Terrafugia Transition

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Terrafugia Transition

The Terrafugia Transition "roadable aircraft" flying high above the ground.

Courtesy of Terrafugia

If you've been herded onto a commercial airliner in the past few years, you'd be in good company in asking, "Whatever happened to flying the friendly skies?" As airline passengers, we're considered guilty until proven innocent by invasive searches; once we become airborne, we're nickel-and-dimed for every minor convenience such as food, drink and headphones. Oh yeah, and don't forget the checked luggage fee.

And then there's getting to the airport in the first place. If you can't rope a friend or relative into driving you there, and if public transit isn't an option, then you've got to drive. And pay for parking.

The people at Terrafugia, a Boston-based light aircraft company, are working on a possible answer to these indignities.

The Terrafugia Transition is what the company calls a "roadable aircraft." That is, it functions as a street-legal automobile in driving to the airport. When it's time for takeoff, the driver activates controls that deploy a set of stubby, fold-down wings. The craft's rear-mounted pusher propeller then launches the Transition down the runway and skyward.

The Transition makes our list for its unconventional dual function. It's an attempt to solve several growing problems for civil aviation and transportation in general; and well, just look at it!

Warning: You might not be sure whether to take a ride or take a bite with our next vehicle, so we'll tell you now -- doing the latter will only get you a chipped tooth. That said, it's really a sight to behold.

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