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Terrafugia Transition flying car makes first public flights

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August 16, 2013

The TerreFugia Transition performed a 20-minute demonstration flight at EAA AirVenture Osh...

The TerreFugia Transition performed a 20-minute demonstration flight at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

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There was a ray of hope recently for those who are looking forward to a car that’s a bit more Blade Runnery as Terrafugia's Transition flying car made its first public flights at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. There, the Terrafugia team conducted two 20-minute flight demonstrations and also showed off the capability for the Transition's wings to be folded up so it can be driven about like a car.

Classed as a light sports plane by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Transition is also a road-legal vehicle. Technically, it isn’t a flying car so much as a roadable airplane capable of carrying a pilot/driver and one passenger. The company sees it as a way for private pilots to cover that “last mile” between a small airport and their destination without using a taxi of hauling along a motor scooter.

It’s been under development for seven years, including flight testing last year, but underwent a number of modifications this year in an effort to improve handling.

In a statement, the company said, "Terrafugia made a dream come true at this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The Transition performed its first public demonstrations for the aviation community during the show. Flown and driven by Phil Meteer, our Chief Test Pilot and Flight Test Coordinator, the Transition showed the crowd what it's capable of on Monday (July 29) afternoon and Wednesday (July 31) evening. The 20-minute demonstrations included flight maneuvers over show center, converting from airplane to car, and driving along the flight line."

The TerraFugia Transition is currently priced at US$279,000 but no delivery date has been announced.

The video below shows the Terrafugia Transition’s first public flights.

Source: Terrafugia

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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30 Comments

Aside from being an under performing car that converts into an under performing plane that only costs US$279,000 you have to register it as a car and buy automobile insurance.

I'm betting that it is more cost effective to buy a better performing plane and to have the rental car place deliver a car.

Slowburn
17th August, 2013 @ 12:20 am PDT

I agree with "Slowburn." Although technically interesting, this idea has been around since I was learning to fly in the 1950's. It's an impractical "toy" for the pilot with nothing better to spend their money on. Just imagine the result of a minor fender-bender on the way home from an airport!

snit
18th August, 2013 @ 06:13 pm PDT

I agree with Snit - Good luck for anyone under 30, even with a clean record, trying to get insurance! Those folding wings, ingenious as they are, would cost a fortune to repair (replace?) if you got clipped by an erant semi in the next lane.

The Skud
18th August, 2013 @ 07:24 pm PDT

Flying car? Please. This is crap. Not sure why /they/ can't see this and just stop.

Mark Thomas
19th August, 2013 @ 03:20 am PDT

Rather than getting insurance for the road, I'd be more concerned with the fact that you'll need a full pilot's license to fly it. So why not just have a car and a Cessna.

mommus
19th August, 2013 @ 03:26 am PDT

Hmph.... 2013 and this is the best they can do for flying cars? Those eggheads need to stop screwing around and invent anti-gravity!

Oh, I'm joking, but yeah this thing pops up with predictable regularity -- note however, they were kind enough to give an excuse that a man can explain to a wife, because even rich wives have a tendency to get snarky when her man buys too many toys.

Alas, until we get antigravity, or barring some other nifty breakthrough, this is the best we are likely to get in the "flying car" department.

True Romaine Spence
19th August, 2013 @ 03:50 am PDT

it's just a rich man's toy

Tom Phoghat Sobieski
19th August, 2013 @ 05:47 am PDT

toy

how can that thing possibly pass car safety regs, bumpers, emissions.. :x) feh

$279,000

surely you could get a better plane plus a better car for way less than this expensive compromise of both

what is its mileage, also, about 3 mpg in the air?

wle

Larry English
19th August, 2013 @ 09:21 am PDT

I'm almost 70 and I've been reading about this dream since I was 8 years old. "Popular Mechanics", in the 50's told us that we would all flying cars before the turn of the century. Now that it's finally here, everybody just complains and nit-picks the concept... LOL, I agree with all of the above comments.

Maverick62
19th August, 2013 @ 09:28 am PDT

If it looks right - it is right. This thing is just plain ugly.

