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Terrafugia Transition Flies into NY Auto Show

After getting federal OK, first flying car taking orders.

by on Apr.06, 2012

The Terrafugia Transition takes wing on its maiden flight last month.

It’s been a dream that countless visionaries and entrepreneurs have failed to achieve. But five former graduate students from MIT are about to take wing with the world’s first flying car.  Make that the first to pass muster and win the necessary approval of government regulators.

That’s been no easy task for Massachusetts-based Terrafugia which had to deal with a complex mix of occasionally conflicting automotive and aircraft regulations.  But their Transition 2-seater, which took its maiden flight two weeks ago, is ready to go into production, with sales set to begin about a year from now.

The Last Word!

The company claims it has already taken 100 advance orders – but it’s looking to line up more with a display at the 2012 New York Auto Show, where it is competing for attention alongside more conventional automobiles, like the new Toyota Avalon and the reborn SRT Viper.

“Don’t think of it as a car that flies,” suggested Carl Dietrich, one of the MIT students who is now serving as Terrafugia’s CEO. “Think of it as a plane that drives.”


SpaceShipOne’s Burt Rutan Tries His Hand at a Flying Car

Legendary designer reveals the gas-electric-powered BiPod.

by on Jul.27, 2011

Burt Rutan's final project is the Model 367 BiPod.

If there’s one thing Burt Rutan is good at it’s turning dreams into reality.  His Voyager was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.  And his suborbital SpaceShipOne not only claimed the $10 million Ansari X-Prize but is helping in motion the dream of private space flight.  So, who better to transform the long-running fantasy of the flying car into something real?

With the unveiling of his Model 367 BiPod, Rutan and his firm Scalred Composites become the latest in a series of visionaries – dating back to at least Henry Ford – hoping to find a functional way to combine a car with an airplane.

It isn’t quite George Jetson’s briefcase aerocar.  The BiPod uses an unusual design with, as the name suggests, a twin, pod-like fuselage which not only provides two cockpits but protected storage for the wings and tail surfaces while operating on the ground.  The right pod handles airborne duties, the left takes control on the ground.

The Inside Story!

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the BiPod is its source of power.  Rutan – who developed the concept before retiring last April – has always been a fan of light and energy-efficient designs.  He’s been experimenting with personal electric aircraft for more than a decade.  And with the Model 367 he has adopted an extended-range electric system that is quite similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt.