April 3, 2012
World’s First Flying Car Has Successful Test Flight
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
The world's first flying car completed a successful first flight at Plattsburgh International Airport last week, bringing humanity one step closer to the Jetson age.
Terrafugia's Transition Street-Legal Airplane is a two seat personal aircraft that flies on unleaded automotive fuel and can park in a single car garage.
The aircraft is street legal, capable of driving on roads and highways, and has also completed successful diving and conversion tests.
Phil Meteer, Chief Test Pilot for Terrafugia, told RedOrbit through email that driving the flying car on the road feels like driving an SUV.
Meteer said when he saw the Transition's design, he recognized the "engineering elegance in it."
"I expected it to be a good flying vehicle, but I´ve been surprised about how well it drives," he told RedOrbit. "It drives like a...well, like a car or an SUV. It´s a lot of fun to drive and to fly."
During the flight, which asted about eight minutes, he reached an altitude of 1400-feet with the vehicle.
The Transition was able to demonstrate the controllability and safe operational characteristics of the aircraft.
Terrafugia said six phases of flight testing are planned to continue development and demonstrate compliance to the Light Sport Aircraft standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Meteer said he has already had 30 takeoffs and landings, including the proof-of-concept vehicle three years ago.
He told RedOrbit that Terrafugia has over 75 flights planned over the next six months to demonstrate that the Transition complies with the Light Sport Aircraft standards.
"In testing, we will push or exceed just about every limit that an aircraft can do," said Meteer. "Including special test maneuvers to stress the aircraft and flight control systems that production airplanes and pilots will not be allowed to do."
He said that once Terrafugia is able to show compliance with the standards, deliveries to customers will be able to commence.
Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia co-founder and CEO, said that the first flight was a major milestone for the company.
"With this flight, the team demonstrated an ability to accomplish what had been called an impossible dream," Dietrich said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to show that the challenges of bringing a practical street legal airplane to market can be overcome."
Meteer talked in the email about what it felt to be the pilot of the world's first flying car.
"I have a new key on my key ring...a key to a new form of personal transportation in a flying car," he told RedOrbit. "Flying the Transition is an opportunity I couldn´t pass up...the Lord made me for adventures like this."