April 4th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Flying cars? A plane you can drive

Flying cars are not just the stuff of sci-fi movies anymore. Massachusetts-based Terrafugia Inc. announced this week that its street-legal prototype, the Transition, completed its first flight last month, bringing the company closer to its goal of selling the flying car within the next year.

An announcement on the company’s website said the Transition reached an altitude of 1,400 feet during an eight-minute flight around the Plattsburgh International Airport on March 23.

The company says the two-seater Light Sport Aircraft can drive on roads and highways, park in a single-car garage and take to the skies using unleaded gasoline.

Click on the video to hear Terrafugia’s co-founder, Anna Mracek Deitrich, explain more about how the Transition works.

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soundoff (321 Responses)
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  3. edgar

    with our primitive flight technologies using jet propulsion and fossil fuel , we gotta very long way to go...how about try inventing antigravity or similar machines used by the ET technology then come and tell us we can take off..otherwise STFU and get back to your research rooms..

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  9. Darkguardian1314

    I don't get all the media coverage. It's just an updated version of the Aerocar first made in 1949. It's still not a practical vehicle because of it's top land and air speed. It's ability to handle rough roads and to still be able to fly after minor fender benders is questionable. This is not a new concept and for the media to not to at least mention the Aerocar is laughable.

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  25. BSY

    This is pretty great!

    April 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  26. JK

    Great! Another toy for helping cuckoo people kill each other with their foolishness. People might "need" a pilot's license to fly it, but how will anyone be sure they have one before the knuckleheads come through our roofs or crash into our landlubber cars? We don’t NEEEEEEEED this!

    April 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • new_pilot

      Same reason people don't buy airplanes and fly them w/o a license into your house now. A used Cessna 150/2 can go for ~$20k-30k – which is certainly much more affordable and cheaper than this. Why would people suddenly do this with a vehicle costing over 10x as much just because the wings fold?

      April 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
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  28. don't worry

    Have to ask yourself why they would do a 3 minute interview and only have 20 seconds of seeing the "plane" fly. Looks pretty unstable, and I heard one of the designers bragging it was ready... and then added, "We are thinking of adding a parachute." Wow, that made me feel safer.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  29. freqflyr

    Any guesses? How many will have to crash before the product liabilty lawyers shut down the whole industry as they did the small airplane business in the 1980s? I say three but it might be only two.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  30. reddog9500

    Guess which costs more: the house or the car, in the picture?

    April 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  31. AL

    Ok, dammit, i want one and i want it NOW

    April 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  32. ted

    Stupid. It's not convenient nor is it logical. Flying should be kept to the experts.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  33. reddog9500

    I'm still waiting for "Hover board" to go on sale!

    April 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  34. Writerscramp

    I would not want to be driving near one of these things on the road. The driver has two huge blind spots to the right and left when the wings are folded up

    April 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  35. Sideways Sam

    Great, now I can take off over all the disgusting traffic and make it home in a jiffy.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  36. Krazy

    Liar in chief.... don't believe a single word out of his mouth. If the situation was even 1/100000th as bad as he claims, he would not have been elected in the first place. The playing field is level, you just have to play and be willing to play to even stand a chance at winning.... by the way – EVERYBODY DOESN'T WIN!!!! ITS IMPOSSIBLE!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  37. BRIAN

    The Moller SkyCar is much cooler, and more viable.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  38. adventuresinstarfishing

    Reblogged this on Adventures in Starfishing and commented:
    This could be the coolest thing I have ever seen.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  39. Brian Paone

    WOW! It's a good start! A great start, even! Imagine the possibilities...

    April 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  40. Roto

    Great for plane enthusiasts. Not great for the general public. I expect an increase in small plane crash damages and injuries on the general public because of increased small plane flights. Also, the dual complexity of this hybrid will increases risks to the public on the road and from the air due to higher expected failures of parts, electronics, and systems from this non-dedicated transportation device. Good luck to all.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  41. LarryB

    I'll bet the military geniuses will figure out ways to use this kind of technology to their advantage. For the foreseeable future, commercial use will probably be very limited. However, in the long haul who knows what the potential will be or to what kinds of applications the technology might be applied? I'm glad there are still some out of the box thinkers around to offset all the no-can-do neo-Luddites. Naysayers have never accomplished anything worthwhile.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  42. popeye1128

    Another novelty for the wealthy to purchase and show off to their friends. I wonder if Jay Leno has an order placed.

