April Fools Day has come and gone, so we can confirm that the crazy-sounding story you're about to read is fully legit. As Motorcycle.com recently spotted, Subaru has filed a U.S. patent application for a "land-and-air" vehicle, which amounts to...a flying motorcycle.
Indeed, the drawings in the patent application depict perhaps the most literal interpretation of that: a conventional motorcycle tucked into an airplane fuselage.
Based on the application, it seems the wings of this Subaru flying machine would tuck into the sides on the ground, and the vehicle would operate much like a conventional motorcycle. During takeoff, the wings would extend outward with their propellers facing upward, which would allow for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) functionality with a fixed rotor at the rear.
After takeoff, the wings would flip horizontally and serve as traditional airplane wings and propellers. The motorcycle wheels would retract inward when the vehicle is in the air.
Interestingly, the vehicle would use internal combustion rather than electric power, both to drive the motorcycle and generate power for the electric propellor motors. Flight controls would be merged with the standard motorcycle controls. The vehicle would also have an autopilot mode, allowing the rider/driver/pilot to focus on turns, speed and altitude.
The idea of Subaru thinking up a vehicle like this isn't too surprising. The company is known for off-beat ideas, and in addition to producing off-road capable Outback wagons. it has an aerospace division that works with Boeing and the Japanese Self Defence forces, And we have seen other automakers dabbling in personal VTOL vehicles — though most are of the automated, electric-powered drone variety.
It's not clear when, if ever, civilians will be able to buy a flying Subaru motorcycle or what the use case for one would be. Still...we kind of hope we have the chance to find out.