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By Kristy Hemp, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Steve Schulte
The Switchblade multi-mode-vehicle at the Samson Motors booth (22).

July 30, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - No more parking fees. No more hangar rent. No more time lost waiting at airports—sounds attractive doesn’t it?

Samson Motors introduced an engineering mock-up of the Switchblade, its futuristic, multi-mode vehicle, or MMV, on Tuesday.

It’s made of a composite frame and steel keel with all surfaces providing lift. Switchblade will allow pilots the ability to drive to the nearest airport, extend the wings and fly to their next destination cruising at 150 mph with a 350-plus mile range. After landing the wings retract like a pocketknife, folding in neatly under the belly.

The company is looking at several engine options to provide the 150 hp targeted for the Switchblade, including the well-established Lycoming O-320, as well as other powerplant options based on the Freedom rotary engine and four-cylinder motorcycle engines from Suzuki and Yamaha.

“It has the power to weight ratio rivaling a Ferrari California,” explained Samson Motors Designer and CEO Sam Bousfield, “which means it goes like you-know-what.”

Most “flying cars” have had four wheels instead of three, which is why the Switchblade is called a motorcycle. The Switchblade’s suspension system is built around motorcycle wheels, tires, and anti-lock brake systems.

The company also used three wheels because of fewer manufacturing regulations.

But they do have dual EPA restrictions to keep in mind because the vehicle is both an airplane and a motorcycle and emissions controls are planned for the engines.

Samson Motors said it is now accepting refundable deposits on the vehicle.

What does the future hold for the Switchblade? “We are going to put it out as a kit first, then we will put a Builder Assist Center on the West Coast, then on the East Coast.” Bousfield said. “We also plan on offering ground-only versions, and an LSA certified version.”

Bousfield mentioned that the kits are Fast-Build only, meeting the newest FAA guidelines for 51% rule compliance.

“It’s been a dream in our heads since we were little, and we have really reached a major milestone in our dream,” said Bousfield. “Some think the future of GA is gloomy as a winter in Iceland, but I believe where there’s rain, there’s a rainbow.

“Our dream is to push forward the future of aviation.”

Bousfield estimates one year to the first flight of the Switchblade, and one more year for testing. The engineering mock-up on display is very close to what the prototype will look like with a few changes expected. The 90-degree wing will be moved back 17 degrees and the battery will move to the nose. “Much of what you see here will continue on in to the final design,” Bousfield said.

To put a Switchblade MMV in your garage you need about $60,000 for a kit that does not include the engine; the total package with engine and avionics ups the ante to about $80,000, according to the company.

You can see, touch, and sit in the engineering mock-up that is on display at the Samson Motors Booth 22.

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