Paulinator
19th August, 2013 @ 09:28 am PDT

State driving laws combined with federal flying laws! How's that going to work out? Can those two get along on this one? Is that going to be a double taxation problem?

donwine
19th August, 2013 @ 09:31 am PDT

We recently were rear-ended by an inattentive driver who had the minimum required Utah liability insurance: $15,000. This driver totaled her car and one other, and damaged two more, including ours. Glad we were in a Honda Civic and not one of these.

bboyes
19th August, 2013 @ 09:58 am PDT

looks like the, getting pulled over by the cops issue is solved, quote Bill Murray , in kingpin " finally I'm above the law" no getting Munsoned in this little gem. nice build guys.

Jay Finke
19th August, 2013 @ 10:11 am PDT

I researched used Cessna 152 for sale online, and prices ranged from $14,000 to $35,000, so that leaves me with about 279,000-35,000 = $244,000 for taxi/car rental fees. I won't buy one, but when rich people buy this kind of stuff it sometimes brings the price down, like the $1,500 VHS vcrs that came down to $29, so: go for it! If the same price reduction ratio hits, these will cost 50 times less some day (but they won't, because they are mechanical, not chip-based)

TGinNC
19th August, 2013 @ 10:24 am PDT

No fender benders allowed.

ezeflyer
19th August, 2013 @ 10:51 am PDT

Wow! Speaking of fender benders, this thing brings the 'blind spot' concept to a whole new level. Scroll up and take a look at that thing again, all folded up into the 'car' mode. Can you imagine driving on the Interstate, and deciding to change lanes?? You wouldn't even know if there was an 18-wheeler five feet from you.

At least you wouldn't have to worry about collecting on insurance..... you won't be around long enough to care.

OuldBill
19th August, 2013 @ 03:06 pm PDT

All the previous comments are pretty well identical to mine and others which were posted the last time this vehicle appeared in Gizmag. It seems the inventors want to have some fun. Surely they're not seriously thinking that this will be a hot selling item. Impractical is an understatement. As I and others noted before and now, I could have a faster, cheaper aircraft (I'm in Canada and our ultralight regs are similar to the recent sport plane category in the States) and a pretty fancy car to boot for a third of the money. The insurance for this probably doesn't even exist. Imagine the conversation with your agent as you explain your purchase. The road accident brings up the issue of airworthiness afterwards. The slightest dent means ridiculously expensive repairs and recertification of some sort before flight. As with every gimmicky item, there are those with the financial means to buy one. However, I'm not sure I would even if I was one of them.

challengerpilot
19th August, 2013 @ 05:17 pm PDT

Love idea but see these barriers

Pilot training for driver

like above posts said: insurance & liability issues alone

& costs unless mass produced & Air Car Hwy System in place , Total Recall with Colin Farrell & or Blade Runner, 1982

Wed need those airways to make flying cars viable

Stephen N Russell
19th August, 2013 @ 05:22 pm PDT

At this price, they only have to sell a few to retire. Then they don't have to worry whether it works or not.

MBadgero
20th August, 2013 @ 05:14 am PDT

With all the stupid, ignorant, selfish and entitlement attitudes of many drivers, putting such a vehicle on the road or in the air will cause a danger to others.

How many times have we switched cars and realized that the cruise control is in another location of the steering wheel? In a plane you had better be on the ball...and the couple of drinks the night before won't help matters either.

Now put that person in the air and a wrong button or lever is pressed. That would be a frightening proposition.

Does anyone remember the pills in old Popular Mechanics or Science we were to swallow in the future substituting for meals?

Things like this should remain a dream-- because reality doesn't work here.

Robert Filzbock
20th August, 2013 @ 05:42 am PDT

I do agree with most of what's been posted and am an Ultralight pilot. There is possibly a market not considered so far though. If I was almost wealthy enough to live on one of the airport estates... or had been impacted by the "through the fence" regulations changes one of these might make [some] sense.

I doubt many owners would take one for long hauls on an interstate and even the marketing materials suggest simply being able to avoid hangar rent - which can add up fast in some areas.

IF they are able to bring the first roadable aircraft to market then my hat is off to them for trying.

It might just be the bit of progress needed to open up the tech and marketability. Even the Wright flyer wasn't a commercial success but it did pave the way for future flight of all sorts.

A thought.

wildew
20th August, 2013 @ 06:35 pm PDT

Interesting concept and yes old and yes the folding wings are also interesting.

