Getting an aircraft off of the ground requires a massive amount of energy, versus simply keeping one in flight. Recognizing this, a startup called Talyn has designed an electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that consists of two separate parts: One to do the heavy lifting up front, the other to actually convey passengers to their destination.
Talyn's Lift vehicle is essentially a gigantic octorotor with two additional rear-thrusting rotors, with twin slim fuselages attached to a large single wing. The shape is pure form-follows-function:
The passenger-carrying Cruise vehicle looks more like a conventional fixed-wing airplane:
When it's time to take off, the Lift is attached to the Cruise...
...and the former hoists the latter skyward and propels it forwards:
Once enough momentum has been generated to keep the Cruise in flight, the Lift detaches and returns to base:
The Cruise proceeds on to its destination, where it can land like a conventional plane, or "picked up" by a waiting Lift at another Talyn port that brings it back down.
The advantage of this system is that the Lift has a short trip back to base, where it can recharge its batteries in preparation for the next landing job. And by offloading a chunk of the battery weight to the Lift, the Cruise can therefore be smaller, lightweight, efficient--and fast. Talyn says that flying from L.A. to San Francisco on a conventional airplane takes 4.5 hours, door-to-door; they reckon they can do the same journey in just 90 minutes.
As for L.A. to New York, that's not in the offing, at least for now; with existing technology, the Cruise is forecast to have a maximum range of 350 miles. It will be interesting to see if they can scale their tech up in future to encompass long-haul flights.