    April 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • fallen angel

      NICE ONE.Anyone with a brain can clearly see this is geared for HIGH ROLLERS that want to fly over to their private Island or get away without anyone to stop them.Rich people are suckers too right???

      April 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  43. braden

    The problem is I still need access to an airport. The point of a flying car is to get in, and without a 30 minute ride to the airport, you know, FLY

    April 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  44. bsc1216

    I'm sure you will have to attend a flight school of some sort. this is just made for the wealthy class.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  45. tatyana

    The reality is that we do need flying cars, the roads are just way too congested. But, wouldn't it be easier to attach a hot air balloon to a Honda and make it fly that way? it might not fly @130 mph, but certainly faster than I will be driving home at 5 pm (avergae 20-30 mph or a good day).

    April 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  46. jim

    I will not built a flying car unless I have my healthcare back. Life is easy without building Flying cars .

    April 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  47. Mitch Connor

    It will never happen, people are too stupid to be trusted with flying cars...people can barely walk now because they have their faces buried in their iphones and you expect them to drive flying cars??? Technology has made people too stupid and self absorbed, what needs to happen is make cars manual again, it requires people to pay attention to what their doing...

    April 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  48. Jim

    The FAA could not handle the the shear magnitude of air traffic that this would introduce..

    April 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  49. Wow

    Technology is advancing at light speed. This is just the beginning of what the future will bring. Let's support creativity and risk to advance the world we live in. Think "Voice command GPS flight plans, traffic advoidance and the Google Driverless car techology all rolled into one. Coming Soon and affordable. Watch for it. This is the future.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  50. Sarah

    Honestly, I'm sure when they created the first car, these 'similar' issues arised then too, such as, "They're gonna hit pedestrians!" or, "The dumba** won't know how to control it, and ruin our buildings!" etc etc, but look at today; pretty much everyone owns a car, and knows how to drive it. There are people who screw up, yes, same as it always has been and always will be. We're all freaked out and scared of this flying car, but in reality, is it REALLY so different than what we all first thought about vehicles in general? I say they should do it. I say a few people should buy them, and make it popular. In about a good 80+ years from now, it'll be so common, that people will just learn to live with the hazards as we already do by driving cars. I want one >.<

    April 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  51. blendtec

    The REAL question we all should be asking is .... WILL IT BLEND?

    April 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  52. viques Ernhardt

    They should call this Icarus

    April 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  53. tez07

    At the time or writing this, the next story on CNN is about a private plane crashing into the roof of a Publix......perhaps showing these stories together is an example of cause and effect

    April 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  54. BJ

    I have seen other video of this craft already. From the video, I see it fly’s like the Grumman AA1A. On the video I seen the Ground Effect during landing lasted about 1 second, which means with the 26 foot wing span, this airplane will be a sinker airplane like the AA1A. Unfortunately for the weight of about 1400 lbs and a 100 hp compared to the AA1A, 1500 lbs with a 108 hp this airplane will be as dangerous as the dangerous AA1A. Yes I have flown the AA1A and in the air it is fun to fly at a cost of about $25K to $35K. This new airplane is about $249K. When I spoke to a pilot who flow the AeroCar the comment is, it is unstable as a car and under powered as an airplane. Yes the Idea looks good but when pilots go for a test flight I feel the real airplane will win out. Since this is such an unusual car everyone will want to look and TOUCH IT (Very Dangerous). Yes the Rotax 912 engine is a good choice.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  55. EP Sato

    I saw an article about this company's designs in a scholastic reader article from 1990 back when I was in Middle School. The article spoke of how this technology would be in American homes by 1994 at the latest. Well, it's been nearly 20 years since 1994, and I still haven't seen any progress. The "flying car" still looks the same as it did in 1990, except it's no longer being billed as available for $30-$50K. Of course, back in the 1990s, the articles talked about how this concept had been proposed all the way back in the 1950s, and how we were just around the corner from having flying cars.

    Face it folks, this isn't going to happen. People need special licenses to fly even tiny airplanes ("General Aviation" type vehicles), and GA is where most crashes occur. The high buy in price, insurance costs, the practical issues of how to direct "traffic" and issues with restricted air space alone would limit these vehicles to rural areas. This means that such vehicles would make sense in a place like Alaska, but wouldn't make much sense in a big city. That limits so called flying cars to the hobby market, meaning that the likelyhood of flying cars as any sort of realistic commuter vehicles is pretty low.

