Oregon-based Samson promises 'flying sports car' for next year

If Oregon-based Samson sticks to its timeline, there will be a real flying car on sale next year. Samson revealed the Switchblade Wednesday and promises the functionality of a regular car and the ability to take off and fly in one package.

The company's creation is a three-wheel vehicle with a 1.6-liter V-4 gasoline engine with about 190 horsepower paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Unlike most flying car concepts, which are VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicles, the Switchblade is more like a light aircraft. Drivers and pilots won't be able to perform takeoffs on the street since the vehicle requires about 1,100 feet to take-off and 1,600 feet to land safely. The 26-foot wingspan doesn't help the prospect of street-based takeoffs either. However, if the wings are extended, the car will lift off the ground naturally after 80 mph.

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When in the air, the vehicle will cruise at 13,000 feet with a top speed of 200 mph; on the ground, the Switchblade will top out at 100 mph. As for the running gear, extendable wings and a retractable tail are deployed manually or electronically controlled depending on the options equipped. Running 91 octane, the flying car will travel 450 miles before needing to refuel. Safety equipment includes a parachute for the whole vehicle, disc brakes front and rear, rollover protection. Creature comforts are rather minimal, but leather seats, a premium audio system, and a digital instrument cluster are all standard.

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Those who need more than the standard gear can look at a Snowbird for colder areas, or more rugged Trek variant with heavy-duty landing gear. An Aurora variant combines both the standard Switchblade, Trek, and Snowbird features.

If any of this sounds interesting, Samson will ask $120,000 for the contraption. However, since U.S. law says the owner must assemble 51 percent of the vehicle—due to its classification—the company will charge another $20,000 for build assistance. And, yes, owners will need a valid driver's license and private pilot's license to operate the Switchblade legally.

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