The flying car has ever been the subject of fun and fantasy in books, movies and comics. For instance, take the De Lorean which was turned into a flying time machine by a loveable but crazy scientist in “Back to the Future”. The “stuff of dreams”, right? Of course; but it is possible that one day, we might actually see a real flying car? The answer is yes! Well almost, that is.
Enter the “Transition”, developed by Terrafugia of Massachusettes. Now, in the advanced stages of development, the Transition is the first flying car on the commercial market; but according to its designers, it is really more like a unique airplane than it is a car. The vehicle fits into your garage because of its “fold-up” wings, but to fly it, you must drive it to the airport for take-off and landing. It is street legal to drive on public roads and highways, and meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Classified as a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), it takes a pilot licensed to fly it. In addition, the cost is close to $300,000, so it is definitely not a car for the “everyman”.
Another development by Terrafugia which is sitll in the concept phase, is the TF-X, which is closer to the idea of a true flying car. The TF-X will be able to do vertical take-offs and landings, and will not need a runway. Thus, the concept is closer to a helicopter’s than a plane. It will be designed to be extremely simply to operate and will be mostly operated by autopilot. If for some reason the vehicle should fail, the operator can easily deploy a parachute to land. The downside to this is that it will take up to 12 years to develop the TF-X; so this flying car will be IN the future, not “back to the future”.