The first thing most folks notice on the concept drawings of the SkyLab S1 displayed at the SkyLab Engineering booth in the Homebuilt vendor area are the many propellers on the leading edge. Ten small props, to be exact. The second thing one is likely to notice is the 180°, super-high visibility cockpit. What gives?
The S1 project is the brain-child of Steve Martin and his partner, Steve Schultz but draws from a nationwide (even international) team. Although they are only in the first steps of building a prototype, Martin brought the starboard side of the fuselage and some interpretive displays to AirVenture to share their project with the aviation world. Their concept is to use a fuel-powered generator to provide electricity as the primary driver of the propellers. A back-up battery will be available in case the primary Genset system fails.
They expect the plane to require two pilots and use a center control stick and two side throttle controls. Their design criteria is looking for the plane to fly 500 nm at a cruise speed of 150 kt. Martin says the plane will strictly be a proof-of-concept effort, at least at this point. “If someone comes up with purpose for this type of airplane, we’ll be happy to follow up.”