BRATISLAVA - Mankind's primordial dream of flight is taking off with a new twist as a Slovak prototype of a flying car spreads its wings.
Inspired by the dreamy books about flying by French authors Jules Verne and Antoine de Saint Exupery, Slovak designer and engineer Stefan Klein has been honing his flying machine since the early 1990s.
"I got the idea to start working on a vehicle of the future at university, but honestly, who hasn't dreamt of flying while being stuck in the traffic?" Klein told AFP.
"Flying's in my blood -- my grandfather and my father flew ultra-light aircrafts and I got my pilot's license before I was old enough to drive a car," said Klein, who has designed cars for BMW, Volkswagen and Audi and now teaches at the Bratislava-based Academy of Fine Arts and Design.
His elegant blue-and-white vehicle for two is six metres (20 feet) long so it fits neatly in a parking space or a garage and tanks up at any filling station. But once it reaches an airport it can unfold its wings within seconds becoming a plane.
Dubbed "the world's prettiest and best-designed airborne automobile so far" by US aviation magazine Flying and Inhabitat.com design, an innovation website, the Aeromobil also has the distinction of originating in Slovakia, the world's largest per-capita car producer.
"So far there have been about twenty attempts to manufacture a flying car around the globe," the president of the Slovak Ultra Light Aviation Federation, Milan Ciba, told AFP.
"Among them, Aeromobil appears very viable," he said.