July 29, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
It didn’t do loops, rolls, or anything remotely aerobatic—but the Terrafugia Transition wowed afternoon airshow spectators at EAA AirVenture on July 29. The roadable airplane (or flying car, if you prefer) performed a flight in front of thousands.
The Transition had previously flown before a group of about 300 employees, customers, investors, and FAA officials in October 2012, but today’s jaunt was arguably the highest-profile event since the prototype flew a pattern in March 2012.
Terrafugia Chief Executive Officer Carl Dietrich climbed onto the airshow announcer podium to provide some color commentary as the vehicle took off. “We’ve been dreaming about this day since we first came to Oshkosh in 2006,” he said.
The Transition, flown by test pilot Phil Meteer, climbed steadily and smoothly to pattern attitude under breezy skies, wagged its wings, and performed circles to demonstrate its turning radius. While airborne, Meteer told the crowd via a microphone in the cockpit, “I’m in a car looking down on traffic.” After landing, Meteer demonstrated how the Transition’s wings fold by pushing a control within the cockpit. Folding and unfolding takes about a minute, and the pilot/driver can do that from within the cockpit, Dietrich said.
Dietrich said the Transition flies at about 100 mph and can manage highway speeds of about 80 mph. It takes off in 1,700 feet over a 50-foot obstacle. The vehicle has not completed final testing, he said. Deliveries are anticipated to begin in 2015 or 2016. The base price is $279,000.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A half-ton Dodge truck lines up on the centerline. As the pickup accelerates, the floatplane trailered behind it adds power, lifts off, banks left, and departs: just another floatplane launch by Joe Sprague of Cadillac Aircraft Services in Cadillac, Mich.
Public-use heliports aren't very plentiful, but those that are offer unique capabilities and a fun challenge.
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