Only a decade ago the idea about a flying car was just a fiction. Today, however there are over 20 attempts of flying car constructions in the world. Quite a few of them were unsuccessful, but the prototype designed by Štefan Klein from Slovakia, was a great success, and already reached the fourth version of the prototype.
It seems like it was destined for Klein to change the course of history of the car / plane history. He grew up by a little airport in Nitra, where he spent his days in a workshop with his father and brothers. Even in his young age his world was strongly connected to flying. Not only was he inspired through the stories and tales about flying by the dreamy books of Jules Verne and Antoine de Saint Exupery. Also his grandfather was a pilot of an ultra-light aircraft, which helped little Štefan to get his pilot’s licence even before he was old enough to drive a car. He followed the family tradition, and after graduating from secondary school, studied at the technical university, even though he was thinking about studying sculpture as well. Once he graduated from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, he enrolled at the academy, succeeding out of about 500 students. He was one of the two lucky applicants who made it in.
His goal was to find an occupation in which he would be able to design something from the initial idea to the final product. He later decided to become a designer not a pilot. But his love for flying slowly developed through designing cars for BMW, Volkswagen and Audi – where he got the necessary knowledge to finally making his dream come true – designing a flying car.
As many other great inventions even this great journey started in the garage in Klein’s hometown Nitra. With the help of his family he developed first two prototypes – AeroMobil 1.0 and AeroMobil 2.0. a few years later, in 2010 he found an angel investor, Juraj Vaculik, who was enthusiastic about his project and so they joined forces and soon AeroMobil 2.5. and AeroMobil 3.0 were produced.
The project started in 1990’s in Bratislava, which was not a coincidence. Slovakia manufactures the highest number of vehicles per capita – and by that, it can be claimed that the country, and its capital, Bratislava, is an auto superpower. Manufacturing, innovation, and execution – key factors when it comes to car production – Slovakia is attracting more and more car manufacturers due to national initiatives, low working and living costs, and its favorable logistical location makes Bratislava the new Motor City. The country’s powerful car production represents 44% of its entire industry and Slovakia now has the world’s highest car production per capita. The automotive sector also generates a lot of events and is helping Bratislava become more interesting for car launches. In addition to the country’s largest producer, Volkswagen Slovakia in Bratislava, the following plants have also opened factories in Slovakia: Kia Motors Slovakia, PSA Peugeot Citroen Slovakia in Trnava and a new Jaguar and Land Rover factory will open in Nitra. Besides the big names of car industry, Bratislava is also a land of innovation – optoelectronic, robotics and software sectors, are highly developed and offer a stimulating environment. The automotive sector also generates a lot of events and is helping Bratislava become more attractive for car launches.
It took him three decades to make his dream a reality. His elegant blue-and-white flying car was pronounced the most beautifully designed. He is the man behind creating a new environment, a new industry, that will transform the world of transport.
Today Klein teaches at the Bratislava-based Academy of Fine Arts and Design and with his team he is working on the next generation of Aeromobil that will go into production in a few months and hopes to get certification.
By: Ajda Borak