Last year, GNN reported on the Samson Switchblade, a street-legal car that had received its airworthiness certificate from the FAA, and was ready to begin testing.
Last week, a veteran pilot took the Switchblade up on its maiden flight; driving it to the airport, deploying its wings and tail, and taking off for a 6-minute flight 500 feet above the ground.
The highly-anticipated two-seater received 2,300 reservations from 57 countries and all 50 states in the US, and the news of the successful maiden flight will likely see that grow.
Here’s exactly how it works. It needs an airport runway to take off and a private pilot’s license to fly. It uses unleaded gasoline rather than leaded airplane fuel and needs three minutes to switch into flying mode.
The aircraft can then be flown to the airport nearest your destination at up to 200mph and within a range of 450 miles. It can reach altitudes of 13,000 feet supposedly. Once landed, it folds in its wings and tail and is small enough to be parked in a normal garage.
“Today is the culmination of many years of hard work and persistence to make the vision of a flying sports car a reality,” said Sam Bousfield, Samson Sky CEO and designer of the Switchblade. “This puts us on the path towards producing thousands of Switchblades to meet the large and enthusiastic demand we’re receiving.”
The Samson Team will use flight test data to finalize production engineering and build several production prototypes.
The Switchblade comes in two kit types, a $180k model that permits a pilot to operate in clear weather conditions, and a $200k version to fly under different weather conditions, including flying into clouds and with zero visibility.
All models are shipped in a kit format, and must be assembled by a professional.
Perhaps the closest competitor to the Switchblade is the AirCar, a Slovakian flying car that received its own airworthiness certificate.
“AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars,” its creator, Professor Stefan Klein, said last year. “It is official and the final confirmation of our ability to change mid-distance travel forever.”
WATCH it take off…
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66 years ago today, Hall of Famer Bill Russell registered the single-game record for most rebounds with 49 as the Boston Celtics beat the Philidelphia Warriors 111-89 at Boston Gardens. It was Russell’s second season with the Celtics, after starting the previous one in a dynasty featuring 5 future Hall of Famers. Against the Warriors he broke the record for corralling 40 rebounds which had never been done before, but he registered another 9 for good measure. READ what happened next… (1957)
Russell averaged 16.6 points per game and a league-record average of 22.7 rebounds per game, creating a sense that there was no player more talismanic to the team in the league, and it won him the MVP award that year. While the Celtics didn’t win the Finals that year, (some say because Russell picked up an injury in game 3) the next season Russell eclipsed these averages and they won the Championship at a canter after setting a record for regular season wins.
The season after that, Russell shattered his own rebound record by putting up 60 in a game against the Syracuse Nationals. To this day, Russell owns 3 of the top 4 personal rebound records in the NBA, while he and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players in NBA history with more than 20,000 career rebounds + the only ones to average more than 20 rebounds per game throughout their respective careers.
MORE Good News on this Date:
The vacuum tube was invented by English physicist John Ambrose Fleming, a key component of early radios–often considered the beginning of electronics (1904)
The US and the Soviet Union established formal diplomatic relations (1933)
LSD was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland (1938)
China released Wei Jingsheng, a prominent pro-democracy dissident, after detaining him for 18 years for “counterrevolutionary” activities—he was deported to the US where his foundation works to improve human rights and freedom in his homeland (1997)
Bill Clinton became the first serving U.S. President to visit Vietnam (2000)
Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement (2010)
And 35 years ago, Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to lead a Muslim state when she was elected the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the first open election there in more than a decade. A liberal and secularist, she also led the center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to victory in 1993 as a champion of democracy and women’s rights.
Following United States-brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections, emphasizing civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence, but during a political rally in 2007, she was assassinated by Islamist extremists. She wrote an autobiography, Daughter of Destiny, and before her death authored Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. (1988)
And, 49 years ago today, John Lennon hit No.1 with his catchy single Whatever Gets You Through The Night—his only number 1 solo tune in the U.S. Elton John sang harmony and played piano on the session, and while in the studio, he bet Lennon that the song would top the charts, with its energizing horn section. Such was Lennon’s skepticism that Elton secured from him a promise to appear on stage if the record hit number one. The Beatle, indeed, kept his side of the deal and appeared live with Elton at Madison Square Garden on November 28—and it was Lennon’s last major concert appearance.
