Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Aeromobil Flying Car Prototype Gets Off the Ground For the First Time

Soulskill posted 1 year,11 days | from the somebody-forward-this-to-elon-musk dept.

Transportation 56

Zothecula writes "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?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Happy Friday from The Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45169981)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Not really sure what I was expecting (4, Insightful)

GrandCow (229565) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170045)

I've been checking up on the company every couple years since the 90's, and every time they redesign it just gets closer to a small plane with retractable wings. I guess that's to be expected though, since we've had 100 years to come up with a good design. Every new design has also moved away from the space of being in a road vehicle and become more and more cramped like in a cockpit.

At what point does it stop being a compact car and just become a plane that can be stored in smaller places? It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (3, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170137)

Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

No. The purpose of a flying car is to extract money from the gullible, and they've been performing splendidly at that for many years.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170377)

This would save me hours and make it immensely more enjoyable every time I have to go between the Bay area and the LA area. Drive to the little airport 10 miles away, land at the airport 10 miles from my target, make it under 3 hours door to door, instead of half a day.

If only I was paid enough to make saving hours worth that much...

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

Deadstick (535032) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170493)

Have you examined the prices of aircraft maintenance?

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (2)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170841)

Not in detail on small airplanes, but I know that given the F22/F35's hourly cost, the half hour that the trip would take can buy a few new copies of my car.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

Deadstick (535032) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171103)

Not so bad on a light civil aircraft, but it still makes car repairs look pretty cheap. And bear in mind that on a roadable airplane, a parking lot dent goes to an aircraft repair shop, not an auto-body shop -- and you don't have the option of just putting up with the dent.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171235)

My speed tape begs to differ, but only because I know not to use duct tape.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (2)

garyebickford (222422) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171315)

I don't know how much has changed in the last 30 years or so, but back when I was flying you could buy an older plane for less than a new Porsche, and if you flew it enough the cost per mile was actually pretty reasonable, especially if you had a lot of long trips it could be cheaper than the Porsche, and faster.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171301)

But you can drive to the local airport. Get in your standard plane, Fly to LA. Pick up a rental car at the arrival airport. I do it frequently. The majority of small airports in the US have rental cars available, usually it is very quick to pick them up, minimal paperwork. Many will drive the rental care out to your plane, and refuel the plane while you are away.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (4, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170345)

It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

No. If your plane is also your car, you don't need to arrange/pay for a ride/rental from the airport (small municipal airports are often quite a ways from the cities they purportedly serve) to where you're actually going and you also don't need to pay to store your aircraft while you're there.

It remains a useful thing, just not for the uses you have in mind.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172503)

a lot of small airports have rental cars, and the cost is small compared to the flight cost.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (3, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170391)

Yep - this is clearly a "drivable plane", not a "flying car".

That still has utility to be sure: it means you can store your plane in your own garage, and it gives you ground transport at your destination. But it still looks like you'd need to drive to the local small airport, fly to the destination small airport, then drive from there.

A proper "flying car" needs to be VTOL, so you can drive because that's cheaper, but switch to flying when you get caught in traffic.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172943)

There are already places where people park their planes in their driveways: special neighborhoods connecting to small local airports, with streets designed wide enough that you can taxi you plane down the streets to your house. I used to live near one and saw lots of planes in driveways. If you're rich enough to afford a plane, perhaps you might as well just move to a neighborhood like that instead of waiting for roadable aircraft which will cost more than regular aircraft and probably be less safe than cars on the road.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

AC-x (735297) | 1 year,11 days | (#45173447)

But then, unless you're flying to another plane community, you'd still have the "indignity" of having to leave your plane at whatever local airport and hire a car to get to your destination.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45191787)

a plane isn't THAT expensive. A small 4 seater Cessna is cheaper then a base Mercedes or a decked out ford sedan. People do tend to keep aircraft forever though.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (2)

erice (13380) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170401)

It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

A drivable airplane still has it's uses. It means that you don't have to pay to park at the airport. It also means you don't have to pay to park your airplane at the destination airport (which is a bigger deal) or rent a car at destination airport. The last becomes more than just an expense if you are flying into a small airport that does not have rental cars.

