How much does a Switchblade cost?

Each Switchblade purchase includes: Engine, Transmission, Avionics and Interiors. The Samson Builder Assist Program is also included (at no extra charge, valued at $20,000 USD), where all Switchblade buyers will build their portion of their Switchblade in the Builder Assist Center, using a simple to learn manufacturing process that is mostly automated, and computer driven. This program is designed to allow the owner to complete their portion of the build in as little as one week. We also offer a Switchblade Maintenance Course (at no charge) so Switchblade owners will understand the maintenance requirements for their vehicle, as well as five hours of Transition Training to increase pilot skills in flying a Switchblade.

There are two versions from which to choose:

Switchblade VFR Kit – Estimated Price: $170,000 USD
VFR (Visual Flight Rules) are regulations which permit a pilot to operate in clear weather conditions, where the pilot can easily see the horizon.

Switchblade IFR Kit – Estimated Price:  $195,000 USD
IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) are regulations which authorize a pilot with the proper instrumentation and approval by air traffic controllers to fly under different weather conditions, including flying into clouds and with zero visibility.

How do I purchase one?

At this time, you may sign up for an early delivery position. Click here to reserve your Switchblade, and get a place in line for the future.

Does Samson have financing available?

Samson does not have financing options right now. We may in the future, and will announce that when and if it becomes available.

Will there be a way that I can move up in the delivery line?

Samson is likely to have some program enabling people to move up by filling empty slots in the delivery lineup. We will inform our customers of any news or updates on this. 

When was your First Flight and how did it go?

The Switchblade Flying Car made its First Flight on November 5 th , 2023.

Earlier tests consisting of being airborne several times for “hops” above the runway, culminated in the official First Flight at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, WA. The Switchblade flew to an altitude of 500 feet and remained airborne for nearly six minutes before lightly touching down, completing its successful maiden flight.

When do you expect to be in production?

We expect to have the Samson Builder Assist assembly line ready about 2 years after First Flight.

When would I be able to test drive/test fly a Switchblade? Where would that be?

You can visit our assembly center and do a test drive/fly at the center, or check our schedule for the traveling prototypes that will circulate around the US, introducing people to the Switchblade.

How is the Switchblade registered for both flying and driving? Will Samson assist me with the registration process?

For flight, the Switchblade will be registered as an Experimental Category aircraft. On the ground, it will be registered as a custom motorcycle or kit car, depending on where you live.

Samson will assist with the registration process to simplify this for our clients. Our staff have expertise in the registration process, both for flying in the U.S. under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and for driving in the 50 States. We also have some experience in several countries and will be adding to our expertise as we enter production, to better assist our purchasers from around the world.

Interesting fact: For the last 7 years in the U.S., more kit aircraft were built and licensed than certified (fully built) aircraft.

How will I insure my Switchblade?

We expect to have an insurance liaison at Samson who will assist purchasers with insurance matters.

Negotiations are currently underway with insurers who can provide both ground and air insurance. As there is currently no flying car insurance program, initially Switchblade drivers will need two policies: one for the air and a separate one for the ground. Due to the training included with our vehicles, and the safety features we are providing, we believe there will be a number of insurance options available to Switchblade owners. 

Where do the license plate and the “N” number go?

The number required by the FAA for Experimental Aircraft, called the N number, can be located on the side of the tail boom, which will be tucked out of sight on the ground. The motorcycle license plate for ground registration will be mounted on the back end of the tail boom.

Can I get custom options with my Switchblade?

There will be some options available, although the Switchblade comes fairly well equipped already. You can choose to upgrade to the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) avionics package. Other options include heated seats and a whole vehicle parachute.

Will Samson provide services or recommendations for places where I can have my Switchblade painted or vinyl wrapped?

Samson will provide recommendations and discounted pricing for our clients at several paint shops in the area, and perhaps may take the paint process in-house to keep up with the flow of kit completions. We anticipate quite a large completion rate, and most paint shops would not be able to keep up with that level of production.

Learning to fly

If I am not a pilot, can I still buy a Switchblade?

Yes, you may purchase a Switchblade, and can drive it anywhere you like. You may also use it for your flight training vehicle, saving a considerable amount of money while doing so. Learning to fly is part of the lifestyle of a Switchblade Owner. We think you will find that pilots are a very upbeat and ethical group, with a close sense of friendship for other pilots. It is a great way to meet friends and spend quality time.

