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The world’s first three-wheel flying sports car capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph begins flight testing

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After 14 years of development, the world’s first three-wheel flying sports car – the Switchblade – has finally received approval to begin flight testing.

The prototype vehicle, made by Samson Sky, can fly at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (322 kph) and is designed to be built from a DIY kit.

On the ground, the Switchblade taxis on its three wheels and at just 5.1m long and 1.8m wide, it’s small enough to fit in a garage.

But once it reaches an airport, its wings swing out and the tail pops out in less than three minutes, allowing the “skybrid” vehicle to take to the skies.

Last month, the Switchblade received the approval stamp from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US government’s aviation authority, to begin the testing process.

Sam Bousfield, the CEO of Samson Sky and Switchblade designer, said: “Our takeoff speed is expected to be 88 mph, meaning this is the speed we need to get, at which point the Switchblade would begin to lift off the ground.

“From the fastest of 10 speed runs, our test rider took the Switchblade to 148 mph, which confirmed what the team saw on the instruments, videos and engine computer data – the Switchblade handled and performed very well.”

Last month, the Switchblade received the rubber stamp from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US aviation authority, to begin the testing process.

On the ground, the Switchblade taxis on its three wheels and at just 5.1m long and 1.8m wide, it's small enough to fit in a garage

On the ground, the Switchblade taxis on its three wheels and at just 5.1m long and 1.8m wide, it’s small enough to fit in a garage

According to the Oregon-based company, 2,100 people from 52 countries and all 50 states of America have already reserved a vehicle kit for when it is finally approved to go on sale.

According to the Oregon-based company, 2,100 people from 52 countries and all 50 states of America have already reserved a vehicle kit for when it is finally approved to go on sale.

CONNECTOR SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length in ground mode: 16.8 ft / 5.1 m
  • Length in flight mode: 20.2 ft / 6.2 m
  • Wingspan: 26.9 ft / 8.2 m
  • Width: 1.8 m
  • Height: 5.1 ft / 1.5 m
  • Maximum Travel Speed: 125+ mph / 201+ km/h
  • Max airspeed: 200 mph / 322 kph
  • Range: 450 miles / 724 km
  • Takeoff Distance: 1100 ft / 335 m
  • Landing Distance: 700 ft / 213 m
  • Features: Premium sound system, rear view camera, parachute, rollover protection, front and rear crumple zones, digital instrument display
  • Price: $170,000 (£145,000)

The Switchblade can now undergo a series of trials, starting with high-speed taxi testing and leading up to airborne testing.

According to the Oregon-based company, 2,100 people from 52 countries and all 50 states of America have already reserved a vehicle kit for when it is finally approved to go on sale.

Samson Sky says, “Early adopters are NASA engineers, airline pilots, entrepreneurs, etc.

“The recent FAA approval has brought in 360 new reservations in recent weeks — and it is remarkable that 58 percent of those are not yet pilots.”

A driver’s license is required to take the Switchblade on the road, and a pilot’s license required to fly it, which must be done from a public or private airport.

This is different from vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles, which can take off from the road.

The buyer is required to build 51 percent of their vehicle after purchasing the kit, as the FAA classifies the aircraft in the “Experimental / DIY” category.

Each Switchblade kit costs around $170,000 (£145,000) and includes the engine, transmission, avionics, interior and access to the Samson Builder Assist program.

The latter allows the builder to visit a Samson Builder Assist Center to get help with the build, which should take about a week.

The Switchblade’s maximum road speed is more than 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour), and Samson Sky claims it’s “agile through twisty corners like a high-performance sports car.”

But when it takes to the sky, it can soar up to 200 miles per hour (305 km per hour), and reach an elevation of 13,000 feet (4 km).

It can also travel 724 km before the 113 liter fuel tank needs to be refilled.

Once it lands, it can quickly revert to driving mode with the wings and tail safely stowed until the pilot reaches their final destination.

The car is equipped with a range of functions, including a sound system, a reversing camera and a digital instrument display.  There are also various safety features, such as a parachute for the entire car, tilt protection and crumple zones

The car is equipped with a range of functions, including a sound system, a reversing camera and a digital instrument display. There are also various safety features, such as a parachute for the entire car, tilt protection and crumple zones

The Switchblade's maximum road speed is more than 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour), and Samson Sky claims it

The Switchblade’s maximum road speed is more than 125 miles per hour (201 km per hour), and Samson Sky claims it “agility through twisty corners like a high-performance sports car.”

The car is equipped with a range of functions, including a sound system, a reversing camera and a digital instrument display.

There are also various safety features, such as a parachute for the entire car, roll protection and crumple zones at the front and rear.

Samson Sky is developing a number of other versions of the Switchblade, including the Snowbird, for colder climates, the Trek, designed for heavy landings, and the Aurora, which combines the Snowbird and Trek.

“Artists dream of the future, and that future is filled with flying cars,” said Bousfield. “If you share that dream, the Switchblade is designed for you.”

Samson Sky is developing a number of other versions of the Switchblade, including the Snowbird, for colder climates, the Trek, designed for heavy landings, and the Aurora, which combines the Snowbird and Trek.

Samson Sky is developing a number of other versions of the Switchblade, including the Snowbird, for colder climates, the Trek, designed for heavy landings, and the Aurora, which combines the Snowbird and Trek.

In Hyundai’s flying car concept: Butterfly-inspired planes will have five vegetable leather seats, built-in charging stations and ‘light therapy’ overhead – and could hit the market by 2028

Hyundai has unveiled a preview of what it will look like in its new flying car concept – featuring plant-based leather seats, overhead ‘light therapy’ and built-in charging stations.

The South Korean automaker, which created a new spin-off company called Supernal to design the butterfly-inspired aircraft, could make it available to the public as early as 2028.

It unveiled its first eVTOL vehicle cabin concept at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Hyundai and Supernal have previously said the S-A1 flying taxi under construction is a “personal air vehicle” that can carry up to four passengers on city trips.

The all-electric aircraft will initially be piloted, but could be flown autonomously in the future, after which the passenger capacity could potentially increase to six.

It is expected to fly for about 60 miles at speeds of up to 180 mph, while cruising at up to 2,000 feet.

Read more here

Sneak peak: Hyundai has revealed a glimpse of what it will look like in its new flying car concept - featuring plant-based leather seats, overhead 'light therapy' and built-in charging stations

Sneak peak: Hyundai has revealed a glimpse of what it will look like in its new flying car concept – featuring plant-based leather seats, overhead ‘light therapy’ and built-in charging stations

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