Danny Maher founded Velocity in 1984 in Sebastian, Florida with Danny as President. Pete Hoffman was the Vice President, and Neil Hunter was in charge of Public Relations. The prototype was built in 7 months, and first flew in the summer of 1985. It weighed 1,100 pounds empty, with a gross weight of 2,550 pounds and a Lycoming 180 HP engine and composite prop (built by Danny). Cruise was claimed as 220 MPH. Flight testing of the prototype was completed in mid-October 1985, and thus did not attend Osh Kosh (Airventure), but was debuted at Sun-n-Fun in 1986. That first airplane, with a serial number of DMO40, was registered as N401DM. This airplane was flown by Billy Henederson of Sport Aviation, who noted 1500-200fpm climb rates and a top end of 184 kts. This first aircraft also featured a retractable nose gear. Note that the original aircraft did not have full-length rudders.
The serial numbers started with DMO-Dan Maher Original, number 40. It’s believed that the number 40 was chosen to reassure buyers that they were getting a proven product! The aileron push-pull cables were Morse marine style, because he was familiar with thier operation. The brake master cylinders were from the Datsun/Nissan B210’s clutch! Build time was estimated at 800-1000 hours with the kit in the $18,000 range. The kit featured 43 1/2″ wide fuselage, though the prototype was only 42 1/4″. Similarly the height was 40″ on the prototype, 41″ on the kit, and length wsa 81″. The main wing area on the prototype was 96.4 SQFT and the canard was 19.75 SQFT, for a total area of 116.15 SQFT, for a gross loading of 19.37 lbs/SQFT. These were increased slightly for the kits. The outer wing panels were modified Long-EZ airfoils, but the strakes and canard were Danny’s design, and Roncz vortilons were added to the main wings. Danny is the registered builder of 4 velocitys (DMO040, DMO100, DMO255, and 029; N401DM, N7044Q, N255DM, and N4253M registration).
These wing dimensions were maintained until 1992 when the 173 (or as it later came to be called, the “Long Wing”) wing was offered. This was a play on the Cessna 172, and was meant to tame the handling characteristics to the point where any pilot could comfortably handle it. The 173 was intended to be unpaved-runway-capable, with sturdier gear that stand about 2.5″ taller than the original, with bigger 6.00×6 main wheels, more wing and canard (20%) span, and a thicker airfoil, and a 58 MPH stall speed and 190 MPH top speed (5). This also was just after the (see Kitplanes November 1991 Kitplanes December 1992) so called ‘deep stall’ mystery was solved. As part of this solution, the wing trailing edge was extended to the aft edge of the tip sails, and the aft inboard camber was changed (2), and 60″ leading edge cuffs were offered to existing aircraft owners. The cuffs are required for DMO serial numbers below 115 (approximately, 3). Kits after 115 were shipped with the new wing, and an extra forward fuel baffle (3). The new “Standard” wing dimension were 29.4′ span, 122 SQFT wing area, and the 173/Long Wing dimentions were 31′ span, 145 SQFT wing area.
Carl Pascarrell – Original Test Pilot ??-?? Carl Pescarrell was the first test pilot for Velocity. He had been a naval aviator, formation flying instructor, and airline capitan, and test pilot for Swearingen with over 17,000 flight hours. He was running a spin-training business out of the St. Augustine airport.
He came in and worked the original deep stall issue after Neil Hunter’s first incident into a canal. Carl replicated the issue with the cg near the aft limit (cg range was 114.09 to 120.5), and though he was wearing a chute, decided to stay with the airplane after noticing how low the descent rate was (after opening the canopy), and landed unhurt off of St. Augustine. For future test flights, Jim Patton (former Chief of Flight Operations for NASA) was retained, and a movable 210 lbs weight was installed in the copilot floor (excerpted from Sport Aviation July 1991).
Duane Swing – CEO 2008-Current (Owner 1992-200 See Duane’s autobiography here. Started “homebuilding” with a Q2 that first flew in 1983, while his son Soctt was completing a Master’s degree, in their Dayton garage/shop. Around 1987 he bought a previously owned (but not started) Glassair, which was sold to a friend shortly after completion, and their first Velocity was started shortly thereafter. This first Velocity was completed in 1988, on which they developed the retract system that they marketed as Tri-Q Development. It was first displayed at Osh Kosh in 1988, shipments started after Osh Kosh 1989. Sadly, the first aircraft was destroyed by fire days from first flight. To support the RG business, they started their second Velocity right away, and it was completed in August 1989 (N125V), and was the first retract.
This led to a “builder’s assistance” program, which was based at the airport at Phillipsburg Ohio, which they bought. The facility would allow three planes to be worked on simultaneously, and seven aircraft were completed before closing the business and moving to Sebastian. In July of 1992, Danny and Duane entered negotiations to sell Velocity to the Swings. Duane and Scott bought even (45%, since Alan Shaw owned 10%) shares of the company. Danny stayed on as a consultant for a short period of time. An interesting couple of side-notes, the Swings intended to offer a belly-mounted baggage pod and a Subaru engine conversion).
In 1993, the Subaru engine was featured in Sport Aviation, as well as at Osh Kosh Airventure, but fell out of favor shortly thereafter, and apparently this disappoint lingered as Velocity has since seemed (to me) to be somewhat gun-shy of automotive conversion powerplants. I have never heard what happened to the baggage pod idea, but there is at least one Velocity sporting a (Cacek) “Draggage” Pod. Also in about 1993, Alan Shaw’s Dynamic Wing Company began marketing fast-build wings.
Duane announced his intention to sell his stake in 2002.
Those who knew him were shocked and concerned when he went down in “Bob1”, where the Brazilian Wings were found to be incorrectly constructed (either the winglet spars were missing, or where not properly bonded to the wings if I recall correctly) and caused winglet flutter. But, he did a nice job getting her to the runway, and suffered only minor injuries when she rolled onto her roof. Brendan left Velocity because there were no chicks to score in Sebastian. Really.
Ken Baker – – February 2010
I’m told that Ken Baker was raised in a cave by bears (I’ll have to ask his father about that one someday).