Flying Car could Land in Michigan (Apr. 20, 2009) — Terrafugia Inc., a start-up company near Boston, in Massachusetts, has got land for the factory site, for the Transition, a car that flies — or, if you want, a plane you can drive.

flyingcarThe Latin name of Terrafugia, is “escape from land,” and its product is called a “road able aircraft.” It’s a two-seater vehicle, requires all of 30 seconds to change from a front-wheel-drive car that gets 30 miles per gallon on unleaded to a propeller-driven light sport aircraft that can cover 460 miles at a cruising speed of 115 miles per hour.

The wings, 27 1/2 feet tip to tip, fold up to create a car that is 6 feet 9 inches tall, just under 19 feet long and, yes, will get you a lot of strange looks on the freeway.

It is made of carbon fiber; the Transition weighs just 1,320 pounds, less than half the weight of Ford Escape, that doesn’t fly. The Transition’s engineers created front and rear bumpers that double as air foils to help the thing get off the ground.

“The company has taken orders — with a $10,000 down payment — for Transitions to be delivered in 2011, Anna Mracek Dietrich, said in a telephone interview last week.

There are probably some regulations to be resolved for a conveyance that gives new meaning to fly-drive. Presumably the Transition will need both air-bags and parachutes. Dietrich said pilots will require 20 hours of instruction to be licensed — 30 hours less than the practice requirement for a Michigan driver’s license.

“It runs on gasoline, not aviation fuel. If bad weather comes up, you can set down at the nearest airport and drive for a while,” said Dietrich. “Once you land, you have a vehicle.” And this is not the “air car”; you can’t take off from and land on your driveway. It needs airports.

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