Another company has joined the development effort to produce the elusive flying car. As I mentioned in a previous post, this isn’t a new concept, and there have been several attempts over the years to address this market. The “Transition” by Terrafugia is probably one of the better looking and more interesting ones though.
The wings unfold at the push of a button in less than 30 seconds. You do your preflight and redirect the engine’s power to the pusher prop instead of the wheels, and you are ready to take off. Here is a video of the prototype’s first flight:
In contrast, one of the early and better known original flying cars is the Taylor Aerocar. This vehicle (below) has a “pod” which attaches to the back of the car containing the wings and propeller assembly. This pod is manually detached and left at the airport when the car is converted to road use. This conversion reportedly took 30 minutes. Clearly, pushing a button and staying in the comfort of the cab is much more convenient, especially in inclement weather.
The Fulton Airphibian AF-3-101 had a similar design:
The Maverick (the subject of my earlier post) flying car is interesting, but as it’s basically a ram-air parachute wing attached to a rather goofy looking sand buggy, it doesn’t win style awards in my book. Also, conversion takes time:
The only other variant I am aware of is the PD-1 Roadable Glasair being developed by Plane Driven. This one has an engine pod below the center of the fuselage which is slid on rails toward the tail of the plane, then the wings are manually folded against the sides for road use. The conversion is more manual, but doesn’t seem to awkward.
Of course, I’m not forgetting about Moller’s Skycar (see my posting here). That vehicle is a radically different design due to it’s VTOL capabilities. It’s quite pricy, but very swoopy looking:
There are many others, of course. Check out the Wikipedia article. I chose the ones above to talk about because they seemed the most practical and actually affordable. There are several interesting units being developed, but their pricing is ludicrous. Take the Urban Aeronautics’ X-Hawk for example. This has a projected price of $3 million. Maybe that’s OK for government search & rescue use, but it is obviously not useful to the general public.