Marty McFly: Hey, Doc, we better back up. We don’t have enough road to get up to 88.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
Could we soon see a version of Doc Brown’s flying DeLorean gracing our airways? If you don’t know what I am talking about let me introduce you to The Transition, a flying car tested and soon to be approved as both car and sport aircraft. The Transition is the creation of Terrafugia; a small engineering shop in the greater Boston area. Last week I had the privilege of attending a presentation by the company’s founder and CEO Carl Dietrich and I must say, this car-plane is pretty cool!
The Transition can be driven on the road at highway speeds and has a flying range of nearly 400 miles, all powered by a single propeller run off of unleaded fuel. The wings fold up for driving and can be deployed in 30 seconds from the inside of the cockpit. In no time at all you can go from road to runway and be ready for takeoff.
According to Carl, his hope for the future is to make personal aviation more practical for the entire world. At a predicted price tag of $275,000 this may not be possible right away, however the company already has an order backlog exceeding $30 million.
AVIATION GAME CHANGER?
Serial entrepreneur Bill Warner, talks a lot about building a company to solve a problem vs. building a company for joy; Microsoft being a company built to solve a problem and Apple being a company more for the latter. Dietrich's creation is certainly playing to the hearts of many dreamers. He is making the future a reality and evoking an emotion in consumers that could prove to be a new driver in aviation.
However, even if The Transition can have an impact on general aviation, does it have the wherewithal and utility to impact the business of flight training? We know that aviation is starving for ways to bring exposure to flight and create some curiosity among kids. With the shifts in higher education, collegiate aviation programs are looking for new ways to recruit more students and broaden out their revenue streams...can the emotion triggered by The Transition help?
One thought that piggy backs our last blog post, is using something as cool as a flying car as a feature at an Aviation Day event. Seems simple but for a young child, sitting in the seat of a flying car and unfolding its wings might be the spark that spurs interest in a career path in aviation.
What do you think? Can this flying car be used as a tool or is it just an expensive toy?