By Dara Solomon, Contributing Author on Monday, May 16, 2011
Move over, George Jetson. The elusive flying car that popular culture led us to believe we’d all be driving by the year 2000 might finally begin appearing in the sky and the garages of the very rich. With approval from the FAA, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia will begin deliveries of the first commercially available flying car later this year. This means I could be zooming the friendly skies before I’m 30!
Called “The Transition”—a plane-car—Terrafugia has been flying/driving it for almost two years and has already pre-sold 100+ vehicles.
Ok, it’s not all perfect. As you can imagine, the plane-car won’t be cheap—a New York Times post says the price tag will be almost $200,000. But what would anyone else expect? It’s a flying car! So, maybe by the time I am 50 and can save up, I’ll be flying … the Transition IV!
From road to air
In addition to the $194,000, you’ll need a sport pilot license to operate the plane-car—which means you must be 17 years old and log 15 to 20 hours of flight time in small, light aircraft with an instructor to get certified.
The Transition is designed to operate on the road and in the air. The Transition drives like a car, uses normal high-octane gasoline, has front-wheel-drive and even comes with airbags—and, similar to, say, a Prius, gets about 40mpg—but (unlike the Prius) has wings so you can take off into the air above that annoying traffic jam.
The Transition (get used to the name!) has been a project of Terrafugia’s since 2006, when the company was founded by five former MIT students-turned-pilots.
Sci-fi comes true
Flying cars have been the dream of thousands—millions—for decades. Historically, “Popular Science” magazine first mentioned the flying car back in a 1926 issue: “Today events in the realm of aviation are tumbling along at such a pace that we can almost imagine ourselves spending next summer’s vacation touring the air roads,” the November, 1926 edition claimed.
If you’re really interested in the history of the flying car, Popular Science is now searchable on Google Books. Type in Google Books’ search bar: Popular Science “Flying Car”. The left side of whatever browser you use will show you the covers of all 28 issues that mention flying cars—many with illustrated covers.
To visit the gallery of these covers, check out the Jalopnik post that discusses Popular Science’s obsession with flying cars (as well as America’s obsession with the concept).
The next time you’re stuck in traffic … seven to eight months from now … and hear a whirring behind you—please, remember to duck. It’s just the Transition behind you lifting off to beat you to that 9 a.m. work meeting.