What license(s) will be required?

Driving on the ground will require a motorcycle driver’s license, a driver’s license, or a driver’s license with a motorcycle addition depending on what state and country you live in. Click here for access to USA state-by-state regulations. To fly the Switchblade, you will need a Private Pilot Certificate. If you use your Switchblade for your training vehicle, the cost for flight training will be nearly cut in half. Flight training can also be done at your local flight school with their aircraft and the total cost will depend on how fast you learn and how intensively you train. When training in your own plane, a Private Pilot’s Certificate can be attained for a total cost of between $7,000 and $8,500 USD. If leasing a plane, the cost could be $11,000-$13,000.

How do I become a pilot?

You can train to become a Private Pilot if you are at least 17 years old and you read, speak, write and understand the English language. Training for a Private Pilot License has two parts: 1) Ground School, learning the theory and rules of flying, which can be done through an online course or at a flight school; 2) Flight instruction with a Certified Flight Instructor, which involves a minimum of 40 hours of actual flight time.

Can I do my pilot training in my Switchblade?

Yes, you can train in your Switchblade at any Samson flight school program. These programs will be available at Samson Regional Centers, where sales and service will also be provided. The first Centers will be in the U.S. but there are plans to expand internationally. Alternatively, we will provide you a list of recommended flight schools who have instructors qualified to train students in a Switchblade. If you train in your personal Switchblade, you can typically save about 40% of the cost of pilot training, as the biggest expense is leasing the aircraft you fly during your lessons.

How can I find a flight instructor who is qualified to teach me how to fly my Switchblade?

If you will not be training at a Samson flight school, we can provide you a list of other flight schools and flight instructors who are qualified to instruct students in flying the Switchblade.

How can existing pilots learn to fly the Switchblade?

For existing pilots, 5 hours of crossover flight training is included with a Switchblade purchase, enabling pilots to become familiar with the equipment and handling of their new Switchblade. Crossover training will be available at Samson Regional Centers and perhaps also at our Builder Assist Centers. Getting training in the type of aircraft you will be flying typically reduces insurance premiums.

For training purposes, can I get dual controls for my Switchblade?

The Switchblade can be purchased with dual controls, or a second set of controls can be purchased later or perhaps leased for a reasonable price.

Dual controls will be an extra option and we expect them to be widely used for pilot training. Additionally, we are selling internationally, so the Switchblade will be available in left or right-hand drive.

Safety features

Can the wings retract while in flight?

Two features act independently to prevent a wing retraction while flying. The first is that the air pressure pushes back on the wings, forcing the wings to remain extended. Secondly, an automatic locking mechanism keeps the wing-swing positively locked in the extended position when in flight.

Is it possible to forget one aspect of changing from car to aircraft and take off unprepared for flight?

The system is designed so that it is impossible to engage the propeller, which is required for flight, without the vehicle being in Flight Mode – with wings and tail’s vertical stabilizers deployed, and the flight instruments and engine computer being engaged.

Of course, there remains the visual inspection of readiness, which would always be done as part of a pre-flight by the pilot.

Would a minor collision on the ground render the vehicle non-airworthy?

The main wings are contained within the belly of the vehicle to keep them out of harm’s way while on the ground. An aluminum keel protects the wings from damage if the vehicle high-centers (when the wheels are raised off the ground and you’re unable to gain traction) or strikes bottom in some manner. Similarly, the tail is retracted in Drive Mode, keeping it from harm in a minor rear collision. High-speed impact can render any vehicle non-useable. If in doubt, consult an aircraft mechanic or a Samson Regional Service Center. 

How safe is the vehicle in a major accident?

Formula 1 racing cars are designed to keep a driver safe during impacts, by creating an inner safety cell surrounded by an expendable outer structure. That same technology is being used by Samson Sky to create a safety shell around the occupants to protect them from front and rear collisions. Side collision protection is also provided to produce perhaps one of the safest three-wheeled vehicles ever manufactured.

Won’t this flip over in a hard turn?

The proper design of a three-wheeled vehicle includes a workout to prevent overturning. Simply put, if you have significant weight high off the ground in a vehicle with closely spaced wheels, overturning is almost assured. The Switchblade is designed with wide wheel placement and a low center of gravity, so that the wheels will lose traction in most circumstances, producing a spin or ‘drift’, before the vehicle would overturn. Cornering has been tested to be similar to a typical automobile, with excellent braking to assist in overall control.

