I was somewhat surprised when the latest holiday catalogue by clever gadget supplier, Hammacher Schlemmer, came in from the mailbox with this on the cover...
such Inside the mag, right there on page 14, next to the $199.95 voice activiated R2-D2, is the Transition, a "roadable" aircraft being built by Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia
For $350,000, you get a legal 65mph cruise automobile that converts to a 115mph light sport aircraft in 30 seconds, says the ad.
While it's true that with such a sleigh, Santa, or you or me, could fly into the nearest airport and drive the streets with the big bag rather than damage all those expensive roofs with that awkward sleigh and hoofed horsepower, not to mention the "emissions" issue from such large herbivores, there are a few important but unmentioned CAVEAT EMPTORs...
- Terrafugia hasn't actually flown the advertised aircraft as of yet, though it has a couple dozen flights on an earlier proof-of-concept vehicle.
- The price in the catalog is almost twice the planned cost of the production vehicle, slated to be ready by year's end
- ... and the $100,000 deposits required are not refundable
A call to company spokesman Richard Gersh reveled that Transition in the catalog is more costly because it's a "Premier Edition", which mostly means the company will take it from the first batch of aircraft built. It's a supply and demand problem: Gersh says "a number of individuals have expressed a strong interest" in obtaining those early serial number vehicles. Large demand and small supply = $$$$
If you're ok to wait awhile longer for your Transition, you can put down a $10,000 deposit, which is fully refundable, Gersh says.