By Evan Ackerman
The PAL-V is a hybrid tricycle and gyrocopter. On the road, it’s “as comfortable as a luxury car” while performing like a motorcycle. Notably, it adopts the tilting characteristics of the Carver One when it turns at speed. Find your way to an airstrip (or a long straight piece of road), and a tail pops out, rotors unfold, and off you go, climbing up to 4,000 feet (the bottom ceiling of commercial airspace) at speeds of up to 200 kph. Landing is vertical, and as an autogyro, you can land safely without an engine. It’s got a fuel efficient powerplant that handles both driving and flying, and can run on regular gas, biodiesel, or bioethanol. With active investors, the PAL-V should be available in 2 years for an undisclosed price.
Now, I’m all for the flying car concept, but as a practicing pilot, I have to say that I’m a little leery of it in practice. There are a bunch of very good reasons why getting a pilot’s license is a lot harder than getting a driver’s license, and despite the inherently stable characteristics of an autogyro, takeoff, landing, and navigation is always tricky. And unlike regular cars, which drive on roads, with a flying car, nobody is safe anywhere. Let’s hope these things get regulated effectively, or I’m building myself an underground nuke/tornado/flying tricycle shelter.