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Flying Car Makes Successful Maiden Flight 249

MistrX writes "The Dutch company PAL-V completed its first series of test flights with its flying car, the PAL-V One, successfully. The PAL-V One flies like a gyrocopter, with a minimal runway length of 165 meters, and drives around like a trike on the road. Furthermore it offers 2 passengers a maximum speed of 180km/h both on land and in the air. The company aims with the PAL-V One at usage within the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, because private flying is more commonplace."
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Flying Car Makes Successful Maiden Flight

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  • Not a flying car (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:08AM (#39548977) Journal

    A roadable aircraft. A flying car needs VTOL capability.

    And until it's legal to take off and land anywhere, even a true flying car could still only be used like a roadable aircraft.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:15AM (#39549041) Journal

      If it's a roadable aircraft, does that mean that the cop will have to accept my excuse of "I'm flying low" when he clocks me at 110mph on the freeway?

      • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:16AM (#39549057)

        Actually, there's an interesting question. How long before the first car chase where one of these guys flips on his takeoff mode....

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mhajicek ( 1582795 )
          They usually get helos on site fairly quickly in car chases. Take off and you're asking to be shot down.
          • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:33AM (#39549293) Homepage Journal

            I'm pretty sure that the police do not have jurisdiction to shoot down aircraft.

            • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:42AM (#39549373)
              Au contraire, utter the words "possible terrorists" and all bets are off.
              • Nope. Because if an aircraft needs shooting down, it's the Air Force who comes to play.

                The police don't even have the equipment (good thing) to do the job.

                • Re:Not a flying car (Score:5, Informative)

                  by John Courtland ( 585609 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:18PM (#39549797)
                  Better check again, the long flabby arm of the law now operates antiaircraft systems. []
                  • That would be the Secret Service, which has always had more authority than regular law enforcement (due to their primary role in protecting the President and other high-profile targets). It's long been known that they keep Stinger missiles on the White House, for example. And the article in fact says precisely that: those missiles are only to be used to protect the President against terrorist attacks, not any form of law enforcement whatsoever.
                • Nope. Because if an aircraft needs shooting down, it's the Air Force who comes to play.

                  The police don't even have the equipment (good thing) to do the job.

                  Think again. The NYPD commissioner bragged on 60 minutes last year that New York's Finest have the ability to shoot down aircraft. NYC Mayor Bloomberg later confirmed the remarks. []

                  Nobody will say how they would do it, though.

                  • A .50-caliber Barret is certainly capable of shooting down an unarmored helicopter or small, slow moving plane (not that it would be easy, but it is possible), but they can also be legally purchased by civilians (outside of California, anyways). It is very doubtful that they have access to actual missiles. The Secret Service does maintain a Stinger missile cache in Manhattan, but only for defending the President against would-be assassins.
            • yet :)

            • No but when you have a flying object that refuses to obey orders the common reaction is to launch fighter-jets.
              That car chase might end up quite different than the perp had in mind
            • All my research in police buddy comedy movies and CSI derivatives, this is remarkably common, happening once or twice a week. And when put in order of frequency of police events, it falls between hanging out of a broken window of a skyscraper and chasing a bad guy(s) in a swampboat.

              • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

                And operating any kind of outdoor stand or kiosk capable of producing cinematically pleasing debris when a car crashes through it is a very frustrating occupation.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            I never saw a police helicopter with rocket launchers. The worst they can do it put holes in the plane in hopes of killing the pilot.
            That is the last thing they want to do.

        • No quick getaways (Score:5, Informative)

          by cruff ( 171569 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:21AM (#39549137) Homepage
          Apparently it is a 10 minute process to convert from road to flying mode. You'll need a team to keep the cop at bay until you can take off, assuming you have about 540 feet available for the take off roll.
        • Not sure about this particular vehicle, but if this is anything like the Terrafugia Transition [] you have to come to a complete stop before you can deploy the wings, and they take a couple of minutes to deploy.

          • no wings.
            but the rotor blades automatically fold back.

            Converting the PAL-V ONE from airplane to automobile is a very easy process which takes about 10 minutes. Once the engine stops, 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. The last steps in the process are to

        • Um, subby.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#39549285) Homepage

          How about a link to their website instead of a dumbass yahoo article without even a photo of the thing?


          • Don't know if you made it that far (or even scrolled down) but there's a link to that very site at the bottom of the "dumbass yahoo article"

            • by Matheus ( 586080 )

              Yeah... it's there. After you wade through what is very clearly marketing BS. Most of the article is straight off of the PR on the company's website and is very clearly just a fishing expedition for investors.

              I think it's a cool vehicle... wouldn't mind owning one BUT it. is. not. a. flying. car.