How do you see behind you?

Motorcycle laws require rear view mirrors. We are working with the US DOT (Department of Transportation) to be able to substitute a rear view camera/dash monitor that would serve the same function with less drag. Initial production versions may have aerodynamic mirrors, similar to automobiles.

How do you handle the change of lighting required?

When the vehicle is converted from Drive Mode to Flight Mode, and the wings are swung out, the wing tip navigation / strobe lights become exposed. There is a switch on the overhead console to turn them on and make them active. For landing purposes, the two outside fog lights are aimed slightly downward to act as landing lights in night operation.

Does the Switchblade have windshield wipers?

Yes, the vehicle will have a safety glass windshield and windshield wiper with spray windshield cleaner, like an automobile.

What keeps the wings retracted in hard cornering?

The wing actuator is connected to the wing at all times and is specifically designed so that while in Drive Mode, the wings are prevented from swinging out. Additionally, while driving, the wings will be safely stowed beneath clamshell doors in the belly of the vehicle.

What happens if the engine quits or you run out of gas while flying?

The Switchblade can be optionally equipped with a whole vehicle parachute recovery system, which provides an escape route found on only a few aircraft.

In addition, the glide ratio of 8:1 (the ratio of the distance forward to the distance downward) allows an element of control for emergency landings. Pilots are trained how to safely land an aircraft that has lost power, and in this case one can land on any roadway, grassy field, or other flat surface, in addition to the many airports available. 

Is a parachute landing survivable?

Statistics show overwhelming evidence of survivability for those who deploy their whole vehicle parachute at a suitable altitude. One exceptional feature of  Samson’s whole vehicle parachute option is that it consists of three parachutes, like the Apollo recovery space capsules! Having automobile suspension may also provide further cushioning to many landing scenarios.

Operation and Maintenance

What performance and speed can be expected?

The Switchblade has a power-to-weight ratio equivalent to that of a Corvette, so ground performance should be excellent. In Drive mode, estimated speed is over 125+ mph / 201+ km/h. Air speeds up to 190 mph / 305 km/h are anticipated, which will be verified by actual flight of our prototype. See Vehicle Specifications under the Models page.

How do you extend and retract the wings & tail when transitioning between flying and driving modes?

Performing the transition from Drive Mode to Flight Mode requires you to first make two independent actions. This avoids any possibility of accidental deployment of the wings and tail.  

When these two actions are complete, you will now enter Flight mode; the wings and tail will extend automatically, and throttle control is now shifted from the gas pedal to a hand throttle between the seats.

To convert the vehicle into Drive Mode, one must find a safe place to swing the wings and tail closed. With the vehicle stopped and the parking brake engaged, you push the Drive Mode button to initiate the change. The wings and tail unlock, and the actuator automatically pulls the wings closed inside clamshell doors, into the belly of the vehicle. The tail folds and retracts, automatically placing it inside the rear duct of the vehicle. At that time, throttle control is shifted by a computer from the hand throttle between the seats to the gas pedal.

This transition should be accomplished in under three minutes.

How does the engine shift from driving mode to flying mode?

In Drive Mode, the gas engine is connected to a generator that directs power to an electric motor that powers the wheels.

When you transition to Flight Mode, our proprietary Skybrid system automatically changes from wheel power to prop power, and the wheels are automatically disconnected after takeoff.

Are the controls different for flying vs. driving?

We plan to provide both ‘pilot’ and ‘driver’ with comfortable and familiar controls. A control wheel is provided that functions like an aircraft ‘yoke’ in the air and operates like a steering wheel on the ground. Driving is accomplished using a traditional gas pedal and brake pedal. Most drivers and pilots should feel right at home using the controls of a Switchblade.

How do you steer the Switchblade?

We have a control wheel (steering wheel), which you steer with while driving. In flying mode, steering is accomplished by the rudder pedals, as is done in most small aircraft. In flight the control wheel operates to control both the ailerons (on the wings) and the elevators (on the tail), just like a typical aircraft. 

How is braking accomplished?

High-performance racing brakes at all wheels provide superior stopping power, operated by a traditional automotive-style brake pedal.

Does throttle operation change from Drive Mode to Flight Mode?

