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Tue, Jun 20, 2006

Radial Rebel Raring To Roar At AIRRRRRVenture

If Murphy's Latest Doesn't Make You Grin...

Is it a Baby Beaver? A Nano-Norseman? No, the plane that shares that ruggedly Canadian heritage, stout construction, and round-engine attitude is a Radial Rebel -- the latest bit of sky candy from the confectioners at Chilliwack, BC's Murphy Aircraft Mfg. Ltd.

It's nothing but the proven and popular Murphy Rebel 2-seat bush plane repowered with the proven and popular Rotec 2800, a 110-hp, seven-cylinder radial engine from Australia, which is the first commercially successful new radial engine introduced in over 50 years.

Murphy defines the Rebel as, "A fun flying, two seat STOL aircraft capable of operating from wheels, floats or skis featuring all metal construction, pre-formed and pre-punched parts making for easy, straightforward construction."

Murphy has hinted at such a plane in the past, in response to a tidal wave of customer interest. The engine that is an intergenerational blend of 1930s concept and ultramodern CNC manufacturing has been winning adherents on the North American side of the Pacific, and Murphy's customers are perfectly in tune with that ethic of classic visual appeal wedded to modern performance and reliability. 

Indeed, the photos here are from 2004; the bare engine on a bare fuselage from the springtime (Aero-News file photos) and the cowled, nearly complete Radial Rebel in front of the mighty Moose for scale from AirVenture 2004 (Murphy's photos). We begged for a picture of the complete plane, but they told us that they won't give up its secret new paint job till AirVenture. Hmmmm... sounds like a challenge for our News-Spies.

Despite the plane's brute-strength visual appeal, the engine doesn't alter the Rebel's performance when compared to the usual Rebel engines, the Lycoming O-235 and the Rotax 912-series. It's in about the same weight and horsepower class as the O-235. "It's basically a visual upgrade for classic airplane lovers," designer Darryl Murphy admits.

If you love the style of the mighty Murphy Moose in it's radial (360 HP M-14P) configuration, but don't need its staggering load-carrying ability (or want to deal with its equally prodigious fuel burn), the Radial Rebel, which looks like a Moose calf or maybe yearling, is your ticket.

"Now customers can have that 'Moose look' in a smaller, more-affordable airplane," Murphy said in a company statement.

Like all Murphy bush aircraft, including the new Yukon, the Radial Rebel is built from riveted sheet aluminum and offered as a 51% compliant kit. Like the O-235 and Rotax powered Rebels, it should be legal for American pilots to fly on a Sport Pilot license or using Sport Pilot privileges.

All previous Murphy designs have offered some advantage in performance, construction, or something, over previous ones. Why offer a plane which differs only in style from the current line-up?

The customers made him do it, Murphy explains. "So many customers inquired about this engine that I simply had to offer it as an option. If a builder wants that classic radial look, he will have a factory-developed design, with the installation and flight testing proven by the factory."

Some customers had already been retrofitting Rotec R2800s to Rebels, even as the company was studying the installation. But they didn't have Darryl Murphy's intimate knowledge of the design, experience, or talented engineering and R&D staff and consultants. Like many designers, Darryl Murphy encourages builders to stick close to the kit instructions for the best chance of successful completion. "It's no fun as a kit builder, to have to design a major system," Murphy says. "That's my job."

"Additionally, I'm always concerned that our customers get good results, and if we design it, we can be confident offering it." If some builder botches an amateur engine installation, his tale of woe might be perceived, however unfairly, as reflecting on Murphy Aircraft.

You can see the Radial Rebel, and it's slick new paint job, Darryl Murphy promises, at Airventure in Oshkosh in -- yikes! -- next month. The company is already handling customer orders for the Radial Rebel kit.

FMI: www.murphyair.com, www.rotecradialengines.com

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