Is this the flying car we’ve been waiting for?

January 24th, 2009

Imagine pulling out of the garage in your new $200,000 car.

You roll down the windows, feel the breeze and smile, knowing that your car has the power and speed to fly past any other car on the road.

TerrafugiaLiterally.

The Transition, built by Terrafugia of Woburn, Mass., has been generating some buzz for at least a year. Now, the company plans to deliver the first vehicles in 2010.

The Transistion can be parked in your garage, drive on regular roads enroute to the runway, unfold its wings, and fly up to 500 miles – without jet fuel. In fact, the Transition can run on the same juice that fuels a regular old Honda.

I was in junior high when the 1980s gave way to 1990, and I remember how futuristic that date looked flashing high above Times Square. I thought surely now that we were in the ’90s, flying cars couldn’t be far away. Of course, they never materialized. Now, though, I have to wonder if the Transition is the flying car people like me have been waiting for.

Officially, the makers of the Transition are reluctant to call it a flying car, because it won’t replace anyone’s car for daily driving and requires a general aviation airport for takeoffs and landings. However, they say it’s perfect for trips of 100 to 500 miles, and such airports are within an average of 30 miles from any point in the U.S.

On the ground, the wings fold up, and the car can be driven on any road and even park in regular parking spots. Once on the runway, the driver/pilot unfolds the wings with a push of a button, engine power is redirected to the propeller, and the plane can take off.

The Transition can cruise in the sky at 115 miles per hour and achieves 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Potential buyers can earn the required Sport Pilot License in just 20 hours of flight time.

Still not convinced? Buyers can also order a full-vehicle parachute, just in case their landing skills still need some work.

Do you think a vehicle like the Transition can succeed? 

-tgriffith

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