A Boston startup is confounding naysayers with a plane that combines the ease of driving with the thrill of flying, and it could shake up the industry by ushering in a new wave of recreational aviation.
Terrafugia’s unusual aircraft just made a 30-second test flight as historic as it was brief, proving that flying cars aren’t as outlandish as you might think. But as much as people might want to call the Transition a flying car, Terrafugia insists it’s actually an airplane you can drive.
“We’re excited by the reality of what we’re doing here, but this is not the start of the flying car,” company CEO Carl Dietrich told Wired.com. “This is a light sport plane that can be driven home after a day of flying and parked in the garage. It’s designed for pilots. That’s our target market.”
Inventors, engineers and crackpots have been promising promising flying cars since the 1920s. The Aerocar is perhaps the most famous and successful attempt, but it is hardly the only one. All of the Big Three automakers have considered them at one time or another. Boeing toyed with them. And everyone from the Naval Air Warfare Weapons Division to guys in their garages have pitched ideas for flying machines we can drive to the airport.
They’ve all been beaten to the punch by Terrafugia, which has already received 49 orders for a $194,000 plane it won’t start delivering until 2011.