Companies aim for the sky, and the road, with flying cars

Crowds at a recent airshow in Winsconsin saw vehicles that can be both driven and flown.
“I grew up down in the Amazon jungle in South American in the country of Ecuador, where there are no roads. And, down there, either you fly or you die.”
Steve Saint created a company called Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center, or “I-Tec.” It serves people in areas removed from modern technology. To get in and out of such areas, Saint developed a flying car he calls the Maverick.
“This is primarily a car, but you can also fly. And, it only takes a couple of hours of training to learn how to master the flying.”
The Maverick can travel at speeds up to 150 kilometers an hour on the ground. It can also travel up to 100 meters in the air at a speed of 65 kilometers an hour. Saint designed the Maverick to be useful.
“People in frontier areas, humanitarian use, mission use, that’s our primary focus. But we need to find a commercial market up here.”
Anna Dietrich works for the aircraft manufacturer Terrafugia, which developed this vehicle, called the Transition.
“We wanted to show that the same vehicle platform could fly, could drive, could fold up its wings in this reasonable amount of time under a minute, and would be able to pack in your garage.”
“This transition is still experimental, but it has flown during test flights. I-Tec’s Maverick also has flown during testing. However, some pilots and airplane lovers are less than excited about the current models."
“They never will be a really neat-looking car, and they’ll not be a real efficient airplane.”
Jone Monnett created Sonex Aircraft, which is developing an electric-powered sport airplane.
“Really, you know, aircraft have to be built to a different standard than cars. So when you mix the two, what do ya got? Something that’s mediocre.”
Anna Dietrich disagrees.
“ We feel like we have hit on a compromise that still meets the needs of our customers, still allows you to do more than you would be able to with either a plane or a car or with two distinct vehicles.”
Dietrich says Terrafugia is moving forward with the Transition. The first model for sale will be available as early as 2011. The estimated cost is about $200,000. I’m Steve Ember.

Source: VOA


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