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.
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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 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.
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.