The revamped Detroit auto show now also features new flight technology

DETROIT — The Detroit auto show has returned after a three-year absence with a roar. And a flight.

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 largest automakers, as they have in years past.

But this time, they can also see what the organizers call “the show above the show.”

The Air Mobility Experience features exhibits and demonstrations from six air mobility innovators, representing five countries, including electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, a hover bike, a hover board and a jet suit.

“It feels like the future,” said John George, creative director of the Air Mobility Experience. “We’ve all asked ourselves this question, I know, since I was a kid: ‘When was that future going to come?'”

“And the answer is: ‘Now,'” he said.

Show attendees can see some air mobility vehicles on display on the show floor, while others have been visible in the skies above the city.

That includes the ICON A5, a two-seat amphibious light sport aircraft with retractable wings that allow owners to transport it on a trailer behind a truck, SUV or other vehicle.

Pilots from Vacaville, California-based ICON Aircraft conducted demonstration flights along the Detroit River that included landings on the waterway that separates Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

“The reaction (of passengers) to landing on the water is always my favorite,” said Suzanne Clavette, marketing manager for ICON and a pilot who flew some of the A5 demo flights that passed through downtown’s Huntington Place convention center. which hosts the auto show.

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NAIAS was last held in January 2019. It returned last week on a smaller scale with fewer new model and journalist debuts, and less glitzy 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 make use 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, giving you insight into all those types of vehicles, including the ones that fly,” George said.

The show runs through Sunday.

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Follow Mike Householder at https://twitter.com/mikehouseholder

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