Terrafugia Releases Flying Car

No wait... it has wings, damnit.

By , Columnist

Terrafugia

Spending most of my childhood in the care of television shows like The Jetsons, I believed by the time I learned to drive it would be in a flying car. When that time came, it was vaguely disappointing that vehicles, even those described in the classifieds as “good condition for age,” did not yet include “up” buttons. I don’t want a car with wings, I want the traffic-jam defeating equivalent of a Harrier Jump Jet without them.


While there have been many flying car prototypes from individuals and companies like Chrysler and Ford, the disappointing aspect has always been that the vehicle is more like a plane that can fold up and drive on the road than a car that can fly. When I was sent a link describing Terrafugia’s contender for air-road hybrids, I clicked excitedly… only to see wings.

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Terrafugia has been developing “roadable aircrafts” since 2006, but its Transition┬« model recently gained clearance from The US National Highway Safety Administration due to new FAA regulations. The Transition will be available in the U.S. by the end of the year and around 100 people have already put money down on the $227,000 purchase.

Terrafugia developed the Transition┬« “to provide pilots the convenience of a dual-purpose vehicle,” but this model can be driven on the road by anyone with a driver’s license. To take the Transition┬« airborne, one must obtain a light-aircraft license, which takes as little as 20 training hours. Built of carbon fiber, the two-seat plane is about the size of a large sedan. On landing at an airport, its wings fold up in 15 seconds, with power then routed to the rear wheels, giving it a top road speed of about 62mph.

Even with Highway Safety’s clearance and new FAA regulations, it is rather irresponsible of Terrafugia to provide aunt Jenny from Nebraska the opportunity to just “pop in” from several states away.

The flying car is not a new invention and is often attributed to aeronautical engineer Waldo Waterman. Waterman designed the Arrowbile, which took its first flight on March 21, 1937, powered only by a Studebaker engine.

Unfortunately, Waterman’s flying car never took off. And until a developer gets rid of the wings, flying cars never will.

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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