March 30, 2009

Transforming car-plane to sell for $194K

An Illinois man who helped create a car that transforms into an airplane said the vehicle will be available for public purchase within about two years.

Sam Schweighart, 31, of Paxon, Ill., said the Terrafugia Transition, which took its first flight March 5, is expected to retail for about $194,000, the Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette reported Monday.

He said about 50 people have already put down $10,000 deposits on the transformable vehicles.

Schweighart, who holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created the car along with colleagues from the same university. He said the Transition runs on high-octane gas or aviation fuel and gets 30 to 35 miles per gallon on the ground. In the air, the Transition uses about 5 gallons an hour and can remain airborne for 460 miles at a time.

If you need to drive and fly a short distance, it solves several problems, including finding or paying for a hangar, said Thomas Haines, editor in chief of the news site for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. It's really meant for a special kind of consumer.