Drive Mode: the gas pedal (right) and brake pedal (center) work just like a typical car. The gas pedal is throttle-by-wire (computer throttle modulation), as are many automobiles.
Flight Mode: the gas pedal (right) becomes the right rudder pedal. This pedal joins with a third pedal (far left) to function as our fly-by-wire rudder system (electrically driven controls), typically only found in high-end business jets. The throttle shifts to a thumb operated wheel on the center console. The brake pedal in the center remains the same in both Modes.

How are the tail controls handled?

There is no difference in how the Switchblade is flown compared to traditional aircraft. By pushing or pulling on the control wheel, the pilot controls the elevator to pitch the nose up or down. Rudder pedals are used to control the twin rudders on the tail to swing the nose left or right.

What instrumentation will be provided?

While subject to revision, we are planning to have a digital dash display for Drive mode, that will provide standard automotive gauges. For flight, this digital dash, which we call the Eyes Forward Display, will switch to show the most commonly used flight instruments in an easy-to-read format. Additional and more technical flight instruments, radios, and GPS moving map are located in the center console of the dash. As flight instruments are being updated at an increasingly rapid pace due to technology advancements, we will be launching production with the latest iterations and will update the package as more current gauges and instruments are brought to market.

What will takeoff be like?

Takeoff roll (the distance the plane travels before takeoff) is approximately 1,100 feet. Once ground speed approaches ~88 mph, the vehicle will begin to lift off by itself. This is similar to a B-52 bomber, which does not rotate* on takeoff. A slight pull-back on the wheel brings the vehicle upwards, followed by a climb of approximately 1,300 feet per minute.

*To rotate is to pull the nose up for takeoff.

How do you land the Switchblade?

The Switchblade is anticipated to land much like a high-performance prop plane or very light jet, like the Cirrus Vision Jet. You set the approach and just fly it on the runway. This is much safer because you don’t have to get very close to the speeds at which a plane is no longer capable of flight (stall speed), which is required for landing most other small aircraft. More detailed and up-to-date information will be included in the Pilot Operating Handbook after test flights have been completed.

The wings look small — what is the wing loading?

The wing loading is a measurement that tells us the weight of the plane relative to the total wing area. The Switchblade body is much wider than most comparable aircraft, so relative to the body, the wings look very small. The Switchblade is also a lifting body  (the design of the body generates lift by itself), and like the Space Shuttle, provides significant lift in addition to the wing. Our wing loading is higher than that of a trainer aircraft, used in training pilots, but lower than a typical high-performance aircraft:

Piper Cherokee 180: 15 lb / sf

Switchblade: 27 lb / sf

Lancair: 33 lb / sf

What engine is being used?

Since this vehicle has to meet certain smog requirements on the ground, using a strictly aircraft engine burning leaded fuel was out of the question. The Rotax aircraft engines available were not powerful enough for our use. After searching for several years, we found, modified and tested a 1L turbo-charged 3-cylinder engine that is liquid-cooled, and capable of meeting emissions requirements. The testing to date indicates that the engine is stronger than needed and is light enough to work in the Switchblade. 

The engine is modified for aircraft use and re-badged as a Samson 3 engine. It has the following redundant systems: charging, fuel pumps, and air intakes. Its features include throttle-by-wire, turbocharging, electronic ignition, fuel injection, counter-balanced crank shaft to reduce vibration, and integrated oil cooler. Even with the necessary modifications, it is less than half the cost of a comparable aircraft engine.

Why not use an aviation engine?

As a dual-purpose vehicle, the engine will be required to have emission controls that aircraft engines are not equipped with. Additionally, the unique demands of flying and driving make it desirable to have an engine that can perform well in both modes. Finally, most aircraft engines burn leaded aviation fuel which is becoming increasingly harder to find and more costly to buy. Since we can use a more modern engine design that does not require the use of leaded fuel, we felt it was a more responsible thing to do so.

What fuel is used?

Unleaded premium automotive gasoline will be used for flight, although the engine can be run in Drive Mode using regular unleaded automotive gasoline. The Switchblade will not require leaded aviation fuel, which is still used by most aircraft. This makes it more environmentally friendly and is part of what qualifies it as a Green vehicle. Additionally, auto gas is considerably less costly than aviation gas. In a Switchblade, you will have the convenience of fueling your vehicle at any gas station, as opposed to only being able to fuel at the airport.

How will the engine be maintained?