This would just be awesome. (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170513)

At what point does it stop being a compact car and just become a plane that can be stored in smaller places? It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

As a private pilot, one of these would just be the bomb! Small planes are at their best for medium range trips - between 100 and 500 miles. The biggest problem is that airports tend to be in outlying areas and there is almost always a 5 to 15 mile drive from the airport to your "real" destination. It's far enough to make Cab driving expensive and inconvenient, it's close enough that renting a car for a day seems like overkill.

In any event, it's a hassle to schlep your stuff out of the plane parked at the airport into the cab, wait 20 minutes, etc. Being able to land, fold wings, and drive that 5 to 15 miles would be just great!

Most people don't realize that nearly every city in the USA with more than 20,000 people or so has an airport within 10-20 miles.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

kipsate (314423) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170689)

What a great comment. Perhaps it is too ambitious to shoot for "flying cars" as in cars like today that can also fly. Perhaps it is better to aim for "roadable airplanes" like the design in TFA.

That makes a lot of sense. A roadable airplane only needs short runways and can perhaps be designed to take off and land at a speed of less than 160 km/h (100 mph), making it much more flexible than a conventional airplane. Once in the air, it should behave like a proper plane, that is as easy and as safe to navigate as a car. In the age of self-driving cars, the technology is there to make that possible. I imagine virtual roads in the air that only exist as GPS coordinates in the board computers of roadable airplanes, to minimize any chances on collissions. Also, the planes should be in constant contact with each other in order to stay out of each others way and to be able to land and take off safely.

To do: extra infrastructure in the form of extra short runways, and technology that makes navigating them as easy as driving a car and which allows for many of these planes to be in the air at once without any dangers.

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45175575)

No offense. Clearly you don't know much about aviation.

First off, when talking about light single engine airplanes, a landing speed of 160km/h would be outrageous. A typical 2-4 seat single of the sort most likely to be comparable in performance to a "flying car" very likely has an approach speed of about 60 knots (70 mph), and a touch-down/stall speed of well under 50 knots.

Second, no airplane is "as easy and safe to drive as a car". Airplanes have many inherent dangers that cars lack. Many mechanical or weather problems, minor errors of judgment, etc., that are barely of concern for a driver, take on life-and-death implications in aviation. You can't just pull over to the side of the road to read a map, call for help, or take a rest in a plane.

I'm not saying flying is dangerous. It's all relative. I've flown thousands of hours in extremely demanding aircraft types, and never had so much as a ding -- despite two engine outages, minor control problems, icing, and several brushes with deteriorating weather. My point is that the pilot community is a highly trained, self-selected group, the better members of which have an almost paranoid approach to all safety factors. Flying safety comes from rigor, meticulous training and execution, attention to detail, planning, and also a little luck. Car safety comes mostly from luck. The other factors play a part, of course, but nothing like the dominant part they play in aviation. Aviation will never be safe for "the masses". Sorry to sound like a snob, but that's a fact.

Finally, every pilot who has been around a while, and survived a few emergencies, will vouch for the fact that technological solutions to aviation risks are merely band-aids. They can help. They can hurt -- either through unintended consequences, or through overdependence and resulting deficiencies in training and proficiency. But, they can never replace good airmanship. To the naïve, perhaps, the thought of the average driver on the road switching to a a self-driving plane, depending upon on-board computers, fly-by-wire, automated inter-plane communication, etc., sounds wonderful. To anybody in touch with the reality of aviation, it is terrifying beyond belief!

Re:Not really sure what I was expecting (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,9 days | (#45183827)

Good summary, as best I understand as a non-pilot but one who's tried to keep up. (I can tell pitch from yaw, and think I remember the rationale for using rudder _and_ ailerons for making a turn; simple stuff.)

