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Fri, Apr 25, 2003

First Flight: Ullman Panther

If Raining Cats and Dogs is Awesome, How About Flying Panthers!

There are two flights on the tricycle bird so far, testing handling qualities. "Nothing fancy at all," is how Chief Designer, Brian Ullman, describes the two flights. Brian's an aerospace engineer (he worked on the Raytheon Premier I, and later as a structural engineer at Boeing). Brian and his Dad (and Ullman Aircraft CEO), Bill Ullman, have been putting this program together for about six years. "Three years part-time, and the last three, full-time," said Brian. Now, it's flying.

The Panther came about because the Ullmans liked their 182, except for one thing. "Dad has a 182," Brian explained, "and it's great, except it's too slow... so, basically, the Panther is designed to be a fast 182." So, it's a four-place, versatile, simple, family machine -- a very popular spec; and it's going to be fast.

Up front there's a Lycoming IO-520 (300 hp), the same engine and prop as are found on a Cessna 210K, which should burn about 15 gph at cruise, which Brian designed to be 200 knots.

Build it yourself, for now.

"We're right now a kit plane company," Brian said, but all those years of aerospace engineering and working at two of Wichita's top companies weren't wasted. He still does the paperwork. He continued, "but the airplane has been designed and documented to be certified at some point." There is a whole lot to do, to get certified, of course. "At this point, we sure didn't want to do a drop test," Brain explained, "but we didn't want to start all over for certification; the analysis is done, and documented."

The construction is conventional, with some mild surprises: it's a steel tube truss up front, and aluminum monococque aft. Skin is all aluminum. There is some composite: the aft section of the tail cone, and probably the wheel pants, will be 'plastic.'

Bill Ullman is the test pilot. He's a former Air Force C-130 pilot. He said, after the two flights, that the new Panther is flying "exactly as expected."

Later, as the test program expands, the Ullmans promise we'll have some performance numbers for you. For now, you'll just have to trek on out to Newton (KS), and look up -- there may be a Panther overhead.



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