Somewhere, George Jetson is Smiling

In February 2009, as Barack Obama eases in to his historic presidency, another event of historical import will be taking place: Massachusetts-based Terrafugia will execute what is believed to be the the first test flight of a flying car.

I wrote about the Terrafugia Transition back in October time ago, and it's no surprise that the estimated MSRP has gone up substantially from $148,000 to $200,000.

Beyond that, little has changed about the proposed specs or vehicle design, giving the project some significant credibility.

The 2-seat Transition, a product of former NASA engineers, requires just 15 seconds to go from the highway to way-up-high and requires no removal or installation of parts to make the transition (it's easier to work than a Targa!) The wings fold and unfold at the push of a button, and the vehicle can be parked in an ordinary garage.

On the pavement and in the air, its 100bhp engine burns conventional gasoline, making fuel stops a breeze.

Founder Carl Dietrich, who claims to have four dozen orders already, believes that if the test flight is successful the Transition could appear in a showroom near you in around 18 months.

All of this progress by Terrafugia bodes ill for the one-time darling of the flying car folks, the Moller M400 SkyCar. Granted, substantially different technologies are at work in these vehicles, yet Terrafugia formed in 2004 and is on the verge of test flights.

Moller has been fooling around for much longer; they have had some problems with the SEC, and seem no closer to getting airborne than they were five years ago.

While Terrafugia readies to put their car in the air, Moller remains busy putting the M400 on T-shirts, prints, and coffee mugs.

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