John McGinnis' grass-roots Synergy five-place efficient aircraft project has attracted critical attention as well as tens of thousands of donated dollars, and now a flying prototype may be coming to AirVenture 2013, but challenges remain. McGinnis told AVweb Thursday that his successful kickstarter.com campaign had attracted about $80,000 to the project. It was "a huge amount of money" that he interpreted as "a mandate from the public," he said. But it was also a small step for a project that McGinnis hopes to ultimately guide to certification. McGinnis is currently optimistic that his current pace could deliver to AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 a flying proof-of-concept prototype that will conclusively demonstrate the "stellar performance for this configuration." But there are many potential bottlenecks in the way.
"There's only about 4,000 things left that could derail the project (before it gets to Oshkosh)," McGinnis said, "but that's small relative to what we've been through." McGinnis says that if the aircraft isn't complete by the time Oshkosh comes around, "there really won't be much point in going." So far, public displays of the Synergy concept have generated public interest and support and McGinnis is grateful for that.
However, catering to that interest, which arrives as phone calls, emails and comments on the project's Facebook page, distracts McGinnis from actual work on the aircraft. And he is working with limited personnel. "It really is a double-edged sword," he says. McGinnis says he knows he's fortunate for the attention, but it does present challenges. The kickstarter.com campaign has added to the mix of actual progress on the aircraft and other work. "It's been attracting a lot of talent," says McGinnis. "We've had interest from MBAs from MIT and there's international interest." However, "Verbal enthusiasm is great, but ultimately we need people here, consistently, and getting their hands dirty."
The Synergy design combines several aerodynamic principles in an effort to create an aircraft that performs better across a broader performance envelope. McGinnis says he's very confident his design does that, but he and his supporters are waiting for a flying example to prove it. Click here for our April 13, 2012 podcast with McGinnis describing the aircraft.