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New York 2012: Terrafugia Transition Takes Flight

It's bird! It's a plane! It's a car!

Say hello to the all-new Terrafugia Transition, the first mixed-used, street-legal airplane. As Terrafugia COO Anna Dietrich said, "think of it as a plane that you can drive." The company is working to lower the barriers to entry for flying.

This wacky hybrid of car and plane was enabled thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration regulations in 2004 that created the sport pilot certificate. This license only takes roughly 20 hours of instruction and flying time, which generally costs between $3500 and $4500 according to the company. And, of course, the Terrafugia Transition can be driven on public roads with a regular driver's license.

Since, this is Automobile Magazine, not Airplane Magazine, let's take a gander at its road specs. The lightweight Terrafugia Transition is a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Power comes from the 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS engine, and is either sent to the rear wheels via a continuously variable transmission, or it powers the rear-mounted propeller in flight mode. The Terrafugia Transition can cruze comfortably at 100 mph in the air, and an oh-so-speedy 65-75 mph on land. Thanks to the 100-hp engine and slick aerodynamics, Terrafugia expects to see 35 mpg on the highway and be able to reach a flight ceiling of 10,000 feet.

Despite the $279,000 base price, Terrafugia sees potential demand in the market for such a, well thing. "There are 5000 public-use airfields in the U.S. -- roughly one within 30 minutes from anywhere you are," says CEO Carl Dietrich. The standard GPS system has a function that will direct drivers to the nearest one, too.

During the New York International Auto Show, Terrafugia is running a special offer: the cost of a deposit to get on the wait list is just $2500; a steal, considering the standard deposit typically runs $10,000. Terrafugia is hoping to begin deliveries of the Transition next year, and is working with insurance companies to create one single policy for both land and air.

For more on the 2012 New York International Auto Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our New York Show homepage.