Chain of Thought

Flying the Friendly Highways and Driving the Friendly Skies

Just about everybody of a certain age remembers “The Jetsons,” a cartoon show from the 1960s that speculated on what life might be in the space age future, with people living and working in orbiting satellites that they access by personal spacecars, with just about every function of life automated to button-controlled devices and family robots. And it's become a kind of cultural touchstone for commentators like this one to look at where we are today with technology, and scoff, “Sure doesn't look like we're going to be living like the Jetsons any time soon, ha ha.”

Related Article: Space: Cargo's Final Frontier

However, though it's not exactly what George Jetson and his futuristic family were familiar with, a new vehicle, the Transition Street-Legal Airplane, has had what its developer, Terrafugia Inc., says was a successful first flight. As the company describes it, the Transition “is a two seat personal aircraft capable of driving on roads and highways, parking in a single car garage, and flying with unleaded automotive fuel.”

Since the Transition relies on the driver/pilot using the highways to get to the airport, it's not clear whether a community of these flying cars would see any relief in highway congestion, nor do we get a sense of how clogged the skies would be should these sorts of things prove to be popular. No doubt, the Department of Transportation will need to create some more agencies to figure all that out, should the circumstances warrant it.

Here's a video released by Terrafugia showing the test flight. I'm not sure I'd want to be driving one of those things on the highway, considering what the blind spots on this vehicle might be like. I'm also a bit dismayed that the video doesn't actually show the flying car lift off at the airport, which ought to be the highlight of this whole video. I was impressed, though, that the Transition apparently fits in a regular garage; no need to rent hangar space down at the airport. Anyways, take a look and see what you think.

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