[Editor's note: As the Transition gets ever closer to a test flight, expect this topic to stay very bright on my radar screen - dan]
Tonight I stumbled upon an absolutely essential interview on xconomy.com with Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia’s CEO and co-founder. I say "essential" if you are a fan of the Transition roadable airplane project, because it is the first time I have found clear, detailed answers to many of the questions that people ask about the Transition.
The site that published the interview first published a story about the Transition on their site, and that story turned up on Slashdot, which prompted a flood of "comments" from readers who may or MAY NOT fully understand the realities of the Transition. Here is what xconomy.com had to say:
"We were a bit surprised by the comments that readers left here and at Slashdot—the majority of which were critical, even dismissive, of Terrafugia’s concept as a viable business proposition. Given that “flying cars” have been fodder for sci-fi movies, cartoons, and Popular Mechanics covers since the 1930s, it’s understandable that some people feel jaded about the latest promises for airplane-automobile hybrids. But whether or not you’re personally interested in traveling in an airplane with folding wings that doubles as a road-worthy automobile, quite a few private pilots are—as the three-year waiting list for a Transition demonstrates."So xconomy.com "boiled down the hundreds of comments to a dozen basic criticisms" and then asked Terrafugia's Dietrich to enlighten the public with answers. And in a way only an Aerospace Engineer from MIT could do, his answers were about as clear-cut and perfectly worded as you could expect. Because xconomy.com did such a good job on this interview, I will not steal any thunder by re-publishing Dietrich's answers, but instead fuel your curiosity with some of their questions:
"Xconomy: The first and most repeated criticism of Terrafugia’s work that we heard from readers last week went like this: “Just look how many bad drivers there are on the roads. Being a pilot takes much more skill than driving. So just imagine the havoc if lots of drivers had flying cars.”You can see that this interviewer pulled no punches. And I did not even show you the real zinger questions. What is amazing is that each time, Dietrich handled the questions with what sounds like 'Barack Obama' cool, layering his answers using skills that surely have been honed in the debate halls of one of this country's finest universities.
"X: The Transition will be so light and will have such a large side-facing surface area that crosswinds will blow it off the road. If you take it across the Mackinac Bridge, [are] you’re going to end up in Lake Michigan."
"X: Anything that has to pass highway safety tests will be way too heavy to fly, and anything that is light enough to fly will be incapable of surviving a roadway crash."
"X: Others have tried to build flying cars or roadable aircraft, and they have always failed. What makes this attempt any different?"
So if you care even a tiny bit about Terrafugia's Transition, go here and read the full interview.