New York Auto Show: Flying Car attracts a lot of attraction image

This is really more of a plane that can drive on the road. The wings fold up. You can land your plane, fold the wings up, and drive home!

Dubbed the “Transition,” the two-seater runs on premium unleaded gas, and its fold-up wings expand to 26 feet 6 inches.

“This is an airplane you can keep in your garage,” said Richard Gersh, vice president of Terrafugia, the flying car’s Massachusetts manufacturer.

“People have been trying for flying cars since not long after the Wright brothers. But the technology didn’t exist to pull it off,” said Gersh, boasting that the cartoon dream-mobile of the Space Age Jetsons is now a reality.

With its 23 gallons of premium automotive gasoline it can reach highway speeds of about 65 mph with 35 mpg. In the air, its maximum speed is 115 mph with a 5 gph fuel usage. And yes – this is alreadt available to customers.

Priced at $300,000 for the inaugural commercial machine, technology gurus are already biting at the bit to drive the thing. While we don’t expect the airways to get busy with 5 o’clock traffic, at 100 miles an hour you’re sure to get to places a lot faster. Will there will cops to regulate air speeds soon? Well maybe yes.

You’ll have to take off and land at airports, plan your flights and monitor the weather, participate in the air traffic control system, stay within approved airspace and all the rest.

The flying car has always had a special place in the American imagination. Inventors have been trying to make them since the 1930s, according to Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst who owns R.W. Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York.

In 2004, the FAA added the “Sports Pilot License.” Becoming licensed requires half the time. Newer materials like carbon fiber allow a vehicle to be lighter (970 lbs.) but still strong. New engines (Rotax 912 ULS 112HP) allow the vehicle to combine power and light weight with a cleaner fuel.

Terrafugia, formed in 2006, has about two dozen employees, mostly engineers and technicians. The company is also helping the government develop a flying Humvee for the Marine Corps.

As the second largest Auto Show in North America, the 2012 New York International Auto Show runs from April 6- 15 at Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, New York City.