The police who patrol Brooklyn’s Coney Island thought they had seen everything at least once, until they spotted Tony Goitia’s car cruising past Nathan’s world-famous hot dog emporium one recent Sunday afternoon. Goitia’s pride and joy is a standard mustard-colored 1970 Mercury Montego with one unusual option, a five-foot propeller attached to the engine through a hole hacksawed in the hood. The cops were not impressed with Goitia’s handiwork: They arrested him for “reckless endangerment.” Said Lieut. John Dempsey, “He was driving carefully, but the propeller was going 80 miles per hour. He could have cut somebody in half.”
Goitia, 32, a Brooklyn auto mechanic and amateur inventor, is incensed at the arrest. “I told the police, ‘Look, I’m testing my invention,’ and they put me in jail like a criminal,” he says.
A native of Puerto Rico who constructed his propeller from old auto parts and scrap metal, Goitia claims that it not only increases speed but improves gas mileage. He is so pleased with his invention, in fact, that he is now designing a multipropeller model that he says will actually fly. “It will just take me two, three days,” he says, “then it will be ready.” He is also working on a mini-power plant to run an entire houseful of electric lights without using any energy. “Anything is possible,” he says philosophically. “People have no imagination. They say, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I know what I’m doing.”
Lieutenant Dempsey is not one of those naysayers who question Goitia’s sanity. “Hey, they laughed at Edison,” he says. “Maybe this guy knows something we don’t know.”