In the near future, you may see a car like this pass you by on the road…or land on top of you while watching 17:00 traffic! In July, the Samson Switchblade prototype received a certificate from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) allowing its designers to begin flight tests. After 14 years of development, this flying car it will eventually go away.
Designed by Samson Sky of Redmond, Oregon, the Switchblade has been called “the first flying sports car in history” by its creator, Sam Bousfield. The CEO of the company, had a dream of building this type of car from a young age.
Its road plane has three wheels, a two-seat cockpit compared to a car and a hybrid engine. In addition, its dimensions are suitable for the garage of a typical single-family residence in North America, at least when the wings are closed.
A wing that opens like a knife blade
Stored in a space under the cockpit, its wings unfold in less than three minutes from front to back like the blade of a switch-knife, the type of knife that English speakers aptly call it. switchblade. At the same time, the aft, fin, tailplane and control surfaces unfold and lift at the end of the beam that extends away from the house of five swords.
This flying car is equipped with a 1.6 L three-cylinder petrol engine. Developed by the manufacturer, this engine named Samson SC200 is liquid cooled. Fueled by premium fuel (octane 91), it produces 190 hp. In addition, it is connected to a hybrid technology called Skybrid, which the manufacturer does not provide any details. On the other hand, we know that a 136 liter tank would give the pilot a range of 724 km.
Switchblade will be able to reach a maximum height of 3,962 m and have a cruising speed of 258 km / h. Its maximum speed will be 322 km / h. This flying car will need 335 meters to take off and 213 meters to land. In addition, the manufacturer claims that its engine has a reversing system to maintain directional stability on wet tracks.
Sold as a kit to make it “affordable”
To make it an “affordable” product, the Switchblade was designed to be shipped as partially assembled devices. It will meet the standards for an aircraft type called “Experimental Construction/Imperial” for which the buyer must perform at least 51% of the assembly, according to the FAA.
Therefore, the manufacturer will be able to offer from around 150,000 US dollars, the final price has not yet been set. The Switchblade Special, the top of the range, will be offered for around US$245,000 and will have an improved prize pool. And for US$770,000 and up, the Limited Edition will be customized with all the luxury the buyer demands.
Samson is already planning to add another variant to its lineup: the Switchblade Snowbird, which will be produced for the northern regions; Aurora, a short take-off and landing (STOL) variant designed for more difficult landing conditions; Finally, the Trek, another variant of ADAC was adapted, this one, for the warm regions of the world and filled with a large carrying capacity.
Bousfield expects to begin production of the Switchblade within 18 months of its first prototype flight. As of this writing, the company’s archive already has 1,600 bookings. Three quarters come from certified pilots.
Booking is free. However, it is expected that the buyer must pay a deposit of US$2,000 within 45 days of the Switchblade’s first public flight. For Bousfield, of course this is an additional incentive to see his example finally take off!
An evolving niche
However, the Switchblade isn’t the only flying car in development. A few other companies around the world are also busy developing this new form of personal transportation. Consider, among others, Slovakian company Aeromobil, which has started selling the two-seater AM4.0, while recently announcing the introduction of the four-seater AM Next in 2027.
In turn, Klein’s visionanother Slovak company, received certification from the country’s aviation authority for its AirCar in January, while Pal-V of the Netherlands is planning an order for its flying car, the Liberty.
Finally, let us recall that the American company Terrafugia, which was preparing the sale of the Transition, was bought by Geely in 2017, it just saw its workforce cut and its North American facilities close in 2021. Its Chinese owner has decided to bring everything back to the Middle Kingdom…