From the first day I read about Terrafugia's Transition®, I have been impressed not only with the design of this aircraft/car hybrid, but also by the talented people from MIT who are bringing it into our world.
Pessimists said it can't be done, that it will never fly. The extremely smart team that is birthing the Transition has heard them all...that even if they can make it fly, they can never get it approved for legal highway use. These naysayers like to say this idea of a "flying car" has been tried before, and it will be DOA without ever seeing it's first test flight:
Oh how wrong those people are now...on so many levels. First, it is NOT a "flying car", it is a "roadable airplane" meaning it's first job is flying, backed up by driving. But the clowns who swore it would never get off the ground so to speak should not look at Terrafugia's "Picture of the Week" which accompanies this post.In this shot from Terrafugia's web site, you can clearly see the fuselage coming together. This adds to the wonderful photos we have seen before of their full-scale operating folding wing, which was on display at EAA Airventure last summer. It appears the Design team now has a fuselage, a great wing design, and is ever-so-close to putting this all together for a test flight.
Here is a list of fun facts about the aviation project I believe is the most exciting one out there today:
The estimated base price for the Transition is $148,000 – pocket change for a versatile vehicle like this. As Terrafugia gets closer to delivering that all-important first production vehicle in 2009 a more firm price will be announced.Again, this project remains on the very top of my list as the one that can really change the game in the public's awareness of general aviation. When people start seeing Transitions down at the Mall or the corner market, you can be assured it will draw crowds full of gawkers with lots of questions about flying...and THAT is a great thing.
Terrafugia does not release the exact number of airframes reserved, but as of July, 2007, all of Terrafugia's anticipated production though the end of Q2 2010 had been reserved. I suspect that the date to fly (drive?) your Transition off the lot has even grown farther out since those numbers were released in 07/07, and you can bet that after Oshkosh this summer, the first positions won't be available until well into 2011.
The company is now in the prototype phase of the Transition's design, and is planning to have their first full functioning vehicle operational in late 2008...which is only just a couple of hundred days away.
Terrafugia is working with major insurance underwriters to develop a policy that includes the 50-states auto insurance required for highway use, but also with the hull and liability insurance that is found in typical aircraft policies. This is not a part of the Transition puzzle I had pondered before, but the fact that the Terrafugia team is all over this again shows how "together" these people are.
Power for the Transition comes from the Rotax 912 ULS – a 100hp, four stroke engine that is FAA certified to run on 91-octane autogas or 100LL. That same engine wil power both the propeller and the vehicle's front wheels while on the ground.
To get on this exclusive list of future Transition owners, here is what you do:
Download (pdf) and print 2 copies of the deposit agreement. Fill out the information, sign, and return both copies to the address on the bottom of the form with your check for $7,400.00 made out to Terrafugia, Inc. They'll sign and send you back your copy along with your airframe deposit certificate showing your airframe number. Your fully-refundable deposit goes in an individual interest-bearing account at Cambridge Trust Company and remains the property of the customer.Here is the link to the current Transition spec sheet as a PDF.
Oh those of little faith, be damned. This project is moving forward, it will succeed, and it will be fantastic. The fact that their positions are being pushed so far out into the future speaks volumes about how the flying public is starting to accept the Transition as a serious vehicle. And at a projected $148,000, it is a steal. Sure it will go up from there, but even at close to two hundred large, it would still be a great value.
I want one, I've always wanted one, and one day I will have one, when the budget allows a hangar mate for Katy.
Oh wait...DUH...I don't have to keep this one in the hangar..silly me...I'll just drive it home and put it in the garage.