Flying Firsts Open AirVenture

Terrafugia flying car, HondaJet and Jetman perform at Oshkosh.

Terrafugia AirVenture

Terrafugia AirVenture

** Terrafugia Transition**

In a series of Oshkosh firsts, Terrafugia’s Transition flying car took to the skies to open AirVenture yesterday afternoon, followed by flights by an actual carmaker — Honda — which flew not one but two HondaJets in formation over Wittman Airport. But those performances were mere warm-up acts for the main attraction at Oshkosh this year as “Jetman” Yves Rossy this afternoon prepared to blast across the sky trailing white smoke in his jet-powered flying wing for the first time at a U.S. airshow.

The Terrafugia Transition performed a decidedly docile show routine, making a series of passes, one 360-degree turn and some wing rocking (which looked more like slow, uncoordinated turns) before landing and driving to show center, where pilot Phil Meteer pressed the button that activated the flying car’s electric folding wings. Judging from the way it maneuvered, it appeared to be sluggish in roll response while its tail seemed to have less than adequate lateral stability. On landing it also appeared to swerve as the front wheels touched down. This is Terrafugia’s second-generation roadable airplane, which the company hopes to start delivering to customers in 2015 or 2016.

HondaJets|

Seeing a flying car fly at Oshkosh was interesting, but the appearance of a pair of HondaJets, one painted red and white and the other blue and white, was a more dramatic scene. The formation flight gave showgoers their first glimpse of a new type of business jet that the Japanese carmaker hopes will revolutionize private air travel. The HondaJet with its unique overwing engine-on-pylon design has been delayed by teething troubles with the GE Honda turbofans that will power the airplane. Certification was recently pushed back to late 2014.

Swiss adventurer Rossy took flight above Wisconsin in his custom-built jet suit alongside a B-17 bomber yesterday, reaching a speed of about 190 mph, as part of a demonstration for the media on the opening day of AirVenture. The Jetman was to follow that feat with a show performance this afternoon at Oshkosh, during which he’ll jump from a helicopter, light the twin engines on his wing and fly a routine unlike AirVenture has ever seen.

Rossy actually had to fly the routine for FAA brass a few days ago, which led to the waivers necessary for the performance. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said Rossy joked with him before the performance that he’d had a big breakfast of bacon and eggs and it threw off his weight and balance.

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