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Flying Cars May Be A Reality After All: Meet The Terrafugia Transition

Posted in Car Tech, Concept Cars, Cool Stuff, General, Newsworthy, Science by Kurt Ernst | June 30th, 2010 | 2 Responses |
Terrafugia Transition

Photo: Terrafugia

Remember all those issues of Popular Science that told us we’d be driving flying cars by the year 2000? Sure, the bastards lied to us, but flying cars may soon be a reality thanks to some flexibility from the FAA.

The Terrafugia Transition, pictured above, represents our best hope for a flying car. Until recently, it was just a prototype, uncertified by the FAA for flight. Why? Because in order to meet vehicle safety requirements such as crumple zones, air bags and steel door beams, the Transition was too heavy to be a “light sport aircraft”. In a rare moment of compassion, the FAA granted an exception to the Transition, allowing it into the light sport aircraft classification despite being overweight by 110 pounds.

The Transition has a cargo capacity of 450 pounds, and can fly up to 460 miles at 115 miles per hour. On the ground, it can transition from an aircraft to a motor vehicle in less than 30 seconds and is capable of “highway speeds”. Unlike a light aircraft, which generally gets parked in bad weather, the Transition can be driven to your ultimate destination if the weather turns ugly.

As you’d expect, there are several drawbacks. First, you must possess a valid pilot’s license with a light sport aircraft rating. Don’t have one? Get in touch with a flight school soon, because you’ll need 20 hours of flight time to qualify. Want to fly under low visibility conditions? You’ll need an instrument rating, which takes quite a bit more time and money to earn.

The next obvious drawback is the price. Transition buyers must put down a $10,000 deposit towards the purchase price of $194,000, and delivery of the first production models is expected to begin in 2011. Seventy people have stepped up to the plate so far, so you probably won’t be seeing the skies filled with flying cars any time soon.

Source: Terrafugia Flying Car

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2 Responses

  1. Taylor says:

    Flying cars are just a pie in the sky dream that nobody has fully pondered the consequences of. We read about them in a variety of forums and we think they’re cool when we see them in movies but what is the actual practical use of such a vehicle?

    First off, the art of land based driving hasn’t even been perfected by the majority of drivers. With the miriad physical and imaginary (painted lines) devices used to direct traffic we still manage to do a good amount of damage to ourselves and the world around us with our cars.

    Second, the dream is uncongested/quick travel. What will actually be accomplished by taking the millions of vehicles on the ground and suddenly making them airborne? What use would they be in larger cities that have major air ports which basically own the airspace within a certain distance around them? The idea about quick travel via a flying car is rediculous. The fastest way from A to B is and always has been a straight line. Imagine all these flying cars going from A to B at one time. It would be total chaos. If someone were able to design some type of guidance system (lanes??) then we would be back to gridlock.

    Maybe once they perfect the flying car and get it to the masses, one day in the distant future, a gearhead will come up with a crazy idea…..What if we took the wings off and just drove around on the ground. That would solve the gridlock problem we have now.

  2. Kurt says:

    Taylor, right on. The good news is that flying cars will be priced beyond the reach of most drivers, so the skies will take a long time to get congested.

    I’ve been saying it for years – all the safety improvements we make in cars are just band-aids on a severed limb. Until we treat the REAL problem (teaching people how to drive and enforcing laws on the books), the situation on the roads is only going to get worse no matter how much technology we throw at it.