Re tech solutions - if I may, I'd add software defects (to cover an otherwise much longer list of stuff.) If I recall correctly, we've got automated take-off and landing routines that are used by more than a few airline pilots because they can save money and aggravation - but I've read of no pilot who completely trusts them nor is not ready at an instant to take over. (A partial exception that I know of is for the F/A-18+ aviators who grasp the handles at the top of the windscreen before the cat shot.)

'If it looks good, it will fly well.' (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170083)

Nope, as shown by girls on bridges and tall buildings.

It's a plane, not a very good car. (2)

tekrat (242117) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170085)

Yeah, good luck driving that thing to the supermarket.

If you want to see a "flying car", it will look more like the "Air Mule" (you'll have to google that folks) being developed by the Israelis.

It's basically a ducted fan in front of the passenger space, and a ducted fan behind the passenger space. Chances are, it doesn't have much range.

Re:It's a plane, not a very good car. (4, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170153)

My rule of thumb is that a "flying car" is a vehicle that functionally replaces the automobile in the same way the "horseless carriage" replaced the horse and buggy. The idea of a "flying car" is that it would be a family vehilce owned by the middle class. That it would be a day to day vehicle. That it was better than a car because it would travel line of sight instead of on roads. An expensive plane, that can't carry heavy loads, and needs a runway doesn't fit any of these promises.

Re:It's a plane, not a very good car. (1)

RalphSlate (128202) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171227)

It's a nice dream, but likely very unfeasible. The reason is that any malfunction or accident means both likely death for the occupants, and likely serious damage for people on the ground. I don't think it's likely the skies can handle hundreds of such vehicles at any given time.

Re:It's a plane, not a very good car. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172109)

Once the self driving cars become common, the skies and roads should be able to handle it well. We are still a ways away before that happens but it wouldn't be technically too much different in approaches from a technical and safety standpoint.

Right now, from a safety standpoint, we give aircraft a large space between each other. A computer driving them and calculating the risks can close this gap quite a bit but more appropriately, a computer can do systems checks that could prevent most if not all mid air accidents or malfunctions before allowing the car to take to the air. That already happens on large and expensive aircraft. When self driving cars become a reality, most of it will be happening on cars before they drive themselves too.

Re:It's a plane, not a very good car. (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172225)

Much of the early history of the car was seen in the same light. As the automobile became more popular inexperienced drivers, unwary pedestrians, faulty designs & poor safety systems caused many injuries ,fatalities & property damage. And just because a "flying car" has a mechanical issue doesn't mean the occupants are doomed, even today many small aircraft have a "Ballistic Parachute" which deploys a parachute large enough and quick enough to safely land an entire light aircraft.

I see no point. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170197)

1) Its not good car
2) Its not good plane either
3) You have to go to airport to take off
4) Most probably if you can afford flying car, you can afford car and plane together each by itself.

Flying car is cool only if you can take off whenever you want off, wherever you want.

Re:I see no point. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,11 days | (#45175465)

intersection of art and technology(that's how the inventor describes this, not as a viable everyday product..)

you want a car helicopter. I guess that would be simpler to make too..

Not a flying car (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170219)

As usual, this is not a car that can fly, this is a plane that can drive. But I guess that's just because physics is a bitch.

Re:Not a flying car (1)

mythosaz (572040) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170309)

Driving Plane doesn't have the same ring to it...

Looks pretty (2)

Frequency Domain (601421) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170323)

Pretty unstable, that is. The thing has almost no ground clearance, and seemed to really be wobbly on takeoff. I'd be pretty nervous for takeoffs and landings.

Re:Looks pretty (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45171349)

All 'roadable planes' or 'flying cars' have the same problem. For a plane, you want the rear wheels just behind the center of gravity, for a car you want the to be far in back of the CG. I note that the movies don't show the landing, but if the rear wheels hit first, the front wheels would *slam* down. If it lands on all four wheels at once, it might be ok.

