Photo by Steve
The Switchblade multi-mode-vehicle at the Samson Motors booth
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
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
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
Bousfield mentioned that the kits are
Fast-Build only, meeting the newest FAA guidelines for 51% rule
“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
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.