A car that can fly in the sky and drive on the road made a landmark journey this week.
Stefan Klein, founder and CEO of R&D company Klein Vision, drove his AirCar prototype to Nitra International Airport in Slovakia, then drove down the runway and took off. He then took a 35-minute flight to Bratislava and, after landing at the city’s airport, drove the two-seater to the city center in three minutes. The video (above) shows key moments of this incredible trip.
Klein has been developing the flying car for the past 20 years. His car has already completed more than 140 test flights, but this week’s ride was the team’s most ambitious project to date.
With a simple push of a button, the dual-mode car retracts/deploys its wings and tail in just 135 seconds, allowing it to take to the road or take to the sky.
The gasoline-powered AirCar uses a BMW engine and a fixed propeller. Its top cruising speed is 119 mph (190 km/h) and its flight altitude reaches 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). The next version of the AirCar is expected to have a top cruising speed of 186 mph (300 km/h) and be able to travel up to 621 miles (1,000 km) on a single tank of fuel.
In recent years there has been a growing interest in so-called “flying cars” – Digital Trends describes some of the leading projects – although most vehicles can only fly and do not have the ability to transform into a roadworthy vehicle. Unlike AirCars, however, many of these vehicles can take off and land vertically, making them ideal for urban driving. They are also electric, whereas the AirCar currently requires gasoline.
Nevertheless, Klein focused on what is truly worthy of being called a “flying car.”
“This flight starts a new era of two-vehicle vehicles,” the inventor said in a release. “It opens up a new category of transportation and brings the freedom originally attributed to cars back to humans.”
Of course, for Klein’s unique vehicle to go mainstream, he would first have to convince regulators of its safety and durability, and AirCar owners would have to have both a pilot’s license and a driver’s license to get all the benefits.
With all this in mind, it may be a while before we see a Klein flying car on our roads and in our skies, but we will no doubt all agree that it is a very cool car and an outstanding achievement.