Ever since the classic, futuristic Hanna-Barbera production The Jetsons made its debut on ABC in 1962, many a person has wondered when we would be able to drive our own flying cars and have robot maids maintain our homes. While the automated cleaning lady may remain out of reach, it seems the flying car may lie just over the horizon. Terrafugia, a company established in 2006 by MIT-trained engineers and MBA’s, has been hard at work for the past six years on making this dream a reality. With sponsorships from a number of larger companies and investment from prospective purchasers, the company is almost ready to unveil its successful prototype.
Suitably titled The Transition, this prototype makes use of recent changes in FAA regulations which allow it to be qualified as both a Light Sport Aircraft and street-legal passenger vehicle. Standing at 80” tall, 90” wide, and 18’9” long, the vehicle will be small enough to store in a garage when it’s not on the road or taking off from an airport. The cockpit has enough space to house two people and several bags of luggage- a possible drawback for anyone looking to take the whole family for a flight, but at least it will prevent backseat piloting.
To many a reader this may all sound like a pipedream, however Terrafugia can put to rest any doubts concerning the achievability of their project, as it completed its first successful flight on March 23rd, 2012 in Plattsburgh NY. It also passed initial driving and conversion tests, which were likely a tad easier in comparison. Video of the Transition performing all three tasks is readily available for anyone curious to see this marvel of modern engineering and ingenuity in action, but you’ll soon be able to see the vehicle in person. Terrafugia will be showing off the Transition at the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City between April 6th and 15th; though putting the roadable aircraft in the sky probably will not be in the cards for the show, it will still offer a firsthand experience to the general public.
If testing and certification proceeds as scheduled, the company aims to have its first batch of commercial vehicles out by the end of the year. Unfortunately, getting your hands on a Transition will not be particularly easy. A refundable $10,000 or non-refundable $2,500 deposit will get your foot in the door and a spot on the waiting list, but even when your turn comes you’ll need an estimated $279,000 to purchase your flying car. Of course, in order to take the Transition off the ground you’ll also need to either be or have access to a licensed sport pilot. So the flying car may not yet be as easily obtainable as The Jetsons led us to believe, but this is a promising start and we still have another forty years to catch up (the show was set in 2062, one hundred years after its original air date).
Are you excited about the Transition too? Hop on the Long Island Lounge and tell us what you think, even if you won’t be the first in line to purchase one.