PICTURE & VIDEO: Flying motorcycle unveiled

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The first flight of a prototype three-wheel motorcycle designed to fly with folding wings is expected in early 2010.

An engineering mock-up of the Switchblade Multi-Mode Vehicle unveiled at the AirVenture air show in Oshkosh last month revealed a two-seater with a mass of 680kg (1,500lb) and a 7m (23ft) wingspan with wings folded out. With a 150hp (110kW) engine burning unleaded gasoline, the machine is claimed to be capable of speeds of 140kt (255km/h) and have a range of 1,415km (765nm).

 

 Credit: Samson Motor Works

However, the Samson Motor Works design has changed already compared with the mock-up and concept images, says Samson founder Sam Bousfield. "The wing sweep has been brought back another 17° to 107° and the battery is now in the nose, not in the aft of the vehicle."

The company had also originally looked to provide a hybrid gasoline, electric engine, but is now opting for existing products such as the Lycoming IO-320, Suzuki Hayabusa and others. The Switchblade's standard features include a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute, heating and air conditioning, satellite radio, disc brakes with anti-lock braking and a digital instrument panel that can switch from flight to ground vehicle mode.

Prospective customers will be able to pay a $2,000 refundable deposit, to be held in escrow, once Samson is ready to announce a timetable to bring the Switchblade to market.

The vehicle will be sold as a kit, with the first deliveries potentially to customers late next year. Priced at $60,000 without an engine or avionics, Samson estimates a final price of $80,000. A build assistance centre will be set up on the US West Coast. An East Coast centre may follow.