Despite most flying cars being the realm of science fiction, there have been occasional attempts at making what are termed “roadable aircraft.” A modern example, the Terrafugia Transition, is heading to the New York Auto Show.
A plane car
Man has dreamed of a car that doubles as a plane for a long time. The first attempt, according to Popular Mechanics, was in 1917 by aviation legend Glenn Curtiss, who made the Model 11 Autoplane, a prototype three-seater with removable wings. It never flew or reached production and was ultimately shelved as Curtiss focused on designing aircraft for the military for World War I.
Other attempts were made. Two roadable aircraft reached production, those being the Waterman Aerobile in the 1930s, according to the Daily Mail, and the Taylor Aerocar in the 1950s. Six or fewer were made of both.
However, a modern take on the concept by Terrafugia, called the Transition, is being displayed at the upcoming New York Auto Show.
Tempus and this car fugit
Terrafugia has been working on the Transition since 2006, according to the Daily Mail, but has encountered numerous production delays. The first cars were supposed to be delivered in 2011, but the company anticipates the first deliveries in 2013.
It runs on gasoline and reaches road speed of 70 miles per hour and up to 115 mph in the air, getting a respectable 35 miles per gallon. While flying, it uses 5 gallons per hour and the 23-gallon fuel tank gives it a range of several hundred miles.
The wings fold up after the pilot returns the car to ground, and the vehicle will fit in a normal garage. It is currently exempt from government regulations requiring stability control systems and is undergoing crash tests.
One needs 20 hours of flight training to fly it; it qualifies as a light sport aircraft.
Cost is sky high
The price is high, at $279,000. To secure one, a buyer has to put down a $10,000 deposit, which close to 100 people have done.
Another roadable aircraft, according to CBS, is currently being developed by a Dutch company called PAL-V. The single-seat PAL-V uses helicopter rotors to achieve flight and on the road is a three-wheeled, 100 mph sports car. The propeller disengages and the rotors and tail wing fold flat on the roof when on the road.
If $300,000 is too much, another available roadable aircraft, according to CNN, is the i-tec Maverick, a two-seater with a 190-horsepower Subaru engine in the back. The Maverick employs a mast, stowed under the car while not in use, and a parachute that folds away in a roof-mounted compartment, making the car more of a parafoil instead of a plane. Once the mast and parachute are deployed, the driver selects the air gear which engages the propeller mounted to the engine and can take off with 100 feet of runway. The Maverick, which costs $94,000, is also FAA certified as a light sport aircraft.
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