New Amphib: A Dream With Wings

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Every aviation event needs a few new dreamers who are putting it on the line to make the airplane of their imagination a reality, and at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, those dreamers were John Meekins, president of Privateer Industries, and his director of marketing, Frank Leventhal. The two turned up in the press tent with a model of their six-place, carbon-fiber, ducted-fan-powered airplane, and said they have a full-size prototype in the works back home in Seattle, Wash. They hope to fly it by the end of the year, they said. "This is a fully self-funded project so far," said Meekins, but he added that he's had some interest from investors.

"It lands like a taildragger in the water, to minimize the chance of flipping over in rough water, but it lands like a tricycle-gear airplane on land," Meekins said. Plus he is hoping that the floats will be able to land on snow as well as on the water. Meekins is working with William Husa, an aircraft engineer with extensive composite experience. He's not interested in offering kits or plans, but hopes to create a certified production aircraft. They plan to use a 600-hp Walter turbine engine. The aircraft will fly at about 195 knots, with a useful load of 2,000 pounds and an estimated range of about 1,000 miles. It has a wingspan of about 43 feet.