Every six months or so we hear that Paul Moller's flying car is just a few years away! Too bad we've been hearing that for the past 40 years.
Moller is back in the news this week after starting a crowdfunding campaign to get his flying car off the ground. But do not — I repeat, do not — give this guy any of your money.
The notorious Moller has spent the last 40 years losing ridiculous amounts of money for investors in flying car schemes that don't work. The SEC even went after him back in 2003 for issuing fraudulent stock. Thanks to new internet tools and more lax regulations, delusional businessmen like Moller have a lot more leeway to fleece the public these days — provided they give a disclaimer.
So below I offer a humble list — 17 better ways to spend your hard-earned $25 than giving it to Paul Moller's futile flying car campaign.
- Light five $5 bills on fire
- Pay a student from the local art school to draw you a flying car
- Fill a tub with 2,500 pennies and make your left foot feel like Scrooge McDuck
- Bury a $25 Blockbuster gift card in a time capsule
- Buy 50 glasses of lemonade from your local lemonade stand (25 glasses if you live in a ritzy neighborhood)
- Take a friend to the showhouse and see a new motion picture
- Donate to victims of Typhoon Haiyan
- Throw 25 singles off a tall building
- Throw 25 singles off a short building
- Eat 100 quarters because then they'll be a part of you forever
- Make breakfast sandwiches
- Send your mom flowers
- Send your dad flowers
- Send yourself flowers
- Buy like 1/13th of a bitcoin
- Pay someone to tell you what a bitcoin is and why anyone would bother buying one
- Do literally anything that doesn't involve giving Paul Moller money
The media keep perpetuating this myth that Moller is so close to bringing us the world of flying cars that people have been dreaming about for over a century. The headline, "Places you may have seen us," is featured prominently on his crowdfunding page because it's the only thing that lends his venture any credibility. So I beg the media to stop.
Stop putting him on TV, as CBS This Morning recently did. Stop saying that Moller's flying car is "heading to market within five years" like it's a certainty. Stop saying that even though it "sounds like the stuff of science fiction," Moller will "make it a reality." Stop pretending like all Moller needs is just one last million dollars to make all our dreams come true.
It's entirely possible that someone might one day bring an affordable flying car to market. But Paul Moller will not be the one to do it.
In the meantime, I can think of quite a few better ways to spend your money than a "flexible funding" (that means he keeps the money even if it doesn't reach the goal of $958,000) crowdfunding campaign run by a man who has disappointed far too many generations of retro-future nerds like myself. To the art school!
Image: Paul Moller in his Skycar circa 1999 via Getty Images