Terrafugia On Track for First Flight This Year

8/21/08Follow @wroush

The idea of a drivable vehicle that also flies has a firm grip on the public imagination. Woburn, MA-based Terrafugia, the subject of two highly popular Xconomy stories back in May (here and here), showed its prototype “roadable aircraft,” the Transition, to big crowds at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, WI, from July 28 to August 3. And on Monday Fox News ran an interview with CEO Carl Dietrich (see the video below, which includes a cool computer animation of the Transition coming in for a landing).

Terrafugia’s main innovations are a folding wing system that allows the Transition to fly like a light sport aircraft, land at any airport, fold up its wings, and hit the road—as well as a carbon-composite body that’s light enough to fly yet strong enough to meet highway crash-test standards. The $140,000 vehicle is being marketed to pilots who want the convenience of being able to reach their final destination (say, a ski resort) without having to park their aircraft and rent a car.

Seeing the youthful Dietrich on TV prompted me to contact him for an update on Terrafugia’s progress. “We continue to be on track to fly by the end of this year,” Dietrich said in an e-mail. However, he stated, the date of the Transition’s maiden flight has not yet been scheduled.

Sadly, press and other spectators won’t be invited to witness the Transition’s actual first flight, “for safety and security reasons,” according to Dietrich. But the company plans to send out an announcement when it’s ready for the first public flight.

Here’s the video:

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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