Most of us think of practical flying cars as something of science fiction or at least something that is many years down the road from now. Well, if 28 year old MIT student Carl Dietrich has anything to say about it, dreams of a modern day flying car may be within reach by the year 2009. Dietrich’s design for a Personal Air Vehicle won the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.
Dietrich along with Samuel Schweighart and Anna Mracek invision a vehicle that would be able to cruise at 120 MPH at an altitude of between 3,500 to 8,000 feet.
The Transition would weigh 1,320 pounds, feature a 100-horsepower engine, stand 6 1/2 feet tall, and be 80 inches wide. “”If you can fit a Cadillac Escalade in your garage, you can fit this,” said Dietrich. Schweighart, an MIT graduate who now works at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, adds that the Transition will be best understood as a “”drivable airplane.” Their hope is that it will fit into the new FAA category of light sport aircraft and would take off from airports rather than lifting off from a driveway or roadway.
Can these three succeed where other designs like the Moller Skycar have failed in providing a marketable flying car? The plane would take off from traditional airports instead of performing vertical lift-off from your driveway or work parking lot so FAA certification shouldn”t be too much of a problem for the design. But there are still more hurdles to overcome and the team has three years to work them out if their 2009 production date holds firm.