Terrafugia Flying in to the Future

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Anybody watching movies like Back to the Future, Star Trek, or other future based movies are taken by the creators’ visions of what the future will look like. One of the most out of this world depictions in these movies are how people seem to no longer travel on land in the future but instead, travel by air as their every day mode of transportation. That has never been a possibility for most but one business startup is getting pretty close to making it a reality.

The company is Terrafugia started in 2006 by a group of MIT trained aeronautical engineers and MBAs. They had the vision of making a vehicle that could be driven normally on the road but also take to the air as an airplane. The Terrafugia Transition does just that. This vehicle has wings that easily fold up while on the road but once a person takes it to the airport, the wings unfold and the vehicle becomes an aircraft reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour in the air with a 500 mile range burning only 5 gallons of fuel per hour. On the ground, this vehicle is equally impressive achieving 35 miles per gallon.

For those who think this is nothing more than a technology geek’s dream, Terrafugia has some big partners including Garmin, Bose, and venture capital money that allows them to continue the development of the aircraft. Company executives say that they already have reservations for 100 vehicles totally more than 25 million dollars with each costing approximately $250,000.

Terrafuguia doesn’t expect this vehicle to take the place of an automobile any time soon but they hope that current pilots as well as new pilots taking advantage of easier to get sport pilot licenses will look at the Transition vehicle as a way to cut down on the high costs of flying. One of the drawbacks that pilots currently have is that they can fly their plane to one of the many public airports but have no access to ground transportation other than a taxi once they get there. This adds to the already high cost of flying. The Transition will remedy this problem by making the aircraft in to a road ready vehicle with a touch of a button.

Since the prototype vehicle has already taken to the air and the first vehicle is set for delivery in 2012, Terrafugia may go down in history as the first company to make flying your car or driving your plane a reality. Back to the Future may be coming to the present.