After Samson Motors’ SkyBike flying motorcycle made its debut at last year’s AirVenture, a collaboration between Samson and Swift Engineering generated a new design, thanks to input from the company’s e-newsletter subscribers.
“The survey indicated a preference for side-by-side seating, the new wing design, and the longer range that went with it,” said Sam Bousfield, president.
The original telescoping wing was a feature that allowed the SkyBike to retract the main wing almost completely within the vehicle body while driving on the ground.
Bousfield said Samson will not drop development of the telescoping wing, but the new wing design has a shorter and more certain path to production. “It is easier to implement flaps, traditional ailerons, and typical light-weight construction techniques with the new wing design,” he said.
The new vehicle, named the Switchblade, uses a scissors wing that hinges near the rear wheels and swings closed within the belly of the plane for storage. A center keel provides structure for the passenger compartment, and extends below the wings to provide impact protection. Clamshell doors under the vehicle protect the wing from road grunge and stones thrown by the front wheel.
The new vehicle has a considerably different look than the original design.
“The original SkyBike design was so sexy, the new one looked more like a mini-van by comparison,” he said. “After the survey, we knew we had to rework things on styling so we took clues from Ferrari and Maserati, integrating structural elements within the flowing lines of the vehicle.
“The hardest thing to get used to is that it looks like there isn’t enough wing,” he continued. “In a three-surface design, like the Piaggio Avanti, it always looks like there is a big body and tiny wings. Samson went to this layout for just that reason – less wing needed. With all three wings providing lift, we have smaller wings and less drag. Even still, the wing span is a respectable 23 feet.”
The tail telescopes backwards for flight, and remains tucked in tight to the body during ground use.
The redesign has delayed development, but the company hopes to begin kit deliveries in 2010, according to Bousfield.
Samson will unveil a scale proof-of-concept model of the “Switchblade” at Sun ‘n Fun, which opens April 21.
For more information: SamsonMotorWorks.com.