Secretly Built Jet Takes First Flight From Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -- Cessna employees who managed to build a military jet at Cessna's Pawnee facility and keep it secret the past two years are feeling quite satisfied with their accomplishment.

At 9:10 a.m. Thursday the Scorpion jet took off from the McConnell Air Force Base runway adjacent to Cessna's Pawnee facility. It landed at 10:30 a.m.

The Scorpion is joint venture of Textron Airland, LLC. Textron is Cessna's parent company.

Project Chief Engineer Dale Tutt says, "It's really a major milestone for the team. There's been a lot of excitement build up over the last couple of days as we got ready for first flight. Today the plane comes back in and there's a sense of euphoria and excitement. Everybody's really pleased with how the airplane performed."

Scorpion Pilot Dale Hinson says, "What surprised me today is, I think, most of us had under estimated (the plane). The airplane took off the ground in less than 2,000 feet, rocketed skyward, to be dramatic about it. But it did climb very smartly with the gear hanging down and flaps hanging down as well. The control forces are very light and responsive and tight when I let go of the controls. And that's all you can really hope for from a first flight."

Tutt says, "What we learned from this flight today is how our design was, how good our analysis was and how does the flight test data compare to what we expected to see. And I think we're anticipating everything was as good as or better than what we expected and we're very pleased about that."

Textron Airland joined forces to build the plane using their own investments with the hope militaries and perhaps other government agencies will want to buy it.

Tutt says nothing sells a plane like seeing it take flight. He says, "We've had a lot of naysayers that said U.S. industry can't build an airplane and get it flying in less than two years. And I think we proved today that that is not true. U.S. industry can produce an airplane quickly and have a relevant product."