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Photos: Terrafugia's flying car flies

The Transition "roadable aircraft" makes its debut flight over upstate New York. It's still just a proof of concept, though, and another prototype is yet to come.

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Jon Skillings
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Terrafugia Transition takes off

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Lift-off from Plattsburgh

Upstate New York, we have lift-off. The Transition makes its ascent on March 5 from runway 17 at the Plattsburgh International Airport. The vehicle is classified as a light sport aircraft and requires a sport pilot license to fly. Piloting the two-seat vehicle on this occasion was Phil Meteer, Colonel, USAFR (retired).
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Transition and chase aircraft

The Transition, which looks a bit like a Volkswagen Beetle swallowed by a carp, is accompanied by its chase aircraft. It's still a proof of concept; Terrafugia says that the vehicle will be subjected to additional flight and drive testing and that a preproduction prototype still needs to be built and certified.
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Transition's propeller

In the air, the Transition uses its rear-mounted propeller. On the ground, when functioning as a car, it uses front-wheel drive. Either way, it uses unleaded gasoline from a traditional terrestrial gas station. The vehicle's cruising speed aloft is 115 miles per hour or better, which will take it on a trip of 415 miles, the company says. On the ground, it can travel at highway speeds.
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Transition, ready to fly

The Transition lines up on the runway in Plattsburgh. The company says that its name, Terrafugia, is Latin for "escape from land." But the vehicle is just as much about giving pilots an easy way to get around when inclement weather or other circumstances keep them out of the air.
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Fill-up at the gas station

Carl Dietrich, CEO and CTO of Terrafugia, gets a fill-up for the Transition, which the company says can switch from plane to car in 30 seconds. You and I call it a flying car; Terrafugia bills it as a "roadable aircraft."
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Transition in the garage

With wings folded, the Transition fits into a standard garage.
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Transition in the driveway

The Transition stretches its wings at home--and stretches the imagination.
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Terrafugia team

Terrafugia's team poses with the Transition over the winter. Clockwise from top left: Gregor Cadman, engineer; Andrew Sand, engineering technician; Stu Foster, intern; Marc Stiller, engineer; Andrew Heafitz, vice president of business development; Ben Zelnick, engineer; Giora Guth, chase plane pilot; Richard Gersh, vice president of business development; John Telfeyan, senior engineering technician; Phil Meteer, test pilot; Samuel Schweighart, vice president of engineering; Anna Dietrich, chief operating officer; and CEO Carl Dietrich.

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