Flying machine becomes reality: PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) makes successful maiden flight

Update Apr. 2, 2012 20.05 GMT

It was uploaded to Youtube on Apr. 1 hence, I initially though it was an April Fool, however the video shows a genuine flying car registered on the civil Rotorcraft Register of The Netherlands on Jan. 30, 2012 with c/n 1 and registration PH-PAV (type PAL-V Prototype 2 [Gyro]).

It has successfully conducted test flights in the past two weeks at the Gilze Rijen airport, in the Netherlands.

The PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) is more similar to a motorcycle than a sports car. It’s a gyrocopter whose back push propeller provides the propulsion needed for main rotor autorotation. Since both the rotor and the propeller are foldable, the PAL-V can quite quickly transition from flying to road-mode.

According to the manufacturer, the “flying motorbike” usually flies below 4,000 feet and can reach speeds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph) both on land and in the air. It is equipped with a flight certified engine, running on gasoline. Its range is 750 miles on the road and up to 315 miles in flight.

Even if it doesn’t require a real runway a space of 650 feet x 100 feet (200 x 30 meters) is required. The pilot can control pitch and roll by tilting the rotor with a control stick/steering wheel similar to those of fixed wing aircraft and control yaw by way of a rudder.

Although it’s almost impossible to foresee a widespread use of this VSTOVL (Very Short Take Off Vertical Landing) the flexibility of a similar flying machine makes the PAL-V and any other gyroplane with similar features an ideal tools for limited law enforcement, first-aid, border control, surveillance missions.

Time will tell.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.