Slovakia’s sole entry into the 2017 Paris Air Show gave attendees a glimpse into a long-promised future – the commercially available flying car.
According to Wikipedia, many flying car prototypes have been built “since the first years of the twenty first century”, but none has reached production status – spawning the joking phrase, “Where’s my flying car?”
Unfortunately, AeroMobil’s latest model, the product of $7 million in government subsidies, isn’t the fulfilment of this sci-fi vision either (although a limited run of 500 vehicles went on pre-order in April). But with a (largely) successful test flight record, it could soon turn out to be the flying car we’ve all been looking forward to for decades.
It certainly looked the part on display in the June event’s Paris Air Lab, a newly-added exhibition space dedicated to innovation, aeronautics, aerospace and digital technology.
Key facts about the AeroMobil Flying Car
Sadly, you couldn’t take the AeroMobil Flying Car out to the corner store – for that you’d need vertical take-off. And don’t expect an electric model like the German Lilliam Jet prototype – the AeroMobil takes 90 litres of 95 RON petrol, for an automotive-mode range of 700 kilometres or 750km in flying mode, cruising at 1 200 metres and at 70% throttle.
But seeing it take off and land with assurance in various runway conditions – and maintaining a dream-like steady flight – will turn you into a believer.
The AeroMobil transforms into plane mode in three minutes and gets its forward propulsion from a rear-fitted propeller (2 400 RPM). It is designed to reach a 259km/h cruising speed, but is controllable at 112km/h stall speed and can reach up to 360km/h (“design diving speed”). Take-off distance required is 397-595 metres, depending on the load (maximum 240kg).
They say nobody wants to be the first. But then somebody usually is, and everyone else follows. Yes, the AeroMobil crashed an earlier prototype (the pilot survived after deploying the whole airframe ballistic parachute), but as a forerunner of the brave new world of motoring aviation, it has left visionaries like Google’s Larry Page in its slipstream. And at a cool 1.2 million Euros, you don’t just get a plane, you get a sports car too.
At the very least you could start looking into civil aviation regulations and refuelling spots in Middelburg.