Flying Cars

Photograph of the Transition Flying Car by opponent

Ever think the Jetson’s car was the perfect car for you? Well, that’s not so far-fetched anymore. A private company, Terrafugia, has developed what they call a “roadable aircraft,” the Terrafugia Transition. The Transition works like a car at first glance. Its body is compact enough to fit inside a normal garage and uses a gas engine to power its front wheels.

The magic happens when the Transition goes from an almost-normal car to a small aircraft in under 30 seconds. According to Terrafugia, the Transition can fly up to 450 miles at over 115 mph. It is considered a Light Sport Aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration, so anyone wanting to fly one of these needs a Sport Pilot License.

Based in Woburn, Massachusetts, Terrafugia was started in 2006 by aeronautical engineers and MBAs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The five graduates are enthusiastic private pilots and wanted to address the issues private pilots face of uncertain weather, rising costs, and ground transportation hassles.

The Transition completed its first stage, the Proof of Concept stage, on June 3, 2009. The first flight of the Transition took place on March 5, 2009, at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, New York, with success. The Proof of Concept vehicle demonstrated the safety of the Transition and showed where modifications could be incorporated. Now that stage one is completed, the team plans to build their Beta Prototype to test in stage two. Terrafugia hopes to get the Transition to market by 2011. Laws are already in place in Woburn, Terrafugia’s base, to allow the roadable aircraft on its streets.

People looking to buy the Transition can put down a deposit now. The anticipated cost of the Transition will be $194,000—a little more than your average car. But, admittedly, the Transition isn’t your typical car.

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Photograph of the Transition Flying Car by opponent.