Friday, March 27, 2015

Questair Venture: Kit planes will be built in Mississippi

The John Bell Williams Airport in Bolton and Raymond is now the home of the country's only manufacturer of the Questair Venture, a small, high-performance kit plane.

Meanwhile, a world record was set for the largest number of Questair Ventures in one place as owners of the tiny plane from all over the country gathered for a "fly-in" to celebrate the opening of the facility.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the airport on Friday, owners Dan Myers of Madison and Jim Cook of Clinton talked about the history of the planes and the future of the manufacturing facility.

"I showed him the airport, showed him Hinds Community College, showed him the school over here has the resources, the students, and it was a no-brainer for us to choose Hinds Community College to help us continue to build the airplanes and have the manufacturing facility here," Myers said. "The main reason was the kids, the students. We can give them hands-on training, and they can help us because it is an aluminum airplane and these guys need to learn things like how to buck rivets and get turned upside down in a plane."

Hinds County Economic Development Director Blake Wallace said the acquisition of the Questair facility is a big win for everyone.

"This is fantastic. This is a long time coming for John Bell. The smaller type industries like this are the ones we have targeted for this airport, so we're happy to have this here," Wallace said. "So this is a great day for Raymond, a great day for Hinds County and a great day for Hinds Community College."

Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher said the facility will bring in an industry that "really is a fascinating industry."

"It brings in a little different spin," he said. "They're small and fast and aerodynamic and sleek. They're the sports cars of the sky, and that's what make them neat to see as they fly by and at the speeds they go. So it's just something different, and it's innovative. And I think they're going to do well here."

Hinds County District 4 Supervisor Tony Greer said he's excited not only about the prospects for the county but about the airplanes themselves. He said the John Bell Williams Airport has been making great strides forward, most recently with a runway expansion to help accommodate larger planes and that the facility is a perfect addition.

"This is a huge day for the airport in Hinds County, and this is an asset that we have in Hinds County that's going to be more and more utilized," he said, adding that it's a lot of fun to see the planes at work. "I just saw this red aircraft over here, which is probably a million dollar plane, fly about 300 mph at about 100 feet off the ground, and that was exciting."

The Venture is a low-wing, all-metal monoplane licensed under the FAA's amateur-built category. Owners of the kit who want to fast-track the building, which can take up to four years, can go through the facility at J.B. Williams and have it done in about a year, Myers said.

"The person can come in and do hands-on training, and they help build their own airplane and get it built within probably one year," he said. "Then we'll do flight training, get them ready to fly it. But it's not an airplane for your first-time builder, and it's not an airplane for the low-time pilot."

The company will also support the more than 100 known Venture kit and plane owners with components, parts and technical support.

"We're passionate about this airplane and are excited to carry on its legacy that began when it was initially launched at Oshkosh in 1987," Cook said. "To continue the work of Venture creators Ed MacDonough and Jim Griswold, both well-respected in aviation, makes our mission all the more worthy."

"I go to Oshkosh. I've been there several years," said Mississippi Department of Transportation Aeronautics Director Tommy Booth. "To see these little planes up there year after year, and now to have them here in Mississippi, it's a great point of pride."

Story and photo:

No comments:

Post a Comment