asfirst reported last spring, he received this year's top prize for invention.
It's called the Lemelson-MIT award, and it's a half-million-dollar cash prize to honor his life's work, which includes a brand new personal flying machine.
It's called the AirScooter, and self-taught inventor Woody Norris says it goes on sale later this year.
Norris, 66, asked one of his test pilots to demonstrate the AirScooter for 60 Minutes on a hilltop outside San Diego, Calif. It can fly for two hours at 55 mph, and go up to 10,000 feet above sea level.
"Look how quickly it stops, hovers, sideways, sideways, straight down," Norris tells Simon.
Everything is controlled from the motorcycle-like handle bar. Push it forward and the two counter-rotating blades pivot forward. Push it back and it goes back. Norris says you won't need a pilot's license if you fly it under 400 feet in non-restricted air space. And he's going to sell it for $50,000.
A lot of inventors have tried to cash in on personal flying machines. One, built in 1956, was known as Molt Taylor's Aerocar. You could detach the wings and haul them behind you. But they failed to catch on because they were too expensive and hard to fly in bad weather.
More important, there was no way to really manage all the potential traffic from millions of them buzzing around; that is, until now. And that's because NASA has come up with a plan to make personal flying machines a reality.
Bruce Holmes is one of NASA's chief strategists and has served in the White House, where he worked on the future of aviation. He showed Simon a flight simulator, a new computer system that can be put into any new airborne vehicle. He says it will make flying easy, and will manage all the new traffic up there.