Switchblade Flying Car Makes Oshkosh Debut

Unusual folding wing design is turning heads.

Switchblade flying car
Northern California's Samson Motors unveiled the Switchblade flying car at AirVenture.Samson Motors

Another would-be flying car has hit the market, this one a three-wheeler with an unusual folding-wing concept that solves the problem of what to do with the wings in driving mode but presents a potential problem of how to handle crosswind landings.

Called the Switchblade, the Experimental kitplane from a Northern California company called Samson Motors is scheduled to make its first flight by the end of the year and go on sale late next year.

The wings unfold from the underside of the vehicle with the press of a key fob. It's a neat idea, but the design offers scant ground clearance when the wings are deployed.

“Gusty crosswinds can get dicey,” admitted Samson Motors CEO Sam Bousfield, who said he has flown a simulated Switchblade in X-Plane and predicted maximum allowable crosswind components will be set at 15 knots.

The two-seater is powered by a 190 hp turbocharged V4 that is essentially a modified motorcycle engine. The engine drives the rear wheels in driving mode and a ducted propeller in flight mode. Claimed performance figures include a top speed in the air of 165 knots and a top speed on the ground of 160 mph.

“The Switchblade is a flying sports car with a power to weight ratio equal to that of a Corvette,” Bousfield said.

Price is targeted at $140,000, which includes either Dynon or Garmin G3X avionics. Because the Switchblade falls under motorcycle regulations it does not require airbags and other safety gear that cars do.

Max takeoff weight is projected to be 1,750 pounds and empty weight 1,205 pounds, giving the Switchblade a useful load of 545 pounds. Fuel capacity is 30 gallons and the engine burns about nine gallons per hour in flight at normal cruise setting.