Vantage Jet Sees New Life

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The Vantage jet may fly after all. Two men have purchased the assets of the bankrupt VisionAire Corp. with the hope of bringing the defunct jet program back into full swing. Matt Eller and Joel Goodman paid $441,000 to a St. Louis bankruptcy court for the estimated $110 million worth of technology, engineering equipment, parts and avionics systems. The plane's mock-up, trailer and other computer equipment have already been moved to an office building in Ames, Iowa, where the partners hope to resume production. Ames was home for VisionAire’s original headquarters and factory. In November 1996, a prototype of the jet first flew, but never did meet FAA requirements. At the same time, the company built the jet-assembly plant in Ames and planned to create 150 jobs, but never moved in. In 2002, VisionAire was forced into involuntary bankruptcy after accruing debt totaling more than $35 million, including $317,000 owed to the city of Ames. Nevertheless, Eller and Goodman are confident they can make the Vantage a flying reality. A one time, VisionAire had 490 investors, including 160 in Iowa. There is no indication of how many of those have joined the new partners’ efforts.