Privateer amphib debuts


A few years ago, John Meekins decided he wanted a seaplane. An industrial real estate developer who lives on a lake in the Seattle area, he didn’t want to have to drive to the airport to fly his plane. He tried out a Lake and a Seawind, but found they just weren’t right for him.

“I spent three years doodling, trying to figure out how to lower the center of gravity, which is the fault of all seaplanes,” he said.

From that “doodling” emerged the Privateer, an amphibian he developed with the help of aerospace engineer William Husa, who has worked on everything from the Space Shuttle to kit airplanes.

Placing the center of gravity as low as possible minimizes the chance of flipping over in rough water, he said. The design also allows the low-wing amphib to land like a taildragger in the water and a tricycle gear on land, Meekins said.

The carbon fiber, six-place aircraft includes a ducted fan design, which is designed to increase efficiency and make the “already quiet turbine even quieter,” added Frank Leventhal, director of sales. Powerplant is a 600-hp turboprop Walter engine, now produced by GE Aircraft Engines, which can propel the amphib at speeds up to 215 knots with all seats full to a range of 1,000 miles, he said.

Once the design was done, the designers realized they had a plane that others would want. “A lot of people thought this had a lot of commercial applications,” Meekins said, noting he’s had interest from individuals, charter companies and even small airlines.

Sun ‘n Fun is the first time Privateer Industries has shown off its plans for the amphib, said Meekins, who noted the company has patents pending for the design. “People are really taken with the design,” he said. “We’ve had all kinds of interest. This has been a great learning experience.”

The prototype has been under construction for the last two and a half years, according to Meekins, who says “it will fly this year.”

He plans to certify the amphib, noting he’s funding the project himself now. “We’ve had some attractive offers regarding funding, but we’re not entertaining them,” he said.

While a price hasn’t been set for the amphib, Meekins claims it will be “highly competitive” with other airplanes, noting it will be built with “brand new technology” that makes it a “fast build” airplane. “That means we can be extremely competitive,” he said. “The Privateer will be extremely strong and easy to build, as well as easy to fly.”

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  1. says

    As shown the aircraft has insufficient allowance for take off rotation
    and appears to lack a step on the floats –low static thrust from a small diameter shrouded prop/ducted fan is not good for getting ‘on the step’ and unstuck . the aircraft looks like the old MSU Marvelette sitting on a pair of floats or the Pushy Galore racer –just in the generic shaping and configuration . Amphibians and especially clean amphibs are a neglected area for recreational aircraft . Ross Nolan –designer builder of the Opal glass tail pusher amphib from 1974. Check out Molt Taylor’s floatwing concept as a way of eliminating much complication and size . Good luck with it.

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