Grassroots Movement Propels Synergy Aircraft

Ambitious project raises tens of thousands in online fundraising effort.

Burgeoning aircraft designer John McGinnis is searching for support for an aircraft design with quite an ambitious goal: To provide the fuel efficiency of a small jet 10 times over while cutting the price tag by the same measure.

That design, known as Synergy, was unveiled last year at the CAFÉ Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California, and features a double box tail shape and a diesel-powered propfan located behind the fuselage.

After working on Synergy as a family project for years, McGinnis, a consultant and designer, is attempting to turn the aircraft design into the real deal by working on a full-scale five-seat prototype to complement the existing 25-percent scale model that first flew in 2007.

A grassroots online fundraising effort at is helping him accumulate the funds needed to complete the next preliminary stages of the project, leading to more than $86,000 in donations and counting since the project was first featured on the site a few weeks ago. The project has already surpassed the $65,000 benchmark needed to cash in on the donation pot, and McGinnis’ team has since given the online campaign, slated to end June 4, a new informal fundraising goal of $165,000.

In the realm of aircraft development, those numbers may seem like chump change to most, and McGinnis and his team admit that the investment dollars needed to achieve a new production aircraft are immense.

“This is not about that just yet,” the team says on its Kickstart campaign page. For now, the team is simply looking for the funds needed to continue the project and get a prototype “on the wheels and powered up.” The ultimate goal is to complete the prototype, get it up in the air and able to make the trip to Oshkosh.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the team says it has been blown away by the support so far, dubbing Synergy “the first crowdfunded aircraft of the Internet era.”

“We simply can’t wait to get started,” they told supporters online.

View our Synergy photo gallery.


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