Homemade plane solves problem for commuter sick of the drive to work

Frantisek Hadrava thought driving to work for 14 minutes was too much, so he built an plane to cut the commute by half.

Mr Hadrava, a 45-year-old locksmith from the south-western Czech village of Zdikov, took about two years of his spare time to built his Vampira, an ultralight plane based on the US-design of light planes called Mini-Max.

The plane has an open cockpit, propeller powered by a 3-cylinder engine made by the Czech firm Verner, and maximum speed of 146kph. It cost about €3,700 (Dh15,301) to build, Mr Hadrava said.


By contrast, the US manufaturer Team Mini-Max, with production facilities in Australia and China, sells a range of designs for homebuild and its 1100R aircraft kit costs US$6,195, according to its website.

Early this morning, Mr Hadrava flew his usual path through the forested, hilly foothills of the Sumava mountains for his 6am shift at Drevostroj, a small factory in the town of Ckyne making machine tools for the forestry industry.

He lands on a meadow across the road from the factory. He then needs to push the plane across the road, leading to the German border, to a parking lot outside the factory.

“It takes me about 12 to 14 minutes by car,” Mr Hadrava said.

“By plane, it would take around 4 to 5 minutes if I flew directly, but I take a bit of a detour so that I don’t disturb people early in the morning. So it takes about 7 minutes.”

Mr Hadrava has also build a replica of the German World War One triplane Fokker Dr I, and his next plan is to construct another historical plane, the French Deperdussin.

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