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First flight

"Flying sportscar" takes off

The Switchblade, billed as a “flying sportscar” by its manufacturer, took its first test flight at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.

The three-wheel, two-seat Switchblade flew for about six minutes up to 500 feet. Samson Sky, the parent company, released a two-minute video showing test pilot Robert Moehle operating the aircraft, and performing a takeoff, cruise flight, and a landing. The vehicle’s wings or tail boom fold so that it can be driven like a car; that transition can be accomplished in about three minutes.

Any licensed driver can operate the Switchblade on the ground, but a private pilot certificate will be required to fly it. The vehicle burns unleaded 91-octane automotive gasoline and is powered by a three-cylinder, 190-horsepower liquid-cooled engine. It will get 33 mpg on the ground and will burn 9.5 gph in the air. The range is expected to be 450 miles, with a maximum airspeed of 200 mph, a cruise speed of 160 mph, a takeoff distance of 1,100 feet, and a landing distance of 700 feet. It can be driven at speeds of more than 125 mph.

The Switchblade will be sold as an experimental kit, with a builder assist program included in the purchase price. The “estimated” base price for a VFR model is $170,000. An IFR version is expected to cost an estimated $195,000. The company said it also expects to offer a $330,000 “special edition,” and a “limited edition” vehicle that will allow the customer to choose interior, carpeting, trim, enhanced sound system, a head-up display, security devices, and more. That will start at $770,000.

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