What's that? It is a plane, is it a car? Well, it's both. Remember those childhood dreams you had of flying in your car. Careering at speed down the road, and then suddenly a super-engine comes out the back, and you blast off into the skies, avoiding the traffic below.
Well, this vehicle comes quite close. Terrafugia, a small, privately-owned business, has developed a car, which, put simply, really can fly.
The car is able to travel 740km at a speed of 185kph whilst up in the air, about a fifth of what a normal plane can achieve. The wings are fold-out, so when you land at the airport, you can fold them up, and then drive out of the airport. Unfortunately, you won't be allowed to just take off randomly in the middle of a road, so taking off has to be kept to airports, for the moment at least.
And there will be no need to buy special gas; it will run on a single tank of regular unleaded gas and will be released in America next year.
When on the ground, the car uses front-wheeled drive, and has a roll-cage and airbags. It will not be very economic however, with a 30mpg rate, plenty of money will have to be spent on fuel. It can however, achieve highway speeds should you wish. You also do not need to leave the vehicle to unfold or fold the wings, as it can all be done within the cockpit, like a retractable roof on a super-car.
Overall, it may have its faults, it may be quite expensive to buy and run, and it could well cause some extra air traffic, but this is definitely the car of the future, now. The aircraft is much more convenient than having to go to the airport, checking in, waiting in the terminal and finally boarding the plane. With the Terrafugia, you can book your place early, and then arrive and go.
Flightglobal's business and general aviation editor Kate Sarsfield reports that Terrafugia has secured US approval to boost the maximum take-off weight of its Transition roadable light sport aircraft by 50kg (110lb) to 650kg, the same limit already allowed for LSA seaplanes.
By Joel Foreman from Sutton Grammar School currently doing work experience with Flightglobal