I’ve been involved in aviation long enough to know that about 99 percent of the grand dreams of designers are never going anywhere, despite the occasional company’s ability to raise money from
A jetpack for the average person may still become a reality, for example. But I probably wouldn’t go broke betting against it.
I might also have bet against the Terrafugia when the concept was unveiled a few years ago. The idea of a car that can become an airplane — or maybe it’s an airplane that can become a car — has been around for decades, but it usually dies of its own ridiculousness.
But, apparently, the Terrafugia is going to be different. At the big AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, which is going on this week, the company announced it will begin delivering the car/plane to buyers late next year.
It hasn’t set a price yet, however, although the number being tossed around by those who are good at guessing such things is about $280,000.
So who buys one? At $280,000, not your average person, certainly. And you can get a nice airplane for $280,000. The problem, it seems to me, is that it’s going to be difficult — from a Homeland Security point of view — to drive your car to a local airport, then find your way to a runway to take off in your airplane.
And why would you want to? You can drive your beat-up car to the airport and if you have a fender-bender, you’re not out $280,000. And we haven’t even talked about what your insurance cost would be for a roadable airplane. And forget about taking off from a highway; nobody’s going to let you do that.
There are scenarios where a car/plane would have some practical use. If you’re flying across country and the weather turns bad, you land and drive the rest of the way.
But the plane flies at only 105 mph and has a range of only 400 or so miles. That’s not much of a cross-country airplane.
Still, it’s a heck of a country where there are people willing to spend money betting against the people who are betting against an idea.