Kit Jet Readies For First Flight

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While the certification race for the very light jet market heats up, there continues to be interest in homebuilt jets. Aerocomp showed off its (six-foot-tall cabin) kit jet at Sun 'n Fun recently and now the people behind ViperJet claim to be within days of the first flight of their new offering. The ViperJet Mark II has four times the power of the original ViperJet and Viper Aircraft spokesman Dan Hanchette says the 3,000 pounds of thrust now available (from GE J-85/CJ610 engines) should push the two-place plane to 500 mph with a climb rate of 10,000 feet per minute. Test pilot Len Fox will apparently find out for sure in the next week or so. Hanchette said 20 kits have been sold and five are almost finished. The basic kit cost is $183,000 plus engine. The military surplus J-85s cost $25,000 to $45,000 depending on age and condition and the civilian version, the CJ610, costs more because it's certified. Build time is estimated at 2,500 to 3,500 hours.