If you’re familiar with The Jetsons, the animated sitcom from the sixties, you’ll probably remember their flying family car. But as futuristic as that might have seemed five decades ago, it’s almost within our grasp. Take Dutch company PAL-V, for example, which has been working for the past few years on a vehicle that combines the attributes of a three-wheel car and a gyrocopter.
The company has just started taking pre-orders for the PAL-V Liberty, which begins production in the summer, has a price tag of around €300,000, and seems to be the real deal when it comes to flying automobiles. Ease of use is one of the Liberty’s biggest selling points, taking between three and five minutes to switch from flying mode to driving mode and vice versa (mostly automatic), though you will need to spend another 10-15 minutes on your pre-flight checks.
If you’re the type of person who buys road-going aircraft based on the statistics, they aren’t half bad. On the ground, 0-100km/h takes nine seconds, topping out at around 160km/h. According to PAL-V, the Liberty uses 9.1L/100km (31 mpg) on the road, meaning that you can travel a total distance of 1,314 km on a full tank. Though it’s faster in the air, with a top speed of 180km/h, you won’t get as far, with stops required roughly every 500km or so. Still, that’s more than enough to fly from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in Cork, as the crow flies.
“Successful people hate to waste time. So we deliberately designed the PAL-V Liberty to free you from the ties of traffic. Now you are in control of your individual travel schedule,” the company says. “Plan your appointments when it suits you. No more airport parking hassles and no taxi, train, bus or rental car required after landing. A traffic jam? Just fly over it.”
It’s not quite as simple as buying and flying. You will have to get a pilot’s licence before you can take to the air, which adds an additional depth to your budget. However, the thought of being stuck in traffic on the M50 and having the ability to simply take off and leave the queues behind is quite enticing.