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Flying Car Takes First Test Flight

1832 Views 1 Reply 1 Participant Last post by  TDR

If the news had been released to mass media just a day sooner, some people may have thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke, but it’s not a prank at all.

What many individuals thought would only be possible in science fiction movies (or their dreams)is becoming closer and closer to being a consumer’s reality. Terrafugia, Inc., a company based out of Woburn, Massachusetts, has premiered what they are calling, the Transition—a car that is able to change into a flying aircraft with just a few (a very few) minor changes.

As a car, it is able to do, well, everything a car can do. You can drive it on side roads and it even moves fast enough for highway speed. You can fuel it up like any other kind of vehicle at your local gas station and while it doesn’t come across, physically, as your traditional compact automobile like say, the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, this little two-seater is created to fit quite nicely into a single-car garage.

As an aircraft, the wings that are normally folded at the car’s side while on the roads are opened up and in no time (literally, based on the video), you are able to fly into the air just as well and easily as any other kind of small commuter plane.

Pretty amazing, right?

According to the company’s reports, this is just the updated version of the prototype that they premiered in 2009. The difference is that Tarrafugia, Inc. now feels like the Transition has met a lot of their requirements; they actually have plans to begin making it available for purchase in as soon as 2013.

That timeline is definitely impressive, but it’s pretty much a given that there will have to be a lot of preparations put into place before it will be available to the mass public. One reason is because the attempts for making a flying car is not something that’s new…or recent, even. Another company by the name of Courtesy Aircraft invented their own version of a flying automobile. It goes by the name of the 1954 Aerocar, it’s a vintage flying vehicle and it’s currently on the market for $1.2 million dollars. The Transition plans on selling their version at a price that is at least four to five times less than that. This means that the Transition is giving at the very least four to five more consumers the accessibility to purchase the vehicle that’s an aircraft…that’s a vehicle.

This also means it’s affording a lot more people the chance to occupy air space. If you’re a big time commuter of commercial planes, can you just imagine how many more flights will be potentially delayed due to the fact that people are taking a little “fly drive”? One way to look at it is that it could be a form of job security for air traffic controllers, internationally, for sure.

Well, at least they have a few more months to figure all of that out.

In the meantime, if you’re personally looking forward to owning the Transition, you might want to check out and see it for yourself. However, if you’re someone who would prefer to continue traveling by land, well, there’s always the bus rental New York City route that you can take. Right at this very moment and for just a few dollars too.
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Consumer Reports also did a report on them. The flying car was at the New York Auto Show

Like other modern street-legal vehicles, the Terrafugia Transition includes such safety equipment as air bags for the driver and passenger, energy-absorbing crumple zone construction, a collapsible steering column, auto-tensioning seatbelts with force limiters, and a back-up camera.

But unlike most other street legal vehicles, the equipment list also includes a stowable floor-mounted control stick, an antiservo tab, electric pitch trim, and, patented, electro-mechanical folding wings. That's because the Terrafugia can fly, but the developers would prefer you not call it a flying car. It is billed as the world's first practical street-legal airplane.

And practical it is, with a sensible 100-hp engine said to be good for 35-mpg on the highway, disc brakes all around, a storage compartment big enough to swallow up a set of golf clubs, and a built-in airframe parachute.

The reason behind not wanting it called a flying car is that the Transition is designed not so much to be a car that flies, but as an airplane that can be driven to its destination if thunderstorms pop up. Its creators are quick to point out that because bad weather and small planes don't get along, this innovative ability vastly increases its practicality and makes an argument for having a personal aircraft in one's garage. And yes, the Terrafugia can fit in one.

Woburn, Mass., based Terrafugia chose the New York International Automobile Show to show its new plane because, they figured, it was likely to draw lots of attention from the media, the public, and those all important potential investors. And if the crowds elbowing each other for a better view during media days are any indication, they made the right call. The Transition was drawing more crowds than almost anything this side of the new SRT Viper. Of course, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aerospace engineers behind Terrafugia are pretty smart folks. You don't always encounter actual rocket scientists at a car show.

Priced at $279,000, Terrafugia plans to begin deliveries by the end of the year, giving well-heeled adventures another way to hit the skies and road in style. And they can relax in the knowledge that if there's a problem, the airframe has a built-in parachute. But they may want another one for their clubs.

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