Image: Flying car
Terrafugia's Transition part-car, part-airplane took its first test flight, lasting 37 seconds. The vehicle took off and landed successfully.
updated 3/19/2009 12:26:01 PM ET 2009-03-19T16:26:01

It was one short flight for a car, one significant step for a Boston-area start up developing what may be the ultimate hybrid.

Terrafugia's Transition is part-car, part-airplane and as of this month, a flight-worthy creation. The vehicle successfully completed its first test flight earlier this month, the company announced on Wednesday.

The flight was short -- just 37 seconds -- and right over the runway, but as Anna Mracek Dietrich, a Terrafugia co-founder and its chief operating officer, pointed out, flying wasn't the key goal.

"The first flight is great, but first landing is what matters," she told Discovery News.

That apparently went well too, according to Phil Mateer, a retired Air Force test pilot who took the wheel for Transition's debut flight on March 5 at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

"The flight was remarkably unremarkable," Mateer said.

Transition's aerial debut followed six months of road tests and years of design. The goal is to create an airplane that can be driven to and from a runway and parked in the family garage at night.

Transition runs on regular unleaded gasoline and can travel up to 500 miles on a single tank of gas. It takes less than 30 seconds for the vehicle's wings to fold up or extend to transform from plane to car or vice-versa.

"The point of the test was to prove that this could both fly and drive," Deitrich said.

Information from the test flight will be used to tweak the Transition's design for a second prototype. The company plans to begin selling the vehicles, which cost $194,000, in 2010, said Richard Gersh, Terrafugia's vice president of business development.

The company has taken deposits for 40 vehicles already, Deitrich said.

© 2012 Discovery Channel


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