      • Only if your wheels are off the ground. Although, I wonder if you're supposed to take off and land under the speed limit?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You'd rather deal with an FAA violation than a speeding ticket? Really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mhajicek ( 1582795 )
      I'd say also that a flying car needs to not have big dangerous spinning things sticking out.
      • It all folds neatly onto the back of the vehicle when driving.

      • but it's safer. helicopters can auto-rotate and [crash] land safely (more or less).. certainly better than gliding into a house. []
        The most common reason for an autorotation is an engine malfunction or failure, but autorotations can also be performed in the event of a complete tail rotor failure or following loss of tail-rotor effectiveness[6], since there is virtually no torque produced in an autorotation. In some extreme situations, autorotations may also

    • Re:Not a flying car (Score:5, Informative)

      by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:15AM (#39549047) Homepage Journal

      You are correct - and it's not a car. It's a two seater trike.

    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      What crack are you smoking. Maybe that's the definition in your head but not in reality. Do you call all birds that don't have VTOL capability non-flying birds?
      • Airplanes have wheels; does that make them flying cars? This is basically just a gyrocopter with fold-up flight parts.
        • Airplanes have wheels; does that make them flying cars? This is basically just a gyrocopter with fold-up flight parts.

          No, because you can't drive an airplane on land (i.e. on standard roads). This vehicle you can, and in fact that is it's primary mode of transport. That makes it a car. It can also fly. Therefore it is a flying car.

      • Re:Not a flying car (Score:5, Informative)

        by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:24AM (#39549169) Journal

        In all of science fiction flying cars have flown directly from the starting point to destination with no driving to or from airports in between (except some Asimov works where the world is apparently littered with runways). So to follow that definition, this is not a "flying car."

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        Do you call all birds that don't have VTOL capability non-flying birds?

        Technically..... yes :)

        Ostriches, Emus, Penguins, etc. fall into that category. Can you give an example of a bird without VTOL (Starts flying from a perched position) that can fly otherwise?

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          Ducks. All birds, all can fly, and all need a run-up to get airborne.
        • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
          Basically every single large bird, it's called physics, learn it.
          • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

            LOL. Really?

            I could say the same to you about biology.

            The hummingbird is true VTOL. Every other bird, unlike a plane, does not require 10+ times its length to take off for flight. I know this.... because.... I have been watching birds my whole life.

            Last time I checked pigeons don't have runways. There are not other pigeons 10 feet away holding up lights like in Chicken Run helping other pigeons take off.

            Perhaps extremely large birds might require some time to take off. Those are exceptions to the rule.

    • You need to drive to your nearest highway entrance too, and then follow the highway, take exits where they are built... you can't accelerate to 100 km/h from your driveway and go to your destination in a straight line either.
      What's the problem driving to your airport, take off, fly to the next airport, land, and drive the last bit? It would be practically identical to the current highway system.

      Also, this PAL-V seems quite capable of VTOL (vertical take off and landing), as it has no wings and therefore sho

      • From their site: "Take off roll 540 ft."
        • by vlm ( 69642 )

          Depends on head or tail winds. At a real airport, no problemo. Along the interstate, well..

      • This is a gyrocopter not a helicopter. It handles much like a fixed-wing aircraft including the need for runways.

        Nothing's wrong with using a roadable aircraft as intended but it's nothing like the sci-fi concept of a flying car.

      • Gyrocoptors do not have a powered rotor for lift. The lift-rotor(s) auto-rotate due to induced "wind" from the horizontal thrust of the aircraft (or gravity, when you stop thrusting).
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      IT looks like it is at least STOL....

      Of course, if you are saying VTOL is a must due to practical considerations, then at what point is it practical? A vehicle that VTOL might still be unable to lift itself out of a traffic jam because it would need more area around it clear to really get off the ground than the nearby cars would afford it.

      • Yeah it is STOL. VTOL is practical for use in a "flying car" when it can take off with little more room than the vehicle's own footprint. The only reason a true flying car may not be able to take off from a traffic jam is exhaust heat. A series-hybrid electric system would take care of this, since exhaust heat could be concentrated and directed straight down from the center of the craft, or maybe even purely electric drive could be used near the ground.

    • Because it has 3 wheels in the States it would be legally considered a Flying Motorcycle. A roadable aircraft would still be handy for some folk. Where they need to travel say more then 40 miles. Where you travel 5 miles to a small airport. Fly 30 miles to the other small airport. Then drive to you destination 5 miles away. So a trip taking you 1 hour to drive would take 25 minutes...
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      And until it's legal to take off and land anywhere, even a true flying car could still only be used like a roadable aircraft.

      Not necessarily anywhere, it could be solved by building landing ports similar to a car park for flying cars, but there needs to be plenty of them. The problems are mostly legal, with friendly legislation flying cars would be a reality by now.

