After 14 years of development, The Hill reports that the so-called Switchblade is finally ready for takeoff after a Federal Aviation Administration inspection determined it’s safe to fly. Samson Sky CEO Sam Bousfield and his team have already begun high-speed taxiing testing ahead of the first flight, which is expected to happen in a matter of weeks.
“[The crew] took off their ‘I’m doing R&D’ and they put on their ‘I am flight test’ crew hat, and I think that really set the tone for everything after,” Bousfield said. “So, we’re in a different game now.”
The Switchblade’s appeal is obvious. With a 16.8-foot length and six-foot width in “ground mode,” the vehicle is compact enough to be stored in a garage and driven to a local airport, where the wings and tail are deployed in under three minutes to enter “flight mode.”
The Switchblade can then be flown at up to 200 mph and as high as 13,000 feet for up to 450 miles, with the 190-hp liquid-cooled three-cylinder powering the single propeller. On the ground, the Switchblade can achieve a brisk 125 mph, making it similar to “a little flying sports car,” Bousfield added.
Before production begins, the Switchblade has more regulatory hurdles that flying cars will need to overcome. Owners will need a pilot’s license and either a motorcycle or driver’s license to operate it in both flight and ground modes, plus car/motorcycle and aircraft insurance. But for now, the FAA flight approval has inspired Bousfield to keep charging ahead.
“The speed at which we do things is the biggest motivation for me. You start knocking down targets and really getting things done – it really fires up the team,” he said.
It will be at least a few more years before civilians are flying their own Switchblades, which are expected to cost around $170,000.
But anyone can join the 1,670 people who have reserved one free of charge. Just know that after the Swtichblade’s first public flight, a $2,000 deposit will be required to keep the reservation.