If you thought Cirrus disrupted the light airplane game with the introduction of the fixed-gear 310-hp SR22 more than 10 years ago now, you ain’t seen nothing yet, maybe. At Oshkosh AirVenture a couple of years ago a new company, Cobalt, launched what seemed to many observers a program that was bound to go nowhere. Much to my surprise, it seems very much to be going somewhere, mostly up. The company recently announced a big slate of orders for the canard configured five-seat single that it claims will do 260 knots on its 350-hp six-cylinder engine. That’s really fast, around 20 knots faster than the gold standard of today, the Mooney Acclaim S, which tops out at 242 knots.
The Valkyrie first flew 13 months ago at an undisclosed location in California, and we got the exclusive chance to see the video. While Cobalt doesn’t want us to publish the video or a link to it, let me walk you through that first flight.
Piloted by Mark Stucky, the CO50 takes off. After a good long ground roll—it’s hard to say how long exactly, but canards are not typically known for their short-field performance—the airplane climbs out and flies around, climbing to no more than an estimated 5,000 feet agl or so. During the video, and, we presume, the length of the flight, Stucky does not retract the gear, which is standard operating procedure on first flights. There’s video from within the cockpit and from a chase plane, Mike Melvill’s own Long EZ, flown by Mike with Cobalt founder David Loury along and, again presumably, taking some great video of the Valkyrie in fight. The new plane appears to fly stably, and its landing looked textbook, with Stucky holding off the nose gear in a classic nose-high flare. The airplane appears to veer slightly after touchdown, but it’s impossible to say whether that’s Stucky applying brakes or just making his turn off as the chase plane continues around the pattern.
Cobalt says the CO50 will be available sometime in 2017, at first in a kit built version, and later as a certificated airplane. Cost of the plane is $600,000; the certificated version is slated to cost $700,000.
So why is the video so top secret that we can’t share it with you here? We’re baffled. After watching the video, I came away believing the CO50 was a real player, something I was skeptical about before. Our message to Cobalt: Let the people see!
UPDATE: We now have never before been published pictures from the first flight!