    From my POV, the article's opening line is wrong. Flying cars ARE indeed the stuff of science fiction movies, and will remain so until VTOL and safety improvements will make it possible for flying cars that fly themselves, like the ones in Blade Runner, the Fifth Element, Star Wars eps 1-3, etc. Even if this car ever gets past beta testing, the niche market for this is too tiny. But do notify me when the legit flying cars from science fiction become available. We're all still waiting!

    April 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  56. juice

    IMO, the idea wouldn't take off...(sorry couldn't help it).

    April 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  57. Jason K

    People are to stupid to navigate from point A to point B on a two axis plane without causing horrible collisions, mayhem, and foolishness. Throw in a third axis and total pandemonium will surely ensue.

    April 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  58. fallen angel

    Did you see the size of those wings?? Can you image driving on the road with these blind spots that those giant wings would create along with people using their cell phone etc..They would have to put one of those giant mirrors that they have at the mall garage parking lots that hang along top of the entrance.They would have to hang it on and above this car/plane.I guess that would definitely eliminate all blind spots!!!! Also what about heavy winds while you are driving this contraption,it would probably blow you out of th right lane right in to the left lane wouldn't that be fun wwweeeeeee!!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  59. Benjamin Snyder

    Great Scott!!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  60. pscheuer

    Foreshadowing: Flying cars article right next to "Plane slams into roof of Publix."

    April 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  61. harrisonhits2

    I hope they require you to get a pilots license to fly these things. The drivers license process is a joke, at least in Rhode Island where I am. A couple years ago I had a friend come from China and she did a little practice driving with a learner's permit, got 3 hours of professional instruction and then managed to pass and get her license. The "driving" test consisted of pulling out of the parking lot, going about 3 blocks away on city street and coming back. No parallel parking, almost nothing to it. She was absolutely a very bad and dangerous driver at that point and should not have been passed.

    April 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  62. evrgreen

    I hope not everyone is going to be able to drive those. It is not only about driving a "flying" car on the road..it is also going to be about flying a car over our heads..if anyone who can afford it can have that car, there are going to be a lot of fatal accidents...

    April 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  63. dc3gal

    Unless this vehiicle is being sold to licensed pilots only this is not a good idea! I am a pilot and wouldn't want to be in the air with someone at the controls that doesn't have a clue.

    April 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  64. Jon

    Sounds like a great opportunity to thin out the population!

    April 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • dc3gal

      It'll thin out the population alright if those flying this vehicle are licensed pilots

      April 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
      • dc3gal

        That should read are NOT licensed pilots.

        April 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  65. francis anjili

    that's agreat improvement in technology,we do acknowledge for it,but $250,000+$50,000 who will afford such amount in our third world countries?worse of all the restictions.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  66. MelloYello

    Shoot it! It's ugly!

    April 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  67. Jonah

    Can you make it more attractive and like a helicopter to lift off and land anywhere? So its not restricted by airport locations (:

    April 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  68. Karaya

    Isn't it a bit ironic – seeing this article right next to "Plane slams into a roof" one?

    April 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  69. Visionary

    I might be interested if it can work as a boat as well. I'll definitely buy it if it can work as a boat and a sub in addition to being a car and a plane.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Jason K

      Visionary, they made a marine car in the 50s or 60s...I think it was called an Amphicar. I saw one on and episode of Bill Nye the Science guy when I was a kid. They were pretty neat, looked like old 57 Chevy sort of.

      April 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  70. David

    A flying car will not be realized with an airplane or helicopter. too noisey, and needs to go too fast in the air. Also if it fails you plummet to your death. When you watched the jetsons or other sci fi and saw flying cars did you say to your self "oh yea, those are just airplane cars." no you knew that it was a technology beyond what we have today. There will be no flying cars until we have some sort of anti gravity drive.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  71. jim

    If I have enough money and capital. I will build a real flying car. I have to work with Iphone. I don't make much money.
    I have support myself with food and shelter.

    Life is easy without building a flying car.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  72. Atomico

    What a great idea...this will compete against lousy airliners who employ lousy baggage handlers that steal passenger's personal belongings. I had my laptop stolen once.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  73. chris

    people are already bad enough at driving.....do we really need this?

    April 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  74. B

    Where's the Mr. Fusion reactor?

    April 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  75. kerry

    I've been reading about "flying cars coming soon" beginning with an article in the Scholastic school newsletter, fifth grade, 1988. I remember it perfectly (and its design) because probably once every three or four years since, there have been other, slightly more detailed media "promises" of the flying car. I just enjoy watching these things not happen. Like others have said, we're simply not ready for them. Probably never will be.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  76. T

    I rather have the jetpack (Rocketeer version) than a flying car.

