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Flying car gets approved by FAA

Samson Switchblade

A small airplane that quickly converts to a three-wheel car has now been approved for airworthiness by the FAA, paving the way for the first flight tests.

After 14 years of development, the Samson Switchblade – a fast, street-legal three-wheeler that converts at the touch of a button into a 200-mph (322-km/h) airplane – has been approved for airworthiness by the FAA. The team is now preparing for flight tests.

The Switchblade is named after the knife-like way its wings swing out from beneath its two-seat cabin when it’s time to fly. The tail, too, swings out from where it’s stowed behind the large pusher prop, then unfolds into a generous T shape. Samson says the entire push-button conversion from street-legal trike to aircraft takes less than three minutes, and while it’s yet to demonstrate the entire process on a physical prototype, it looks like it’ll be a pretty spectacular process.

The goal is to create something you can drive from your garage to the nearest small runway, take off to fly to another nearby airport, and then quickly drive to your destination, without ever having to get out of your seat.

More information can be found at the company’s website, which also says it is “only months away from first flight”, and expects to sell its first kits for customers 18 months later. The company also says it has 1,500 customers who have already placed reservations to buy it.

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21 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    Color me skeptical 1) I would presume the training requirements are the same as for any light aircraft – so anybody who dreams of just buying one and going straight into the wild blue yonder may be in for a rude surprise. 2) In the past one of the things that killed such hybrids was they were neither good cars nor good planes 3) Has it been certified as street legal anywhere 4) I think the charm of having to drive to and from an airport may wear off rather quickly. It isn’t the same as walking out your front door and taking off 5) It won’t be cheap to buy, maintain or operate (I held a private pilot’s license until the astronomical (get it) cost of fuel and insurance (due to predatory lawyers) made renting a plane from a fixed base operator no longer worthwhile) “In order to operate safely, a flying car must be certified independently as both a road vehicle and an aircraft, by the respective authorities. The person controlling the vehicle must also be licensed as both driver and pilot, and the vehicle maintained according to both regimes.”

  • pzatchok

    At this point it could still be sold as a kit, experimental, home built craft and skip most if not all of the requirements you mentioned.

    As for a road worthy vehicle. Its only a three wheeler so its classed as a motorcycle and does not have to make any crash testing standards commercially sold road vehicles must pass.

    I will be impressed if it can make a 300 mile combined trip, road and air flight, on regular gas. And do 80 mph on the highway.

    My guess is that any buyers will already be trained to fly in some way and be familiar with the rules and regulations.

    I would be happy with one that was not push button configurable but instead required you to get out of the craft and manually move the wings and tail into place and lock them. That might save weight better put to fuel.

  • Concerned

    This flying car idea has been a pipe dream for decades—with all attempts at making it a reality ending in failure. I was excited for a while about the Terrafugia Transition, a concept and company started by some MIT grads in 2006. Seems they got pretty close to a workable product, but the bugaboo of physics combined with government regulation finally killed them recently (supposedly the company has “transitioned” to China and all US based employees terminated). If this Samson company manages any sales before it too goes belly up, I’ll be amazed.

  • George C

    The slow cruising speed and short range of the aircraft mode is usually a problem. If we could upgrade more of our roads to autobahn quality it would be much better.

  • Edward

    It is about time that we finally got flying cars. A rumor is running around that George Jetson was born last Sunday, and we will need these cars in the next couple of decades or so, otherwise he won’t have a flying car for his TV show.
    https://www.npr.org/2022/07/31/1114759037/happy-birthday-george-jetson

  • wayne

    Edward-

    “It’s a Jetsons World”
    (Chapter 1: It’s a Jetsons World)
    Jeffrey A. Tucker 2019
    https://youtu.be/IKegyzb4yF8
    9:04

  • GERALD GRUBBS

    Unlikely that the aerodynamics will be very forgiving due to the design compromises that will be required. Flying an airplane – particularly in crowded airspace – is a demanding physical and mental process. Until self-flying airplanes are developed, this will never fly (pun intended).

  • Cotour

    I agree with Grubbs.

    These one off “Flying cars” are novelties at best.

  • GWB

    George Jetson was born yesterday, somewhere, so we better have flying cars pretty soon, dangit.

