Since the invention of the automobile and powered flight in the early 1900s, the idea of a flying car has inspired dreams in tech enthusiasts, gear heads, and those who just wish to beat traffic. And although many inventors have tried their hand at creating this mythical machine, Aeromobil may be one of the first to deliver the real deal.
A Slovakian company founded by Stefan Klein and Juraj Vaculik almost 25 years ago, Aeromobil has gone through multiple prototypes to get to the 3.0 version they are currently showcasing. Most recently, the Aeromobil was on display at the Pioneers Festival last month in Vienna. Though the Aeromobil is currently not offered for sale, it continues to reach important milestones to make it accessible for a wide variety of potential customers.
So what makes a good flying car?
First, as a car, it should be able to use the existing infrastructure. You should be able to use it just as you would a standard automobile. For that purpose, the Aeromobil employs a Rotax 912 engine that gets about 30 mpg using regular gasoline. One tank of gas gives it a driving range of over 500 miles, and it can reach speeds over 100 mph.
The dimensions of the Aeromobil – at 7.3 feet wide and 19.7 feet long – put it in the range of pickup trucks (for instance, the Ford F150 measures 8.1 feet wide and 20.3 feet long). This means that it can be driven safely on existing roads and parked in standard spaces and garages. And just like most supercars, the Aeromobil only has 2 seats and not much in the way of storage space.
But how does the Aeromobil perform as an airplane?
After extending its collapsible wings into place, the Aeromobil is ready for the skies. It requires a take-off speed of 90 mph and the company says this translates to less than 900 feet of asphalt, grass, or even rocky, off-road terrain. Once airborne, it can cruise at over 120 mph for a flying range of approximately 430 miles. And when it’s ready to touch down, the Aeromobil needs less than 170 feet of space to do so.
The company expects to price the car somewhere in the low six figures, so it’s not something the average person can afford. What it does though is set the standard in design and efficiency, something other companies can aim for when creating their version of the flying car.
The lightness of the advanced composite material used to build the Aeromobil and the engineering that makes it easy on the road and forgiving in flight are also important advancements in both practicality and safety. Yes, you still need a pilot’s license to take the Aeromobil to the skies but you won’t need 10,000 hours of flight to master it.
Advanced engineering, a beautiful design, specifications along the lines of a regular car, and relative ease of use as an airplane. None of these things alone can guarantee the success of a flying car, but all of them in combination make a formidable machine that may one day be seen on the streets and in the sky.
Until then, we’ll just continue dreaming.
[image credit: Aeromobil]