Bird's eye view
WATCH | Tired of traffic? Switchblade flying car makes successful maiden flight
The three-wheeler has a 200km/h top speed on the road and can reach 322km/h in the air
The Samson Sky Switchblade is a road-legal three-wheeler which at a touch of button transforms into a 320km/h aeroplane. The contraption has taken off in its first recorded flight at the Grant Country International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, US.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pronounced it airworthy a year ago.
On its maiden flight the craft reached an altitude of 150m and circled around to touch down some six minutes later.
The flying car is 5.1m long in ground mode, increasing to 6.2m with the tail extended with an 8.2m wingspan.
It accommodates two passengers and with its wings tucked in under the chassis, it can reach speeds of over 200km/h in street mode and takes about three minutes to unfurl into a flyer.
In flight mode it will reach a claimed 322km/h.
Powered by a Samson 142kW three-cylinder engine, the Switchblade has a 125l fuel tank that delivers up to 724km of range at up to 13,000 feet (3,962m).
“Say goodbye to the worst of traffic. No more commuter delays, toll bridges or roads, or construction delays. Welcome to the future!” says one of the marketing blurbs.
It requires at least 335m of clear tarmac to take off, but owners will not be allowed to use public roads as a runway. You can park in a regular garage or anywhere else in public as it qualifies as a motorcycle in many jurisdictions. On the ground you will need either a vehicle or motorcycle licence. Some regulations vary from location to location but in the air you will need a private pilot licence.
Creator Sam Bousfield said some 2,300 reservations for the Switchblade from 57 countries have been made. The starting price for the base model is $170,000 (R3.1m) but you'll need to build more than half of it yourself. The company says it'll have a Builder Assist Centre with the right tools and supervision on site to help customers put it together within a week.
Vehicles for bespoke tastes or applications can be created, with elegant interior materials, hi-tech displays and security devices, or beefed-up landing gear and extra heating or cooling, dependent on climate and terrain usage.
Prices start from R6.1m for the Special Edition and about R14.1m for the Limited Edition. Samson says this flight test data will be used to finalise production engineering and build several production prototypes.