Is It Finally Time for the Flying Car?

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I was born in the 50s. I fully expected that when we finally reached the 21st century  we’d have landed on the moon, live in space stations and have flying cars.

The Jetsons Flying Car
Where is George Jetson’s Flying Car? (Hanna-Barbera)

We made it to the moon back in 1969 and Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev lived in space for more than two years before landing back on Earth in 2005.

But flying cars? Not really.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had planes that could drive and cars that could fly, but they were all novelties. No one has come up with a craft that could change the way we commute.

Curtiss Autoplane
Curtiss Autoplane (courtesy Aerofiles.com)

Glenn Curtis probably had the first shot with the Curtis Autoplane. In reality is was more of a predecessor to the modern enclosed airplanes than a real car. Of course the fact that it never really flew didn’t help.

ConVairCar
ConVairCar

The first flying plane that actually looked more like a car was likely the ConVairCar from the mid 40s. It flew, but a hard landing put a dent in both the aircraft and its funding.

There have been plenty of attempts since then. They took flight and they drove, but none of them accomplished my Jetsons’ world of a flying car that could take me home every night.

Will Terrafugia finally be the answer to my 1950’s dream?

Transition Unfold its wings
The Transition is More Plane than Car

The Massachusetts company says it will start delivering a flying car called the Transition in about two years. But that is really more of a stubby airplane than a true flying car. The wings will fold up and you can then drive it to the airport but you’ll need a runway to take off. You can watch a video of the Transition here. Price is expected to be a mere $279,000.

But if the Transition won’t turn me into George Jetson then maybe Terrafugia’s TF-X will. The plan is to use electric motors to power tilt rotors that will allow you take off just like a helicopter. Once in the air a giant fan-like motor will push you along at 200 mph.

TF-X Flying
Is the TF-X the Flying Car of My Childhood Dreams?

According to the company’s website the TF-X will carry four people, fit in a standard single car garage and drive on all roads and highways. Instead of a runway, all you’ll need is a level clearing that is at least 100 feet in diameter for a take-off that will have a range of 500 miles. A full-vehicle parachute system will help you land safely if something should go wrong.

TF-X Driving
Just Drive to the Nearest Clearing and Take-Off

The best part is that the company claims that it should take the average driver only about five hours of training to learn how to operate. Now we’re talking.  When you arrive at your destination the aircraft will land for you. That’s practically out of Tom Swift and His Triphibian Atomicar (my boyhood hero).

Terrafugia doesn’t have a working model yet, but you can watch a computer animation in this video.

OK, time for the bad news. The company says it’s at least eight to twelve years away from its first TF-X delivery. Which means that I could be 70 before I finally get a chance to achieve my childhood dream.

But at least I have something to look forward to!

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