A full IFR panel, a new three-axis autopilot and automatic trim, a yaw damper and the brightest lights he could find (new-edition 737 landing lights) are just a few of the conveniences Patey added.
But there’s more. Wilga is challenging to fly with its radical suspension, and it ground loops easily, so Patey put a giant machined part on the wing tips and connected all three spars to protect the wings in case of a wing scrape. He modified the front suspension, machined his own axles and revamped the brake system to include double brakes. New trailing link gear, new hub assemblies and, of course, big tires finished it off.
After all of that, Patey had an extremely successful first flight back in August, with only very minor squawks, and since then, he has been having fun discovering Draco’s performance envelope. He’s getting more accurate performance data every time he flies, but the numbers so far are pretty impressive.
You could say that Draco is already an aviation legend. In fact, with its unique airframe and creative modifications, Draco’s reputation has transcended aviation, with fans cropping up from a multitude of other industries. From monster truck enthusiasts to car-racing fanatics to technology geeks, many different people have gotten in touch with Patey in different areas of the country and in different businesses and organization. Without expecting it, Patey found his personal engineering feat had some unintended but positive consequences for aviation: People outside of our industry are once again excited about airplanes. Those of us who follow the exploits of fat-tire enthusiasts know that Draco has made a huge mark on aviation. It seems that Draco is also making a mark on the rest of the world, too.