Road-legal flying car ‘switchblade’ takes its successful first flight and landing in Washington
Samson Sky’s Switchblade flies for 6 minutes
Samson Sky’s Switchblade, the hybrid-electric flying car that transforms into a road-legal vehicle in just under three minutes, took its successful maiden flight and landing in Washington State on November 9th, 2023. The road-legal flying car’s first flight took place at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, which is often used by Boeing and other aircraft makers for flight testing.
It was a cloudy day with calm winds, but Switchblade flew in the air to an altitude of 500 feet and landed safely after flying around the airport and foothills for nearly six minutes. Its successful first flight may assure its future owners that the road-legal flying car’s production is underway so they themselves can fly and drive it. So far, Switchblade has gathered around 2,300 reservations from 57 countries.
Images courtesy of Samson Sky
ROAD-LEGAL FLYING CAR WITH HYBRID ELECTRIC SYSTEM
For a quick technical review, Samson Sky’s Switchblade can achieve a maximum driving speed of up to 125 mph or 201 km/h, and an estimated maximum flight speed of 190 mph or 305 km/h. It comes equipped with a hybrid electric system that uses unleaded auto gas instead of leaded aviation fuel, so owners will be able to fuel up at any auto gas station. The road-legal flying car takes its design cues from a switchblade.
To realize the design concept, Samson Sky teamed up with DAR Corporation of Lawrence, Kansas, to complete the aeronautical design of the wings, tail, and fuselage. Switchblade was also tried out in two rounds of wind tunnel testing at the University of Washington’s Kirsten Wind Tunnel to validate its wing and tail design. In total, over nine patents have been issued or applied for in the U.S. and internationally for the road-legal flying car.
Samson Sky’s Switchblade, the road-legal flying car, takes its successful first flight and landing
It took Samson Sky and Switchblade 14 years of rigorous designing and testing before the road-legal flying car could take its maiden flight. The data gathered during its Washington debut will be used to finalize the production engineering and build several production prototypes. Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky’s CEO and the designer of the road-legal flying car, says that ‘this puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we’re receiving.’
The road-legal flying car was in the air for nearly 6 minutes
DESIGNING SWITCHBLADE BEFORE ITS SUCCESSFUL FIRST FLIGHT
Sam Bousfield shares the design process of Switchblade with designboom. ‘My initial approach was to ask the question, which layout is best for a vehicle that both drives and flies. Others typically have asked the question how do you make a car fly. I think that is why I came up with a different answer than most others have. That, and the business concept that people don’t buy mediocrity; they want high performance, drove Samson to adopt three main pillars for the project,’ he tells designboom.
The first pillar was to design an in-air and on-land vehicle for high performance in both modes. ‘The second pillar was to keep the price at a point where the vehicle could be widely adopted. The third pillar was to protect the flying surfaces in ground mode, as otherwise, people might be too afraid to use the vehicle on a normal basis, for fear of damage happening to the wings or tail without them knowing about it (tail bumped in a parking lot while you are in a restaurant),’ he continues explaining to designboom.
Switchblade’s first successful test flight and landing was manned by test pilot Robert Moehle
Sam Bousfield opens up to designboom that a good portion of the early design effort was ‘influenced by my visits to local Lamborghini and Ferrari dealers as I worked out how to incorporate into the Switchblade the emotion that these vehicles invoke without interfering with the aerodynamics and function of the vehicle,’ he adds. ‘The rest of the project has been mainly determination to succeed, building a team to work through the problems and to bring the concept into reality, and testing to prove the concept validity or tweak it if it came up short.’
The Samson Sky CEO, who began his career working as an architect before focusing on aircraft and automotive design, also says that the world has been waiting decades for flying cars. ‘We want to make them available to people at a reasonable price. It also needs to be a vehicle people can use for business, commuting, and recreation – however they wish to use it. These requirements have refined how we approach the vehicle design, especially now that we are into Production Engineering (how to make thousands of Switchblades),’ he tells designboom.
it took Samson Sky and Switchblade 14 years of rigorous designing and testing
Samson Sky’s Switchblade, the road-legal flying car, during its first flight
Samson Sky’s Switchblade, the road-legal flying car, in the air during its first flight
Switchblade landing after being in the air for nearly 6 minutes
Read more about Samson Sky’s Switchblade, the road-legal flying car, here