Flying sports car turns into plane in three minutes – but it doesn’t come cheap
A flying sports car that's been 14 years in the making has successfully carried out its maiden flight and thousands of people have already signed up to buy one of the futuristic vehicles.
Samson Sky's Switchblade, a three-wheel road-legal vehicle that transforms into an aircraft, lifted off for its first flight at the Grant County Airport in Washington last week. The vehicle took off smoothly under the cloudy skies and soared to an altitude of 500 feet.
It flew above the airport and its surrounding foothills for around six minutes before touching down safely. "The Switchblade handled great, I'm excited to be the first to fly it away from the ground," test pilot Robert Moehle said in a statement.
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Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky CEO, and designer of the Switchblade, added: "After 14 years of design and rigorous testing, our first flight is a huge milestone, this puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we’re receiving." Demand for the vehicle is already high, with more than 2,300 reservations made across all 50 states in the US as well as 57 countries.
A pilot's license is required to be able to fly the Switchblade, but Samson Sky claims they've also received reservations from non-pilots who plan on using it to learn to fly. With future owners around the world, the Switchblade's dashboard has been designed to be operated in either right-hand or left-hand drive.
It can reach a maximum driving speed of 125+mph and an estimated maximum flight speed of 190mph. With its power to transform from a car into a plane, owners will be able to drive the Switchblade from their garage to a nearby local airport, where it will swing its wings out and extend its tail in under three minutes ready to take off into the air.
The aircraft can fly for up to 500 miles before it needs refuelling and has unique hybrid electric system which uses unleaded petrol rather than leaded aviation fuel, meaning owners will be able to fill it up with fuel at any petrol station. The two-seated vehicle has room to store some smaller travel bags and upon landing it can be transformed back into driving mode — with the wings and tail safely stowed away ready for the drive home.
While it promises to save 65% of your travel time, there is one potential drawback — you have to build most of it yourself. Classed as an Experimental Category aircraft, owners are required to build 51% of the vehicle.
However the Samson Builder Assist Program is included in the cost and no special skills are needed. Samson Sky estimate it to take around a week to complete your portion of the building and insists their trained staff will be on hand to "educate, guide, and speed the build progress immensely."
Estimated costs range from $170,000 (£136,000) to $195,0000 (£152,000) depending on the type of Switchblade Kit you select and it currently costs $2,000 (£1,600) to reserve one of the vehicles. The Samson Sky team have said they'll use the data from the flight test to finalise production engineering and build several production prototypes.
Revealing how much the successful flight means to him, Sam added: "Today is the culmination of many years of hard work and persistence to make the vision of a flying sports car a reality. Someone asked me how it felt to see the Switchblade fly. I thought about it, and realized this is what it feels like when your dreams come true."
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