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Roadable Innovator is Airplane First

Commuter Craft is looking to make its Innovator a good flying airplane first, before work begins on its roadable features.

By Randy Dufault

  • Roadable Innovator is airplane first
    Commuter Craft is looking to make its Innovator a good flying airplane first, before work begins on its roadable features.
July 25, 2015 - Long ago the idea of an aircraft capable of transporting itself to and from the closest runway got Richard Hogan excited. And for too long he watched others try, and ultimately fail, to bring the concept to reality.

Hogan had his own ideas about how to solve the problem.

“Originally this was a project that I did conceptually when I was younger,” Hogan said. “We started looking at it seriously in 2001 and built some models. By 2008 we decided that this is the combination that gives us the type of performance characteristics we wanted.”

Ship One, the prototype Commuter Craft Innovator that is on display here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, is a three-lifting-surface airplane with a spacious two-person cockpit. Hogan expects to first fly the craft shortly after it returns to the company’s home in Georgia.

While driving to and from the airport is important, that characteristic was not Hogan’s entire reason for taking on the development effort.

“Ultimately, a lot of what was driving this was to bring new people into aviation,” Hogan said. No pun intended.

“[Inside the aviation community] we all kind of think, ‘Oh, another flying car,’” Hogan added. “‘Here we go.’

“But outside of the aviation world people are still very fascinated with the idea of being able to drive and fly.

“Part of what we think we did right was that we never thought of it as a flying car. We always thought of it as a roadable aircraft. First and foremost it had to be a really good aircraft.”

With his design Hogan hopes to have a novice-friendly airplane with good slow flying characteristics. Yet, depending on the chosen powerplant, the craft’s speed could top out at 200 mph.

Versions with and without folding wings are planned, as is a version that is light-sport compliant. Engines from 110 hp to 200 hp give owners and builders a wide variety of performance and economy options.

Once the wings are folded the Innovator travels down the road using electric motors embedded in the main gear wheel hubs. Batteries powering the motors will charge either from ground-based power or the aircraft engine. The vehicle is 8 feet wide with the wings folded and should fit into a typical parking space.

Hogan knew, too, that the craft had to have appeal that extended outside of the current pilot population.

He believes that he succeeded.

“We knew that we wanted it to be an attractive airplane,” Hogan said. “It has to look new and fresh.

“What we didn’t anticipate was that one of my friends said, ‘My wife loves this airplane.’ I said well that’s great! But then he said, ‘You don’t understand. My wife has never told me she loved an airplane in 30 years of marriage!’

“We’ve done something to make people look at [this airplane] differently than other airplanes.”

Construction of a second prototype will commence once the flight-test program is underway. Ship One is equipped with fixed wings; however, Ship Two will add folding mechanics.

Kit deliveries are expected to begin before AirVenture 2016. Builders will begin assembly of their Innovators through a mandatory factory builder’s assistance program.

 

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