This is not a new dream, this notion that we could all have flying cars. Indeed the gadget-lovers, early-adopters, and otherwise impatient among us have been annoyed since reaching 21 only to find that the jet packs and rocket cars of The Jetsons hadn't come universally true yet.
But it goes beyond cartoons. The Pietenpol Air Camper, which could, arguably, be homebuilt by an enthusiast, came from the imagination of an enthusiast who wanted to see this dream come true. From Gizmag's newsletter today comes another instalment: Terrafugia's Transition:
The Terrafugia Transition is a light sport, roadable airplane under development by Terrafugia since 2006.
In contrast to the US Army's early entry into common-man aviation, the Flying Jenny, and the later entries in the build-your-own sweepstakes (including the half-size warbirds that became available as plans or kits in the 1980s and touted the ease of building a genuine high performance experimental aircraft in your garage), though, the new flying car doesn't look ... like a station wagon with wings. It's got all the panache of an F-22, right down to the (follow me over the Orange Windsock)
twin tails, and better still it's got gull-wings that fold away for going down the street. Waivered to bear the 100 extra pounds of NHTSA-mandated car-safety gear it must carry, the Terrafugia has now finished its first phase of flight testing. It even fuels up at the corner gas station.
As an airplane it's a little stouter than an ultralight -- almost in basic-trainer range:
Maximum speed: 100 kts (115 mph or 185 km/h) Cruise speed: 93 kts (107 mph or 172 km/h) Stall speed: 45 kts (51 mph or 82 km/h) Range: Flying - 425 nmi (489 mi; 787 km) () ; Driving - 805 mi (1,296 km; 700 nmi) Maximum speed on road: 70 mph (110 km/h) Fuel economy in cruise flight: 5 US gal (19 L) per hour, 21.4 mpg-US (11.0 L/100 km; 25.7 mpg-imp) Fuel economy on road: 35 mpg-US (6.7 L/100 km; 42 mpg-imp) Certifications: Both FAA and FMVSS certifications planned
Compare those numbers to a Beechcraft Skipper (numbers from Wikipedia for both aircraft):
Cruise speed: 105 knots (121 mph, 195 km/h)
Stall speed: 47 knots (54 mph, 87 km/h) (flaps down)
Range: 412 nmi (475 mi, 764 km) at 8,500 ft (2,600 m) (econ cruise)
Service ceiling: 12,900 ft (3,930 m)
Rate of climb: 720 ft/min (3.65 m/s)
and note that there's also a not-too-shabby two-seater car component to the Transition.
Because it's considered a light-sport aircraft, the requirements for pilot fitness physicals for the Terrafugia flying car might be more accessible than aircraft requiring commercial or conventional licensure.
Maybe we're finally going to get to see that future, eh?