Private Explorer, An Aerial RV, Goes Turbine

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photo by John Olafson

We first saw the Private Explorer back in 1999, when a copy turned up on the experimental flight line at Oshkosh, and recently we heard of a pair that are working their way across Canada, fitted out for cross-country travel with PT6 turbine engines and amphibious floats. The airplane's cabin is over 7 feet wide and tall enough to stand up in, and in the rear is a platform for a full-size bed. The interior is fitted out like a camper, complete with galley and a dining area, and screened windows that open wide for ventilation. For complete autonomy in the backcountry, the airplane also includes a toilet, shower, water pump, and heater. The fuel tanks hold up to 200 gallons for a range of up to 13 hours. The kit was designed by Dean Wilson, who also designed the Avid Flyer. Explorer Aeronautique, based in Quebec, sells the kits.

The price starts at about $118,000 for the basic kit, firewall back. An engine, propeller, instruments, floats, and interior fittings are extra. The company's owner, Bernard Laferriere, 56, was killed in April as he was flying home from Sun 'n Fun in an Ecoflyer, the pudgy-looking LSA that his company had been developing.