YAFC (yet Another Flying Car): Terrafugia Transition

Richard Chen
by Richard Chen
yafc yet another flying car terrafugia transition

Not content to make money the old fashioned way, a team of MIT grads has been hard at work for the past couple of years working on a two passenger [s]flying car[/s] drivable airplane. Terrafugia's Transition recently took a drubbing on Slashdot for even attempting to reconcile the oftentimes contradictory goals of aviation vs. automotive engineering. The CEO was kind enough to respond to his detractors here, stressing ad nauseum that future Darwin Awards will be strictly limited to licensed pilots. Eons ago (in TTAC time), Jonny Lieberman pointed out the limitations of carbon fiber in car construction. And we could go on forever about the bicycle tire-sized contact patches, side-wind gusts from an oncoming train of curious SUV drivers, lack of suspension travel, and the challenge of manually parallel parking the damn thing (oh, and downforce? what's that?!). At least the Terrafugia Transition sounds a lot better than the Flying Pinto which killed its inventors during its maiden flight. Good luck, guys, I'm looking forward to the resulting Hollywood treatment.

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  • N Number N Number on May 16, 2008

    Another problem I see with this concept is declining infrastructure. While GA airports are not declining at the rate they were 10 years ago, the network is relatively sparse making a flying commute in most areas impractical. Landcrusher, I certainly will not disagree with you about half-wits learning to fly. A doctor I knew was flying a turbo-charged 210 after getting his license only a few months prior and was the proud owner of an Aerostar within a year and a half of getting his license. His justification for owning such a handful of an airplane with so little experience was that he wanted to go fast in an airplane that he didn't ever have to worry about weather in. We called him Dr Smoking hole. A structural engineer I knew died after he ripped the wings off his RV-3 performing aggressive aerobatic maneuvers at low level. It was concluded that he knew about the weak wing spars of the RV-3 which were only stressed for basic aerobatics, but despite his knowledge and his profession, he wrung the plane out regardless. There's lots of others like these guys with money which will buy airplanes but not experience nor intellect. Oh, and props on the link you posted.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 16, 2008
    Landcrusher: Please read the link. Just ’bout everything you just said is wrong in more ways than one. You just summed up nearly every common misconception about light aircraft. No, I'm sure TRAINED pilots would be fine. I was just having visions of cellphone talking, text messaging, DVD watching child-distracted parents "driving" over my house at 500 ft while tinkering with the stereo in some flying car contraption. Then I had visions of a mid-air collision with another example of this type of "driver" and the burning wreckage falling on my house... The normal FAA certified pilots are a much better breed I agree. Unlikely they will patch their wings with racin' tape and street signs and buzz their buddy's house trying to scare the kids, dogs and chickens on Saturday night (my version of a flying redneck) while dropping beer cans on their buddy's roof.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on May 16, 2008

    Flying costs lots more than owning a few cars. Both ideas are diametrically opposed. Plane the lesser weight the better. Car needs a min weight or else Tata and those mini bubble cars would have no trouble be sold here, also gets wonderful mileage. Dont we all knew Motor bikes are easy for fuel but the safety factor doesnt justify the safety in the end. What about Dirigibles/air ships ? They can stay afloat with moderate energy to move them.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on May 16, 2008

    523, I see the declining infrastructure as one of the things that will actually make this plane sell. No, it will not be a commuter for many people. If you commute regularly by air, you would be better off owning a car at both ends. I see it being a plane that is just more useful. Back in the day, free loaners and cheap loaners were much more abundant. Restaurants within walking distance were as well. Here is why I stopped making many weekend getaways with my plane. First, you pack. Then you pack the car, then you pack the plane, then you pack the car, etc. Add to that, you have to land at the expensive airport to get a car at a silly rate. By the time you go through all that, you might as well have driven in the first place. There are a few good destinations, but a lot of them are just not easy anymore. Also, the lack of demand for services in aviation has actually made it MORE expensive. Hangar space, tie down space, all of it. The terrafugia will now make their owners a free rider on the system. They will use the airports, but not have to pay the silly price for anything but parts (I am constantly amazed at the low shop rates still offered everywhere).