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Legend Built to be Fastest to New Heights

By Jack Dueck, Editor

Legend at sunrise
Legend at sunrise

Legend at sunrise
Wind Blast

Legend at sunrise
Legend C-GUTT in Flight

Legend at sunrise
Glasair 3 in Flight

Legend at sunrise
NXT under construction

In 1999 Shane Daly, an aeronautical engineering technologist, and Marty Abbott, an ex-Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-104 pilot, shared a vision of a dream performance aircraft.

Marty, a local attorney and businessman, wanted something a lot faster than what was available and familiar, and he liked the work Shane was doing. So the idea of a high performance, turbine powered, personal, amateur-built aircraft was born. A handshake agreement was made, Innovative Wings was incorporated, and the dream, Legend C-GUTT, was born.  

The Legend was powered by a Walter turbine rated at 660 shaft horsepower, continuous at sea level, and first flew in 2003. Marty was pleased but believed more horsepower would provide more flying enjoyment. On a trip to Texas to evaluate a larger power plant, Marty lost the engine on approach into Great Falls, Montana, and put C-GUTT down in a snow-covered field several miles short of the airport. The aircraft received substantial damage to the undercarriage and lower wing structure and was trailered back to the Calgary (Springbank) base for its rebuild.

In 2006 a new Legend C-GUTT, sporting a Garrett TPE 331-10 turbine, was again ready to fly. This new engine, rated at 1003 shaft horsepower, was what Marty was looking for. On the initial test run of the engine, the aircraft was moored to a pickup truck, chocked and held with its parking brake for the engine run-up. The wind blast is clearly apparent in the angle-of-attack needed by Shane to be kept from being swept away.

Legend C-GUTT, already famous in Calgary, made its international debut at the 2007 Sun ’n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida. The aircraft is nonpressurized but is equipped with oxygen. Marty can cruise at a solid 400 knots, and reports its climb at around 10,000 fpm. Just think, 3 minutes to 30,000 feet and Oshkosh in 4.5 hours. Today, it remains the most powerful propeller-driven custom-built aircraft.

The reputation of Innovative Wings was established, and additional high performance aircraft followed. Aircraft such as a Glasair III powered by an Allison 250, two Lancair 4P’s one powered by Walter and one by Garrett turbines, another Legend, and a variety of other projects including equipping an AirCam 100 with Aerocet floats.

Currently ten projects are underway in their modest hangar space, and overcrowding is the limiting factor. Shane points out that all of their projects have come from word of mouth by satisfied clients.

But Shane can hardly restrain his excitement about their latest project. Just this month, he was asked to travel to a shop in Reno, Nevada where an NXT is under construction. This aircraft is scheduled to come to Innovative Wings in March to undergo a complete firewall-forward redesign for fitting a one-of-a-type Garrett TPE 331-10 custom turbine that will produce 1200 shaft horsepower. This will be a left turning engine and will be fitted with a 5-blade 88-inch prop turning at up to 1200 rpm, specially built by MT Propeller.

The owner of this project is Nick Beck, a U.S. citizen living in Holland. The power plant is sponsored by Honeywell’s propulsion division, and the objective is to break both the existing time-to-climb and the speed records at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year. The pilot is scheduled to be Frank Versteegh of Red Bull Air Race fame.

The time schedule is extremely tight; the conversion is to be completed and flight tested by June 1, when it will leave for California to be painted. It should then show up at AirVenture 2010 for its record attempts. These are simply stated as: time-to-climb 3,000, 6,000, and 10,000 meters, and a level flight speed exceeding the Russian Bear’s 541 mph.

Innovative Wings, an exciting Calgary aviation company located at the Springbank Airport, is doing big and innovative things. The marquis says it well: “Building Aircraft Dreams.”

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