However, if the Dutch-designed PAL-V ONE was your mode of transport for getting to the office in the morning, it wouldn’t matter what the traffic situation was like on the roads.
Standing for ‘Personal Air and Land Vehicle’, the PAL-V ONE is a flying car or, more precisely, a car that can quickly transform into an airborne gyrocopter.
Several successful test flights have recently been conducted and now the company behind the vehicle, PAL-V, is looking for investors to help fund the first commercial production model, with first deliveries expected in 2014.
On the ground the PAL-V ONE is a slim, aerodynamic, three-wheeled vehicle combining the comfort of a car with the agility of a motorcycle thanks to its patented, cutting-edge, ‘tilting’ system. It accelerates like a sports car and can reach land speeds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph).
Powered by a robust, flight certified aircraft engine that runs on regular petrol (gasoline), the PAL-V ONE transforms into a gyrocopter within minutes as its rotor unfolds and its tail extends – rather like a Transformer robot.
As much fun as it would be to be able to escape a traffic jam by simply taking off vertically, straight out of a gridlock of cars, the PAL-V ONE does require a runway to take off and land. Even so, we’re not talking huge – a clear stretch of about 165m (540ft) will do it.
The PAL-V ONE can also reach a top speed 180 km/h (112 mph) when airborne, usually flying below 4,000 feet (1,200 m) – the airspace available for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic – meaning no interference from commercial air traffic. And when you are not using controlled airspace, it means you don’t have to file a flight plan.
Flying a PAL-V ONE handles like a standard gyrocopter, apparently, and is quieter than a helicopter due to the main rotor rotating more slowly. Its gyroplane technology also means that it can be steered and landed safely even if the engine fails, because the rotor keeps auto-rotating.
Once back on terra firma, converting the PAL-V ONE from airplane to automobile takes about 10 minutes. The propeller folds itself automatically into the driving position. Pushing a button then lowers the rotor mast into the horizontal position. The same motion lowers the tail. The outer blades are folded over the inner blades via hinge mechanisms. And then driver/pilot has to push the tail into its driving position and secure the rotor blades.
The estimated price for a PAL-V ONE will be around $300,000, though raising the cash will be just one hurdle keeping you from hugging the clouds: Flying it requires a sports/recreational/private pilot license, and that’s before PAL-V ONE-specific flying lessons, of which 20 to 40 hours are recommended, in addition to a theoretical exam.
However, driving the PAL-V ONE on the ground requires just a regular driver’s license and takes about 30 minutes to get used to.
Apart from providing fast door-to-door mobility for private individuals – fly-driving to an island, soaring over that traffic jam, sailing above water and crossing that mountain range as freely as a bird – the PAL-V ONE could also open up a plethora of applications for professional organisations too.
It can be customised for use by police, border control, flying doctors, courier services, disaster aid organisations and the military.
For more information on the PAL-V ONE, visit http://pal-v.com/