x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Aerial passing lane

News of a new personal car-plane is prompting lots of daydreams. But the more you think about, the less appealing it becomes.

George Jetson had an enviable commute. Jetting off to a three-hour workday at Spacely Space Sprockets in a flying saucer-like bubble car would, we can only assume, make even the most jaded of wage earners eager to start the day.

So it is with similar envy that we consider Phil Meteer's career choice. The F-15 and A-10 US Air Force pilot is, at present, the only person to have ever flown the Terrafugia Transition flying car, the world's first "sky-worthy" vehicle. On display at the New York International Auto Show, the two-door, four-wheel contraption has met both Federal Aviation Administration and National Highway Safety Administration standards in America.

The good news for those hoping the future comes early is that the new car-plane hybrid is easy to pilot, and proficiency can be gained after only 20 hours of training. "The first time I drove one of these I had a test plan on my leg I was going to follow," Mr Meteer says. "But after about 20 seconds I thought 'this drives like a car, my daughter could do it.'"

The bad news is that the vehicle is pricey ($279,000) and needs a runway to take off, hardly useful if you're stuck in heavy traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road. Which is just as well really. Considering some of the driving we witness daily on our roads, the last thing our commute needs is a traffic jam in the sky - caused by a teenager with wings and a learner's permit.