Oregon’s Samson Motors is the latest manufacturer to claim it will have a flying car ready for takeoff in 2018, as it readies its Switchblade for sale.
Hardly the first company to tempt us with such a machine, Samson says what sets its Switchblade apart is that it will be the world’s first flying sports car.
While that sounds hard to believe solely on the basis of its water-cooled 190-hp four-cylinder engine, Samson boasts that it has kept the Switchblade’s takeoff weight to a svelte 794 kg, lending the vehicle a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of a Chevrolet Corvette.
Despite that, the Switchblade stands as long as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class until you unfold its tail section and wings, the action that inspired the car-cum-plane’s name.
Samson claims a top ground speed higher than 160 km/h, and says that with wings extended, the Switchblade will take off around 130 km/h (70 kts), following a take-off roll of 335 metres (1,100 ft). With flaps extended, the wings’ stall speed is 108 km/h (58 kts).
Other key specifications include a maximum air speed of 305 km/h (165 kts), a cruising speed of 257 km/h (139 kts) and a flying range of 724 km (390 nautical miles) on the Switchblade’s 114-litre (30-gallon) gas tank.
If you aspire to flight, keep in mind the Switchblade is classified as an experimental/homebuilt aircraft, which means that in order to legally sell you one, Samson makes you do 51 percent of the work to put it together. Samson says that takes as little as three weeks at one of its builder-assist centres. You will also need a pilot’s licence to take to the skies.
Standard equipment includes navigation radios and an emergency location transmitter (ELT), rear-view camera, turn-by-turn GPS for on-road operation, MP3 player, and a custom dashboard with a digital display and built-in iPad Mini.
Options include the Snowbird model, which adds a heated pitot tube (a device that measures airspeed), ski racks, high-capacity windshield de-icer and heated seats.
The Aurora package adds tougher landing gear with more rugged tires, reinforced frame and high-lift wings for short take-off and landing capability. Finally, the Trek model will build on the Aurora with higher ground clearance and larger radiators for flying/driving in hot climates.
Samson says its target price for the Switchblade is $120,000 US, plus $20,000 for the builder assist program.