There was an unusual visitor at AirVenture this year, a roadable aircraft manufactured by PlaneDriven. The PD2 takes a Glasair Sportsman amateur built airplane and adds a separate 50-hp “drive unit” to the rear of the craft to provide ground power. To put the vehicle into drive mode, the pilot folds the wings, starts the drive unit, and away we go.
The drive unit looks like a big powered cart that attaches to a dedicated hard point on the rear fuselage. Steerable main wheels allow the pilot to maneuver on the road. The manufacturer says the craft can hit speeds of as high as “73 mph” on the highway and can climb hills acceptable. The company’s website compares its road performance to a mid-1960s Beetle, which is to say, none too peppy. When you want to go flying, you put the drive unit in the back seat area of the airplane and go.
The target cost for the conversion kit is $60,000, and PlaneDriven says the resultant vehicle can be licensed as a three-wheeled motorcycle in most states and driven by anyone with the appropriate certification. For more details and some video of the PD2 in flight, go to planedriven.com.