The Switchblade engine will have a maintenance schedule as part of the Owner’s Manual. Samson will provide an Engine Manual on the iPad that is included in the kit. This pdf format manual is for use by owners and mechanics wherever you drive/fly the Switchblade and is intended to provide sufficient information for a mechanic or owner to do maintenance on the engine. As part of our expansion plans, we will be training and certifying mechanics at the Samson Builder Assist Centers so that we increase the numbers of mechanics trained specifically for this engine.

We also plan on providing an engine swap program, where a new engine will be shipped out to you, while you ship your old engine back to the factory where major overhauls are more easily done. This should not be needed for many years, as our Time Between Overhauls (TBO) is estimated to be 1,300 hours or more of use.

Does the Switchblade have a transmission?

Samson is developing a hybrid electric drive system we call the Skybrid, as it has features only possible to use in a flying and driving vehicle. In this system, the internal combustion engine powers a combination starter/generator. The generator portion provides power to the wheels on the ground. The world is going electric, and future vehicle systems for autonomous flight and driving are moving from testing to proven systems. 

We are moving forward with our systems to be able to utilize these advanced systems when they are ready for commercial use, should our customers desire this type of vehicle control. Due to this, the Switchblade does not use a mechanical transmission. While no means of transmission is 100% dependable, it is a proven fact that electric motors are much more dependable and require much less maintenance than mechanical transmission components.

Who will maintain my vehicle?

Samson will provide a 1-day Switchblade maintenance class as part of the Samson Builder Assist program. This will give you hands-on experience practicing and becoming competent at basic maintenance actions for your vehicle. Each customer will work at their own pace and will complete the class once they have demonstrated that they can do the tasks.

This is intended to provide you with a level of confidence to perform these basic maintenance actions, should you choose to. The FAA does allow the Owner/Builder of Experimental Aircraft to do maintenance on the vehicle. 

Should you prefer to have repairs or maintenance done by a professional, a local Aircraft and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic can do work related to flight critical equipment. If the repairs are not flight critical, any mechanic can do the work (for example, the air conditioning system or windshield wipers).

Will Samson be able to recommend qualified mechanics to me?

We plan to provide training for mechanics at our Samson Builder Assist Centers and would have a section on the website to let our Owners know where they can go to receive maintenance from someone with special knowledge regarding the Switchblade.
Our plan is to put the Maintenance Manual on an iPad Mini that comes with the kit, which also contains the Pilot Operating Handbook and an Owner’s Manual. This way, wherever you are, the Maintenance Manual is with you, and available to a mechanic for review and direction including video and graphic content.

Design & Testing

What engineering and design have been done?

The Switchblade has been developed over the course of ten years of rigorous design and testing of actual components in the field. Full aerodynamic engineering and design has been done by DAR Corporation of Lawrence, Kansas. With today’s advanced aeronautical engineering technology, aircraft companies such as DAR can get within 10% of ‘actual’. To carry that one step further, we have accomplished two rounds of wind tunnel testing to validate the wings and tail design. The wind tunnel data can get within 3% of ‘actual’. Interior design included ergonomic studies, and actual testing with plywood mockups prior to carbon fiber bodies being made. Structural design was completed for the wings, tail and fuselage. The wing swing mechanism was designed and validated by testing on a jig as well as on the pre-production prototype. 

What testing has been done?

Significant testing was done to validate suitability of the engine for flight. Structural testing was done on wings, tail, tail boom, steering, flight controls and suspension, using the same test methods the FAA requires for Certified Aircraft*. Other testing included: ¼ scale radio-control model testing; wind tunnel testing at the University of Washington; acceleration, braking and road handling testing on different road surfaces and conditions; slalom testing using Road & Track’s slalom parameters; and testing different flight scenarios in the engineering-based flight simulator, X-Plane. We will be adding many hours of flight testing as progress is made towards production.
As a kit aircraft company, Samson is not required to do the extensive testing that is required for a Certified aircraft. However, we have gone well above and beyond, conducting extensive testing to these standards, to ensure that the Switchblade is the safest vehicle possible. The FAA refers to these required tests for Certified aircraft as Part 23 Standards.

*Certified aircraft are those that are fully manufactured on an FAA-approved assembly line and have gone through the many-year process of examination, testing and validation on both plane and build process.

What’s the importance of wind tunnel testing?

To further validate the aero engineering, we did wind tunnel testing – at the University of Washington in Seattle. Wind tunnel testing has been used for years by Boeing, Airbus, Cessna and others. We wanted to be absolutely certain of our flight qualities before our first test flight, so we did what those same larger companies do – we spent time in the wind tunnel with an exact scaled replica of the Switchblade.

