By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel
At long last: you can finally buy an airplane that you can fold up and drive home like a car.
It’s called The Transition® Roadable Aircraft and this 2-seater can be yours for just $279,000. Just in time for Christmas during a booming economy that’s turned us all into high-flying, fat-cat zillionaires.
This unusual aircraft is legal to drive on any road and fits a standard parking space or household garage. But according to the Massachusetts designer/manufacturer firm, Terrafugia (ter-ra-FOO-gee-ah), don’t call it a “flying car.” Instead, think of it as a “street-legal aircraft.”
In the US, you need at least a Sport Pilot license to fly it, which requires 20 hours of flying time. Oh, and you’ll need a driver’s license. And maybe you should carry rocks and garbage to throw at dim-witted people who point and laugh at your unusual wheels.
So how does it work?
Essentially, the Transition is like the car plane in the 1974 James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. During a car chase, the evil supervillain Scaramanga drives his AMC Matador into a barn, clamps airplane wings onto the car’s roof, then flies away to escape James Bond.
The big difference, however, is that the Transition® street-legal airplane doesn’t have extra parts to assemble. The Transition®’s “electro-mechanical wing folding mechanism” simply folds up its wings (in less than 30 seconds) to become a really slow and ungainly car.
So why buy a street-legal plane that costs nearly 300 grand instead of just buying both a plane and a car (like I do every spring)? Well, according to Terrafugia’s website, a plane-car is highly useful during bad weather. During torrential storms or raining frogs, the Transition®’s “pilot can land and drive without worrying about ground transportation or having to return to pick up his plane.”
You also don’t have to bother with congested commercial airports. Instead, you drive to one of the “5,200 public airports around the U.S.” which the company claims are “underutilized.” The plane can fly as far as 490 miles (787 km), offers a maximum speed of 115 mph (185 km/h), and gets 35 miles per gallon (6.7L/100km) on the road.
A drivable plane means you get to avoid the hassle and expense of rental cars and airport parking fees. You also get to avoid being fleeced by unscrupulous airport shuttle bus drivers who might handcuff you to your seat, drive you to a warehouse, and chop you up into tiny bits.
Judging by the company’s promo video, the only downside to driving a plane-car is the brutal blind spot, also known as ‘wings’. Good luck changing lanes. Shoulder-check all you want but looks like all you’ll see is white metal.
By the way: the company’s name, Terrafugia, is derived from the Latin for “Escape the Earth”. And if you quickly need to escape cops, zombies, your family, or creditors, no problem. Just find the nearest runway, retract the steering wheel, side mirrors, and license plate, unfold your wings, gun the jet engine, and taxi for takeoff. All you need are 2,500′ (762 meters) of clear, zombie-free runway.
What do you think…will the Transition® soar where flying cars have failed before?
— Ken Hegan
Read all Ken’s travel stories here
Photos courtesy Terrafugia
Thanks to AirportsMadeSimple