    By the way, that is one ugly car ! Needs a lot of work making it more appealing, to say nothing about training people to operate these things so they don't kill themselves or each other, it'll be a very long time till the flying car will be safely constructed and operated by responsible people.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  77. jerrysjunk

    That's not a flying car, it's a street-legal airplane.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  78. Tabiathia

    How would this turn out if EVERYONE had a flying car?

    April 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  79. Tabiathia

    In my opinion, this is a very neat idea, I have heard of 'flying cars' but i never understood how you could make it possible, i wish you luck with the experiment.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  80. Ursenay

    Seriously? Again? This makes at least 50 attempts at this utterly ridiculous idea in the last 80 or so years. Most people can't master the basics of terrestrial driving, much less basic airmanship skills.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  81. dapanther

    Better yet, I can see this on the news....Breaking News: 5 killed in this mornings fly by shooting.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  82. damo12345

    To call it a flying car gives the wrong mental image. It's a car with a substandard design that can be converted into a plane with a substandard design. We've done that before.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dawn


      April 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  83. Dawn

    It looks like 70's technology. Where is my space ship I should have by now. Come on smart people. You can do it!

    April 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  84. umbit

    whatever, flying cars have been coming soon since the 1950's.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  85. dapanther

    2 words....AIR RAGE!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! 🙂

    April 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  86. duh

    I have hard enough time merging onto highways, can you imagine trying to go in for landing if these become common? everyone cutting each other off trying to land before the other....utter chaos. you think the Air Traffic Controllers are overworked already?? let this happen.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  87. Andres

    There is absolutely no way I am getting into a flying car like that. The technology is just not there to assure my personal safety. When they show me computerized backups for the takeoff, navigation and landings, and a better design then we can go flying. Did you see how unstable the flying car looked in the wind. The design is pure ugliness too!

    April 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Peter J

      The first car wasn't pretty or safe either. It's called evolution. If we nix version 1 of all new technology we'd never get anywhere. The glass is half full nothalf empty 🙂

      April 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
      • JD

        Yeah but with 5.25 million driving accidents that take place per year in this country – that number will surely transfer to air fatalities once the common driver can have one – you cup runneth other im afraid – good luck with that one pal

        April 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Deepak

      Relax, it's just a start.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
      • Jerry

        They were trying to do this same car 40 years ago, it never got off the ground! pun intended!

        April 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • LT7890

        great for bank robbers .... right ?

        April 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • isolate

      "... bringing the company closer to its goal of selling the flying car within the next year."

      Ah, the memories. I remember reading an article with that sentence in Popular Science.

      In 1952....

      You have nothing to fear. Flying cars are like end-of-the-world prophecies: every year someone makes one, and the world keeps rolling right around.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • William

      I would only be comfortable flying in a military aircraft if it had wings that folded up like that. Least then the craft would be subject to extensive maintenance. Here we have a vehicle that's driving around all day, subject to potholes and every other condition that beats up your average car, and you're going to fly in that? Pass...

      April 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
      • John

        and what about insurance and road rash? I dont know any car that's more than 2-3 years old that doesnt have scratches and dings... Every imperfection is going to have to be repaired.... potholes and stones thrown from trucks ahead of you on the highway will be a real problem...

        April 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Dave

      engines in the aviation industry are antiquated. Tolerances, relatively speaking, arent as tight as the auto counterpart. The only reason they may appear more reliable is because there are fewer in operation and they employ redundancies that auto makers are not required to use. Not to mention the DMV allows everyone behind the wheel. incorporate the redundancies that the aviation industries use and the tons of research pumped into the auto engine and you have a pretty safe little machine.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • rkfdres

      Andres, you still need to be a pilot to fly one of these things, as well as comply with FAA regulations regarding operation and airpsace. It's not like people are just going to start taking off from I95...

      April 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • roger

      dude .... are you still driving a horse and buggy?

      get your head out of the 19th century

      April 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Jim Morrison

      this is the End.

      April 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Darin

      Safety is a non issue here. Anyone who would like to go up in the friendly skies must go through flight training just like any other pilot.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • don linder

      IT'S A PLANE,you have to be a pilot for anything in the air,it has to take off and land from a airfield,it's only small enough to drive on the road.Can you guess what the insurance would be for a driver to fly in the air without a pilots license,everyone wants to call it a car that flies-it's a plane that will drive on the street.Think about it.

      January 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
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