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Plane Driven conversion kit lets a Glasair aircraft be driven as a trike

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August 1, 2012

The PD-2 conversion kit allows a Glasair Sportsman GS-2 light aircraft to be flown, or dri...

The PD-2 conversion kit allows a Glasair Sportsman GS-2 light aircraft to be flown, or driven on the road as a trike

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We’ve certainly been hearing a lot lately about the Terrafugia Transition, the “roadable aircraft” designed to be driven on the road or flown in the air. While it’s been designed from scratch as a completely original vehicle, Trey Johnson and his team at Plane Driven have taken a different approach in creating a competing product. Their PD-2 kit can be added to an existing Glasair Sportsman GS-2 light aircraft, allowing it to be converted into a highway-capable motorized trike when needed.

When flying, a PD-2-converted GS-2 looks just like any other small plane. Once it lands, however, a single-wheeled “drive pod” is unloaded from its baggage area, and attached by the user over top of the plane’s existing tail wheel. This pod incorporates a 50-horsepower gas engine, which can push the plane up to 73 mph (117.5 km/h) on the road. The company claims that in ground mode, the aircraft has a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of a 1965 VW Beetle.

The kit also includes brake- and suspension-equipped steerable front wheels (which replace the plane’s existing front wheels), cables that allow the pod to be controlled from the cockpit, and all the lighting necessary for the vehicle to classed as a street-legal motorcycle ... depending on where it’s being used.

The PD-2 includes all the necessary lights for road use

The GS-2 was chosen as the “host” aircraft due to the fact that it already features wings that can be folded back for storage. Glasair will offer a PD-2-ready version of the GS-2 to buyers, which will incorporate the added frame structure necessary to accommodate the kit.

Needless to say, most people probably aren’t going to want to drive an airplane around town when doing things like getting groceries or taking the kids to swim class. Plane Driven instead sees the PD-2 as a means of getting to and from airports, or as a way of allowing pilots to complete trips on the highway when storms close in. It can reportedly travel over 200 road miles (322 km) on one tank of conventional gas.

Plane Driven instead sees the PD-2 as a means of getting to and from airports, or as a way...

The pod does take up two of the GS-2’s four seats when the aircraft is in flight, so it will have to be left behind if pilots wish to bring along more than one passenger. The previous kit, the PD-1, featured a drive pod that stayed attached to the underside of the plane while in flight.

The PD-2 made one of its first public appearances at last month’s 2012 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show, and should reportedly be available ... soon. Plane Driven is aiming for a price of under US$60,000, not counting the GS-2 itself.

It can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: Plane Driven via Flying

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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9 Comments

As a pilot let me say...awesome. A little-known fact is that small aircraft are pitifully subject to weather. Unlike cars, weather dictates everything about our trips. Is the sky clear? Doesn't matter, because at your destination there's a 40-kt breeze. And since conditions can change in hours, small-plane pilots are playing whack-a-mole with weather events all along the course.

A primary fatality cause is 'get-home-itis', practiced by those who ignore training and 'tough it out'. The poster boy for this poor judgement is John Kennedy Jr. who not only was not instrument-rated but waited to leave until the tower closed, and turned off his transponder enroute so he wouldn't get caught. His destination airport was socked in, and he knew it.

I will get a PD-2 as soon as Romney wins and we have an economy again.

