The Switchblade body was assembled inside what we called ‘the cocoon’, which is a fixture or jig that keeps the skins in perfect position during the bonding process. This has been ongoing for over two weeks, and you may have been following the process. There is a moment of truth that happens, and it begins with removing the cocoon and seeing the assembled body for the first time. The top half of the cocoon was lifted off with a fork lift (above). Then the talented assembly team from Composite Approach in Bend, Oregon, removed the bondo that held the bottom part of the body in place in the cocoon (below).
There were some portions of the assembly jig that had to be trimmed before the body would come out of the lower part of the cocoon (above). It was a tight fit – on purpose – so that the body panels were accurately held in position. Once the body was free, it was lifted out and put on a stand so we could look it over, and for further work (below). Remember that this will have another six feet added to it with the nose, and the rear end that houses the propeller and engine.
There is trimming to do in the area of the front windshield and the front hatch, which is evident in the image below. The shape is exactly what we expected. We have yet to weigh the body, and we are really looking forward to that!
Above, lead Composite Approach builder, Mike, and Sam discuss the remaining body work to be done. This material is carbon fiber, with honeycomb core in most large panels and the floor. Where bolts are required for fastening components to the carbon fiber, the honeycomb will be opened up and filled with solid material.
Below the assembly team takes a break to pose in front of the cabin body. Pictured (left to right) are Sam from Samson Sky, and Mike, Devin , and John from Composite Approach.