By: Clare Ellicott
Vienna, Austria – Is it a car? Is it a plane? Well, both actually.
For with one push of a button, the AeroMobil quickly converts from a sporty coupé to a propellor-driven flying machine.
And far from being merely the stuff of James Bond or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it could soon be a regular method of commuting, its makers claim.
For the AeroMobil can be refuelled at an ordinary petrol station and driven on normal roads – and it needs less than 250 metres for take-off and landing.
But with an estimated price tag of well in excess of R3.5 million, and room for the pilot and just one passenger, it is only likely to appeal to real high-fliers.
And you would need a pilot’s licence as well as a driving licence to use it in most countries. While in the air, you would need to comply with the regulations that apply to light aircraft. With a top land speed of 160km/h, the AeroMobil has a range of 700 – 850km, or as much as four hours’ flying time, on one tank of petrol – enough to get you from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT TESTS
It has a wingspan of nearly 8.5 metres and a canopy that lifts open forwards to let the pilot and passenger get in.
An earlier prototype of the machine, which has a steel frame but weighs less than half a ton, has already come through successful test flights.
Unveiling the latest version of the AeroMobil yesterday at Pioneers Festival, a two-day entrepreneurship and digital technology conference in Vienna, its Slovakian makers claimed the vehicle would ‘change personal transport on a global scale’. AeroMobil chief executive Juraj Vaculik said that once it becomes available in about two or three years, the flying car could become a regular choice for middle-distance commuters.
They could drive to the nearest airstrip, convert the car into a plane, fly to an airfield close to their destination, land, fold back the carbon fibre wings and immediately drive the rest of the way.