'Experimenter' Mentality Alive And Well At OSH
by ANN Correspondent Jeremy King
Morgan Hunter just turned 25. He's an Embry Riddle student
majoring in professional aeronautics -- and since 2001, he earned
his Private ticket, as well as instrument and commercial
Most people the same age would be really happy with just that.
Most people Hunter's age, though, don't have a plane they helped
design and built sitting in the featured homebuilt area.
Hunter helped pioneer a whole new method of construction. It's
called "foldaplane," and it makes a radical departure from
conventional methods of building kit airplanes.
Instead of paying shipping costs for pre-formed composite parts,
builders receive a flat box of panels that fit together like a 3-D
puzzle and then can be formed into curving surfaces. It's a novel
concept and he learned it from one of the best, he said.
"I read an article by Steve Rahm about the foldaplane concept. I
loved the idea, and at the end of the article, I saw he lived on my
street..." Aviation truly is a small world. Two months later, Rome
had adopted Hunter as a protege, and they started work on the
"He saw a drive in me, and we started building the prototype,"
The cruiser features all-composite construction, a V-tail, and a
cockpit mimicking a fighter. The canopy hinges forward, and molded
side panels create a clean cockpit environment. Hunter says the
V-tail design has no hints of instability.
A 100-horsepower Chevy Corvair engine powers the prototype, but
the airplane is designed for 40-100-horsepower engines. Light sport
may be an option for builders.
"I've been flying with vortex generators, and we're trying to
get the stall speed down to allow sport pilots to fly the aircraft
It makes no change at high speed," Hunter said. "It's currently at
58 mph, but there are a lot of engines catered for that
application, like the Rotaxes, Revmasters and Jabiru."
Long story short, the Personal Cruiser took flight October 26,
2006. When he pushed the throttle forward for the test flight.
Hunter had 150 hours logged when he added test pilot to his resume.
"I love flying this. It's a point-where-you-want-to-go airplane,"
The Cruiser is capable of basic aerobatics, designed for +4.5 -
3 g at 1250 lbs.
Its other numbers are impressive. The Personal Cruiser weighs
750 lbs. empty, and has a useful load of 500 lbs.
With the 100 hp Corvair engine, economy cruise at 100 knots
Hunter has a little over 80 hours on the airplane, and it's still
not finished. Two aircraft are in progress; one nearing
"Once I got in the air, I just wanted to fly it. Now, I dread
having to put it down. It's just in primer now. It would take a
month and a half of work to get it finished out," Hunter said.
Hunter says the public response so far is great. People love the
simplicity, and the Corvair seems to have a cult following. People
build up the engines, then start looking for an airplane to drop
them into," Hunter said.
"I enjoy the grassroots level of homebuilding, where some
experimentation comes into play," he says. "So many of the planes
here are nearly factory-built. That's not what I'm after."