While we're still eons away from George Jetson's collapsible hover car, the recent successful test flight of the Terrafugia Transition means we're just that little bit closer to getting a true airborne commuter car.
There have been numerous attempts and prototypes in the years gone by, but the Terrafugia is perhaps the most promising prospect to date.
Technical specifications are thin on the ground, but what we do know is that the Transition can tootle around town powered by a standard petrol engine and then, at the push of a button, fold out its wings in around 30 seconds and prepare for take off.
Once flight mode is enabled the same petrol engine that drives the road wheels then powers the rear-mounted propeller for thrust. All this in a package you can still fit in your garage at home.
Phil Meteer, a Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve, conducted the test flight at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York, with the car/plane reportedly performing well.
Terrafugia claim the Transition can fly up to 720km (450 miles) at over 184 km/h (115mph) and requires only a Sport Pilot license to fly.
Hit the gallery and the press release below for more images and details on the Terrafugia Transition's maiden voyage.
Historic Takeoff Makes "Flying Car" a Reality
The Transition?? Roadable Aircraft Completes
Successful First Flight
Boston, MA ??? March 18, 2009: Terrafugia, Inc., a game-changing aircraft company, announced today the first flight of its Transition?? Roadable Aircraft Proof of Concept. Often referred to as a "flying car", the Transition?? is a two-seat aircraft designed to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road. Transforming from plane to car takes the pilot less than 30 seconds.
An historic milestone for aviation, the flight comes after six months of static, road and taxi testing. The Transition?? cruises up to 450 mi at over 115 mph, can drive at highway speeds on the road, and fits in a standard household garage. The vehicle has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight. Both modes are powered by unleaded gasoline from a regular gas station.
"This breakthrough changes the world of personal mobility. Travel now becomes a hassle-free integrated land-air experience. It's what aviation enthusiasts have been striving for since 1918," says Carl Dietrich, CEO of Terrafugia.
By giving pilots a convenient ground transportation option, the Transition?? reduces the cost, hassle, and weather sensitivity of personal aviation. It also increases safety by incorporating automotive crash structures and allowing pilots to drive under bad weather.
For its first flight, the Transition?? was flown by Phil Meteer, Colonel, USAFR (Retired) at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, NY. The chase aircraft was piloted by Giora Guth.
Categorized as a Light Sport Aircraft, the Transition?? requires a Sport Pilot license to fly. The Proof of Concept will undergo additional advanced flight and drive testing and a pre-production prototype will be built and certified before first delivery. Refundable airframe reservations are being accepted.
Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based in Woburn, MA, is comprised of a team of award-winning engineers who have been advancing the state of personal aircraft since 2006. Founded by five pilots who are graduates of MIT and supported by a world-class network of advisors and private investors, Terrafugia's mission is the innovative expansion of personal mobility. "Terrafugia" is Latin for "escape from land."
The Transition?? will temporarily be on exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston on March 18, 2009.
Terrafugia would like to acknowledge and thank its corporate sponsors: SolidWorks Corporation and CableOrganizer.com. Additionally, the following business partners have contributed to a successful first flight by furnishing equipment and services: Garmin International, Dynon Avionics, CO Guardian, David Clark Company, Bose Corporation, Icom Inc. and Air Graphics LLC.