Wednesday

Odd Name, Odd Looks, The Future Car?


Remember when George Jetson would hop in his flying car in The Jetson's? The television cartoon series prompted dreams of having a flying car for millions of children. Well, reality has arrived.

Although it isn't a space ship, it is a flying car. Well, okay, the company calls it a roadable aircraft and not a flying car but a rose is still a rose and what makes this airplane unique is that it is also a car that can drive down the highway too.
A bunch of MIT engineer types have quietly been working on the flying car concept for years and have not only built and tested their design, but now the US federal aviation agency has approved its design and designated it to be a "Light Sport Aircraft." That's important because it means the operator only needs an easy to get (20 hours training) pilot license to be able to fly, or drive, on into the sky by himself, or herself.

Terrafugia is the name of the company and the Transition is the car-plane's model. It gets 30 mpg on the highway (not flying) and sips 5 gallons of fuel (the same that you get at your local gas station right now) to get 115 miles of airflight behind it. It can carry two passengers and it isn't for everyone but if you have ever thought you'd like to avoid highway traffic jams, this may be the way to do it.

And if you can afford the nearly $200,000 price tag, you can park one in your garage very soon. Then you can drive it to a small airfield near you, press a button, the wings automatically fold out and lock and then off you go into the wild blue yonder.

From a design point of view, it proves that if you put enough engineers in a room, you can come up with anything and that it will work. The Terrafugia Transition will fly. It works. And it does, indeed, have a market but that market is limited.

For the price tag though, you can buy a used Cessna and a new Corvette and still have $100,000 left over. Ah, that's the rub. If the price comes down, though, we could all end up flying the Terrafugia. Just like George Jetson. Who knows? It looks like it would be fun.

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