The wind tunnel provides real world data, as it is actual flying of the vehicle in the controlled environment of the wind tunnel. The results of wind tunnel testing can get you within 3% of ‘actual’. What this means is, after wind tunnel testing we know within 3%, exactly how the Switchblade will fly. The last 3% is flushed out and handled during flight testing.

The true value of wind tunnel testing is gaining a greater understanding of the flight dynamics that your aircraft has, which was worth every penny of the $800+ per hour it cost us to do this testing. We used the highly respected Kirsten Wind Tunnel at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Our testing gave us the certainty we needed to go forward into construction of the flying prototype.

What about testing with the Ground Test Vehicle (GTV)?

Our Ground Test Vehicle is a three wheel, steel tube frame vehicle, built to fully test out ground handling and performance before committing the millions of dollars needed to engineer, build and assemble the carbon fiber flying prototype. It was made with the same dimensions as the flying prototype – wheelbase, weight, center of gravity, length and width, etc.
The GTV outperformed a Jaguar XK8 in acceleration testing. In slalom testing – with 8 cones 100 ft apart – we outperformed everything in our wheelbase, in Road & Track’s historical database.

What engine testing has been done?

The Samson 3-cylinder engine has been tested for harmonic vibration issues, compatibility with the propeller and transmission, and temperature control under loaded and unloaded conditions, in hot and cold environments. This engine has a multi-year history of recreational vehicle use in mostly wide-open throttle applications. For aircraft use, we have tested the engine specifically for the power demands that an aircraft requires.

Future engine development will mate Skybrid electric hybrid technology to the base engine for a new and unique flying car drive system, having capabilities only possible for a flying and driving vehicle.

How did you use the flight simulator X-Plane?

X-Plane is an engineering-based flight simulator, widely used in aircraft development and also in flight training. When you create an aircraft in the computer for the X-Plane simulator, it has to match the exact shape and specifications that it would be built to in the real world. As a result, if an aircraft won’t fly in real life, it won’t fly in X-Plane. The opposite is also true, as we discovered when we successfully flew the Switchblade for hundreds of hours, in different situations and settings. This validated what we had learned in both aeronautical engineering and in the wind tunnel. Short field takeoffs and landings, steep banking, time to cruising altitude, cross wind landings, etc. were tested over and over again with X-Plane, all with success.

Has the Switchblade flown?

The full-scale pre-production prototype is almost completed and then we will do flight testing. It has flown in the Aero Engineers’ computer programs, which gets within 10% of ‘actual’. The wind tunnel testing gives real world data, getting us within 3% of ‘actual’. We’ve validated this by flying it in the engineering based flight simulator, X-Plane. All of this has provided a great deal of confidence in the design. We expect to do only minor changes after flight testing.

Experimental aircraft & building

What is General Aviation (GA) ?

Aircraft and their use fall into different categories. The Switchblade is part of the overall General Aviation category. This is the category of planes, pilots, airports and rules that apply to privately-owned aircraft, private pilots, small airports and the regulations they follow in flying their planes whether flying for business or pleasure.

What is an Experimental Kit aircraft, and why the Switchblade will only be built at Samson Builder Assist Centers.

The Switchblade is an Experimental Category aircraft, which the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designates that the owner must build 51% of the vehicle.

Due to the specialized equipment required to build the Switchblade, all buyers will participate in the Switchblade Builder Assist Program, where they will do their portion of the building of the vehicle at a Samson Builder Assist Center – in as little as one week’s estimated time! No previous aircraft building experience, and no specialized skills, are required. This will be a very simple experience of learning to operate just a few automated and semi-automated parts making machines under the expert guidance of Samson Sky staff. Samson has shortened this process down for our owners using a manufacturing process that is mostly automated and computer-driven. Following this, Samson completes the assembly of your parts, helping to ensure quality and precision.

Experimental aircraft are typically where you find the latest advances in materials and technology, which can equate to higher performance and enjoyment. With the Builder Assist Program, Switchblade owners can enjoy both participating in building their vehicle and having it ready for use much faster than a ‘build-at-home’ kit aircraft.

How will the Samson Builder Assist Center be set up?

