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It’s not science fiction, it’s a genuine flying car. Unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show the Terrafugia Transition is actually more of a street-legal airplane designed for occasional use on the road.
Still, it is certified for the street using an aircraft engine that powers the rear wheels and can get 35 mpg with a top speed of about 80 mph. Press a button and the wings fold out. You’ll need about 1700 feet of runway space (no taking off from the street) and once airborne the Transition can cruise at 120 mph for a range of 450 miles.
Inside the cockpit there are car and airplane controls with a steering wheel, brake and gas pedal. Once the wings are out, you can then operate the console-mounted throttle, the control stick that rises up from the floor and the two additional pedals that control the rudders.
Awaiting its final flight certification the Transition retails for $279,000 and company representatives say a total of 100 units have already been pre-ordered.
That’s right—the only flying car you can buy today has just been approved for terrestrial driving by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization had to grant a special exemption for the Terrafugia Transition, under the provision of “roadable aircraft.”
Unlike most light aircraft, the Transition needs automotive technology such as crumple zones and dual airbags to remain roadworthy. And like a car—or an expensive one, anyway—the Transition features a carbon fiber safety cage and takes unleaded gasoline, albeit high-octane. Hey, airplanes aren’t cheap.
The Transition could allow pilots to land early and drive to their destination if they encounter bad weather, as the car has a 500-mile range. Its 26-foot wings can fold in less than a minute, and can reach 115mph in the air and 65mph on the roads. And so far, how many rich people have sprung for this proof-of-concept? At $250,000, the first 100 orders have all been accounted for.
Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.