In the 1950’s, Americans were obsessed with flight. ‘To the Moon or Bust’ was our creed, and by golly, we meant it. The Russians had already sent a satellite buzzing over our heads (Sputnik 1), and we quickly followed suit with satellites of our own. Thanks to Eisenhower’s newly formed NASA rocket building division, the sky was no longer the limit. Things were changing, so jetpacks and flying cars were just around the corner…
Sadly, flying cars never quite took off (pardon the pun). Several flying death traps have been attempted, but none ever wound up at ‘a showroom near you’. However, a tiny Massachusetts company called Terrafugia (Latin for ‘Escape the Earth’) aims to change all of that with their road-legal Terrafugia Transition aero car.
The Lego-looking car has dual airbags and a crumple zone, in case you decide to have an accident on the ground. There’s an airframe parachute, and a carbon fiber safety cage for airborne mishaps. And, you even get a backup camera, a tire pressure monitoring system, a panoramic sunroof, a golf club storage compartment, and a touchscreen interface (minus Pandora & Google Maps). Oh yeah, you also get power-folding wings, a rear mounted composite propeller, and a 100-hp Rotax aeroengine (hooked to a CVT, for earth-bound propulsion). The Terrafugia aerocar is said to be capable of 100 kts (115 mph) in the air, and 35 mph on the ground. But in order to be certified for public sale, the plane-car has to pass the mustard on several FAA test flights.
The first test flight took place recently at the Plattsburgh International Airport, located in an outpost along the Canadian border. Known for exporting snow 9 months out of the year, the little town in upstate New York got to see the first production Terrafugia Transition undergo its first FAA test flight. Most Plattsburgh-ers (extra pickles, hold the mayo please) didn’t even know that history was taking place right above their heads. The world’s first production airplane car, drove down the country lanes, and took to the sky for the first of 6 Federal Aviation Administration certification flights. Terrafugia says that the test flights should be complete in the coming months, and deliveries (with a sticker price of $279,000) should begin in Q4 of this year.
Wonder if John Travolta’s ordered one yet?