Roadable Aircraft To Fly This Year

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The MIT grads who embarked on the heretofore impossible dream of creating a practical roadable aircraft (they dislike the term "flying car") have found the funding they need to keep going on the project. Terrafugia, as they call it, will fly before the end of the year and they hope to be delivering the $148,000 vehicle in 2009. What's more, they were displaying the engineering mock-up and folding-wing demo at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring because the Terrafugia will be an LSA, powered by a single Rotax 912 engine. "We're very happy with the development so far," said Dick Gersh, the company's VP of business development.

In vehicle mode, a snowmobile-type transmission will uncouple the propeller shaft and supply power to the front wheels. A top speed of around 85 mph is expected on the road. In aircraft mode, the plane will meet LSA standards and boast a useful load of 550 pounds with a cargo compartment that will accept skis. A whole-plane parachute is under consideration. An LSA pilot certificate will be required to fly the Terrafugia.

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