Alternate History

Aeroglider (Caroline Era)

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The aeroglider, or terraplane, is an air cushion vehicle with a skirt and a fan which enables it to glide across fairly regular surfaces. The first use of an air cushion to aid movement was found in the Spangler vacuum cleaner of the inter-war years. This was extended to lawn mowers and warehouse trucks before the outbreak of the Second World War. Remarkably, in spite of the military applications of aerogliders, they were not developed into outdoor vehicles until the year after the end of the war.

Late Elizabethan glider buggies

In late Elizabethan times, teenagers and young men began to adapt warehouse trucks and lawnmowers by increasing the power of their engines and removing much of the excess weight. By this time, many lawnmowers had seats. They were able to produce small, relatively fast vehicles which were, however, illegal to "pilot" on the highway due to the uncertain situation of the nature of the vehicles - neither road nor air vehicle, or both?

Caroline terraplanes

Inspired by the "souping up" craze, Sinclair produced a hovercraft kit in 1985. This was also technically illegal to drive, but the law was first ignored and then changed to allow them on roads. It was followed by the larger C10 in 1986 and the even larger C20 the year after. The weight and therefore fuel efficiency was improved first by the use of improved battery technology and reduced physical density of the batteries, and later by the wider availability of titanium as a structural metal due to the lunar mining operations beginning in the later part of the decade. By the end of the twentieth century, no smaller vehicles used wheels and aerogliders were the main form of near-surface transport other than monorails and maglev trains and trams. This was helped by the easy availability of electricity from orbital solar power after the Third World War and the shift of freight onto rail, which meant that smaller vehicles were used locally to transport lighter loads.

The increasing popularity of terraplanes led to considerable changes in driver education and tests, and some changes also in vehicle insurance and traffic regulations.

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