The Aeromobil flying car designed by Stefan Klein takes to the skies for the first time.
There is a saying in flying: “If it looks good, it will fly well.” Stefan Klein, a designer from the Slovak Republic, has announced the first flight of his Aeromobil Version 2.5, a flying car prototype he has been developing over the last 20 years. This vehicle is a strikingly beautiful design with folding wings and a propeller in the tail. But will its flight capabilities match its looks?
The Aeromobil V2.5 is a propeller-driven aircraft that also functions as an automobile – or you can think of it it a car with lofty aspirations. The aviation aspects seem to be prominent in the design, with a streamlined cockpit, super light weight, and sleek tail fins in the back. Propulsion is provided by a 100 hp Rotax 912 water cooled engine mounted behind the seats, with drive shafts leading both aft to the propeller and forward to the two front wheels for driving.
When the Automobil is a car, the wings are folded straight back along the fuselage and the engine drives the front wheels, while the small back wheels support the tail. There seems to be very little structure, and the entire vehicle weighs just 980 lb (450 kg) empty of fuel and passengers. There is room for two people in the very snug cockpit, and there are two steering wheels, mounted one inside the other in front of the driver/pilot. The larger wheel is for driving on the ground, and the smaller wheel is used for flying.
The Aeromobil is a prototype intended to demonstrate to investors that the concept is viable. Klein is now shopping this striking flying vehicle to potential manufacturers and investors in order to make it a reality. Once such a deal is struck, he estimates that it would take two additional years to get certification for the Aeromobil to go into production, presumably under the existing Light Sport Aircraft rules.
Over the twenty year gestation of this flying car concept, Klien has created four different versions of his dream. The first version did not have folding wings at all, but was a boxy canard (tail first) design with tall wheels. The next versions featured the signature folding wings, but different tail configurations. Version2.0 had an inverted V-shaped tail and this last version 2.5 was the first with two vertical tail fins enclosing the wheels. His web site shows drawings for Version 3.0.
Klein has a very interesting background, with degrees both in mechanical engineering, and in fine arts. He originally wanted to be a sculptor, but received his engineering degree first. He later studied design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava,the Slovak Republic and became the head of the Department of Transport Design at that school. As a professional, he worked on car designs for Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, and won a national design award for a three-wheeled electric scooter, which he still drives to work each day.
Flying is in the Klein family, however, and his grandfather, father and brother are all pilots. He started flying as a teenager with his brother, and today flies both powered aircraft and gliders. For the Aeromobil, he is also the chief test pilot, which in unusual in these days of large aerospace companies.
Klein calls his Aeromobil flying car “the intersection of technology and art.” You can judge this for yourself by checking out the following video in which Klein demonstrates the road driving characteristics and then shows the first flight of the Aeromobil flying car.
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