Your Switchblade Builder Assist Team will be waiting for you at the Center, where you will be trained to operate a simple parts manufacturing process that is  mostly automated and computer-driven. This makes your contribution to the completion of your vehicle an easy to learn and easy to accomplish task. No specialized skills are needed to build your portion of your Switchblade, and Samson staff will train you on each step as you move through the build stations. You will be able to finish making the parts for your vehicle in  as little as a week in a stress-free and friendly environment.

With the major vehicle parts now completed, you will then be trained  in completing a few pre-assembly steps in order to complete your 51% of the build as owner. After you are finished, the vehicle will go through the remaining assembly line stations, which will be completed by Switchblade technicians. These proud professionals will finish the assembly using quality control checkpoints and testing to validate the quality of the build. When all is done, you will be presented with a video of both your portion of the build, and the remaining steps completed, as a memento of your accomplishment.

What is the build time?

At the Samson Builder Assist Center, we estimate you will be able to complete your portion (51%) of building your Switchblade in as little as one week full time. Our pro build team will teach you at each parts-manufacturing station, allowing you to complete the making of your aircraft’s carbon fiber parts. After that, the trained technicians at Samson will do the remaining 49% of the build process until your Switchblade is ready to be picked up or shipped to your home. You get your fantastic flying sports car in addition to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When I build my Switchblade at your Builder Assist Center, will it qualify for the registration required by the FAA?

There is no reason why it would not. We have checked with two separate FAA oversight centers, who reviewed our plans for assembly and agreed that it would fall within the rules. An existing aircraft builder assist center is utilizing a very similar system for a tube-frame aircraft, which has been reviewed twice by the FAA and has passed both times. While our pro team will be working with you and directing you, you will be doing the required work, which will be documented and should fully qualify you as builder of record. 

When the build is finished at the Builder Assist Center, how will the registration occur?

The flight portion is the same as any other Experimental Aircraft, with a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) inspecting the plane and checking the build log to verify that the owner participated. Once that sign-off has been done, the owner is able to fly-off* the 40 preliminary flight hours in the vicinity of the home airport, as required by the FAA before doing cross country or passenger-carrying flight. An owner can also hire a Samson Test Pilot to fly-off the initial 40 hours, so that the owner can then fly it home. If the owner is not yet a pilot, he can still drive it home or ship it, and receive flight training in his Switchblade once there.

The ground portion of registration is handled by obtaining a temporary registration (which we would assist you to get), at a local DMV. That would allow you to drive the vehicle home and conduct the 40-hour fly-off at that location, if that is more convenient. Alternately, you can arrange for shipping the vehicle to your home and go through the registration process in your home city. It costs less than $1,000 to ship a vehicle to almost anywhere in the US. Several options exist for shipping overseas.

*Fly-off is the 40 hours of flight that is required of all Experimental Aircraft. These preliminary flight hours help ensure that all components are operating properly. After the 40 hours are completed, the pilot is cleared to fly cross country and with passengers.

What is the difference between a Certified aircraft and an Experimental Kit aircraft?

In the General Aviation world, there are aircraft manufacturers who produce Certified aircraft. Certified aircraft are those that are fully manufactured on an FAA-approved assembly line and have gone through the many-year process of examination, testing and validation on both plane and build process. Cessna, Piper and Cirrus are some well-known examples of these.

In the US General Aviation fleet of aircraft (think small business or personal aircraft) there are more Experimental aircraft built and registered each year than Certified aircraft. This is partly due to the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that building your own aircraft provides, partly due to the economic advantage in building your own aircraft, and also partly due to the fact that you can improve your aircraft over time, as Experimental aircraft can be updated at any time, while Certified aircraft are much more difficult and costly to upgrade.

There are many great Certified aircraft to choose from, and there are also great Experimental category aircraft that one can fly. We are working to ensure that the Switchblade is one of those great aircraft.

Using the Switchblade

Where can you fly the Switchblade?

Basically, you can fly the Switchblade the same places you can fly any other aircraft. We use the extensive airport system for takeoff and landing. In the US, most people live within 15 miles of a regional airport.

Can I take off from a neighborhood street, freeway or parking lot?

FAA rules prohibit any aircraft from taking off from private or public streets for non-emergency purposes.

Can I take off from my own land?

If you own sufficient land to construct a private runway, theoretically you could, with certain restrictions. For instance, per the current US regulations, you would need to fly at least 500 feet above any neighboring structure.

How high can the Switchblade fly?

