’Flying Car’ Goes to Market Irene Klotz, Discovery News
Jan. 22, 2009 -- A Boston-area company plans to begin flight tests this year of a two-seater airplane that moonlights as a car.
The aptly named Transition takes a stab at bridging the gap between automobiles and airplanes. Some people call it a flying car. The company designing and selling the vehicle prefers the term "roadable aircraft."
Either way, it boils down to this: You sit down behind the steering wheel, drive to the runway, unfold two wings and take off. You can fly 500 miles on a tank of gas -- regular unleaded -- and when you land, you simply fold up the wings and drive where you want to go. At the end of the day, you fly back, drive home and park inside your garage.
Terrafugia, of Woburn, Mass., is not the first firm to attempt what may be the ultimate hybrid.
"It’s probably a concept that people have been dreaming up since there have been airplanes and cars," said Dick Knapinski with the Experimental Aircraft Association, a 55-year-old aviation group based in Oshkosh, Wisc.
A company called Aerocar of Longview, Wash., debuted one of the first flying cars in 1949. The company built six prototypes, one of which is sitting in the EAA’s museum, but never went into production.
Terrafugia, founded in 2006 by a group of MIT students, has taken deposits for more than 40 Transitions and plans to begin deliveries in 2010, said Richard Gersh, vice president of business development.
The vehicles sell for $194,000.
Advances in materials and propulsion technologies are among the reasons why Terrafugia is in position for commercial success. But equally important, says Knapinski, is an easing of government regulations on private aircraft and pilot licensing.