Although the first flying car may conjure up some images from a science fiction movie or memories of the futuristic 1960s cartoon “The Jetsons,” it’s not light years away. If all goes well, Carl Dietrich of Terrafugia is hoping to market his flying machine by 2015.
This CEO and co-founder of Terrafugia has been steadily working on creating a flying car since 2004. After completing his Ph.D. at M.I.T. in 2004, Dietrich learned about a new kind of aircraft certification and new kinds of pilots’ licenses. This paved the way for his new idea of creating a flying car called the TF-X.
Still in the Design Phase
Although the prototype is ready, the TF-X is still in the design phase. Equipped with computers and automated navigation and piloting, the TF-X is designed as a vertical take-off and landing vehicle. All the stick-and-rudder work of traditional flying is gone. With just five hours of training, you could be on your way to both the road and air.
The TF-X lands and takes off straight up and down. No runway is needed and no pilot’s license is required. Drivers would be able to utilize this flying machine in pre-approved zones like open fields and parking lots. That is, if the FAA gives the approval anyway.
Working out the Kinks
Before final takeoff, there are several kinks to work out and hurdles to cross for the TF-X. In addition to developing better batteries, the main challenge for the TF-X is getting the FAA and other agencies to sign off on the idea. It’s complicated. The motor and battery need FAA approval, and regulations would have to be set and met in reference to landing zones.
A new generation of rules has to be established before these vehicles go zipping through the sky. After all, the roads of the skies can be filled with potential collisions without safety in place.
What is It Going to Cost and How Fast Will It Fly?
At a projected high price tag of $279,000, it’s not likely that mainstream Americans will be driving and flying these new gadgets anytime soon. More likely, it will be those who have deep pockets and fit into the high-priced sports car niche. The TF-X has a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour in the air and gets about 35 miles per gallon on the road.
It also operates on regular automotive gas and is 30 percent less than the cost for aviation fuel. Upon landing, its wings withdraw in less than a minute, the propeller disengages and the rear-wheel drive kicks in. If you’re wondering how big it is, the TF-X can fit in a single-car garage. Get ready for the future America!