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Flying Car Finally Hitting the Market?

While it’s good to see a company tossing new ideas into the General Aviation community, I’m pretty underwhelmed by the news that we may finally soon have a real flying car. As much as I’d love for something that’s really practical in this role, I’m not sure this is it, mostly because of the price, and because it will neither be a very good car or very good plane for that price.

Mentioned in the video, the range is about 400 miles, and the cost somewhere between $200,000 and a cool quarter million. Other than the novelty/cool factor, what does it practically get you? Well, you can drive the plane home to your garage, so it’ll save on having to store the plane at an airport. You can decide to fly one part of a route, and drive another.

A used Cessna 172 Skyhawk can be had for 25 grand. How much storage can 225,000 pay for at a local general aviation field? How many rental car days can a tenth of that pay for to get you to and from and airport? The Cessna has a range of close to 700 nautical miles, while the Terrafugia flying car ranges to 425 nautical miles. The Cessna’s cruising speed is 122 knots, topping out at 163 knots. Terrafugia’s flying car cruises at 93 knots and tops out at 100 knots.

Now it’s fair to note that the Terrafugia is a Light Sport Aircraft, but even in comparison to other aircraft in that category, it’s still really expensive, even if more comparable in terms of performance. The other issue is that the Terrafugia has a very low ground clearance for a plane, and combined with the four wheel undercarriage, I would imagine makes crosswind landings more tricky than in a regular aircraft. I’d be worried about wing scrape and tail scrape if you don’t nail your landing exactly right, though it looks like the Terrafugia has a smaller, extra set of wheels in the tail section.

My conclusion is this is a rich person’s novelty. A great way for keeping up with a Jones’, if you’re a little weird. I’m also really curious how you work insurance for one of these things. I’m guessing you need an auto policy while driving, and another policy for when it’s being used as an aircraft.

7 Responses to “Flying Car Finally Hitting the Market?”

  1. Gerald says:

    It’s not a particularly good plane nor a particularly good car and it costs more than both combined.

    With that said, it should sell pretty well.

  2. Alpheus says:

    I’m only impressed the audacity it took to make such a thing; it still looks rather impractical.

  3. MichaelB says:

    Insurance will be a royal pain. Odds of it being totaled in a car crash are very high. Look for something like a 10% deductible. On the aviation side, no real insurance concerns I’d imagine. I’ll stick with my 2 seat helicopter. Great fuel mileage, land anywhere, and goes about 100mph. Not a time machine like a 150kt airplane, but easy on the wallet since I can keep it in the barn instead of at the airport.

  4. The Wraith says:

    I don’t know nothin’ about no flyin’ machines. I do know that them newfangled horseless carriages ain’t gonna last. They ain’t nothin’ but a toy for some rich fool. And don’t get me started on that ‘telephone’ thing. What’s the use of a gadget like that?

    Jest askin.’

  5. Gunship Cowboy says:

    In the 50’s the Bob Cummings TV show had him flying/driving one of these “things”. Later somebody used a Ford Pinto as the base for a flying car. We all know how successful the Pinto was for Ford. Transportation vehicles are too specialized for a dual-purpose “thing” to be successful. How successful was the car/boat thing? NOT!

  6. richard says:

    I have vague memories of a VW Rabbit being connected to wings and flying back in the seventies…maybe for a movie…. Anybody else remember this?

  7. aeronathan says:

    I’ll be surprised if they sell more than a handful. It may drive on the ground like a car, but it still has all the inspection and maintenance requirements of an airplane, none of which are cheap.

    General aviation is a hobby that you have to have some serious $$$ to play around in.

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