There can’t be many vehicles that can turn up at a car show and an air show and not look out of place at either. The Terrafugia Transition has managed it. How? Because it’s a car you can fly. And a plane you can drive.
After making its debut at the New York Auto Show last year, the car-airplane this week wowed crowds during several flights at the enormous EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was the first time for the Terrafugia to fly at such an event.
A video (below) of one of Terrafugia’s two flights shows chief test pilot Phil Meteer
behind the steering wheel at the controls as he drives down the runway at speed before skillfully taking the machine off the ground and into the skies above the airfield.
Besides the 20-minute flight, the demonstration also included the Terrafugia Transition’s automatic conversion from flying machine to car, where its wings fold up and its Rotax 912 ULS aircraft engine switches from powering the rear-mounted propellor to driving the wheels. The process takes less than 60 seconds to complete.
The Boston-based company behind the two-seat vehicle, which has a cruising speed of 100 mph in the air and 65 mph on the ground, says it wants to combine “the safety of commercial aviation, the convenience and flexibility of a car, and the freedom of the open sky,” adding that it believes its “practical flying car” is the answer.
According to its website, the Transition has already been cleared to fly in and out of over 5,000 public airports in the US and can legally drive on public roads and highways.
The final version of the car-airplane is currently in the works and could go on sale as early as 2015. However, you’ll need $279,000 to buy one, plus a sport pilot certificate and, of course, a driver’s license. The company is also looking to build the TF-X, a four-seat plug-in hybrid car-plane capable of vertical take-off and landing.
While plenty of observers believe widespread take-up of flying cars is unlikely to ever happen, Terrafugia’s progress with its ambitious project has certainly surprised many as it seeks to create a new flying-car industry.