Preflight checks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170375)

A single shopping cart ding could render your vehicle un-airworthy.

Form and function. You can't always make a biquine when the problem spaces are so drastically different.

Apple once again at the forefront (1)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,11 days | (#45170397)

Now you know why iMaps sends you to the runway of Fairbanks airport.
You're just not cool enough to have an iCar yet.

Flying Car / Car that Flies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170463)

Every few months we get an article that completely forgets this distinction. A Flying Car is a something that acts like a Car, but by flying rather then relying on wheels. A car that flies is a car that has the ability to turn into a plane / helicopter / autogyro / etc.

Very different concepts. Still, in another decade, we will probably have something that can act like a decent car and decent plane, which would be great for islanders.

For a Flying Car, though, we'll pretty much have to rewrite the laws of physics. We'll need something like repulsorlift or mass effect fields.

This is copied straight from Gizmag (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170757)

TFS is also TFS of the linked gizmag that all it takes to get a Slashdot submission now?

Re:This is copied straight from Gizmag (1)

basecastula (2556196) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172905)

Yes. Unfortunately, yes.

PAL-V looks more useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170921)

The PAL-V linked in the article seems much more useful. Decent gas mileage on the road, much shorter runway needs, and much more compact a "road" design.

Flying car = quiet and wingless airplane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45170937)

Otherwise it doesn't work. Now the idea of "Flying Cars" has been around since at least the 1920's but there's a reason they're not flying through our skies today.

Winged aircraft simply don't work in a city.

Also ubiquitous noisy rotor propelled aircraft don't work in a city either.

So until there's a reasonably quiet propulsion system that lets you fly a car without wings, this invention will forever be out of reach.

scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45171383)

considering how well people drive around here on roads, with lines and signs directing them where and how to drive... imagine those same drivers, flying in the air, with neither.

Didn't climb out of ground effect, (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | 1 year,11 days | (#45171385)

but still pretty cool.

In the video, the aircraft seemed to fly level at an altitude no higher than its wingspan. This would have been in the ground effect flight regime, in which fixed wing aircraft have a bit more lift and less drag than at higher altitudes. Takes less power to fly in ground effect. []

Re: Didn't climb out of ground effect, (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45172669)

Thank you for posting this. I was intending to say the same thing. It didn't look very stable in ground effect either.

Re: Didn't climb out of ground effect, (1)

samwichse (1056268) | 1 year,11 days | (#45175127)

Seems to me there was some wind rather than instability. The plane appears to be crabbing significantly in the shot from above/behind.

Also, IIRC, as part of the process of experimentally designing an entirely new plane, your first baby step into the air is a straight line flight with a low max altitude meant to give the pilot a chance at life if some fatal flaw is found. You're far more likely to live falling 10-20 feet than 100 or even 50. In this case, a (painful and destructive) bailout of simply shoving the stick all the way forward is even possible.

Re: Didn't climb out of ground effect, (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45175605)

> a (painful and destructive) bailout of simply shoving the stick all the way forward is even possible.

Ha, ha! You crack me up. Mod +1 for funny.

I've done a lot of test flying myself. I've handled my share of emergencies.
But, shoving the stick all the way forward in close proximity to the ground has never been an option!

That does look cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45172083)

Hats off to the designer. If I were a pilot, I'd be psyched. I'd also want to inspect my prop before every flight. It's just out there in back. You'd probably know if you bottomed on a pothole and dinged it; but what about more subtle damage? If you really messed up the prop without knowing it, could switching the gear box to an unbalanced prop create a serious hazard for other people on the ground? I have zero experience with that kind of thing... just speculating. Ditto for control surfaces. Normal planes don't spend much time taxiing, and around airports people care about debris. On the road you can hit all kinds of stuff. That seems like the no. 1 obstacle to the ideal of "drive up to the airport and switch modes". You're taking a big chance not inspecting it for road damage before flight, even if you live close to the airport.

