What geek hasn’t been waiting patiently for the arrival of real flying cars ever since the first time they watched the opening of the Jetsons? Since that show debuted in 1962, we’ve seen lots of technological advances, like the unprecedented evolution of integrated circuitry resulting in computers in every home (and every pocket), but no flying cars.
Terrafugia, a company based in Massachusetts, hopes to correct that technological deficiency. The name “Terrafugia” is Latin for “earth escape”, and that’s exactly what their Transition automobile promises to do.
You can park it in your garage, and drive it around on the streets of your neighborhood or at highway speeds. Fill ‘er up with regular unleaded fuel. But when you’re ready to fly, just unfold the wings in 15 seconds and you’re ready for take-off!
Well, not so fast. It’s not actually legal to take off from most roads (except in Alaska), so you’ll have to taxi into your local airport first and get tower clearance, etc. Same goes for landing. Oh, and you have to be a licensed pilot. But at least you don’t have to rent space at the airport and drive a car between. Terrafugia is calling the Transition a “roadable aircraft” (who knew “road” was a verb?) rather than a flying car, in order to emphasize that it’s a private airplane that can be driven home.
At only $194,000 US, why not get his and hers? Well, that’s a little over my budget — but apparently Terrafugia has already received at least 40 orders for this craft, even though it has yet to be flight-tested. It’s expected to hit the market in 2010.
The Transition was created by engineers from MIT who are also private pilots. It uses the same 100 bhp gasoline engine to power its propeller in the air and its front wheels on the ground. A single 20-gallon tank is expected to take you 460 miles through the air at 115 mph. At 65 mph on the highway, it gets 30 mpg. It’s a two-seater, with a useful load of 430 lbs.
OK, I’m mildly disappointed. What I really wanted was a rocket-propelled coupe with the whole glass bubble hinged top, capable of hovering in mid-air and taking off from anywhere. I was also kind of wickedly looking forward to all the mid-air traffic mayhem resulting from massive adoption before the authorities can institute controls.