Samson Switchblade fold-out flying car takes flight

Samson Switchblade Flying Car First Flight
The Switchblade transforms into a dual-seater aircraft, achieving speeds of up to 200 mph when airborne. Images courtesy Samson Sky

In the realm of innovative transportation, the Samson Sky Switchblade stands out as a revolutionary milestone. After a long journey of development spanning 14 years and rigorous testing, the Switchblade has finally taken to the skies. This hybrid of a car and airplane, certified airworthy by the FAA a year ago, has made its eagerly anticipated first flight, marking a new chapter in personal aviation.

The Switchblade is more than just an aircraft; it’s a street-legal three-wheeler that metamorphoses into a 200-mph (320-km/h) airplane at the touch of a button. This groundbreaking first flight occurred at the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington. During its inaugural journey, the Switchblade reached an altitude of 500 ft (150 m), circling around for approximately six minutes before landing.

Sam Bousfield, CEO of Samson Sky and the designer of the Switchblade, expressed his enthusiasm and pride in this achievement. “After 14 years of design and rigorous testing, our first flight is a huge milestone,” he said. “This puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we’re receiving.”

The market’s response to the Switchblade has been overwhelmingly positive, with Samson Sky receiving around 2,300 reservations from 57 different countries. This high demand underscores the public’s interest in a genuinely roadable aircraft. With an estimated starting price of US$170,000, the Switchblade is positioned as a premium yet accessible innovation in personal transportation.

Samson Switchblade Street Mode
The Switchblade in its compact street mode.

Interestingly, the three-wheel design of the Switchblade qualifies it as a motorcycle in many jurisdictions, simplifying the street accreditation process. The vehicle will be sold as an experimental/homebuilt aircraft, requiring owners to construct more than half of it themselves. However, Samson plans to facilitate this process through a Builder Assist Center, providing tools and supervision to complete the assembly within a week.

The Switchblade’s performance metrics are impressive. On the road, it can exceed speeds of 125 mph (200 km/h) with its wings and tail neatly tucked away. In flight mode, it can reach speeds up to 200 mph (322 km/h) and altitudes of 13,000 ft (400 m). It runs on a hybrid power system compatible with regular 91-octane pump gas and boasts a range of up to 500 miles (805 km) from a full 36-gallon (125 L) fuel tank.

Samson Switchblade Flying Car Transition
The Samson Sky Switchblade transitions from car to plane in just three minutes.

Transitioning from car to plane is an automated process, taking approximately three minutes for the tail to extend, unfurl, and the wings to swing out and lock into place. While Samson has yet to demonstrate this transformation in action, they have provided insights into the mechanism and conceptual renders.

The Switchblade isn’t a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft; it requires a minimum of 1,100 ft (335 m) of clear runway for takeoff. Consequently, users will need to plan trips around airports, as it’s not permitted to take off from regular streets. Nonetheless, it offers the convenience of being storable in a standard garage, eliminating the need for expensive hangar space.

Samson Switchblade Wings Folded
The tail section folds at the back, while the wings scissor in to stow under the cabin.

As for the production timeline, Samson has not provided a specific date. The data from the first flight will be instrumental in finalizing production engineering and constructing several production prototypes. Like the Klein Vision flying car, the Switchblade now joins the ranks of flying cars that have successfully demonstrated their capabilities in both car and airplane modes.

Source: Samson Sky