Vail inventors trying to change the travel industry | AspenTimes.com

Vail inventors trying to change the travel industry

Randy Wyrick
The Vail Daily
Aspen, CO Colorado

The Switchblade will get about 60 mpg as a motorcycle, and transform into a two-person airplane that will fly about 155 mph with a range of about 800 miles. Test flights could begin in about six months.

EDWARDS, Colo. – We were supposed to be living in the future by now with flying vehicles.

For part-time Vail resident Larry Moore and his partners, the future is now – or will be pretty soon. Moore and Sam Bousfield are creating the Switchblade, a flying motorcycle. They’re pretty excited about it.

“This is an evolutionary step in transportation. It’s not just a flying car. This is a getaway car,” said Bousfield, chief executive officer of Samson Motorworks.

It’s a three-wheeled motorcycle that will give speed limits a beating while it’s on the ground. It converts to a small airplane that can hold two people and some of their stuff – or will someday. The Snowbird model will handle a couple of pairs of skis, Bousfield said.

“Aside from its highly sensible applications, it is seriously cool-looking,” Moore said.

The Switchblade’s geek name is Multi-Mode-Vehicle.

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Moore said that as a motorcycle, the Switchblade will get about 63 mpg with almost no exhaust emissions, which is good. Flip a switch, and it transforms into a fully functional 155 mph aircraft, or will someday, which is better. It runs on regular gas. It does that right now.

“This means folks who live in the Vail area can now drive around town as usual but also turn their car into an airplane and fly to Denver or Aspen, as examples, in 45 minutes instead of an hour and a half of mountain driving,” Moore said.

The motorcycle prototype has been running about a year and outperformed a Jaguar XK-8, Bousfield said.

The airplane should be ready for its first test flights in about six months or so, Bousfield said. They’re finishing a flying prototype, and they’re running a radio-control model right now.

The first flight will likely be at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Anyone who has ever been a school child will recall Kitty Hawk as the site where the Wright brothers flew the world’s first heavier-than-air flying machine.

“It’s the same to us. It opens up a whole new world. It’s not just driving, and it’s not just flying. It combines them,” Bousfield said.

Bousfield and Moore said they love the Vail area. Bousfield said they want to put an assembly facility in this area.

“It’s a kit aircraft, and you can have a hand in its assembly. It’s another reason for people to come there,” Bousfield said.

All kinds of aircraft company executives are getting on board, Bousfield said.

“I have experienced the drive over the pass to Denver numerous times and can readily see the advantages and convenience this kind of vehicle could provide,” Moore said.

If you take off from here, it’s within range of Denver and Salt Lake. Los Angeles is one stop. So is Kansas City. To refuel, you can land it and motor to a gas station.

“Two hours of flying is about the average range. Most people are ready to take a break after that,” Bousfield said.

“It’s a comfortable and air conditioned in-your-face machine.”

The Samson Aircraft Company is based in Meadow Vista, Calif.

Bousfield is CEO, and the Switchblade is his brain child.

The Switchblade is a kit and costs between $60,000 and $87,000. The price goes up $9,280 if you get the cross-country instrument package, and $17,000 for the builder assist program.

rwyrick@vaildaily.com