PRINEVILLE, Ore. — A new kind of car could soon be pulling out of the garage, down the road and into the skies.
An Oregon company has created a flying car that can switch from driving mode into flying mode within three minutes. Samson Sky, based in Prineville, said the Switchblade flying car could be available to consumers within a few years.
“With this kind of vehicle, you’re never stopped,” said Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky CEO and Switchblade’s designer. “You can drive underneath poor weather or take and fly above construction delays or just boring scenery when you want to get somewhere fast.”
The car’s design fits with the name—the wings and tail unfold like that of a switchblade to switch into flying mode.
“We set it up so it’s exactly the same as a regular aircraft when you’re flying or as a regular car when you’re driving,” Bousfield said.
The gas pedal in the car doubles as the right rudder, a left pedal is unused in driving mode, but is the pedal controlling the left rudder in flying mode.
Bousfield was an architect for 26 years and towards the end of that time, he started tinkering with different inventions. He saw the future of transportation as taking off into the skies, and created the Switchblade.
“We’re not the first flying car, there’s been many attempts,” Bousfield said. “Many, many that have flown before us, but none commercially successful. So we had to crack that nut, why are they not being successful and I think partly is they didn’t use market surveys to find what people really wanted.”
His design features two seats sitting side by side, instead of a single or tandem configuration.
Bousfield said, “The Switchblade is a combination of three features that no other flying car in history has ever had. True flying car, drives and flies. Second, it’s high performance in both modes and third is it’s practical for everyday use.”
At an airfield in Moses Lake in Washington state mid-November, a pilot put the Switchblade to the ultimate test for its first test flight. It had been off the ground on short touch and go’s before, but never at this height and duration.
“We took off from the airport, went up 500 feet off the ground and flew what’s called a pattern: a circle around to where you leave the runway, you circle the airport and you come back into land on that same runway,” Bousfield said.
It stayed in the air for six minutes before touching back down. Bousfield watched from the ground, proudly watching his 15-year invention take off and land successfully.
Demand for the Switchblade is taking off. More than 2,300 reservations have come in from all 50 states and across 57 countries. People will need a pilot’s license to fly the experimental aircraft and driver’s license to drive the three-wheeled vehicle.
Samson Sky said in a release that the Switchblade can reach speeds of 125 mph on the ground and 190 mph in the air. The starting price is estimated to be around $170,000.
Bousfield said his company will move forward with building three different prototypes and then proceed to beat and break them to find any and all flaws.
Production of the Switchblade is expected to start in about two years.