According to This Day in Music, they played three songs together: I Saw Her Standing There, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and, of course, Whatever Gets You Through the Night. WATCH the original music video featuring John Lennon’s drawings animated by Yoko Ono… (1974)
78 years ago today, UNESCO was first formed to promote world peace by uniting countries through education, the arts, sciences, and culture. Fostering universal respect for all nations, UNESCO (which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has 193 member states sponsoring projects that improve literacy, provide technical training and education, advance science, and preserve regional and cultural history.
UNESCO’s claim to fame is its protection of landmarks that hold cultural or natural importance. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites are masterpieces of human creative genius and landmarks of nature. Designated as significant, with outstanding value to humanity, there have been 1,154 sites protected across 167 countries, so far. Italy is the country with the most sites chosen, 58 selected areas, and China closely follows with 56—all preserved for future generations.
UNESCO has also launched global movements, such as Education For All, to further advance its core objectives. (1945)
31 years ago today, the Hoxne Hoard was found in Suffolk. The Hoxne Hoard is the largest collection of late-Roman gold and silver found in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth centuries found anywhere within the Roman Empire. In 1993, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard, found by metal detectorist Eric Lawes, at £1.75 million (about £3.79 million in 2021).
Found in an oak chest, the coins of the hoard date it after CE 407, which coincides with the end of Britain as a Roman province. Cooperation between experienced private metal detectorists and archeologists resulted in the further excavation of the field in Suffolk where the hoard was found, and revealed hundreds of other Roman metal objects, mostly coins, but also box fittings, which are assumed to be part of the chest it was buried in.
A single post hole was found by archeologists, but otherwise no evidence of a structure of any kind was turned up—the post hole is assumed to have been a marker to remind where the chest was.
569 gold and 14,272 silver coins were found, struck in dies all across the empire, from northern Germany to eastern Turkey. The hoard also contained many pieces of golden jewelry, but which may have represented the “reserve” items rarely or never used from the collection of a wealthy woman or family.
Some of the most common types of jewelry are absent, such as brooches, pendants, and earrings. Items set with gems are notably missing, although they were very much in the taste of the day.
The discovery and excavation of the Hoxne Hoard improved the relationship between the archeological profession and the community of metal detectorists which is huge in Britain. Archeologists were pleased that Lawes reported the find promptly and largely undisturbed, allowing a professional excavation.
The Treasure Act 1996 is thought to have contributed to more hoards being made available to archeologists for study. The act changed the law so that the owner of the land and the person who finds the hoard have a strong stake in the value of the discovery. (1992)
Whilst excavating Roman-era baths in the Tuscan hills outside Siena, archaeologists have stumbled upon what is quite simply one of the most significant discoveries ever found in Italy.
24 bronze statues in perfect condition emerged, sometimes first with a hand, or with a head, from the mud around an area famous for thermal hot springs, along with a hoard of over 5,000 Roman coins in bronze, silver, and even gold.
The incredible statues, which haven’t even turned green with age thanks to the oxygenless environment of the mud, date to the Republican period of the 200s BCE, a time of great upheaval in Tuscany when the Romans were in the process of fully subsuming the Etruscan civilization of the Italian Peninsula which predated them.
The discovery site in the modern town of San Casiano dei Bagni, was once an Etruscan settlement, and the baths were used first by them and by the Romans afterwards until the century of their collapse 600 years later.
The lead excavator, Jacopo Tabolli, a historian at the University for Foreigners in Siena, spared no hyperbole in describing the find—starting by saying it would “rewrite history,” of the Peninsula.
He called it “without equal… the largest deposit of bronze statues of the Etruscan and Roman age ever discovered in Italy and one of the most significant in the whole Mediterranean,” adding that nearly all statuary art from this period is in terracotta.
The statues depict deities like Apollo and Hygieia, a Greek goddess of health first worshiped in Corinth.
The excellent state of the statues has also preserved inscriptions in the Etruscan language and Latin. Some are honors for the gods but there are also the names of important and powerful Etruscan families like the Velimna of Perugia, and the Marcni.
“There will be born a new museum, that will host the exceptional statues and an archeo-park; two new places that will, for the town, be a real motor of development and add an enthusiasm to young archaeologists around the world who will come to see and work here.”
Before they can return to the museum, the statues were taken to a preservation center in Grosseto.
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Kenyans have a new holiday on their working calendar—something like a Kenyan Arbor Day when citizens are encouraged to go plant two tree seedlings.
It’s part of the nation of 50 million’s plan to contribute to slowing global warming, and the seedlings will be provided to families for free from sponsored nurseries.
