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Terrafugia flies first prototype: Flying cars 'within a year'

Unleaded fuel-chugging wing-mobile passes the test

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The much-delayed street-legal flying car from US firm Terrafugia has passed another milestone on its long road to mass production: a successful flight from an airport.

Terrafugia's flying car

It's not too pretty. But it can fly...

The Transition carplane prototype passed its initial drive and conversion test before taking off from Plattsburgh Airport in New York at the end of March.

“The successful first flight of this Production Prototype Transition® marks a critical move toward initial production and first delivery,” said COO Anna Mracek Dietrich in a canned statement.

The creators of the two-seater Transition have been making promises for a while now, having finished its proof-of-concept flight in 2009, but Terrafugia is now promising some real road-to-air action within the next year.

"With this flight, the team demonstrated an ability to accomplish what had been called an impossible dream. We look forward to continuing to show that the challenges of bringing a practical street legal airplane to market can be overcome," said co-founder Carl Dietrich.

The Transition, which can drive on roads and highways, park in a single car garage and fly on unleaded automotive fuel, reached an altitude of 1,400 feet (426.7m) in the test and stayed aloft for around eight minutes.

But six phases of flight testing are planned before Terrafugia can make its first deliveries. Until then, prospective aero-chaffeurs can catch a glimpse of the prototype at the New York International Auto Show from 6 to 15 April. ®

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