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Fri, Dec 16, 2005

Pawnee Aviation's Chief Completes First Hover Tests

Kit-Copter May Be Offered To Customers Next Month

Aero-News has learned that McCook, NE-based Pawnee Aviation successfully completed the first hover test of its planned kit-built Chief helicopter this week, one of at least four flights the Chief completed. The results of the tests allow the company to lockdown final design details of the helicopter, and may even mean the company will be able to ship kits as early as January.

"We're real excited," Pawnee Aviation founder and CEO Ron Willocks told the McCook Gazette. "The hard work is done in hover."

The two-seat Chief features a converted Chevrolet racing V8 powerplant, derated to 306 hp. Offering such power sets the Chief apart from other kit-built helicopters, according to Pawnee, by offering a higher useful load and, especially, a higher service ceiling (10,000 ft MSL) and better performance at high density altitudes.

The helicopter features a 30' diameter carbon-composite rotor assembly, and can cruise at 85 mph.

With the successful completion of the test flights, Pawnee Aviation can invest in more tooling, according to the Gazette, to allow the company to begin producing as many as eight to 10 kits per month. The company aims for a first-year production total of 50 to 60 kits in 2006.

As many as 700 interested customers are already in Pawnee's database, said Willocks, adding that he is fielding phone calls from potential buyers. The company may also soon hire more employees, adding to the staff of five currently working on bringing the helicopter to market.



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