Lifestyle

GyroDrive is world's first 'road-certified flying vehicle'

As global automakers compete to bring the first flying car into the market, Czech pilot Pavel Brezina, 51, is trying a different tack.

Instead of creating a car that flies, he made GyroDrive - a mini-helicopter one can drive.

The engineer and owner of Nirvana Systems, a company that produces motors for small flying machines, insisted that his vehicle is the first in the world authorised to operate both on the roads and in the air.

Mr Brezina, who has 30 years of experience as a pilot, said: "This is the only road-certified flying vehicle I know about.

"Everyone is trying to make a high-speed car that can fly, but this is a different thing."

GyroDrive is based on a gyroplane, a mini-helicopter, which uses a copter-style rotor to move up and down and an aeroplane-type "pusher propeller" to go forward.

Mr Brezina's company buys gyroplane kits from a German firm and then assembles and equips them with a system allowing the pilot-driver to switch between a petrol engine propelling the rotors and an electric engine that drives the wheels.

The two-seat GyroDrive has a maximum driving speed of 40kph and can take its crew of two on short drives to a petrol station or a hotel.

It needs less than 100m to take off and reaches a top speed of 180kph in the air. Its flying range is 600km.

TRANSFORM

After landing, the pilot only has to fix the main rotor blades along the axis of the GyroDrive and pull out a built-in licence plate to transform it into a car.

Prices start at 1.5 million koruna (S$88,400), but they can reach 4 million koruna, depending on specifications.

Mr Brezina got the licence plates for his GyroDrive in March, three years after starting the project.

He said he has been safely flying gyroplanes all over Europe and beyond for the last seven years with a group of friends.

"I would liken it to a group of motorbikers - this is actually a 3D motorbike. We also travel to other continents, where we rent gyroplanes," he said.

He added that he doubts that the GyroDrive will take over roads and airways.

"First, it requires a set of certain qualities to become a gyroplane pilot, and second, it is not just about pushing a button. I think it will spread, but not on a mass scale." - AFP

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