    • But bump and runs can screw you over. Any aircraft that is in any kind of collision needs to be inspected for airworthiness, especially if it involves the engine or prop. You don't want to lose power at 1000m after all.

      So the jerk who backs into you in the parking lot and drives away without a word could really screw you over. The article doesn't say much other than the rear prop folds up, so maybe it has a really good cage around that?

    • Sounds like a vehicular version of No True Scotsman to me.

      It's a vehicle that is road-legal and can fly. That's basically a flying car (or flying three-wheeler, or whatever) to me. VTOL would make it a USEFUL flying car; but I'm not sure that that's relevant. A George Forman grill is more useful than some twigs piled in a heap, but they're still both cookers.

      What you're after is a Blade Runner style flying car- but you're setting your stick too high for a new technology. You're thinking Star Trek rather tha

  • Video (Score:5, Informative)

    by HellKnite ( 266374 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:11AM (#39549005)

    As the linked article is basically a wall of text, here's the website which has a video of the maiden flight on the front page:

    • As the linked article is basically a wall of text, here's the website which has a video of the maiden flight on the front page:

      They might have been able to make it uglier if they tried really, really hard. Looks like an overweight gyrocopter with really basic road-going abilities. Can't wait for Jeremy Clarkson to get hold of one (well, James May would be more likely I guess, what with his pilot's license and all) - looks tippy [] ;)

  • Because we need gas hogs now more than ever.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:17AM (#39549067)

    In that case slashdotters could fuel it for a trip to Andromeda.

    "completed it's first series of test flights with it's flying car"

    "completed it is first series of test flights with it is flying car"

    Really? WHERE did you learn that? STOP IT!

  • Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:19AM (#39549097) Homepage Journal
    Now all someone has to do is invent drivers who aren't complete morons and we'll be in business!
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:20AM (#39549119) Homepage

    the mechanical inspections for this thing if they want this contraption to be commonplace. I can see industry using it but yah you really want to leave it parked on the side street, nothing could go wrong with that mid air.

    • This has all the vulnerability of a motorcycle on the road, and all the risks of a Jesus nut in the air. In short, the combined safety defects of the most dangerous forms of transport in their respective groups. All it needs now is submarine capability to create a perfect Bermuda Triangle. It is going to need to travel from locked garage to locked garage, because even gated suburbs don't have the security of an airport. It's a pity; the only way I can imagine a flying car safe enough for the public would re
      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        I'd recommend you get out of your mom's basement and experience the excitement the world has to offer, but there's the infinitesimal chance of skin cancer from solar exposure so that's probably not going to happen.

        Dude, seriously, there is no such thing as perfect safety. What are you so worried about? A life without some risk is boring, forgettable, and pretty much not worth living in my book. Go to Peru for half a year, learn to snorkel on a coral reef, look over the edge of a 100 story building, go
  • I was running out of reasons to not go outside.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... oh right! The gyrocaptain in Road Warrior. It's nothing more than a glorified autogyro that looks like an old helicopter and a road going trike mated and had offspring.
    Furthermore judging by the lack of bumpers, the non-adjustable tail, and probably a few other things I'm missing, it would never qualify as a road going vehicle in the US, and probably most of Europe, and odds are the tail would be damaged in most urban settings, which, if sold to less than overqualified pilots, would probably result in s

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      Motorcycles don't have bumpers. Given that the ground form is a trike, it likely qualifies at least in Europe not as a car, and therefore doesn't need to comply with car regulations.

  • Gyrocopter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:30AM (#39549253)

    From the fine website, I cut and paste this WTF moment "A PAL-V ONE flies exactly like a gyrocopter, which is the easiest and safest way of flying."

    To be polite, I will just say that opinion is not shared by the majority of aeronautical engineers who are not being paid to say it who know about "old style" autogyros. I'm just mister groundschool with a lot of simulator time and only a couple hours PIC and even I LOLed at that quote. I think they hired that "Baghdad Bob" the former Iraqi information minister for that line.

    Autogyros are cool until the rotor stalls and you die, or the rotor seemingly inevitably cuts your head off in a crash landing, or ground resonance sets in and there's nothing you can do about it but die, PIO due to PPO (and possibly PPO is due to PIO?) and you die... There have been some improvements in design which may or may not prevent those control-theory problems, but the "giant rotating wing" cannot be replaced while still calling it a autogyro. Its like saying you could make a motorcycle safe to ride by merely completely enclosing it with windshields and doors, adding conventional seats with seatbelts and airbags, and adding a couple more wheels for enhanced stability, and ta da, a safe "motorcycle", although it not appears to be a Fiat Punto (which is actually a pretty nice small car, I've driven one a couple hundred miles in IRL).

