But let there be hope! Introducing the Transition, the first street-legal airplane and "first step on the road to the practical flying car" from the company Terrafugia. If it happens by the year 2015 as anticipated (and without major speed-bumps), a team of award-winning MIT-trained aerospace engineers stand to get rich. Filthy.
The Transition (the second generation prototype pictured above) is essentially a simple-to-fly airplane with fold-up wings that could drive to the airport before soaring over gridlock to a destination (to be determined). Here are some of its highlights:
- Two automated electromechanical folding wings
- 410-mile range in the air
- 35 mpg on the road
- Cargo space for golf clubs and carry-on bags
- No trailer or hangar needed (as it's designed to fit into a single-car garage)
The Transition in theory would kickstart the future in the long-untapped and highly profitable industry called personal airborne transportation. How profitable, you ask? NASA estimates it could be about a $1 trillion-a-year industry.
Imagine much lower commute times. More realistic road-trip destinations. Many more sport's pilot licenses in addition to driver's licenses (a mandatory certification for Transition owners). And just think what you'll be able to knock off your to-do list. As for fuel costs, the Transition will run on premium gas, not jet fuel -- so consumers won't have to schlep to an airport to fill 'er up.
The price tag for this adventure? It's anticipated to be around $279,000, which is pricey compared to whatever whip you're driving these days, but far more reasonable than any plane you've been eyeing. You might be ready for it, but will the world? That might be the bigger question.
None of this is stopping Terrafugia from dreaming up companions for the future of personal transportation. Witness their TF-X (below), a four-seat, plug-in hybrid electric flying car with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities. Real Jetsons stuff. And coming soon. Maybe.
Less interested in traveling on land? Check out the water-based sibling to the Transition, a ATV/jet ski called The Quadski from Gibbs, it's "the world's first high-speed sports amphibian".