Malaysia's Funds Fuel Next-Gen GA

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It's doubtful many Malaysians have ever even heard of a Lancair Columbia 300, much less imagine themselves in the left seat. But there are literally millions of reasons that the Bend, Ore., company held a board of directors meeting there recently and let the country's prime minister take an hour-long hop in the plane. Investment from the South Pacific country is the financial underpinning of the planemaker and Lancair executives showcased the Columbia at the LIMA International Air and Maritime Show. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad stole the show when he took off in the 300 for what was supposed to be a brief flight over the airport. "Instead, he kept his entourage, dignitaries, members of the press and an entire nation waiting for well over an hour," said a Lancair press release. Dr. Mahathir, an avid pilot and aviation enthusiast, praised the "beautiful design and wonderful handling" of the aircraft. Investment by the government of Malaysia nine years ago enabled the kitplane maker to create a company to build certified Lancairs. The Lancair deal was a catalyst to launch Malaysia as a major investor in aircraft-related industries. The country also makes wing components for Airbus.