In the time after World War One, the automobile was new and people had
to decide whether to stick with the horse or get a car. In the 1920's,
the decision was made financially easy with the advent of the
inexpensive Model T and the ability to make time payments. Suddenly, you were free to travel much greater distances. There were some inconveniences and safety problems, but the trade-off was well worth it.
A similar situation was predicted and marketed in the late 1930's through the mid 1940's: "You need to get yourself an airplane, Bub."
Small aircraft were becoming safer and more commonly produced. A post-war boom in small aircraft was predicted and manufacturers such as Cessna touted inexpensive (about $1500) aicraft that were safe, reliable, and almost stall-proof. Flying lessons set a guy back about $40 for enough seat time to get a license and fly safely.
Imagine: you could pack the Mrs. and kids into the plane with the gifts and buzz on down to Birmingham for Christmas at Grandma's. Marketing at the time claimed that the airplane was at the same point in consumer acceptance as the automobile had been in 1920. A plane in every garage was just around the corner.
But it never happened that way. I wonder why?
The aircraft industry, completely reliant on government contracts, saw a staggering bust after WWII came to an end. As a practical matter, an airplane is inconvenient to own. Like having a boat. A really big, wide-as-a-street boat. A hangar on your property is impractical; even if you have a garage the size of... well, a plane, how are you going to haul it to the nearest air strip? Getting into trouble in a car is easy enough, but most of us like to think we can steer ourselves out of a catastrophe and emerge alive. Get into trouble, or find yourself with engine trouble due to lax maintenance in an airplane, and your chances of survival drop precipitously.
Still, it's hard to believe that more people didn't leap at the chance to spend about the cost of a Buick to be able to actually fly, alone, free in the blue sky.
Instead, it went the way of the Jet Pack and the Television Phone.