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Terrafugia Transition: Flying car imminent

The future is finally here! The Terrafugia Transition, a light aircraft that also doubles as a street-legal car, has just been given the green light to go into production

Rory Reid
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Imagine the scenario: you're late for a crucial meeting and you're stuck in the traffic jam from hell. What do you? Well, you could hang your head out of the window, wail like a siren, flash your headlights and pretend you're in a police car. Or you could learn your lesson for next time and buy yourself a flying car, such as the Terrafugia Transition.

The Transition will allow you to zoom above the rush-hour gridlock. It's a light aircraft that also doubles as a street-legal car, and it's just been given the green light to go into production.

According to the The Daily Telegraph, the Transition was designed as a 'light sport' aircraft, the smallest kind of plane under US Federal Aviation Authority classification. But, due to its roll cage, crumple zones, airbags and other gubbins legally required in a car, it weighs in at 653kg -- 54kg more than allowed for by the light-sport classification. Fortunately, the FAA has granted this sky car a special exemption, which means it's legally permitted to fly.

To become airborne, the Transition needs a 518m runway. Once in the clouds, it has a range of 460 miles and can reach a cruising speed of 115mph. On the ground, the pilot activates the electro-mechanical wing-folding mechanism from inside the cockpit, stowing said wings vertically on the sides of the vehicle within approximately 30 seconds.

With its wings out of the way, the Transition can be driven from the airport, like an ordinary car. We're not sure how fast it'll go or how well it will handle, but, according to Terrafugia, it'll return a highly respectable 30 miles per gallon.

The Transition will be available for customer delivery in the fourth quarter of 2011, and Terrafugia is taking refundable reservations as we type. The company reckons that, at the time of going to press, over 70 aircraft have been reserved. To grab one for yourself, head on over to the Terrafugia Web site, and click the 'Continue' link to see more shots of the Transition.

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The wings automatically fold up or down at the touch of a button within 30 seconds.
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The Transition is heavier than standard sport aircraft, and it seems to have an unwieldy shape, so don't expect it to win any dogfights.
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Terrafugia says the Transition will fly at up to 115mph.

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