By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Auto Show has returned with a roar after a three-year absence. And a flight of fancy.
Visitors to the prestigious North American International Auto Show, which kicked off last week, can see the latest offerings from some of the world’s biggest automakers, as they have been able to for years.
But this time, they can also watch what organizers call “the show above the show.”
The Air Mobility Experience features displays and demonstrations by six air mobility innovators from five countries, including electric vertical take-off and landing planes, a hoverbike, a hoverboard and a jet suit.
“Feels like the future,” said John George, chief creative officer of the Air Mobility Experience. “We’ve all asked ourselves this question — I know I’ve had it since I was a kid: ‘When would that future come?'”
“And the answer is, ‘Now,'” he said.
Exhibition visitors can see some mobile air transporters on the exhibition floor while others could be seen in the sky over the city.
These include the ICON A5, a two-seat amphibious light sport aircraft with retractable wings that allow owners to transport it in a trailer behind a truck, SUV or other vehicle.
Pilots from ICON Aircraft of Vacaville, California offered demonstration flights along the Detroit River, making landings on the waterway between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
“The reaction (from passengers) landing on the water is always my favorite,” said Suzanne Clavette, ICON’s marketing manager and pilot, who flew some of the A5 demo flights that passed downtown’s Huntington Place convention center, where the car show is taking place.
The NAIAS last took place in January 2019. She returned last week on a smaller scale with fewer new model debuts and journalists, and less glittery displays.
But hosting the show in September has allowed automakers — including Ford Motor Co., which unveiled the new Mustang at downtown’s Hart Plaza — and air-mobility companies to take advantage of the great outdoors.
“Honestly, I think this is the future of shows. It’s not just a car show anymore. It’s a mobility show that gives you a glimpse of all these types of vehicles, including those that fly,” George said.
The show runs until Sunday.
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