Whenever the subject of the future comes up, it’s always the same: Where are the flying cars? Well, you could argue that flying cars are finally here. A hybrid aircraft known as the AirCar has just completed its first successful flight between two airports. It’s still a prototype, but it only looks a little bit ridiculous.
The AirCar’s designer, Stefan Klein, piloted the vehicle for an uneventful 35-minute flight between international airports in Nitra and Bratislava, Slovakia. He said the flight was “normal” and “very pleasant.” The AirCar has now passed 40 hours in the air, which is an impressive feat considering how many “flying cars” have never gotten off the ground.
Unlike many past attempts at a hybrid car-aircraft, the AirCar is not equipped for vertical takeoff and landing. That makes it less practical for the average driver with aspirations of taking to the skies because you need to find a runway. The car also needs some time to get ready for flight. It takes about 15 minutes for the motors inside the body to extend the wings and tail. You’ll have to deviate the same amount of time to stowing the wings when you land. At that point, the AirCar isn’t probably going to cut down on your morning commute.
According to Klein, the AirCar could cover 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) on a single tank of normal gasoline, which powers its standard BMW automotive engine. After takeoff, the vehicle can reportedly reach cruising speeds as high as 105 miles per hour (170 kph). However, its carrying capacity is limited. It can fly up to two passengers with a total cargo limit of 440 pounds (200kg).
It has taken two years to get the AirCar to this point at a cost of about $2.3 million. Klein Vision, the company founded to develop the flying car, hasn’t talked pricing or release date, but it’s probably not a replacement for your ground-based car. Investors in Klein Vision seem mostly interested in the large number of personal aircraft in the US. If just a sliver of the 40,000 small planes were replaced with AirCars, it would equate to a huge market for Klein Vision. Just don’t expect to pick one up unless you’re already in the market for a small plane. That’s essentially what this is.
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