Tired of sitting in your car in traffic? Now you can fly and drive in the same vehicle. Terrafugia has developed a flying car with foldable wings that can be driven on any road and parked in a standard parking space or home garage.
Designed by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers, the Terrafugia Transition has been in development since 2007. It is a two-seater that operates on unleaded gasoline. The production version will meet both Federal Aviation Administration standards for flight as well as crash-test standards by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the event of a car accident. Only a driver's license is required to drive it on roads, while flying it requires at least a sport pilot license, since it is considered a light sport aircraft.
To get the Transition ready for flight, the pilot simply extends the wings and performs his preflight check. After landing, the wings fold at the flip of a switch in less than 30 seconds, while engine power is simultaneously directed to the wheels via a continuously variable transmission. Terrafugia estimates that the Transition can be used at over 5,000 public airports in the U.S. and, of course, can be driven right off the airstrip and onto the final destination.
The Terrafugia Transition is expected to be available in low-volume production beginning in late 2012, at an approximate sale price of $279,000. Terrafugia already has over 100 orders for the Transition, primarily to pilots, or to people willing to complete the 20 hours of flight time and flight test to get a Sport Pilot license.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.