  • Goateggs

    With a MGTOW of 1,850 lbs it will require a minimum of a private pilot single engine land certification and either an FAA 3rd class medical or BasicMED to fly it.

    I have a friend who put a deposit on a kit 3 or 4 years ago. They’ve been saying they are “just months from flying” for that entire time. Color me skeptical.

  • Cotour

    This right now is the closest flying machine that fulfills to some degree the vision.

    https://youtu.be/5RpqYuce6Ao

    How would you like to be driving your flying car to the airport and someone rearends you? Or Tee bones you?

    One little bump from anything on the road will result in a tear down and inspection.

    Unless and until there exists something equivalent to controlling and manipulating gravity these kinds of things are only novelties and not practical. If you can not get in your vehicle and choose which mode you desire to travel in instead of having to drive to an airport.

    Its just a novelty or a hobby.

  • wayne

    Question:
    Does this thing per chance, have an internal-combustion engine, powered by… gasoline?
    Last I heard, we’re switching over to solar panels, windmills, and fairy-dust?

    Cotour–
    I put this into the same sorta’ basket as the car-boat from the 1960’s, the “Amphicar,” although those actually worked.

    back on Subject….

    Flying car Photographs 1920-1970
    (March 2022)
    https://youtu.be/8e_lwgAVbso
    3:10

  • Cotour

    Yes, Wayne, transitioning from driving on the road to an amphibious mode is very different than from going from driving on the road to flying.

    The one is closely related and can be built substantially to accomplish what is desired, and the other is not related at all.

    Its an interesting challenge and project none the less.

    And how much might they cost?

    And there are in development and flying some electric powered “Fairy dust” planes being developed and flown.

    https://youtu.be/WiADDbeFanU

  • wayne

    C–
    IIRC, Popular Mechanics had numerous “flying car” articles in the 60’s and early 70’s.

  • William Hepfer

    We won’t have flying cars until somebody inv invents anti-gravity. Cmon Elon get to work on it.

  • Andrew M Winter

    Critters have been around a while now. Here is a compilation of some that have been flying a while now.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZIpG7hFHEw

    My faves are the Aeromobile, really really good looking. It’s certified in Europe. has been for a couple years now. The PAL-V is cool because it may be an ultralight no pilots license needed. Based on autogyro tech. Some autogyros are ultralights, not as pretty as Aeromoblie. Airbus, of course only has concept models. The Transition was and is awesome. Been around since 2012. I think this was a first.

    Maverick COULD have been awesome, but they blew it. As a paraglider it was an ultralight and did not require a pilots license. They had a chute failure which they have never been able to beat. Sadly.

    Sadly as well MAVERICk went for a niche market and thus cut themselves out of the general idea of a flying car. I really like this one. Corresponded with them a few times too. They evinced no interest in the general public.
    https://www.itecusa.org/maverick/ This was the most promising because without the need of a very expensive pilot’s license it was the most affordable. Yet it was way too expensive for the niche market they were after, which is a market that has essentially no money at all. MOstly this project is dead now unless someone takes it over.

  • Anon

    The average driver can’t keep their car in their own lane, and you want to give them a third dimension to play with?
    Thank God and the FAA that a pilots license is required. Without that hurdle?:
    Until level 5 automation is a reality, every ‘flying car’ is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Cotour

    This is the one, the Moller flying car that I thought had the most potential.

    https://youtu.be/-1xHona2JWo

    Timing almost more than vision and will in life is everything.

    There are new versions of this kind of a concept that will benefit from the electric motor revolution and the battery technology that is barreling forward. Will the ideal concept combine a drivable automobile concept that flies? I doubt it.

    Not unless Elon gets on with that anti gravity technology that is.

  • kilroy

    Expensive, need a lot of training, in the end is only a small plane with foldable wings. I do not think these are the flying cars they promised me when I was a teen (many moons ago).

  • pzatchok

    I just want a long range ultra light.

  • Andi

    “ How would you like to be driving your flying car to the airport and someone rearends you? Or Tee bones you?”

    Not as bad as what would happen if someone rearends you in the air, I would imagine.

    ATC will be a nightmare.

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