    The main problem with a "car autogyro" is likely to be chopping up pedestrians and bikers. Which is traditionally seen as "OK" when done by drivers, so maybe its not going to be so bad after all.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      I had to chortle at the "easiest and safest way" too. But gyroplanes aren't *that* bad, certainly no worse than a helicopter with a semi-rigid 2 blade design (think the Bell 206 Jetranger, or the Bell Huey, or the Bell 222 (aka Airwolf) or the Robinson R22/R44) and lack some failure modes that helicopters have. But ignorance can easily kill you in a gyroplane, too. Just like teetering head design helicopters, low-G manuevers can result in a very bad day. I'd say a typical 3 axis microlight is easier to fly

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        The advantage with the gyroplane for this trike is that the rotors are a lot easier to stow than the much larger wings of a fixed wing aircraft.

        How about a traditional ultralight... constructed like a sailboat sail...break it down and stow the parts.

    • The main problem with a "car autogyro" is likely to be chopping up pedestrians and bikers. Which is traditionally seen as "OK" when done by drivers, so maybe its not going to be so bad after all.

      You've brought up the first positive thing about this goofball contraption in the entire thread.

  • Not another one!

    Browse this list before you get too excited about this development. []

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:47AM (#39549405) Homepage

    The problem is the design is a typical forward-trike. It may not be quite as bad as a Reliant Robin [], but its going to be close to it on the road: When in doubt, it will roll, and roll easily.

    • Yeah, but Clarkson was deliberately rolling it there. The segment wasn't meant to be taken that seriously. I've met dozens of Reliant drivers who managed to drive for a long time without rolling the things once.
  • Just another re-spinning of Molt Taylor's "Aerocar", albeit with the rather large "twist" of employing a rotary wing. Molt's stuff was revolutionary 50-some years ago, but not a commercial success. Modern materials and an auto-gyro aren't exactly ground-breaking. They certainly don't constitute the "flying car" I was promised. I predict another commercial failure.
  • This is a three wheeled flying motorcycle or ATV. It would probably be street legal as it somewhere between a scooter and a motorcycle in size. The gyrocopter or autogyro concept is interesting. It should be pointed out that autogryos require expensive maintenance and inspection of the rotor blades and their linkages which are crucial for safe operation of the craft. The folding prop is also a potential source for expensive maintenance and inspection. An inflight failure of either of these systems woul

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hardest part wasn't getting the car to fly, but finding an actual maiden...
  • by Air-conditioned cowh ( 552882 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @11:57AM (#39549537)
    They will have to call it the NTSC-M One, of course!
  • Not even by the most wildest dreams. It's a road able aircraft that will have an impossible time getting govt approval to drive on the road.

    Second, very few people will buy it, One nimrod in the parking lot backing into it and it loses it's airworthy certification.

    • It's similar enough to a motorcycle or scooter to be road licensed as such, I wouldn't see any problem there. It should also meet all safety requirements for vehicles in these classes. The harder part would be to meet FAA requirements as a personal aircraft. It's probably too heavy to meet the ultralight class regs (thought I don't know if there IS an ultralight category for autogyros). It CAN be licensed under the experimental category, but this would require it to be sold in kit form and meet the 51%

  • I'm reminded of Condor, the motorcycle with fold out helicopter blades, from the MASK series.

  • Better hope you don't get hit by a gust of wind traveling at 180km/h on land.
  • by billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:52PM (#39551119)

    They Rock!

    But I'm really not a big fan of tzatziki sauce. What? It's a flying car? Not lunch? Well that's just stupid.

  • Gyrocycle way ahead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:55PM (#39551155) Journal

    The Molnari Gryocycle [] street-legal gyrocopter motorcycle is way ahead!

  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Monday April 02, 2012 @04:04PM (#39552635)

    but all the other specs are about the same: Cessna 152 specs [].

    A 152 can take off in 500' and land in 100'. It's Vne is 110mph and it burns fuel at about the same rate.

    As a driver or passenger in this Pal-V I would not want to be in a auto collision. They don't seem to offer much protection against hitting or being hit by other cars, and being as narrow and tall as it is I suspect that it would be vulnerable to tipping over due to later wind gusts.

    I used a private pilot license as part of my consulting work. It is IMPERATIVE that one makes one hour of preparation for each hour of flight, in order to identify the height of every object along the intended flight path and all secondary paths, where the emergency landing airfields or other places are, and to compute flight envelope conditions as fuel weights change with distance for a given load. The pilot also has to determine the possible weather along his intended flight path as well. The FAA isn't very tolerant toward folks who get trapped into flying into sucker holes.

    To not make these plans is to commit suicide. A pilot just doesn't hop into his plane and take off. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are NO old, bold pilots.

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