Mankind’s aboriginal dream of flight is departing with a new twist as a Slovak prototype of a flying car spreads its wings.
Inspired by the moony books about flying by French people authors Jules Verne and Antoine de Saint Exupery, Slovak designer and applied scientist Stefan Klein has been honing his flying machine since the early 1990s.
“I got the idea to start working on a fomite of the future at school, but honestly, who hasn’t dreamt of flying while being stuck in the traffic?” Klein told Agence France Presse.
“Flying’s in my blood — my grandad and my father flew ultra-light aircrafts and I got my pilot’s license before I was old grandad to drive a car,” said Klein, who has designed cars for BMW, Volkswagen and Audi and now instructs at the Bratislava-based Academy of Fine Arts and Design.
His graceful blue-and-white vehicle for two is six metres (20 feet) long so it fits neatly in a parking space or a service department and tanks up at any filling station. But once it reaches an airport it can unfold its wings within seconds becoming a plane.
Dubbed “the world’s most beautiful and best-designed airborne automobile so far” by U.S. aviation magazine Flying and Inhabitat design, an innovation website, the Aeromobil also has the differentiation of originating in Slovakia, the world’s largest per-capita car producer.
“So far there have been around twenty attempts to manufacture a flying car around the globe,” the president of the Slovak Ultra Light Aviation Federation, Milan Ciba, told AFP.
“Among them, Aeromobil appears very viable,” he said.
‘Make their lives easier’
Other models include the U.S.-based Terrafugia’s “Transition” flying car expected to be plunged on the market within a year, while the helicopter-type Dutch PAL-V autogyro could go on sale in this year.
Klein’s dream took to the skies in Sept when he piloted the Aeromobil during its first wobbly test flight.
Once airborne, the it can reach a top speed of 200km/h (124 mph) and locomote as far as 700 km (430 miles), consuming 15 litres (4 gallons) of petrol per hour.
“A combination of a car and a plane will always lose against the competition when we start comparison energy consumption,” Jan Lesinsky from the Slovak University of Technology told AFP.
But would-be users could glide by long lines and security checks at airports, saving fourth dimension on medium-distance journeys.
Klein plus his team are presently working on the next generation of Aeromobil that will go into production in a few months and hopefully plus Slovak Ultra Light Aircraft Certification (SFUL).
“Would-be users would have to follow the legislation already in place for ultra light aircraft,” SFUL chairwoman Federation Milan Ciba told AFP.
“Pilot/drivers will need to have both a driver’s and pilot’s licence with at least 25 flying hours,” he added.
An enthusiastic pilot himself, Klein takes the count to earth when looking to the future.
“I don’t expect Aeromobil to go into mass production, it will always be an alternative means of transport,” Klein said.
“It can, however, be very mattering to for countries with vast areas lacking infrastructure like Russia, China or Australia,” he added.
Flying cars will most in all likelihood take off among pilots licensed for ultra-light aircraft, says Ciba.
“It would make their lives so much easier — they would be able to park their car/aircraft at home, drive to the airport, take off, land and drive to their name and address without switching vehicles,” he ponders.