Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

November 17, 2023

Switchblade roadable aircraft makes first flight

The Switchblade, billed as a “flying sportscar” by its manufacturer, took its first test flight on November 9 at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.

The three-wheel, two-seat Switchblade flew for about six minutes up to 500 feet, Samson Sky said in a press release. The company released a two-minute video showing test pilot Robert Moehle operating the aircraft, and performing a takeoff, cruise flight, and a landing. The video did not show how the vehicle’s wings or tail boom fold so that it can be driven like a car, but Samson Sky said that transition can be accomplished in about three minutes.

Samson Sky notes on its website that any licensed driver can operate it on the ground, but a private pilot certificate will be required to fly it.

The vehicle burns unleaded 91-octane automotive gasoline and is powered by a three-cylinder, 190-horsepower liquid-cooled engine. It will get 33 mpg on the ground and will burn 9.5 gph in the air. The range is expected to be 450 miles, with a maximum airspeed of 200 mph, a cruise speed of 160 mph, a takeoff distance of 1,100 feet, and a landing distance of 700 feet. On the ground, it can be driven at speeds of more than 125 mph.

The Switchblade will be sold as an experimental kit, with a builder assist program included in the purchase price. The “estimated” base price listed on the company website for a VFR model is $170,000. An IFR version is expected to cost an estimated $195,000. The company said it also expects to offer a $330,000 “special edition,” and a “limited edition” vehicle that will allow the customer to choose interior, carpeting, trim, enhanced sound system, a head-up display, security devices, and more. That will start at $770,000.

A mockup of the Switchblade was first unveiled at EAA AirVenture in 2008. The company has been a frequent exhibitor since, garnering attention and securing deposits with an early purchase program that allows future owners to purchase a vehicle at a discount and the promise of an early delivery position. The original design has undergone a few revisions, including a modified tail to provide greater control at slower airspeeds.

Jill W. Tallman, AOPA Technical Editor

Switchblade, Samson Sky, Skybrid, and Skybrid Technology are trademarks or registered marks, and are used with permission on these pages.

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