The last few weeks have been challenging, intense, and all around crazy.  We are an intense bunch, except for Travis – our amazing welder, who is the even keeled, reliable and steady workaholic of the bunch.  Don’t get me wrong – we all are workaholics, but Travis is Mr. Rock Steady.  Dan is always going from project to project, I am buried in paperwork, Patrick is constantly packing parts for someone and Paul is doing documentation and building his airframe.  Chris Smith has been up prepping more fuel tanks for production as well.

So – we all are working and things are happening like a whirlwind.  Which is good!  But crazy.  But good!  Since our last update a lot has happened – so this update is going to be in non-sequential order and we may miss something, but here we go…

The Bad…

Dan’s incident in N515XP:

Last Sunday (March 8th), Dan had a minor incident while flying N515XP.  He is 100% fine, not a scratch on him.

Here is a description of the incident, directly from Dan, that was released to builders earlier this week:

“The aircraft was pre-flighted for a local and found in air worth condition. There were 6 gal in left tank, 8 in right tank (2.5 hrs. endurance).  Startup, taxi, and run up were all normal.  I took off on runway 36.  Takeoff and initial climb were normal.  At approx. ½ runway, and 50-100 ft agl, I heard a tapping noise in bottom of aircraft which I believed was possibly the fuel pumps (there are 2, both were on) cavitating.  I slipped the aircraft heavily and made a landing straight ahead.  Just before touch down I secured all switches including master, ignition and fuel pumps.  Approx. 100 ft. into landing roll I encountered 2 patches of VERY soft “sand” and the main gear (tail dragger) “dug in”.The aircraft sustained minor damage to cowling, landing gear and wheel pants.  No injuries or property damage.  We waited to report to builders until the FAA had a chance to come by and take photos Wednesday morning.  No further FAA action is required and we will start getting N515XP back in the air ASAP.  It is on the FAA site, but says the nose gear collapsed.

We will take this opportunity inspect the entire airframe, and then to make repairs and a few upgrades.   Some options are production landing gear, wing rollers/guides, install standard fuel valve, and the standard Matco wheel and brakes (N515XP had Tracey O’Brian brakes).

As we make the repairs we will be looking into the “fuel “ pumps to determine for sure (if we can) what happened, and report back to the group.  We are fairly certain we understand what happened but want to verify and put out good information, not speculation!”

The guys simply pulled the wings out and trailered the plane back to the hanger to asses the damage.  (Gotta love the quick-remove wing option).

What does this mean – will you be at SNF?:

Of Course!  In booth N-032 just like last year!  The damage was minor, and should be fully repaired by then.  Repairs are already underway.  We will be there with N515XP and Paul’s airframe as well.  We will be announcing our annual gathering details shortly – so stay tuned!

The Good!

 We have fiberglass tips for days!  Just received a huge shipment and they all look very good.

Fiberglass Tips for Days!

Bob Woolley is closing in on his inspection:

Bob showed his Panther Sport version this Saturday at our local EAA chapter meeting and says he is only a few weeks away from his DAR inspection.  He has done a tremendous amount of work and is honing in on the last few days before the second Panther to take to the air is ready!  How exciting!!  Here are some photos I took at the EAA chapter meeting.   He will be installing his ground adjustable Whirlwind prop he purchased from us in the next few days.  Then he will do the weight and balance.

We are moving – if only a few hundred feet, but still

We have outgrown the area we are leasing now, and have been overflowing in a borrowed area for 4 months or more.  We will be moving our shop to another leased area just south a few bays from us now that will allow us to grow conservatively for the next couple of years.  It is only a couple hundred feet from us now within the same complex.  However the layout and extra size will accommodate us very well.  We should start moving things over in the next week or so.   We think we can get the majority of the move done over the weekend, so this should not hinder production too much.

 Shipping Update:

Our aggressive shipping schedule has been successful in delivering kits to many customers.  We have dialed in our process and are very happy with the results.  We are not saying it is perfect, but we are getting there.  Moving forward we will be able to move kits faster, safer, and easier for customers.  Our warehouse associate, Patrick Amble, does an excellent job ensuring the parts are packed safely for travel.  He may be slightly over zealous with the packing peanuts, but we are working on this.

The Panther Full Kit consists of one pallet and one crate.  In the pallet are the flat skins, and on top are boxes of parts.  The builder receives a cover letter describing each box he/she has received and a corresponding box number.  Then follows a shipping list for each box.  Each box is numbered to match the cover letter and has it’s own shipping list attached showing what is in each box.  The shipping list has a backordered field to show if any item is backordered and the qty.  This will make taking inventory of the Panther kit easier than ever for the builder.  Once the inventory is complete the builder can simply store the boxes he/she doesn’t need right away.  If a part is needed the builder can go to his master ship list, look at what box it is in and go to that box number.  Sounds great, right!  We think so.

Here is a Panther Kit pallet.

We have a dinged prototype to repair, a shop to move, kids are on spring break, documentation to wrap up, more kits to ship and a month until Sun ‘N Fun.

So the quote for this week is:

“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.”

Alfred A. Montapert

So, Team SPA is having breakfast for lunch and dinner as well, all week long!   All hands on deck and the only thing on the menu is….Elephant.

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