Turbine Murphy Moose/Beast Makes Big Splash at AirVenture

The Pratt and Whitney PT6A-20 engine on the Murphy Moose (now Beast).

The Murphy Moose, a four-place, high wing, all-aluminum back-country hauler, was released to the kit-building public over 20 years ago. Designed for ease of construction (99% pull rivets) and rugged durability, the Moose has been a homebuilders’ favorite, with 370 kits delivered and 250 flying. Murphy has offered two engine options for the Moose, a 300 hp Lycoming IO-540 and a 360 hp Vedeneyev M-14P Russian radial.

Kenny Meines, of Turbine Motor Conversions, with the Beast powerplant.

Kenny Meines, an aerial agricultural applications engineer and pilot (crop duster) from Pullman, Washington, has been in love with Murphy aircraft since 2008, when he bought a completed Murphy Rebel, promptly converted it to a 180 hp Lycoming O-360 and put it on floats. He flew it five years and then sold it, to his later regret. In 2019, Kenny bought another Murphy, this time a completed Murphy Moose with a rip-snorting M-14P radial. He and his wife loved the Moose’s rugged back-country performance and roomy cabin. However, on one cross country flight over what could only be described as inhospitable terrain, the Russian circle engine began making concerning noises. Upon landing safely at their destination, Kenny’s wife turned to him and said, “Honey, I don’t like this radial. I want you to put a turbine engine on this plane.”

Kenny’s rational response; “Yes Ma’am!”

Murphy Beast front office, complete with turbine management system.

As a crop duster, Kenny had thousands of hours behind turbines, mostly Pratt and Whitney PT6 engines. In fact, Kenny is a test pilot for Cascade Aircraft Conversions of Garfield, Washington, a firm specializing in placing the prop jets on crop dusters. Kenny conferred with Cascade Shop Manager David Price and Engineer James Zimmer. Together they designed the engine mount, cowling and engine management systems to graft a mid-time PT6A-20 (sourced from military King Airs) onto the Murphy Moose airframe. The PT6A is rated at 550 horsepower. In the air movement department, Cascade employed an Avia three-bladed prop.

On June 1, 2023, Kenny conducted the first flight of the turbine Murphy Moose. It flew hands off, with no bad characteristics, from day one. However, the performance blew Kenny’s mind. Takeoff roll with a solo pilot aboard is 151 feet (320 feet at max gross weight). Max climb solo is 3,400 feet per minute, with 2,100 fpm at max gross. The cruise speed is 160 miles per hour indicated, 204 miles per hour true. And that is at only 50% power and 25 gallons per hour fuel burn. Down low, Kenny says he burns about 30 gph.

It’s more than a mere Moose. It’s now the Beast.

After flying his turbine enhanced Moose just a few times, Kenny renamed it the “Beast.” Although Kenny Meines and his new business, Turbine Motor Conversions, are unconnected with Murphy Aircraft Company, Murphy personnel are excited by the new Beast. Murphy Production Manager and Test Pilot Anton Fix is impressed by design, engineering and smooth operation of the conversion. He states that the throttle response is immediate, the controllability is remarkable and the noise level is surprisingly low.

If you want to build your own Murphy Beast, the airframe kit costs $63,000. Turbine Motor Conversions offers the firewall forward kit, including a mid time PT6A-20 engine, new Avia prop, cowl and engine monitoring system, for $250,000. For more information, check out murphyair.com and Turbine Motor Conversions on Facebook.




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