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Flying Car o' the Day

by Brian Dunning

July 19, 2011

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Donate Aerospace nuts know that my friend Burt Rutan, creator of SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo, the circumnavigating Voyager and GlobalFlyer, the ubiquitous Long-EZ and many other famous aircraft, has recently retired. Before doing so, his staff wanted to make sure that his final professional design saw the light of day. And so it has.

The Scaled model 367, aka the "BiPod", has taken to the skies (at least a little bit). It's a legitimate flying car, using the twin-boom configuration common to a number of Rutan's designs. One fuselage has controls for driving as a car, while the other has flight controls.

Interestingly, it is a hybrid electric vehicle. Its two rear wheels are driven electrically by batteries. The final design features twin 450cc internal combustiongenerators, one inside each boom, providing redundancy. In flight mode, the electric power will drive four small propellers.

So far, it's made several short hops on the runway, powered by its wheels alone, and has performed as expected. The wings can stow between the twin fuselages, and are intended to be put on or removed by a single person.

Its performance is noteworthy. As a car it can travel at freeway speeds for a total of 820 miles, or 35 miles on batteries alone. As a plane it's capable of 200 mph with a range of 530 miles, or 100 mph with a range of 760 miles.

Will the BiPod be in your garage anytime soon? Not likely. Although Scaled is a real company with a staggering track record, and this is a real aircraft; it was built to gauge further interest, not to go into production.

by Brian Dunning

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