For cross country travellers, what can be more cool than cruising along the route at twice the speed of a typical SUV, coupled with greater mileage?
Here’s a glimpse of the dream future of car travel – you’re never caught up in traffic jams, you never have to keep an eye on the speed limit and you can skip looking out for lane-cutting –that’s because you’re sailing at thousands of feet above sea level!
Just like the run up to the very first heavier-than-air flight by the Wright brothers in the early 1900's, a great deal of research has been directed into getting conventional cars take to the skies.
There have been a number of attempts at getting fully operational units in the past several decades, and the promise is building up in some quarters.
Terrafugia has invented a car-and-plane combination called The Transition. This vehicle can be used like a normal car, about the size of a sedan, and transitioned into a plane with a wingspan of 8 meters. The transition process takes less than 30 seconds, and a sufficiently wide, straight road can be used as a short runway.
Here’s a breathtaking video of Terrafugia's The Transition:
This vehicle is already being booked by several customers, and the list of buyers includes UK-based Indian businessman Subhash Shihora. The aircraft can seat two people and has a Rotax 912S engine fueled by unleaded gasoline. The flying range is up to an impressive 490 miles (787 kilometers).
The price tag of over $270,000 is prohibitive for most ordinary people, which means a mass market reach seems to be still pretty far off.
Doors for New Opportunities - And Challenges too
Some experts are confident the prices of individual units of flying cars will fall to the range of expensive luxury cars once the demand steadily rises. When this happens, it is not hard to predict a simultaneous boom in the flight training industry. There will also be serious calls for advocating better air safety awareness.
Flight simulation systems might need to be tailored for the new demands of these light aircraft. Interestingly, Terrafugia promises to train budding pilots of its aircraft in just 20 hours, in spite of the skepticism that an ordinary car driver may not necessarily succeed in mastering flying skills.
Controlling the Skies
Imagine every morning’s rush hour marked by the rumbling of cars taking off after a quick run!
And, what if a bunch of poorly trained teenagers roar their flying machines into the skies, posing a danger to themselves, other experienced fliers and people on the ground? Scenes such as these may end up being outright nightmarish for air traffic regulators.
Today, an airline pilot who manages to make it to his job without adequate credentials has the potential to raise a massive hue and cry. There is just no guarantee that the same standards of aviation safety will be maintained when flying becomes the common man’s daily routine.
Until you get a chance to literally drop in to office or that distant holiday resort, you can gear up and enjoy the newest additions to your favorite flight simulator software!