Czech locksmith builds plane to fly to work 10 miles away

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ZDIKOV, Czech Republic (Reuters) - Frantisek Hadrava thought driving to work for 14 minutes was too much, so he built an plane to cut the commute by half.

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 U.S.-design of light planes called Mini-Max.

The plane has an open cockpit, propeller powered by a 3-cylinder engine made by Czech firm Verner, and maximum speed of 146 km (91 miles) an hour. It cost about 3,700 euros ($4,200) to build, Hadrava said.

Early on Wednesday morning, Hadrava flew his usual path through the forested, hilly foothills of the Sumava mountains for his 6 a.m. 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 12-14 minutes by car,” Hadrava said.

“By plane, it would take around 4-5 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.”

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.

Reporting by Jiri Skacel; Writing by Jan Lopatka Editing by Jeremy Gaunt