A flying car that looks more at home on the set of the Jetsons or the latest James Bond movie has become a reality – and Subhash Shihora, a U.K.-based Gujarati entrepreneur, is jumping on board.
Courtesy of Subhash Shihora
U.K.-based Indian entrepreneur Subhash Shihora during a test flight of Transition in 2009.
Named “Transition,” the part-car, part-plane can fly but fold up its wings in less than 30 seconds for road travel, Mr. Shihora explained in a telephone interview. It doesn’t come cheap: when he booked the machine in 2009, it cost $200,000 but the final cost is expected to be $250,000 after taxes, he says.
“The machine will look like a sophisticated sports car on road, and onlookers will not be able to identify its unique flying prowess,” he says. That may be debatable judging by these pictures of the plane on the road, but maybe.
Designed by U.S.-based Terrafugia (Latin for “escape from the land”), an aviation firm in Massachusetts, the two-seater has been designed to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road surface.
Courtesy of Subhash Shihora
Subhash Shihora with Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich during the test flight of Transition in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2009.
Mr. Shihora saw the machine first in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, six hours from Chicago, in 2009. He says over 80 such air-cars have been booked and expects to get his early next year.
“An important reason to buy this car is that it provides flexibility of time. Since I’m a frequent flyer, I will be able to attend meetings in different cities in a day — from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, then to Bangalore, Hyderabad and back home,” he says.
Mr. Shihora says he doesn’t need to book a hangar at airports and plans to park the flying car in his home garage in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s business capital.
According to the company’s website, the car, designed with foldable wings, completed its maiden flight in March 2009 and recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration.
The dual-purpose vehicle, which falls in the light aircraft category, is fuelled with normal unleaded gasoline for road and air travel and, on the road, gets 35 miles to the gallon.
The flying car requires both a road driving license and private pilot’s license to operate.
Though operating the flying car is as easy as folding and extending the wings from inside the cockpit, Mr. Shihora is a bit wary of using the vehicle on the traffic-choked, exhaust-filled roads of Indian cities. ”It could get a bit hectic here because of the traffic chaos; people in India have less traffic sense,” he says.
Mr. Shihora has been holding talks with Indian aviation and security agencies and is likely to get “conditional consent” to fly the car but with restrictions on which areas.
“It is a matter of a few more months before I get the final approval,” he says.
He calls India a “promising market” for such vehicles as the country’s rich are getting more interested in buying private jets, helicopters and assorted luxury gadgetry.
“It feels a little extraordinary,” Mr. Shihora says. “Almost like a childhood dream come true.”
Fuente: India Real Time