While many in the cities will simply be enjoying another day off, BBC and Africa News spoke with several residents who felt happy to contribute to both the macro and micro environmental destiny of Kenya.
“I have come to plant trees here, because our water levels have been diminishing. Even here at the river source, the levels are very low, trees have been cleared,” Mr. Stephen Chelulei told the BBC.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get out there and plant a tree because we got to take care of our environment,” said Michael Kisangi, CEO of Soul of Africa Tours and Travel, who spoke to Africa News.
Along with citizens, florists and tree nurseries have been celebrating for obvious reasons.
Tree cover in the country has been reduced through the decades to just 7% of what it was, and the Ministry of Environment hopes that by the end of the next 10 years, that can be increased by about 12%.
The Environment Minister Soipan Tuya told local Citizen TV the response had been “amazing” with 2 million signups so far on the new app that helps Kenyans to find places to plant the trees, and to ensure they are planting the correct species to the corresponding habitat.
Tuya is expecting double-digit million trees by the end of the rainy season in December, and 15 billion by 2032.
An egg-laying mammal named in honor of Sir David Attenborough has been rediscovered after it was thought extinct for more than 60 years.
This extremely strange animal is just one of two extant mammal species on Earth that lays eggs.
According to the conservation org Re:wild, it’s one of just five surviving species of monotreme, an ancient clade of egg-laying mammals found only in Australia and New Guinea, whose origins go back to the Jurassic era some 160 million years ago.
There are three long-beaked echidna species. One is critically endangered, but this one, Zaglossus attenboroughi, is known only from a single individual collected by a Dutch botanist during an expedition to the Cyclops Mountains in 1961.
“I was euphoric, the whole team was euphoric,” Dr. James Kempton told BBC News of the moment he spotted the Attenborough echidna in camera trap footage. “I’m not joking when I say it came down to the very last SD card that we looked at, from the very last camera that we collected, on the very last day of our expedition.”
It’s the stuff of dreams, and Kempton was able to telephone Sir David with the news, with the famous filmmaker saying he was “absolutely delighted.”
Lasting four weeks, the expedition included biologists from several universities from the UK and Czechia, Re:wild, and YAPPENDA, an Indonesian conservation-focused NGO.
The expedition was looking in some of the most remote rainforest on Earth in the northern highlands of the Indonesian half of New Guinea, and they also discovered a new frog species, several dozen new insects, and observed “healthy” populations of tree kangaroos as well as the most famous New Guinea residents: birds of paradise.
In fact, the team found so much life, and worked closely alongside the native community who play a game of ‘seek the echidna’ as a form of feud resolution, that all the members came down certain the area needed to be protected.
“One of the goals of YAPPENDA is to ensure the preservation of the Cyclops Mountains and their remarkable biodiversity,” said Malcolm Kobak, cofounder of YAPPENDA. “To see photos of this endemic species is both encouraging and inspiring. The [echidna] holds a special place in the traditions of the Indigenous inhabitants of the Cyclops and is emblematic of Cyclops’ conservation efforts.”
Re:wild was just one part of the expedition, but they’re getting used to this kind of good news and good press. Their “25 Most Wanted” initiative to document missing species has so far financed the rediscovery of 9 other animals from all the major orders around the world that have been presumed extinct.
These include Jackson’s climbing salamander, the silver-backed chevrotain, the Somali sengi, the velvet pitcher plant, Wallace’s giant bee, the Fernandina giant tortoise, Voeltzkow’s chameleon, the Pernambuco holly tree, and the Siera Leone crab.
WATCH the camera trap footage that set off the celebrations…
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6 years ago, Pakistani archeologists revealed to the world the finished excavations of the Bhamala Stupa, one of the oldest in the world, and a monumental work of the Buddhist faith that contains a depiction of Buddha sometimes described as “sleeping,” but he’s actually in Samadhi. The site has received UNESCO World Heritage status, and was discovered in the early 20th century, but excavations were halted in the 30s. READ more about this world treasure… (2017)
Located in the far north of Pakistan, the stupa is part of the overall Bhamala Stupa Complex which includes monastic quarters and other buildings. Many important statuary works have been uncovered there.
It’s dated to between the 2nd and 5th centuries CE, and is considered to be the final evolution of the stupa building style of the Gandhara civilization.
