Posted by: fastforward on Aug 16, 2011
The Transition is a car / plane hybrid which will be commercially available
from as early as next year. Image: Terrafugia.
Imagine this. You wake up in the morning, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, climb into your car and fly off to work. Yes, fly. While this may seem reminiscent of a futuristic sci-fi movie (or maybe The Jetsons), a version of a flying car will actually be available to the public in the not-so-distant future.
If you are a wealthy resident of the United States (or England), you can have your very own flying car as early as next year. While the idea and prototypes have been around for a few years now, the concept seems to have started the transition from ‘cool idea’ to ‘mainstream product’. Terrafugia has developed a plane/car hybrid called the Transition, which has been cleared by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association to use public roads.
The Transition is a two-seater car which can be transformed into a plane in 30 seconds – the wings fold up or out depending on whether you feel like a long sunset drive or a quick flight. It can travel around 800km on a tank of fuel (you can fill it up at your local petrol station), take off from any long, straight road and park in most average-sized one-car garages.
The Transition promises less time spent in traffic and a very unimpressive top speed of 100km/hr (on land) and 172 km/hr (in the air – a Boeing 747’s average cruise speed is 900km/hr), all for the completely obscene price of $279,000 (approximately R1. 9 million) for the base model.
Also, you have to have a light aircraft license in order to fly your Transition, or be willing to spend 20 hours in training before you can take it off the ground. There are already more than a hundred people who have paid a $10 000 (approximately R71 678) to put their name on the waiting list.
Still, it’s a step towards the type of hybrid car/plane which could be very beneficial for society – and not only for those who want to skip the morning rush hour or avoid renting a car after flying to their holiday destination. Consider the usefulness of this type of machine in places where the roads have been destroyed or damaged by riots or natural disasters or when emergency personnel can’t reach a patient in distant location. Products like the Transition require such minimal training to use that if a slightly larger (cheaper) version was developed, they could be helpful in emergency situations (if not the alternative to current emergency vehicles).
Let's hope the Transition is just a glimpse of the flying car of the future.