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Flying car is unveiled, but really, how practical is it?

April 03, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • Terrafugia's Transition -- a flying car -- takes flight.
Terrafugia's Transition -- a flying car -- takes flight. (Terrafugia )

A flying car is being unveiled this week at the New York Auto Show, and we can't help but wonder: If the roads are jam-packed with crazy drivers now, what would it be like if they all had flying cars?

The manufacturer, Terrafugia of Woborn, Mass., reports that it's already received more than 100 preorders for its flying car -- the Transition. The $279,000 dual-use vehicle sports folding wings and rugged, all-terrain wheels that will allow it to transition smoothly from the driveway to the roadway to the runway and beyond.

The first versions are expected to be available for delivery later this year. The vehicle will not take flight at the New York Auto Show, so the manufacturers released a sneak peek of the Transition doing its thing in this video recording of its first test flight.

The Transition, which reached an altitude of 1,400 feet, has a 23-gallon gas tank and can refuel at the average gas station.

Now, for the reality check: Flying cars may be a mainstay of science-fiction books, but they're not likely to be a reality for the commuting masses.

They'd create an air-traffic nightmare for the Federal Aviation Administration, and they're not suitable for major airports. (Unless some pretty drastic changes take place at the federal level, all flying still needs to be done in and out of an airport.)

"The Transition isn't designed to replace anyone's car, but it could replace your airplane," according to the manufacturer's website. "The Transition won't be flown in and out of the congested commercial airspace that most commercial airlines and air travelers use. Most of the 5,200 public airports around the U.S., where one would fly a Transition, are underutilized."

For those who happen to have their own airplane and are looking to save a few bucks, the Terrafugia website says the Transition might be just the answer: The flying car "reduces the cost of ownership of an airplane by burning automotive gasoline, parking in your garage at home instead of renting a hangar, and nearly eliminating ground transportation costs."

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