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The Terrafugia - Are Flying Cars Finally Here?

A little less than two years ago, I wrote an entry, Where's My Flying Car? After discussing all the tradeoffs of a roadable aircraft, my conclusion was:

Yes, it's possible to make a roadable aircraft, but the compromises necessary add a fair amount of weight, reducing the useful load you can carry. For some people, this reduced useful load would be offset by the greater mobility, but for many applications, it's not worth it.

I posted a follow up to that, When Will There Be an Aircraft in Every Garage?, listing some of the practical limitations to aircraft becoming an everyman's vehicle.

Well, one of the latest entries into the roadable aircraft niche is a company named Terrafugia. They've been developing their concept for the past few years, and just recently achieved their maiden flight. According to their FAQ, their approach isn't an attempt to make a jack of all trades, but rather "to design a vehicle for pilots that brings additional ground capability to an airplane instead of attempting to make a car fly." They think that modern lightweight composite materials will make their concept more successful than previous roadable aircraft.

I would love to see this concept become successful, but I still have the same reservations as before. Using the same modern lightweight composite materials, a conventional aircraft will still be lighter than the Terrafugia. But, as I wrote before, maybe the added mobility at the cost of payload/range will be worthwhile to some.

Anyway, here's a video of their maiden flight. Another video and pictures are available on the Terrafugia website.

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