To the skies

Reading your feature about personal planes, my first thought is that if the idea ever takes off (pardon the pun) I would be most reluctant to get into one. The idea of joining hundreds of other small aircraft dodging around the skies sounds just about the most dangerous thing imaginable.

But the more I think about it the less this seems to be a problem. Imagine if you had told the driver of one of the earliest cars when there were only a few hundred in the whole country that within 100 years the UK would be filled with millions of them — they would have viewed the prospect with disbelief.

Yet these days we all happily nip in and out of side roads, thread our cars through small gaps between parked vehicles and join lanes of moving traffic at 70mph or more. And for the most part we do those things with no more sophisticated driving aid than our two eyes and the computing power of the human brain to help us make decisions and react quickly.

To an early motorist chugging along an empty road at a few miles per hour all that would have seemed impossible. Perhaps a future with the sky full of tiny air vehicles controlled by a mixture of computers and human pilots isn’t so far fetched.

As for the danger, the first few accidents would certainly cause a backlash. But then thousands die on the roads every year and the last time I was on the M25 I saw no sign that it was putting anyone off driving.

B Harte