But I want to hear more about the car side of things, including how it would handle in a cross wind with those big folded wings. :-)

And where do the license plates go?

TN
20th August, 2013 @ 09:00 pm PDT

What most of the commenters have missed is the possibility that this could have applications other than the sport plane category. For example, access to terrain which has only, perhaps, a short remote stretch suitable for landing this aircraft, allowing a doctor to land and then drive to the location of a critical patient. This is a standard scenario today in the Australian outback, with "Flying Doctors".

Basically, I see this as a helicopter alternative, where the ability to get quickly to a location and then navigate standard roads might be important. A specially-built version might be of interest to the US Marshals Service or even DHS, as an alternative to using commercial flights or chartered services, enabling door-to-door multi-mode transport of a prisoner with no transit. No doubt the military and other government services are interested in how this develops.

Vivek
22nd August, 2013 @ 02:22 am PDT

Still a big runway is required which make this less attractive. Earlier you had shown a design which arises vertically which I feel will be more useful. Fuel consumption/power details is not given.

Thambi Thomas
27th August, 2013 @ 04:45 am PDT

Not every product is designed to make everyone happy. This is a niche product. If it meets specs, than it will make select buyers happy. This is what makes capitalism work and America great.

Richard Maurer
27th August, 2013 @ 10:19 am PDT

Yeah, I'm an avid reader of PM myself & have been waiting on a decent car/plane build, seems like forever. Not nitpicking, progress is being made but they never should have issued this road worthy. No way a lane can be changed safely. Going to run some grandma off the road someday.

noteugene
4th September, 2013 @ 02:47 pm PDT

I agree that as a pilot and a driver I'm not eager to share the air with the likes of those I must share the road with. The utility of this sort of craft eludes me. A better approach may be Mollers VTOL approach. No airfield or roads needed removing the needed to co- exist with the aliens (cars). Good performance too!

Green hornet
15th September, 2013 @ 05:02 pm PDT

Who the hell cares about taxation and the cost. All I am worried about is DRUNK DRIVING...DUI.

The reason why flying is safer than driving is because everyone can't drive. If driving a car was as restricted as flying then it would be even safer than flying. Just imagine if you were not allow to leaver you garage and get on to the road until a control room cleared(that is sometimes wait for an hour or 5) then there would be no chance of ever meeting with an accident. especially when you will be the only car on the road and only after you pass by another care will be allowed.

The reason you need a Cessna license is to save the people below.

70 year old Popular mechanics reader. This is the reason why flying never became a reality.

It never will until we get a technology like the ones you see in some movies(who are aware of this fact) where you have cars flying on the roads they can't just fly anywhere and have to follow the road and nobody walks on the roads.

Everybody lives in High rises. But even those movies they show an accident and a car crashes into a building. But then you could fortify the building no matter how hard a flying car crashed it will never break into the protection around the building and hurt humans.

This will be only allowed on private islands where there are not other people or planes. But like many pointed out that its better to buy a car and a separate plane for that purpose

Qwan Blue
25th October, 2013 @ 01:58 pm PDT

A noble try and I respect it, for the difficult task being accomplished. However the ugly machine is a lousy car and a lousy plane, all in one and by the time it becomes acceptable in any or all of it's tasks, cars and planes will be motivated by renewable energy, probably electricity. However it is a great toy and one of them will end up in the exhibits of the Smithsonian.

gybognarjr
8th June, 2014 @ 09:53 am PDT

Novelty item for a few idle rich, something to hoist a beer around at a summer party. Folding wings are cool as you "taxi" down the highway.....thinking about that folding in some severe turbulence @6,500ft may not be as much fun. As others have mentioned.......get in a fender bender in some small burg, you now have an airworthiness problem, and I guarantee the cashiers at the local Chevron mart aren't going to be any help. I suspect almost no fully licensed pilots will go for this, and supposedly you can fly with a Sport Pilot license after 20 hours of instruction. If any of these do sell I suspect more than a few Terrafugias will end up in a tree or two with predictably bad results. To be the number one seller of flying cars all they have to do is exceed the SIX Aerocars that were sold.

Vf6cruiser
9th June, 2014 @ 09:09 am PDT
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