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Cessna engineer completes rare Sky Scooter kit

02-10-2012

Like many homebuilders, Neal Willford spent a decade working on his kit plane before taking it for its first flight recently. But Willford's Thorp T-211 Sky Scooter kit had parts dating from the 1960s, making it something of an aviation time capsule. The T-211 first flew in 1945 and its designer had a hand in making the Piper Cherokee. While there is now a modern LSA version of the Sky Scooter, the original never caught on. The kit pioneered the use of matched hole parts, meaning builders wouldn't have to set up jigs and drill hundreds of holes for rivets. Willford, an engineer at Cessna, helped develop the new SkyCatcher by day as he worked on the T-211 in his free time. Willford built his with a Continental engine from a Cessna 150, giving it enough power to cruise at about 100 knots.