And you thought that taxi-drones were a thing? Check out the Pal-V Liberty Aerocar flying car. Just imagining flying to your local airport, then continuing onto the runway and taking off is just too cool. But, it’s also real. While the few flying cars developed after WWII were neither good cars nor good planes this isn’t the 1950s.
The most successful flying car was the Taylor Aerocar from 1949. Only six were ever made. But they were aviation certified. In car mode, the wings were towed behind the car. In spite of being certified the few that experienced an Aerocar said they were compromised in either mode.
Technology and materials make the crazy Pal-V Liberty aerocar possible
Technology and materials have come a long way and now a company in Holland is trying to mash all of that together to create a serious flying car. A number of car companies including Audi are developing a drone/car/pod-thing that is called a Pop Up. These are drones shaped like pods that land on chassis that can be street driven. Once you’re back at the airport you release the chassis and fly away still seated in your pod. They’re cool too, but it’s not the same as a flying car.
The Achilles heel for flying cars has always been the top-heavy nature of having rotors on top of your car. It makes for crazy vehicle dynamics-or lack thereof. The engineers for the Pal-V solved this problem with a solution from the recent past.
The Pal-V Liberty flying car is possible because of the Carver
Remember the “Carver?” It was another novel three-wheel vehicle also from Holland that leaned to make turns. They’re called “dynamic vehicles.” It always seemed like an answer to a question nobody was asking. Pal-V purchased rights to Carver technology. Now, combined with airplane rotors on its top the whole thing makes sense. Suddenly, there’s a reason for a Carver to lean and carve.
There’s one other Achilles heel that comes with flying cars and that’s the price. The few that exist have been very expensive which gives credence to the old flying car joke. For the price of a flying car you can buy a nice car and a nice airplane. It is estimated the Pal-V will be in the neighborhood of $550,000.
The Pal-V Liberty is a two-seat, two-engine aerocar
Here’ what we know so far about the Pal-V. It’s a two-seater with two engines. The flat-fours are built by Rotax and are the go-to engines for light-aircraft powerplants. Only the cylinder heads are water-cooled. Two engines are necessary because the Pal-V weighs 1,500 lbs. Only one is used when in car mode.
The flying experience according to Liberty is somewhat like flying an autogyro, and we all know what that’s like. Actually most don’t but it gives a somewhat realistic idea with something that is currently flown. Liberty uses an autogyro simulator to instruct would-be Pal-V buyers on what it’s like to fly it.
Driving it is like driving a Carver so there are plenty of those to check out, especially in Holland where they are manufactured. Going into a corner has been described as feeling like banking an aircraft. Extreme left-to-right turns are supposed to be seamless. So in a weird way driving a Carver feels like flying a plane when turning. It’s like these two disparate vehicles were kinda useless until they came together.
The Pal-V’s uniqueness and convenience could be a huge draw for the rich
For those rich enough to be in the market for a Pal-V its unique flying and driving experiences could be a draw. After all, if it was like flying a small aircraft and driving your Subaru there’s little excitement in that. But unique operational experiences make it, well, they make it unique.
One advantage over a traditional airplane is that if the weather turns bad you can land at the nearest airport and continue your trip on land. So there’s a safety and convenience aspect for frequent personal aircraft travelers.
They’re taking orders, you should check it out
The company currently has only one flying prototype. It is shooting for certification to allow it to produce more Pal-V flying cars. So far over $40 million has been invested in the Pal-V. Not a small amount but relatively smaller than the $1 billion on average it takes to develop a car.
It is currently taking orders for the first 90 Pal-V aero cars.