MORE Good News on this Date:
A new presidential republic was launched after Brazil‘s militaryoverthrew the emperor (1889)
The first assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva (1920)
The cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial was laid (1939)
A quarter million peaceful protesters rallied against the Vietnam War (1969)
Dire Straits became the first act to sell over three million copies of an album in the UK with Brothers in Arms, which contained five top 40 singles—Money for Nothing, So Far Away, Walk of Life, Brothers in Arms, and Your Latest Trick (1987)
Palestinian Independence Day is celebrated, commemorating the day the Palestinian National Council declared itself a state (1988)
The Space Shuttle Atlantis launched its first flight (1990)
Baseball players and owners agreed on a tougher steroids-testing policy (2005)
The Occupy Wall Street Project, Strike Debt, launched the Rolling Jubilee project to buy up Americans’ debt for pennies on the dollar through the “secondary debt market”, and in its first year has erased almost $15 million in anonymous personal debt (2012)
Happy 83rd Birthday to Sam Waterston, the stage and film actor noted for his performance in The Killing Fields(1984), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and for his role in Law & Order, which earned him both Golden Globe and SAG Awards.
He continued his quietly charismatic and unfailingly solid performances in HBO’s The Newsroom, and recently brought his distinctive comedy to the Netflix comedy alongside Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Martin Sheen, in Grace and Frankie. WATCH Martin Sheen, John Lithgow, Jane Fonda, Kelli O’Hara, and Meryl Streep pay (a virtual) tribute to Sam Waterston on his 80th birthday… (1940)
Also, on this day in 1988, the world’s first international fair trade certification was launched, uniting producers and labeling initiatives across Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand behind the Max Havelaar Foundation plan in the Netherlands. In 2017, ethical sales of global Fairtrade products rose by 8 percent to nearly $9.2 billion, generating more than $193 million for farmers and co-ops, with products in the U.S. like coffee, cocoa, and bananas seeing growth of 24%, 33%, 51%.
One of the most recognizable labels, Fairtrade International (and Fairtrade America), appears on more than 30,000 products sold in over 150 countries, helping improve the sustainability of their entire supply chain. There are currently more than 1.6 million farmers and workers in various certified organizations across 75 countries. The Fairtrade movement is particularly popular in the UK, where there are 500 Fairtrade towns, 118 universities, over 6,000 churches, and over 4,000 schools registered. The US now ranks as the third largest market for Fairtrade goods behind the United Kingdom and Germany.
And, 94 years ago today Ed Asner, the beloved actor who played Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s and 80s, was born. His notable roles included Santa Claus in the film Elf, and the voice of Carl in Pixar’s 2009 Oscar-winning Best Picture UP!
A longtime advocate for the developmentally disabled, Asner had a son with autism who earned a degree from the University of Connecticut. He celebrated his milestone birthday last year raising a lot of money for the new Ed Asner Family Center in Reseda, California, which is dedicated to promoting self-confidence in differently ‘abled’ individuals, and bringing balance and wellness to their families through arts and vocational enrichment and mental health services. “I want these kids to have that same opportunity and go beyond,” said Ed, whose son, Matt, has three children on the spectrum. Asner died in 2021. (1929)
And on this day in 1887, the artist Georgia O’Keeffe was born in a farmhouse in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. For her paintings of enlarged flowers, skyscrapers in New York, and New Mexico landscapes. she has been called the “Mother of American modernism.” SEE her paintings in a 3-minute video…
78 years ago today, Gabriela Mistral became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The poet, educator, and Chilean icon was also consequently the first Latin American woman, and the fifth woman overall, to claim the prize. Some central themes in her poems are nature, betrayal, love, a mother’s love, sorrow and recovery, travel, and Latin American identity as formed from a mixture of Native American and European influences.
Mistral had a meteoric rise through the complex politics surrounding the 20th-century Chilean education system, during which time she went from rural school teacher to the director of the most prestigious girl’s high school in the capital in just a few short years, despite being entirely autodidactic.
By the time she retired and received a pension in 1925, she had already published several books of poetry, including “Sonnets on Death” (Sonetos de la Muerte) “Desolation” (Desolación), and “Tenderness” (Ternura). She then traveled Europe, working in international relations, and lecturing at universities.
In Ternura Mistral attempts to prove that poetry that deals with the subjects of childhood, maternity, and nature can be done in highly aesthetic terms, and with a depth of feeling and understanding. Example… (1945)
There was this girl of wax; but she wasn’t made of wax, she was a sheaf of wheat standing in the threshing floor. But she was not a sheaf of wheat but a stiff sunflower