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My First Alternative Engine Roundup

A truly great grassroots fly-in

By Gwen Maxwell, gsmaxwell@maxwellpropulsion.com

Arriving from the north
Arriving from the north. Gold Strike Hotel on the right, conveniently located near the airport. Pilots flying in will not have any ground transportation issues.

Every year for the past seven years, CONTACT! Magazine has hosted a fly-in event focusing on alternative engines. We do our best to have quality forums by inviting vendors and experimenters to present their products and/or accomplishments. In the past we’ve had notables such as Klaus Savier of Light Speed, Jess Meyers of Belted Air Power, Joe Horvath of Revmaster, Scott Casler of Hummel Engines. This past year we chose to go with somewhat of an all-Subaru theme and were able to entice the folks from Maxwell Propulsion Systems to join us. They gave an informative talk not just on their products but on Subarus in general. The following is a brief account of their experience with our growing event. We appreciate their attendance and are grateful for their professional attitude. They brought their “A” game and presented their program as if they were at a much larger venue. The people who took advantage of the familiarization flights being offered truly benefited. With this, I wish to extend an invitation to you to join us this year for the seventh annual Alternative Engine Roundup March 26-28 at the airport in Jean, Nevada. For more information visit www.ContactMagazine.com/roundup.html. - Pat

Last March Pat Panzera called me and asked if Maxwell Propulsion Systems could bring our Sportsman to CONTACT! Magazine’s Alternative Engine Roundup. To be honest, this was way down on my seemingly endless list of things to do. Among other things my left thumb and I had just had a run-in with a razor blade where the razor blade won. As a result, I was in a cast and not very functional. But Pat was persuasive and made some pretty strong arguments for wanting MPS to represent the Subaru piece of the alternative engine market. So, I approached our test pilot, Ephraim, with Pat’s suggestion. Any of you who know Ephraim know that my task was pretty simple. Ephraim simply lives, and loves, to fly! That easily the decision was made.

Bright and early Friday, March 27, N787MX (aka the Maxwell Dreamliner) was fueled and filled with snacks, materials for the forum, and the survival gear required for all cross-country sojourns. The weather in the greater Seattle area (we are based out of Arlington, Washington) was cooperating quite nicely with light tail winds. After a refueling stop in Medford, Oregon, 8.9 flight hours and 1,140 miles later, we arrived at the tiny albeit very hospitable Jean, Nevada, airport (0L7). The normally aspirated 165-hp system burned an average of 7.6 gph at 115 knots.

Facilities at Jean
The facilities at Jean are very accommodating with air conditioning, real bathrooms with real showers (for those electing to camp on the grass), and a kitchen with outside barbecue. Forums are held Saturday, inside, away from the noise, while those interested in looking at or flying planes are free to do so.

The Saturday forums were broad-based, informative, and well-attended. I personally appreciated having an audience dedicated to the true spirit of experimental aviation - the alternative powerplant enthusiasts. Their questions were good, their interest genuine, and with luck, perhaps I can help some of them get flying behind a Subaru! Our caterer, aka Pat Panzera and his able-bodied compatriots, did an amazing job organizing the agenda, venue, and food, including a continental breakfast, pizza lunch, and sirloin tip and roasted chicken dinner. Burgers were on the published menu, but the surprise upgrade was welcomed. Having been responsible for similar events, I know how much energy it takes to organize them, so it was, in my humble opinion, a hats-off event.

Jean Sport Aviation Center
A view of the Jean Sport Aviation Center from the outside.

Sunday morning found us back in N787MX. Alas, on this 1,177-mile return trip the weather was not quite so accommodating. We encountered head winds of 50-plus knots, dropping our average groundspeed considerably. Refueling in Reno was certainly an interesting event. We encountered low ceilings north of Grants Pass, Oregon, and returned to the Grants Pass airport for refueling. The weather eventually cleared and we were on our way again, with incredible head winds once more. Nevertheless, in addition to time passing, the miles passed as well. Finally, 10.5 hours of flying brought us back to KAWO - tired and glad to be on home turf once again. We toasted to one very successful trip, and I can now say I have flown in a small aircraft on a serious cross-country!

Maxwell Dreamliner
The Maxwell Dreamliner

Addendum: the cross-country story gets better. A month later Ephraim and I left Arlington for the Alaska Airmen’s Association’s trade show in Anchorage. Total round-trip flight time was 38 hours. The day after we returned I told Dominic and Craig, “We have to finish the turbo!” Being guys, they sort of listened to me, but rather than a turbo, MPS is now offering a 195-plus hp, normally aspirated engine package. This is the system we flew to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009.

Ephraim Carter and Gwen Maxwell
Ephraim Carter and Gwen Maxwell in front of the MPS Dreamliner at the 6th annual Alternative Engine Roundup. Photo: Rick Lindstrom

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