Todd Dunning
1st August, 2012 @ 08:02 pm PDT

When I was a kid a neighbour had a boat/car. This and other roadable planes or flying cars look about the same: practically useless except for short trips from house to airstrip and back in perfect weather conditions. Looks like a hell of a lot of weight and drag aft of CoG. How will this thing affect performance in the air? How can it handle X-wind/tailwind any better on the road than in the air without ailerons, elevator and rudder to keep it from flipping over? Do I need a LAME to do maintenance on the PD-2? How does it fit on the maintenance release? If it breaks down on the road do I call RAA or notify CASA of an incident or equipment failure? Roads here in Oz are on par with moderate turbulence which would definitely cause damage to the airframe. WIll I still need to log flight time when I'm on the road? Will airstrips waive the landing fee if you can drive your plane away? How does it affect stall speeds? My list of questions increases the more I think about it which leads to.... $60K. That is about 1000 hours of Taxi fare. I could take a taxi from any airstrip to any hotel within around 40 kilometres of an airstrip EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR for a year and still have my space for 4 people in my GS-2 and hanger fees. The solution isn't half-arsed flying cars or drivable planes, it's a better GA infrastructure. Until I can take off and land at my doorstep I will stick to machines that are designed purposely to get me to and from the airfield and then switch machines to take off, cruise and land safely. IMHO useless POS except for rich weekend warrior types who want to drive from their personal airstrips down their tree covered driveways and park in their hanger/garage amongst their car collections.

JILogan
2nd August, 2012 @ 04:34 am PDT

It maybe an aerocar but it looks like it might handle like a boat on land and in the air. I've been a pilot for 36 years and it looks tail heavy to me. The long nose won't be fun in road traffic, either.

Around the flying club we say, "If you have time to spare, go by air."

Guy Macher
2nd August, 2012 @ 04:34 am PDT

I must admit, I certainly would not need a little orange flag so otherw could see me on that trike!

Chris Jordan
2nd August, 2012 @ 09:27 am PDT

How many of these car plane hybrids have there been? Too many because it is a stupid idea and always will be. It is always a bastard for both.

Nelson
2nd August, 2012 @ 11:45 am PDT

I've been a rated pilot for 35 years. Get-home-itus is a killer. I would love to fly to places and then be able to drive to a local land destination. A while back I landed at L52 (Oceano, CA) and then got socked in by low clouds & fog. If I could have just driven 15 minutes away I could have taken off from San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria in cloud free skies. Instead I did a VFR punch out, which is illegal and a bit dangerous. I would welcome a slightly roadable plane. It would have to be a real plane though. No Terrible-uglia's (Terrafugia's).

Kuddo's for these guys for trying to think outside the box in the face of adversity.

Bill Brewer
2nd August, 2012 @ 02:57 pm PDT

While I like this I also design, build 3 wheel cars, sailboats and am deeply into aircraft. I can guaranty this unit if pushed will fall or blow over.

I can't think of about any other vehicle I'd rather not be in 40mph winds in on the ground. Nor have to make a quick turn especially at speed or making a turn going downhill.

That said driven carefully in good weather likely from home to an airport to another airport to the close by place they want to be can be reasonable fast, economical if like all planes, you drive in inside it's envelope.

And a well done 3 front wheel 3wheeler can outhandle most anything if it's CG is low and equal weight on each wheel or close. On the other hand, which this plane is rather close to , one with high and/or unbalanced CG , this has both, can't turn at any kind of speed, having to almost stop.

Now add the huge side area on such light craft and I wouldn't drive in in more than 20mph winds to be sure not to hit 30mph winds.

jerryd
2nd August, 2012 @ 05:18 pm PDT

Great, just ride it anywhere a texting soccer mom on an SUV would drive (i.e.the real world) and graze the wings a little and it would make it entirely unusable.

Also because these small wheeled trikes it is meant to be driven slowly and carefuly on real world roads, let's just hope other vehicles 2-3 times bigger and 2-3 faster wouldn't be any closer than 20 feet away so their tailwinds wouldn't just blow it over because of those massive wing like apendages.

SpaceBagels
2nd August, 2012 @ 08:46 pm PDT

Terrafugia is so much better looking.

Bottom line

Plane/Cars need someway to hide wings for ground use & expand for Flight mode & dual engines: 1 for Air 2. ground use in some neat package design.

Use vector thruster rotors, helifans, mini jets for cars & hybrid engines for ground use.

Fuel cells for power

Stephen N Russell
23rd August, 2012 @ 06:52 pm PDT
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