The vehicle’s estimated operation ceiling is 13,000 feet above sea level. This may increase after flight test results are in.

Is the Switchblade street legal?

Absolutely. Because it is a 3-wheel vehicle, it will be licensed and registered as a motorcycle or autocycle in most US states. Regulations vary from country to country, so it is wise to check your country’s regulations before purchasing. Samson is researching the regulations for many countries and will post this information on our website in the future.

Can I drive this on the highway?

This is designed as a flying sports car, so yes – you can definitely drive it on any road, including roadways with fast speed limits. Our ground test vehicle has exceeded 100 mph / 161 km/h in testing, which should be ample speed for even the Autobahn.

Can the Switchblade be operated in and out of a controlled airport?

Yes, of course. Our standard instrument panel will allow flight to and from controlled airports (those that have an operating control tower, staffed by either Federal or privately-contracted air traffic controllers). The whole idea behind the Switchblade is to expand your horizons and capabilities.

Can I drive the Switchblade in a carpool lane?

Most states in the U.S. have regulations that allow motorcycles (which the Switchblade qualifies as) to travel in the carpool lane without stickers. Check your local regulations, but in most cases it should be allowed. In other countries, local regulations should be checked.

If I own a Switchblade, will I have to pay toll road fees?

Most toll roads collect toll from all vehicles, and while driving you would be subject to any tolls. With the Switchblade, you could fly past them in many cases.

Won’t there be traffic jams in the sky?

That is very unlikely, for 5 reasons:


  • Planes can fly at various altitudes and most smaller ones fly up to 13,000 ft, allowing a great deal of space between any planes that are in the air at the same time.
  • As trained pilots, everyone will be following the established safety rules and protocol.
  • In the US, there are over 1,000 times more cars on the road than aircraft in the sky. Per the US Department of Transportation statistics for 2020, there were over 276 million registered passenger vehicles but only 211,000 registered aircraft; 205,000+ were active General Aviation (GA) aircraft (private aircraft) and 6000+ were commercial airliners. 
  • Aircraft use the extensive system of airports, with smaller planes using primarily small or regional airports where the large commercial airliners don’t fly. There are also countless grass strips and private runways.
  • The skies are wide open. At any given time, around the entire world, there are only 10,000-16,000 commercial aircraft in the air at the same time.

What about eVTOLs and autonomous (unmanned) flying car concepts from Google, and Airbus?

While it’s encouraging that these global companies are getting involved in the flying car arena, we believe it is going to be many years before any of these can be used in any meaningful way.

  • They don’t have the battery technology needed to efficiently do what they’re planning.
  • There’s little to no infrastructure for what is being proposed.
  • Today’s regulations are nowhere near allowing this type of flight.  In short, be prepared to wait for it!

Will you have an LSA (Light Sport Aircraft) Switchblade in the future?

It may be possible, but we won’t know until extensive flight testing has been done. Currently, the Switchblade is too fast and too heavy to qualify for Light Sport Aircraft standards.

Limited Edition

What are the Limited Edition Switchblades?

Samson Sky will be offering a line of Limited Edition vehicles – fully built, with a unique custom designed interior for each client, and exterior features found only on these exclusive works of art. The Switchblade LE was first introduced in a Robb Report online article, featuring an in-depth interview with Switchblade inventor Sam Bousfield – Sept. 22, 2017. Robb Report  Editors then selected our Flying Sports Car to be in their coveted Ultimate Gift Guide, December 2017 Issue. 

How will these vehicles be priced?

Limited Edition vehicles start at $770,000 and offer an exclusive one-of-one design. The luxurious interiors will be individually designed and crafted  to satisfy each client’s personal style and desires. Working closely with the design team allows the client to choose from selections of fine materials or request even more exotic finishes, in order to create their ultimate expression.

In addition to the aesthetic, there may be safety, security or performance enhancements possible to provide that unique combination of looks and performance. In the end, the client will be able to don virtual reality goggles, to experience, view and approve the interior of their dreams. Our craftsmen will then begin bringing this creation to life.

If I’m not a pilot but want to learn?

Part of this LE ownership experience can include private flight training for you and your flying companion / co-pilot, if desired.

When may I reserve one?

We have not yet officially unveiled these vehicles, but you may express your interest and request to be notified prior to the public announcement. Visit our Limited Editions page for more on these one-of-one vehicles or to request advanced notification.