AirCar Completes Flight, Transforms Into Groundcar
The AirCar, a "dual-mode aircraft vehicle" from Klein Vision, flew from Nitra to Bratislava. The AirCar's eponymous inventor and pilot Stefan Klein folded the aircraft's wings and tucked its tail, a transition to groundcar that takes about three minutes.
The trip to his hotel took only a few minutes via highway.
Klein is said to have been working on a series of prototypes for 30 years, and has racked up 40 air hours. This was the craft's 142nd landing, but its first inter-city flight. During its time in the air, the craft cruised at around 90 knots (105 mph). Klein said it has flown to 8,200 feet and has made 45-degree banking turns during testing, though it did nothing flashy on this outing. It's powered by a 160-horsepower BMW engine and a simple fixed-pitch propeller. Like many small aircraft these days, it also has a ballistic parachute, just in case.
Klein says next up is a 300-horsepower model with a variable-pitch propeller. He says it will be capable of cruising at 160 knots to a range of over 600 miles, will achieve full commuter certification from European aviation regulators and will also be street-legal.
The challenge there, as always in achieving the "flying car" dream, is to balance the needs of an aircraft, not the least of which is lightness, with what it takes to be certified as roadworthy, particularly safety equipment and crashworthiness that can add a weight penalty. In the video, the AirCar prototype certainly looks like a car — a heavy car even — when it's airborne.
As far as I know, the first use of the phrase "Air-Car" in a science-fiction story is in A Matter of Size, a 1934 story by Harry Bates.
In several scattered places were other roof doors like the one he had emerged from, and straight ahead stood a row of transparent objects that had to be the air-cars. One massive-headed man in purple was loitering near them, but he was the only person in sight. Allison strode casually over to the nearest car, studying it closely as he went.
It, like the others, was small, hardly five feet high, with open sides and streamlined shells of a stuff like glass, front and back. Within was one wide seat, in front of which were three control levers which led to a boxed space below. It rested on three splayed legs...
Boldly, now, Allison ordered the controls, and within a minute he was climbing silently a hundred feet above the edge of the roof to where other air-cars like elongated soap bubbles were scattered through the sky above...