It’s now closer to reality, and 800 other people believe so too.
If we were to talk about flying cars in 1998, people who would hear our conversation might judge us for insanity or someone who’s taking science fiction movies too seriously. But it’s 2018, and flying cars are about as close to reality as are talking robots and life-like AI.
In fact, Samson Sky, a flying car manufacturer, has recently announced that it just received its 800th reservation for the Switchblade. The orders came from 24 countries and 46 out of 50 states in the U.S., which signaled Samson Sky to claim the throne of producing the most popular flying car in the world. Let’s give it to the company; 800 reservations aren’t an easy feat, just the same as delivering 800 examples of Switchblades to these customers. Guess we could say that Samson Sky took off nicely with its futuristic vehicle.
Samson Sky introduced the Switchblade in 2009 EEA AirVenture Oshkosh mock-up form. Since then, it took the company nine years to gain impressive traction, and the latest installment of the annual aviation enthusiasts gathering saw a heavy crowd of interested (and curious) individuals.
The Switchblade, which is an essentially three-wheeled motorcycle-type vehicle with forward-retracting wings, has two seats in side-by-side configuration – much like your regular two-seater airplanes. Up in the air, it can fly up to 200 miles per hour (322 kilometers per hour), with a cruising speed of 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour). Down on the ground, its maximum speed is 125 mph (201 kph). All these figures are coursed through the 190-horsepower, four-cylinder Samson engine, with a power-to-weight ratio of a 2017 Corvette.
Obviously, the most important road block of flying cars is that they need runways. Like in the case of the Switchblade, it needs 1,100 feet (335 meters) of runway to take off. Getting to the ground would need longer pavement as it needs at least 1,600 ft (488 m) for a successful descent from the air.
With that, the concept of flying cars is far from being a staple means of transportation, but it isn’t impossible. Besides, the more efficient way to land and take off, Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), is now being looked at by Samson Sky. But as its CEO Sam Bousfield puts it, the company’s initial goal is to provide a transportation vehicle that can work within the existing infrastructure, technology, and regulations.
Source: Samson Sky
Gallery: Samson Sky Switchblade Flying Car
Flying car manufacturer Samson Sky just received Reservation Position number 800, breaking records with customers in 24 countries, and 46 out of 50 states in the US. The Switchblade flying sports car has arguably become the most popular flying car in the world. Not surprisingly, California currently has the largest contingent of owners, followed by Florida and Texas.
“We had many thousands of people walking into our pavilion – from before opening time to after closing. Even after we buttoned up the tent, they still wanted to come in through a small opening in the front,” stated Samson Events Coordinator Lindsey Wehr.
Governments are now vying for flying car bragging rights. Japan recently announced its intention to be the birthplace of flying cars, and enlisted Uber, Boeing, and AirBus to help bring about that bold initiative. Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft as envisioned by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and tech giants is more suitable for relieving their dense downtown traffic than a typical flying car that drives and flies, however there is very little foundation for VTOL transportation in most cities of the world.
The lack of infrastructure is seen as the largest Achilles Heel of this new transportation technology. “Even supposing the technology works, where would they land?” questioned John Preston, head of the Transportation Research Group at the University of Southampton. Increasing the availability of landing pads is a decades-long endeavor, which points to the conclusion that a VTOL transportation solution will likely be relegated to a few wealthy commute corridors for quite some time.
“This is a smart way to introduce the concept,” said Sam Bousfield, CEO of Samson Sky referring to creating a flying car commuter corridor. “I think Mark Moore of Uber sees the opportunity, but realizes there is a gradient approach to making a change as significant as this.” Bousfield also has certainty that the future of transportation is in the sky, and the Samson team has worked for ten years to develop the Switchblade to be consumer ready. While the company is laying the groundwork for their own future VTOL vehicles and semi-autonomous flight, their initial goal is to provide a transportation vehicle that can work within the existing infrastructure, technology, and regulations.
“We had what we felt was a winning design for the future as well as for today, so we pushed forward with development and testing,” said Bousfield. “We are at the point now of having to increase the size of our planned initial production facility to keep up with the growing demand we are receiving for the Switchblade.”
Similar goals can be seen in other flying car companies, including Terrafugia, whose purchase last January by Geely of China confirm the depth of investor interest in flying cars.