IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Minnesota Bill Signing Extends Runway for Flying Cars

Legislation recently signed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz enables the operation of hybrid car-airplane vehicles on state roads and airstrips. The state is the second in recent years to enact such a law.

The Switchblade Flying Car, developed by Samson Sky, is able to operate on roadways as an automobile, and function as a small airplane.
Samson Sky
They're expensive and still far from commonplace, but new state legislation in the Midwest is the latest to clear the air for the flying car.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’ recent signing into law a bill allowing “roadable aircraft,” which operate both as automobiles and small airplanes, makes the Land of 10,000 Lakes only the second state after New Hampshire in 2020 to affirm the hybrid vehicles.

“Our goal with the legislation is simply to assure that Minnesota has the regulations framework in place for roadable aircraft when they do start to eventually be produced for the public,” said Dom Lonetti, legislative assistant to Minnesota state Sen. John Jasinski, who introduced SF 3975, the “Roadable Aircraft Registration” bill.

The legislation, which Walz signed May 15, was prompted by the development of a new hybrid car-plane creation by Samson Sky known as the Switchblade Flying Sports Car, a two-person, three-wheeled hybrid-electric vehicle capable of flying at 200 mph for about 450 miles at elevations below 10,000 feet. With its retractable wings and other features, the Switchblade — which will retail for about $170,000 — can legally travel on roadways, allowing owners to essentially drive the vehicle to an airstrip and take to the skies like any other small aircraft.

Minnesota's law, which takes effect Aug. 1, does not allow such vehicles to take off from public roadways; they must use official airstrips. But legislation like that in Minnesota and New Hampshire will help advance adoption of vehicles like the Switchblade, said Sam Bousfield, Switchblade designer and CEO of Samson Sky, adding, “this type of legislation gives more credibility to the vehicles.”

The company has presold 110 of the vehicles, with some 2,400 reservations already placed. Production is set to begin in the next 24 months, Bousfield said.

The development of small, flying car-type aircraft has also taken the form of electric vertical takeoff and landing — known as eVTOL in the aviation community. These small electric aircraft function much like a helicopter, and are able to land and take off from tight urban spaces. UrbanLink Air Mobility recently announced plans to launch small, electric commercial air taxis in Miami using eVTOL aircraft from Lilium, a German aviation company. Its aircraft seat six passengers and travel up to 100 miles.

The Switchblade, Bousfield pointed out, runs on standard unleaded gasoline and can fly longer distances than an electric air taxi.

“We feel there will be increasing interest in the Switchblade because we are able to fulfill people's wishes for a better regional travel experience,” he said via email. “In addition, eVTOLs are currently good for 15-30 minutes of travel time before recharging is required. While the Switchblade can go over 450 miles on a single tank of gas, and a flight speed of 160 mph.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.