A hybrid car-airplane successfully completed its first 35-minute inter-city flight on June 28 between two airports in Slovakia: Nitra and Bratislava.
The novel vehicle, known as Aircar, relies on a 160 horsepower BMW engine with a fixed-propeller and a ballistic parachute.
The prototype is made by KleinVision, a company based in Slovakia founded by Stefan Klein, who has been spending the last two decades of his life turning the sci-fi dream of a flying car into a reality.
Klein told reporters that the flying experience was “normal” and “very pleasant,” according to BBC.
During the flight, the vehicle reportedly reached a cruising speed of about 105 mph and an altitude of 8200 feet.
It takes the car less than 3 minutes to transform back into a sports car, which can reduce travel time by a factor of two.
The flying car has made 142 successful landings and clocked up over 40 hours of flight. Although it’s not yet commercially available, though Klein believes that the car is ready to go past the concept stage.
“Professor Stefan Klein is the world leader in the development of user-friendly Flying Cars,” said Dr. Branko Sarh, Boeing Co. Senior Technical Fellow. “The automated transition from road vehicle into an air vehicle and vice versa, deploying/retracting wings and tail is not only the result of pioneering enthusiasm, innovative spirit and courage; it is an outcome of excellent engineering and professional knowledge,” he added.
During its 40 hours of test flight, the AirCar has performed steep 45 degree turns, as well as stability and maneuverability tests.
AirCar Prototype 2, the pre-production model, will be equipped with a 300 horsepower engine and receive the EASA CS-23 aircraft certification with an M1 road permit. With its variable pitch propeller, the Prototype 2 is expected to have a cruise speed of 186 mph and a range of 621 miles.
“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles. It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual,” said Klein after exiting the AirCar cockpit in Bratislava. “AirCar is no longer just a proof of concept; flying at 8,200ft at a speed of 100kt, it has turned science fiction into a reality,” added Anton Zajac, the co-founder of Klein Vision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.