While only the passing of time will tell if today's first registered flight of the Terrafugia Transition measures up to such important milestones of aviation as the Wright brothers' maiden voyage at Kitty Hawk in 1903, it was most definitely a significant marker in the development of the flying car. While there have been many attempts to develop a flying car in the past, the Terrafugia Transition might be the most promising in the modern era. Autoblog first reported on it back in early 2006 when the prototype debuted, and the project spearheaded by five pilots, all of whom graduated from MIT, has come a long way since.
The Transition transforms between road use and flight by folding down its wings, which takes just 30 seconds. With its wings retracted, the Transition is compact enough to fit in a normal-sized garage, which means owners won't have to rent hangar space at their local airport. Indeed, they can just drive the Transition home, as it uses the same gas engine (of unknown displacement) to power its front wheels on the road as it does its propellor when in flight.
Today's test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport in New York went well with Phil Meteer, Colonel, USAFR, at the controls. Terrafugia claims the Transition can fly up to 450 miles at over 115 mph, and since it is categorized as a Light Sport Aircraft by the FAA, a Sport Pilot license will be required to fly one. Check out the gallery below for images from today's flight, as well as videos of Terrafugia's own maiden voyage after the jump.
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.