Blog: Simon WarburtonFlights of fancy

Simon Warburton | 9 August 2010

It might seem fanciful but the reality of a car that turns into an aircraft is just around the corner.

The Terrafugia - Latin for 'Escape from land' - is what its US manufacturers call a Transition Roadable Aircraft.

Quite apart from the word 'roadable,' any would-be driver/pilot will have to fork out between US$200,000-US$250,000 for the privilege of owning one of the things, which apparently only require a startlingly little 20 hours of tuition.

There's even something called a 'full vehicle parachute,' although it is unclear if both occupants - sitting side by side - get to have one.

As an aircraft it looks quite good - but as a car? Well, it's probably not going to win any design awards but it's a product of functionality - those wings have to go somewhere.

And the Terrafugia is actually quite frugal. Once airborne, it burns 18.9 litres per hour and does a respectable 105mph (172kmh). It could even get you a fair distance - 490 miles in fact.

It's not clear though if the traffic's bad whether you can just press a button to activate the wings and roar off into the air.

The website makes references to 'airfields' and 'airports,' so I'm guessing the Terrafugia is supposed to be operated on a formal rather than informal basis.



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