Tom Houlihan –
Retired Architect / 6,000-Hour Pilot
My background in engineering and design made me realize what an incredible challenge Sam and his company were undertaking…The solutions have always been thoughtful, reasonable, and elegant.
My Flying Life In Four Phases –
Flying for me has in the past been driven by the demands of work. My flight experience has been in 3 phases. I grew up and lived in the Midwest until after college when my wife and I moved to Seattle. I began my career as a health care architect out of Seattle I regularly flew commercially to our clients in 28 states. This often meant departing on Monday and returning home on Friday after hitting several states. My children were born in Seattle and my 2-year old son told my visiting brother that I lived in the office. I realized that this was not a good perspective to raise children with. That was my first phase of flight.
My wife and I decided it was time to move home to the Midwest and that I would get a pilot’s license so I could continue to serve Midwest clients within a 500-mile radius and still be home every night. I flew 14 different planes that included everything from small single engine Cessnas and Pipers up to a twin turbo-prop Merlin. I logged over 6,000 hours bouncing around to over 150 clients in the Midwest. As a multi engine instrument pilot I was able to visit up to 3 clients a day and still be home for dinner with the kids.
That was my second phase of flight as a private pilot.
I did this for 12 years and was then recruited to join a large multi-national design firm. My children had grown and the spread of my clients with the new firm was throughout North America and Europe. I then returned to commercial air travel and racked up over 6,000,000 miles on the airlines over 20 years. I began to feel more like an airline contestant than a customer. I would plan a multi-city trip and the airlines would create all variety of obstacles to keep me from completing it.
As a platinum member of more than one airline they would sometimes go out of their way to accommodate me, but “the system” had more hitches than they had solutions. I longed for the days when I could just “kick the tires and light the fires” and go where I needed to.
I had covered all 50 states through my work but seldom had the chance to explore my destinations. I retired from my position with a reluctance to board a commercial airline unless absolutely necessary. Meanwhile, I had purchased a little sportster with the intent of seeing the states from the ground. I had had enough of meeting everyone else’s schedule and cancelations.
It was about that time that I stumbled across Sam Bousfield’s concept vehicle. My wife and I were getting in our little convertible and just heading off in a direction from our Midwest home. We didn’t have specific destinations planned and never made reservations for overnight stays. We would just see where the roads happened to take us each day. They took us boarder to boarder and coast to coast over the years. We had pretty much “boxed the compass” in our car and traveled to our children and siblings throughout the country.
These were great trips for us and we stumbled into many great experiences, friendships, and accommodations along the way. Through the years I had followed Samson Sky’s progress and always checked in with Sam and team at Oshkosh, as the Switchblade evolved. (This photo of me and my son Kevin was taken at the Samson Pavilion in 2019.)
My wife and I love to wander aimlessly and just see what’s around the bend or over the hill. The center of the Midwest is a beautiful place to live but if you want to see different geography you have to drive a couple of days in any direction before the terrain changes. I had thought of buying a small plane to shorten our escape to new country but I knew from my previous business travels that ground transportation on the other end could be a real hassle.
It was with that knowledge that the genius of Samson’s Switchblade became obvious. We could be in new territory in a couple of hours instead of days. If we looked down to something interesting along the way we could simply land and cruise on over to it. We could continue with our wonderful road trips where adventure beckoned and also have the view from the air where that vantage is best. What a wonderful idea the Switchblade is!
When Sam offered me the opportunity to join in his endeavor by becoming an early Switchblade Owner, I was elated. It drove me to get my currency back and medical up to date and to remember the challenge and joys of being a proficient pilot.
My background in engineering and design made me realize what an incredible challenge Sam and his company were undertaking. Many times I would question him on how he intended to accomplish some aspect of the project. The solutions have always been thoughtful, reasonable, and elegant.
So, I’m anxiously awaiting my fourth flying phase in an absolutely ingenious aircraft. Thanks to Sam and everyone at Samson Sky for letting me come along on this great adventure.
Tom Houlihan – Wisconsin, USA