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Tue, Apr 04, 2023

Aerobatic Panther Kit Enjoyed the Sights at SNF 2023

Panther Team Readies Tandem Model

The low-wing, tailwheel, Panther showed up to Sun 'n Fun 2023 with the team in tow, letting their little speedster shine in the Florida sun.

The highly affordable, aerobatic-ready Panther provides buyers with no shortage of smiles per mile, containing the best aspects of a versatile but cost-effective homebuilt, with the high-speed performance of bigger, costlier aircraft.

The design got its start in typical aviation fashion when designer Dan Wesman began sketching out his ideal aircraft on the back of a napkin. He was looking for something mid-sized, roomy, a single seater kit with enough pizazz to play at some aerobatics after towing the plane to the field behind the family car. In the end, according to those in the know - that sketch didn't need much tidying up before building number one. "Initially, we thought we'd make maybe 30 or 40 airplanes, to break the ice," said Paul Salter, longtime member of the Panther team.  "Before you know it it's been 10 years and 160 some-odd kits sold." Right now, the Panther's build ratio is 3:1 - not too shabby for such a purpose-driven machine.

"Once we have the Cougar going, we should really see a lot of interest, it's about 5 to 1 in favor of 2 seats." Salter is definitely experienced in the homebuilt market - the 2nd seat is just as much a way to sell the plane to the spouse as it is a viable carriage setup. "Most of the time, the 2nd seat is just there to be available, most everybody flies solo most of the time. But having tandem seats gives you more options."

The Panther on display sports a Lycoming O-340, a snazzy red paint job, a small GRT Avionics panel, and 2-axis autopilot with a pretty nifty pricepoint - supposedly the team built the aircraft for "about $35,000' according to Salter. Most customers end up falling somewhere around there, too, depending on engines and avionics. "Building is pretty close to a quick-build, all the ribs bulkheads and channels are pre-formed, mostly match tooled, the spars are machined ready for assembly. Overall, we expect about 500 to 600 hours of build time."

FMI: www.flywithspa.com

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