Samson Switchblade

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Samson Switchblade artists concept 2012.jpg
Artist's concept of the Samson Switchblade
Role Amateur-built roadable aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Samson Motorworks
First flight 14 July 2012 (1/4 scale model)
Introduction 2009 as a mock-up
Status Under development (2015)
Number built None (scale models only built)
Unit cost
US$95,000 (projected kit price, 2014)

The Samson Switchblade is an American amateur-built roadable aircraft, under development by Samson Motorworks of Meadow Vista, California. It was publicly introduced at AirVenture in 2009 in mock-up form. The aircraft is intended to be supplied as a kit for amateur construction initially and possibly as a complete ready-to-fly-aircraft in the future.[1][2][3]

The design effort is being led by Samson CEO Sam Bousfield, assisted by aeronautical design firm DAR Corp of Lawrence, Kansas. First flight of the full-sized aircraft was originally forecast in 2009 for 2010, but by July 2012 only a 1/4 scale model had been flown.[2][4] In February 2014 the design had passed through the final round of wind tunnel testing, and in March 2014 the first carbon fiber parts were made for the conforming flying prototype.[5]

By February 2016 the carbon fiber wings and folding mechanism had been prototyped.[6]

In February 2018 the company indicated it intended to fly a prototype before year end.[7]

Design and development[edit]

The Switchblade will be a three-wheeled motorcycle type vehicle with forward retracting wings. It features two-seats-in-side-by-side configuration in an enclosed cockpit with space for 50 lb (23 kg) of baggage, fixed tricycle landing gear and a single engine in pusher configuration as a ducted fan for flight that will also drive the rear wheels on the ground. Early designs included a canard surface.[1]

The aircraft is made from composites and its fuselage shape was inspired by Ferrari automotive designs. Its 26.9 ft (8.2 m) span wing has an area of 67 sq ft (6.2 m2) and fits slotted flaps. For ground use the wings fold forward under the aircraft's belly into a clamshell case that protects them from road debris. There is an impact absorbing steel structural keel. Due to differing angle of incidence requirements and the large rear road wheels, the nose will be raised 4° for take-off, eliminating the need to rotate the vehicle in aircraft mode. Standard engines available will be a 160 hp (119 kW) or 190 hp (142 kW) Motus Motorcycles powerplant and the 170 hp (127 kW) Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine.[1][8]

Initial production is focusing on development of a kit version for amateur construction, with factory builder assistance if desired. The company has indicated that a ready-to-fly light-sport aircraft model or a type certified model may be developed in the future.[2]

The vehicle will require a motorcycle or automobile driver's license to operate on the ground and a minimum of a private pilot license to fly.[9]

By July 2018 the company was redesigning the tail in preparation for a first flight by year end and claimed 667 orders for the design.[10]

Specifications (projected performance)[edit]

Data from Bayerl, AVweb and Samson[1][2][8]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: one passenger
  • Length: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m) in ground mode, 20.2 ft (6.2 m) in air mode
  • Wingspan: 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)
  • Wing area: 67 sq ft (6.2 m2)
  • Gross weight: 1,550 lb (703 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 16 U.S. gallons (61 L; 13 imp gal)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Suzuki Hayabusa four cylinder, liquid and air-cooled, four stroke aircraft engine, 170 hp (130 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 200 mph (322 km/h; 174 kn) in the air, 100 mph (161 km/h) on the ground
  • Cruise speed: 160 mph (257 km/h; 139 kn) in the air
  • Stall speed: 67 mph (108 km/h; 58 kn)
  • Range: 345 mi; 556 km (300 nmi)
  • Wing loading: 23 lb/sq ft (110 kg/m2)


  • 7″ Dynon Skyview
  • 10″ Dynon Skyview
  • Garmin AERA 550
  • Garmin GMA 340
  • Garmin SL30
  • Garmin GTX 330.


  1. ^ a b c d Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 118. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  2. ^ a b c d Grady, Mary (25 April 2009). ""Flying Motorcycle" Prototype Coming Soon, Company Says". AVweb. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  3. ^ Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, page 124. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  4. ^ Samson Motorworks (14 July 2012). "Switchblade Update". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Switchblade Update".
  6. ^ General Aviation News Staff. "Switchblade flying car development advances". General Aviation News. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  7. ^ Niles, Russ (26 February 2018). "Video: SamsonSky Switchblade". AVweb. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  8. ^ a b Samson Motorworks (2012). "Switchblade". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  9. ^ Samson Motorworks (2012). "Switchblade - Point-to-Point Transportation". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  10. ^ Niles, Russ (24 July 2018). "Switchblade Nears First Flight". AVweb. Retrieved 27 July 2018.

External links[edit]