At the Grant Country International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, the Switchblade lifted off for an exhilarating first flight, reaching an altitude of 500 ft (150 m) and circling around to touch down some six minutes later.
"After 14 years of design and rigorous testing, our first flight is a huge milestone," stated Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky CEO and designer of the Switchblade. "This puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we're receiving."
Samson says it's taken some 2,300 reservations for the Switchblade, from 57 different countries, at an estimated starting price of US$170,000, highlighting the fact that there's definitely a market for a truly roadable aircraft. This three-wheel design qualifies as a motorcycle in many jurisdictions, vastly simplifying the street accreditation process.
It'll sell as an experimental/homebuilt aircraft, so you'll need to build more than half of it yourself – but Samson says it'll have a Builder Assist Center where you can do that in a week, with all the right tools and supervision on site.
The two-seat vehicle can manage speeds over 125 mph (200 km/h) in street mode, with its wings and tail folded out of the way. In flight mode, it'll get up to 200 mph (322 km/h) and 13,000 ft (400 m) of altitude, with a hybrid power system running on regular 91-octane pump gas delivering up to 500 miles (805 km) of range from a full 36-gallon (125 L) fuel tank.