Terrafugia Transition: World’s First Flying Car
The world’s first hybrid airplane car has been making headlines recently after a successful first flight in early March 2009. It’s no surprise that this got some attention. After all, everyone’s at least a little bit interested in a car that can fly, aren’t they? It’s like something of the future except that it’s actually available right now. Well, maybe it’s not available per se. You can’t go to your local car dealership and purchase one. But it’s been created and it’s been tested and that means that it’s one step closer to being something that we might actually see some day. Let’s learn some more about it … Jetson’s daydreams, here we come!
Basic Information about Terrafugia
Terrafugia is a company that was founded in 2006 with plans to make the world’s first flying car. The company was started by graduates of MIT who had studied a combination of management and aeronautics. In other words, some business students at MIT teamed up with some aeronautics smarties from the school and decided to create a business together which definitely got some headlines even when the company was first started because of their ambitious goal to come together to create a car that could fly.
Terrafugia Transition’s Maiden Flight
The company has just recently made headlines again because they’ve actually been successful in creating a car that can fly. On March 5th, 2009, after six months of intensive testing, the Terrafugia Transition aircraft made its maiden voyage. A retired United States Air Force Reserve Colonel piloted the plane out of New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport. The flight only lasted less than a minute so it’s not something to be bowled over by yet but it went on to perform six more take-offs and landings without harm so it’s certainly well on its way to actually working as a car that can fly.
What To Call It
There has been a lot of debate about what to call this car. Most people are dubbing it a flying car. However, it’s technically more like an airplane than like a car which therefore means it’s more like a driveable airplane or a “roadable aircraft” as it is frequently being called. In terms of its actual name, this first car from the company is called the Terrafugia Transition.
The Design of the Terrafugia
The Terrafugia Transition’s design combines that of a two-seater car and a small airplane. When it’s ready to fly, it looks just like an airplane (more or less) with a wingspan of about twenty seven feet. What’s cool about those wings, though, is that they are designed to fold up so that the car can also look just like a car (more or less). The wings are folded using buttons inside the cockpit of the car. More importantly than how neat this is to play around with, this design makes the car functional so that it can be driven on roads with other cars and parked in parking lots and garages. It has limited storage area that is sufficient for things like suitcases or skis so it’s a useful small car.
The Terrafugia Transition is highway ready in the sense that this car can travel at speeds of about 65mph which is adequate for the highway when it is in car mode. Of course, it’s faster as a plane and can reach speeds of about 115 miles per hour when the car is in the air. The car runs on regular gas whether it’s in road-mode or flight-mode so it could feasibly be filled up at a local gas station. In terms of fuel efficiency, it gets about 30mpg as a car which makes it a highly fuel efficient vehicle.
How This Car Would Work if You Owned It
It’s probably going to be a long time before the average person is going to be able to buy a car like this but if you did own one what would that mean? Basically, you would be able to park the car in your garage and to drive it around like a normal car on normal gas. However, you would also have the option of flying the car short distances of anywhere from 100 to 500 miles. To do this, you would need to drive the car to a local airport and take off from there. This means that, feasibly, I could drive my car to a local airport and then fly it to other cities in California such as Sacramento or Arcata.
How to Get One
These cars aren’t on the market yet. They were originally slated for a 2009 release but it’s looking like it’s going to be closer to 2011 before these are going to be ready for customers. However, you can actually sign up to reserve one of these flying cars online already. You put down a $10000 refundable deposit which goes towards the car. It is expected that the flying car will cost close to $200,000 when it is ready to go on the market although that price is unconfirmed at this time. Note that drivers of these cars will have to be trained to drive them (or rather to fly them) which is done through a 20-hour course offered by the company. It is likely that the flying car will initially only be sold in the area surrounding the company for reasons related to training, licensing and repairs for the vehicle.
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