The future may be closer than you think.
Earlier this month, MIT graduate based company, Terrafugia, performed it first prototype launch of what most are calling, the world’s first practical “flying car”.
Appropriately named the Transition, this “roadable aircraft” allows for an almost seamless transfer between the road and flight.Hoping to appeal to members outside the aviation community, the vehicle is controlled with a steering wheel and is small enough to fit in your garage.
To further public appeal, the Transition comfortably seats two people and runs on regular unleaded gas, meaning it can fill up at all standard gas stations. The 20-gallon tank has a flying range of 500 miles and cruising speed of 115mph, while still maintaining 30-highway mpg. To make for a quick transfer, the wings extend or fold up in only 30 seconds.
Aviation enthusiasts have spent nearly a century chasing the dream of a hybrid vehicle, but only until now have the legal and technological advances allowed for its practical use.
In 2004, in an attempt to spark the public interest, the FAA created a new category of aircraft and license for sport aviation.
“The FAA and the aviation industry realized there has to be a way to get people interested in flying. Even the airline pilots of today had to start somewhere with basic flying. There had to be an entry point that was practical and affordable,” said Dick Knapinski with the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Sport pilot licenses require half of the training time of the standard 40-hour training for a private pilot license.Though sport fliers are not eligible to take off or land at runways with air traffic controls, the medical requirements are also much less strict, closely resembling the requirements of a driver’s license rather than a commercial or private pilots license.
“What the FAA and the government say by having that rule is that these vehicles have the same level of complexity as motor vehicles.You fly in non-complex airspace at relatively low speed,” says Knapinski.
Terrafugia has taken deposits for more than 40 Transitions and plans to begin shipping to customers by 2010.
The Transition will sell for $194,000.