It seems that it was only moments after the invention of the first automobile in 1886 that people immediately got bored and started clamoring for a flying car. For well over a century, the hopes and dreams of drivers everywhere have been hitched to the idea that one day soon mass-produced flying car will fill the skies and we’ll never have to sit in traffic again! However today, after many, many, many, terrible attempts there is now a semi-somewhat-viable option: PAL-V ONE.
The PAL-V team has been working on their concept since 2001 and have just now released their first functional prototype. PAL-V ONE is less of a “flying car” and more of a “drivable gyrocopter”. Unlike a helicopter, gyrocopters use an unpowered rotor in auto-rotation to develop lift. So long as the gyrocopter is moving forwards the rotor spins and generates lift, which means even if the engine dies mid-air a gyrocopter can be safely navigated to the ground.
PAL-V has developed a patented DVC tilt-technology to allow the vehicle to keep its high-center of gravity while taking corners on the road like a sports bike. It can reach speeds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph) both on land and in the air. The transition from gyrocopter to high-speed street-legal go-kart takes less than 10 minutes and can be performed entirely by one person.
To drive the PAL-V ONE all you need is a driver’s license, but to pilot it as a gyrocopter you will need a recreational pilot’s license which can be obtained with about 20-40 hours of flight instruction. Since the gyrocopter flies below 4,000 ft, in airspace designated for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic, there is no need to log a flight plan or get clearance for take-offs. You will be free to roam where ever you want.
Which brings us to this: Flying cars are a terrible terrible idea. Given the amount of raw carnage and havoc that motorists are currently responsible for, it would seem insane to let those same individuals loose in unrestricted airspace. You know that yahoo who cut you off on the highway this morning while talking on his cellphone? Well that’s going to be a lot more terrifying at 3,000 ft. So until Google figures out how fly these things then it is probably better if flying is left to professionals. Thankfully the exorbitant price tag of the PAL-V ONE will probably limit to people who are already rocking a G6.