All thorough my childhood and adolescence I was a keen fan of all sorts of science magazines including Scientific American (the Amateur Scientist was my favorite SciAm column because it showed how to build things), a subscription magazine from NASA’s Science Service, Asimov’s sci-fi journal, and yes even Popular Science and occasionally Popular Mechanics since my dad liked it.
I lost track of how many times the world has been promised a flying car in those magazines. It seemed like we’d all have a “chicken in every pot” and a flying car in every garage. I’ve been waiting for years decades and there have been lots of false starts and outright frauds. Where the heck is my flying car?
So it was with some amusement that I read this article in the London Time Online. It appears one is being readied for market, we’ll see. I wonder if the ELT on it automatically dials a selection of liability claims attorneys? Even if I had $200k to blow on it, given how regulated we are now, the only place you can fly it “off the road” is Alaska.
World’s first flying car prepares for take-off
Is it a car? Is it a plane? Actually it’s both. The first flying automobile, equally at home in the sky or on the road, is scheduled to take to the air next month.
If it survives its first test flight, the Terrafugia Transition, which can transform itself from a two-seater road car to a plane in 15 seconds, is expected to land in showrooms in about 18 months’ time.
Its manufacturer says it is easy to keep and run since it uses normal unleaded fuel and will fit into a garage.
Carl Dietrich, who runs the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, said: “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle.”
The Transition, developed by former Nasa engineers, is powered by the same 100bhp engine on the ground and in the air.
Terrafugia claims it will be able to fly up to 500 miles on a single tank of petrol at a cruising speed of 115mph. Up to now, however, it has been tested only on roads at up to 90mph.
Dietrich said he had already received 40 orders, despite an expected retail price of $200,000 (£132,000).
“For an airplane that’s very reasonable, but for a car that’s very much at the high end,” he conceded.
There are still one or two drawbacks. Getting insurance may be a little tricky and finding somewhere to take off may not be straightforward: the only place in the US in which it is legal to take off from a road is Alaska.
Dietrich is optimistic. He said: “In the long term we have the potential to make air travel practical for individuals at a price that would meet or beat driving, with huge time savings.”