Flying Cars: The Future Is Now

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How many times have you been stuck in traffic, wishing to yourself that your car could just take off into the air, fly straight over the backed up highway and get you home within minutes? Flying cars have always been a concept of the future but it’s starting to look as if the future is here. As crazy as it sounds, the PAL-V One has just successfully concluded a series of test flights in their flying car at the Gilze Rijen Airport (The Netherlands). The PAL-V stands for Personal Air and Land Vehicle. It is actually referred to as a gyrocopter and it has the ability to drive like a car on the road and fly like a bird in the sky.

Pal-V carbon fiber flying car

Pal-V carbon fiber flying car

The Dutch Company PAL-V Europe NV started developing the PAL-V back in 2001. With a team of Dutch entrepreneurs and a loan from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the company was able to start the research phase. Four years later, in 2005, the project had a huge breakthrough with the maturing of the DCV tilting technology, which allowed for a safer driving experience without any compromise to the aerodynamic shape needed for flying. Patents were made and a very skilled team of engineers with experience in the automotive, aviation and motorcycle worlds were hired. World-class partners were selected and contracted for several system elements which led to the first flight of PAL-V’s proof-of-concept prototype in 2012.

Robert Dingemanse, CEO and co-founder of PAL-V said “We are very proud to announce this successful maiden flight of the PAL-V and we now invite investors to create the future with us. We know there is a lot of interest for the PAL-V. Prior to announcing these test flights, we were already approached on a daily basis by potential customers and dealers wanting to be part of this exciting project.”

PAL-V carbon fiber flying car

PAL-V carbon fiber flying car

The PAL-V sports a carbon fiber cockpit equipped with two seats for driver and passenger. It’s a 3-wheeled vehicle that drives like a sports car but rides with motorcycle like agility with the ability to fly into the air with lift generated by an auto-rotating rotor that unfolds and extends. Forward speed is produced by a separate folding push propeller in the rear. It has a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph) on land and in air, and weighs 910 kg max. It also needs about 500 ft of road for takeoff.

More good news for the PAL-V is that no new infrastructure is required because it uses existing roads and airstrips. And while all you need is a valid drivers license to drive the PAL-V there are quite a few limitations required if you are looking to fly this on your own. The company website gives clear info pertaining to this:

“Flying the PAL-V ONE in the USA requires a Sports Pilot License. In Europe a Recreational Pilot License (RPL) or a Private Pilot License (PPL) are required. Equivalent pilot licenses exist in most countries around the world. Learning to fly the PAL-V ONE usually takes 20 to 40 hours of student-pilot lessons. In addition, a theoretical exam is necessary which can be prepared for via home study or by taking ground-school lessons at a flight school.”

PAL-V driving

The use of carbon fiber is evident from the pictures of the PAL-V but I was unable to find any reliable information about its use. But we have to assume the carbon fiber helps keep the weight of the PAL-V down while probably jacking the price up quite a bit as well.

The launch of the PAL-V is definitely one for the books. It is history in the making, and the Jetsons would be so proud. Man has been dreaming of the day where we can just take off into the sky to get where we are going faster. I can’t wait to see where the PAL-V One goes from here and see how long it takes to finally see one of these monsters flying over me, while I’m stuck down below on my commute to work. Check out the video below to see the PAL-V One in action.

[Source: PAL-V One]

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  • The big news here is the integration of the DCV tilting technology pioneered by the Dutch company Carver. It’s a wonderful piece of engineering that almost fell by the wayside after Carver filed for bankruptcy a few years ago.
    “Flying cars” have been with us for almost 100 years in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is an oufit here in the USA known as the Butterfly company (http://www.thebutterflyllc.com/) who are also currently producing a street legal gyroplane called the Super Sky Cycle (a roadable gyroplane that is also a street legal motorcycle). Its not nearly as sexy as the PAL-V, but similar in design and execution. Also making their maiden flight this year is New York’s Terrafugia Transition (http://www.terrafugia.com/). A true “flying car” with the prerequisite number of wheels (4), and wings (2). Like virtually all modern day LSA and experimental aircraft, it also makes extensive use of carbon fiber in most of its major load bearing structures and assemblies.
    Regarding the PAL-Vs use of Carbon fiber, it’s used extensively in most external and internal structures and appears to be a 3K 2×2 twill prepreg (vacuum bagged and cured under heat and pressure), in light of its intended (potentially) commercial usagage, the material most certainly has AGATe certs, which more or less limits it to either a Torray, Park Electro, or Lincoln product. While the raw carbon finish is stunning, savor the flavor, as most production units will likely be covered in paint (how many production black aircraft have you actually ever seen?)