It is inscribed in our brain that when we see rotating blades, we think of a helicopter. It looks like rotating blades have become the icon for a helicopter. The PAL-V is not a helicopter. In flying mode the PAL-V is a gyroplane. The difference? The rotor of the helicopter is powered by an engine. The blades of the PAL-V are not powered. They are powered by the wind. As long there is airflow they rotate. They act like a continuously open parachute.
The initial idea sparked when Co-Founder John Bakker started flying in 1999. Like every pilot he became frustrated that flying invariably involves departing from a location that is inconvenient, and landing somewhere you do not want to be. Always leaving a car and a plane/helicopter behind. Thus he embarked on a journey to create a car that could fly. A dream cherished by mankind for more than 100 years.
By testing all different aviation platforms, the team concluded that the gyroplane principle was most suitable for creating a flying car. The gyroplane principle convinced them for a number of good reasons. Firstly, flying gyroplanes is very safe and easy to learn. Furthermore, storing the sleek rotor system safely on top of the vehicle is more compact than storing bulky wings.
Despite this, Bakker still faced the biggest challenges inherent in a flying car:
The latter is something you do not want while driving because you will tip over when cornering. This is a fundamental problem encountered for over 100 years by flying car designers.
In 2005 a breakthrough in technology provided a solution for the high center of gravity. A Dutch company called Carver successfully implemented a tilting system in a three wheel vehicle: the Carver One. The tilting system could be used to counter the high center of gravity of an aircraft and make a folded aircraft safe to drive on the road. The first sketches of a roadable gyroplane or flying car were made.
In 2007 the company PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) was founded by Robert Dingemanse and John Bakker and the dream of a flying car started to materialize.
PAL-V started building the first prototype flying car. This prototype was built on the chassis structure of a Carver One and was intended to test a further refined tilting system for the PAL-V. The Carver tilting system was then further developed in order to counter the high center of gravity on the road. This Dynamic Curve Stabilizer System ensured the road safety of the 'roadable gyroplane'.
In 2009 PAL-V successfully tested the tilting system with Prototype X1 on the road.
Furthermore, PAL-V carried out an infrastructure test with the Dutch Minister of Transportation to investigate how the PAL-V could be used in the future.
After Prototype 1 was successfully tested, PAL-V started to build Prototype X2, known as the PAL-V ONE. The PAL-V ONE was built to prove not only that it is possible to build a flying car but also that this was possible within existing regulations. The team was once again challenged to do the impossible. Namely, making an operational flying car which, most importantly, is allowed to fly and drive under existing regulations.
After performing many component and system tests, the PAL-V ONE was ready for drive testing.
During this year PAL-V finished the development of the world’s first gyroplane development simulator. The simulator has subsequently been continuously refined. Today it is a very powerful tool to test and validate all characteristics of the the PAL-V Liberty design.
PAL-V made its first flight with the PAL-V ONE in 2012. During this year PAL-V successfully completed its test flight program. This has continued to spark a tremendous amount of positive responses from people all over the world.
After successfully proving the concept of the PAL-V flying car, PAL-V started the design of its first commercial flying car model, based on the proven technologies and the steadily acquired certification know-how.
In 2013 PAL-V's design team cooperated with world class Italian designers to create the exterior design. This model was baptized the PAL-V Liberty. During this year PAL-V also completed the first wind tunnel tests with this new commercial design.
The various (sub)systems and concepts were built and tested, to validate the design.
In December 2015 the design was proven mature enough to accept the first reservations. The first Dutch customers reserved their PAL-V Liberty.
PAL-V hired a team for the North American market. Customers could view the PAL-V Liberty design in private settings and in a virtual showroom. The first reservations by North American customers were made. Meanwhile, business development activities were initiated in other countries in i.e. the GCC and Asia.
PAL-V started its marketing campaign with the public launch on the web of the PAL-V Liberty.
PAL-V plans to hand over the first keys of the PAL-V liberty Limited Pioneer Edition to its first customers.