Terrafugia, the Flying Car – A Moonshot Project

Terrafugia wants to launch street legal aircraft by 2016.

Carl and Ann Mracek Dietrich believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own and drive a flying car. Their company, Terrafugia, is gearing up to produce street legal airplanes for consumers.

This video shows some press for Terrafugia and one of the first media showcases for the Terrafugia Transition at the Osh Kosh Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In Convention in 2013. Several other videos on the company’s website and YouTube site also showcase the Transition and the even more experimental TF-X.


The two seater transition is built from a carbon fiber body and spec’ed at a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour and a range of 410 miles on a single tank of gas. The tank is said to have 23 useful gallons and as a land vehicle a whopping 35 miles per gallon is specified on the ground.

On the road the car is rear wheel drive, fits in  your garage when folded, and has cargo space for carryon bags. A 100 hp Rotax 912iS engine, automatic transmission and touchscreen driver interface are also included. Testing is planned to meet the ASTM / FAA standards for Light Sport Aircraft and FMVSS standards for automobiles.

The transition of the Transition from car to plane takes about one minute. One of the most striking things to me in the video was the way that the operator stowed the rearview mirrors inside the nose as the wings spread out – that was the extent of his work to turn the car into a plane. He then did a check of the wings and flaps to make sure everything was in working order and drove off to the runway.

Currently the launch date is set for 2016, and potential customers can reserve a Transition for $10,000 as a deposit on the expected $279,000 final price tag. The company has raised more than $11,000,000 in funding through their Wefunder site, and has amassed $30,000,000 in preorders. The ten year vision for the company is “Drive out of your garage. Takeoff vertically. Fly at over 200 mph. Get there on auto-pilot.”

There is a feeling of cautious optimism among tech bloggers and the experimental aircraft community. Almost every engineer should want to see the flying car be produced and become commonplace in the next fifty years. The Dietrichs have been working on this project since the turn of the century, and Carl won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Innovation in 2006. Will it work? I sure hope so.