Not bad (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | 1 year,11 days | (#45172117)

It does look like one of the better flying car designs. Its not simply a car with some wings that can be strapped to it and it looks to be pretty decent on the roads. I suppose the only questions left would be cost, if its going to cost $400K plus for one you're not going to see much interest beyond millionaires. But if it is in the $50 - $100K range and proves to be a stable aircraft that can be flown regularly it could very well see widespread usage.

Not until Self-driving please (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45172395)

I do not want to see a single flying car for people till they have self driving vehicles out, perfected, and standard.

The last thing I want is some drunk driver flying around over my head or someone who can't wait to answer their text. A good self-driving flying car can work but millions of people flying overhead in 1000+ pound missiles having to rely on all of them to not be retarded enough to cause a fender bender in midair that causes them to drop out of the sky onto whatever is below them, let alone the big accidents.... No thanks.

Re:Not until Self-driving please (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | 1 year,11 days | (#45173073)

The last thing I want is some drunk driver flying around over my head or someone who can't wait to answer their text.

There is a simple technical solution to this. Don't put any of the flight controls in the vehicle. The driver drives to the airport, files his flight plan, and a drone controller takes over, handling everything from take-off to landing, to buzzing the Golden Gate Bridge. When the plane gets to its destination airport, the driver takes over again. This will not only keep the air space safe, it could reduce highway traffic, and would definitely help in the post war rehabilitation of all those drone pilots we've ended up with. It would be unpatriotic not to do this way.

The worst of both worlds (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | 1 year,11 days | (#45173083)

Not knock the technical prowess of the lads making this. But it has to be said that with such a design you'd inevitably wind up with a crap car and a shitty airplane. Just buy a car and a plain. Just call a cab if/when you land with a conventional plain and when you are in need of transportation.

Re:The worst of both worlds (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,11 days | (#45175431)

a conventional "plain" would be one with grasses growing on it. 8D

call a taxi? from an small town airport? I'm wondering if most cities (since most are tiny ones) in the USA even have taxi available.

It's only a model... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45173573)

..or so I assume. Looks to me like video of a drivable vehicle cut with that of a flying scale prototype, with footage of the pilot matted in - the rate of instability in flight put doubts in my mind. If this is true, you have to ask why so much effort to avoid showing the reality.

Re:It's only a model... (1)

scotts13 (1371443) | 1 year,11 days | (#45173909)

Frankly, that was my thought as well. The erratic movements at that stage of flight seem to be either a vehicle that's dangerously unstable, or a remote-controlled subscale model.

not the first such airplane (1)

arifyn (711614) | 1 year,11 days | (#45174029)

The Terrafugia Transition may not be as "attractive" but it's far closer to being an actual product that people can drive / fly. There are big tradeoffs when you add road capability to a light plane - it adds a lot of weight. The Aeromobil also appears to be shooting for something that can legally be considered a light sport aircraft in the US, so if it weights "only" about a thousand pounds, that gives you almost no capacity for passengers and fuel. 400 mile range is not a lot.

it drives fine, but it flys like shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45175691)

it drives fine, but if flys like shit. Its too nose heavy coming off the run way for any good plane.

Stefan Klein's Aeromobil Flying Car (1)

GeniusWorks (3402709) | 1 year,10 days | (#45180141)

This week I got to meet Stefan Klein in Bratislava ... where he was the winner of my "Gamechangers of the CEE 2013" event. Aeromobil is no gimmick, and the prototype can really fly ... in fact he was just back from North America where he hopes to partner with Boeing and NASA in making the full concept practical and commercial. For me he's a great "Gamechanger" ... not just with his innovation, but the way he combines art and technology, vision and design, passion and discipline. You can read my interview, video, presentation and more at or more about my book at
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?