The Terrafugia Transition “flying car,” actually a combination light sport aircraft/luxury automobile, is slated to go into production, now that the FAA has given final approval. Drive away/flyaway cost is just about $200,000. According to the Guardian:
“The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot – an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land – it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered.
“Its cruising speed in the air is 115mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage.”
The Transition flying car requires a runway of about a third of a mile, say an air port or a piece of flat land, to take off and land. The license to fly a light sport aircraft requires just 20 hours of flight time to obtain.
The era of flying cars has been a staple of science fiction, films, and television since the Jetsons first took off in their domed air car. The famous saying from the “Back to the Future” films, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” doesn’t quite apply to the Transition, but it is closer to being reality.
One advantage that the Transition flying car has is that if one is taking a short jaunt to the next town, say Houston to Dallas, New York to Washington DC, or even Los Angeles to San Francisco, and one runs into inclement weather, one can land at the nearest airport and then complete the trip on the highway.
One disadvantage for the Transition is the low amount of weight that can be carried. Two people and luggage can quickly add up, especially if the two people are, er, well-fed. The Transition is obviously not designed for family trips, at least by air.
The price, as much as an expensive sports car, will also be an impediment to the average consumer. Still, one must start somewhere along the road (or glide path) to the future of “We don’t need roads.” The Terrafugia transition seems to be a good start. But I’m holding out either for my fusion-powered flying Delorean, or a Jetsons air car with ejector seats to let off passengers. Either one would be pretty cool, and a good sign that the future we were promised is at last becoming the present.
Terrafugia Transition ‘flying car’ gets go-ahead from US air authorities, Tom Chivers, UK Telegraph, June 29th, 2010