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Flying car PAL-V is tested; Terrafugia Transition in the wings

April 04, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • The Dutch made PAL-V flying car recently completed its first successful test flight.
The Dutch made PAL-V flying car recently completed its first successful… (PAL-V )

Thinking of buying a flying car? You may want to go Dutch.

The Netherlands company PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) said its flying car prototype has successfully completed several test flights in the past two weeks. 

Coincidentally -- (or not) -- this news came in the same week that the U.S. flying car company Terrafugia announced it had completed a successful test flight of its own flying car market prototype, the Transition.

That's right people, when it comes to flying cars, you've got choices.

Terrafugia's Transition, which will debut Friday at the New York International Auto Show, is on schedule to be available for purchase by the end of the year. It will cost $279,000 and the company said it has already accepted 100 orders.

PAL-V's PAL-V 1 is still in the development phase, and the company is looking for investors to help bring the flying car to market. PAL-V expects that it will sell for about $300,000.

Besides sharing the ability to drive on a road and fly in the air, the two vehicles don't have much in common.

Terrafugia's Transition is really more of a roadable aircraft, rather than a flying car -- think of it as a light sports aircraft with collapsible wings that has been cleared to drive on highways.

The Transition's flying range is about 400 miles. It has a top speed in the air of 105 mph, but is significantly slower on the ground.

The PAL-V flies in the air like a gyrocopter with lift generated by an auto-rotating rotor and forward speed produced by a foldable push propeller in the back. It has three wheels, a narrow base, but a high center of gravity and on the ground it drives sort of like a motorcycle thanks to a patented "tilting" system.

The flying range of the PAL-V is between 315 and 350 miles, and it can reach speeds of up to 110 mph on the ground and in the air.

Now if engineers can make vehicles that also have swimming capability we can expect a NASCAR triathalon in our future.

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