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Honey, Don't Forget Your Parachute!

When I was a kid, my friends and I thought that by the dawn of the 21st century, we'd all be traveling in flying cars on highways in the sky, zipping in and out between skyscrapers.

I drove an old Mazda 626 to work today. Sadly, it has no wings.

In Kazakhstan, however, government leaders appear to be doing the best they can to make my childhood dream a reality.

The big thinkers in the capital, Astana, are urging ordinary Kazakhs -- who earn on average $114 a week -- to make more use of small planes to replace what they call the "anachronism" of long car and train journeys. After all, it's an 800-mile trip between the main business hub of Almaty and Astana.

As Reuters reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Umirzak Shukeyev has announced new laws to cut the paperwork required for flights on private planes, some of which are "no more expensive than a Jeep."

"Come to any African country and they have a small runway, they take a small plane when they need to, start it like a car and go shopping to a neighboring village," Shukeyev told a government meeting.

"Driving a car to travel 1,000 kilometers is a total anachronism," he said.

Shukeyev conveniently doesn't say how folks are supposed to afford small private airplanes, or address the contribution to global warming that a multitude of airplanes flying around the Kazakh skies would no doubt make.

I am now waiting for Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to advocate the use of jet packs. Now that would be cool.

-- Grant Podelco

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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