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Synergy Aircraft Project's video poster

We're building an airplane, in a garage (!) but it's not just another tired old airplane. This is Synergy, the beginning of the future. Read more

Kalispell, MT Flight
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pledged of $65,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on June 4, 2012.

We're building an airplane, in a garage (!) but it's not just another tired old airplane. This is Synergy, the beginning of the future.

Kalispell, MT Flight
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About this project

We're building the proof that an airplane can be awesome, comfortable, and incredibly efficient all at the same time. Please join us to become part of an exciting grassroots project that's already making history!

Synergy: A bold new future for aviation. 

In this second century of flight, we believe that ordinary families should have fast options to travel where they want, when they want, in quiet safety, with better economy than a car. Without the exhausting airport hassle.

That's not how it is right now. Existing 'direct travel' airplanes are extremely expensive, incredibly cramped, noisy gas guzzlers; most of them three decades old. On the other hand, they're powerful time machines; essential to modern business and a lot of fun to fly! 

This project is about demonstrating a phenomenal new way to tackle the whole problem. If airplanes are to re-connect with their potential customers- or their potential to society- they desperately need an update.  Almost everything else in modern life has developed well beyond the elite-yet-obsolete standard of personal air travel.

We think that in addition to all the best new technology, airplanes should provide, at a minimum:

  • Way more room.
  • A quiet, smooth ride... with a view!
  • Far greater economy, using better fuels.
  • Easier operation.
  • Greatly reduced travel time.
  • True passenger safety.
  • Far lower price.
  • Quiet, friendly, neighborhood manners.
  • Adaptability to hybrid, electric, and advanced engine technologies.

Synergy can deliver all of the above - and much more - through innovative solutions that work in greater harmony with the invisible physics of flight.

What it means:

Synergy doesn't just look amazing, it truly is amazing:  the first systematic use of six proven breakthroughs for major drag reduction. These principles haven't been put together in a form simple enough to deliver their liberating potential... until now.

Designed to show ten times the fuel economy of a small jet at ten percent of the cost, Synergy not only offers fast, fun, direct transportation (in comfort above the weather) but also greater range and the ability to land at safer, slower speeds on local airfields. In its category it is widely considered the most promising aircraft design yet seen.

What we're doing:

We're building the real thing, using the expert craftsmanship of three generations of the McGinnis family, CNC machines, carbon fiber composites, volunteers from all over the world, and powerful engineering software. Team leader John McGinnis is a senior member of the AIAA and a recognized aircraft designer among the EAA. This roomy five-seat prototype will join the amazing 25% scale electric prototype already flying

How does it work?

Synergy's stable-flying double box tail shape is not a bouncy "box wing" type, it's a modern magic carpet: a key to using super-advanced drag reduction principles in a lighter, simpler, and more economical way. 

There's a lot more fluid science in this diesel-powered propfan than meets the eye, and our unveiling seems to have touched a nerve with aeronautical gurus, NASA scientists, and nervous flyers alike. Due in part to extensive forum discussions preceding it by a year, Synergy was named Most Innovative by Sport Aviation magazine almost as soon as it became public.

No, how does Kickstarter work?  :-)

A project sets a funding goal, and people pledge contributions in exchange for corresponding rewards. If we don't reach our goal, we get nothing and your pledges are not collected. Some Kickstarter campaigns generate many times their project goal by being timely, worthy, and relevant. We sincerely hope to do the same. Our minimum goal only completes this phase of construction, but with greater funding we can literally soar into action! Now that we have reached our minimum, every dollar raised advances us that much farther into completion of the tail section, cowling doors, wing tooling, and control systems.

Is this a big deal? I can't tell why this is really all that different from other sleek designs.

Yes, it is. Synergy is a leap forward! All true progress strains against convention though, and there is a lot to discover here. Besides creating 'stability and control through induced drag reduction', Synergy uses its power not only to make thrust, but to actually reduce drag. It goes faster while carrying more payload in a speed range that has eluded true efficiency so far.

Most people, even in aeronautics, are not versed well enough in 'powered drag reduction' methods to successfully evaluate Synergy without flight test results, which is what we want to give them. For technical reasons, CFD software and wind tunnels don't really cut it at this level. But over the last year, serious students of aerodynamics, all over the world, have begun to realize that Synergy affects everything we know.

Synergy is not about looks, or streamlining, or even the fabulous benefits of its unique shape. It's about going beyond all that

What do you hope to accomplish?

To erase the artificial limits that make airplanes expensive, uncomfortable, and unwelcome. The practical, 5-seat Synergy prototype is designed to conclusively demonstrate stellar performance for this configuration, by way of professional flight testing at full scale, and to be produceable in volume at low cost. 

An excited public already awaits. Since we 'lit the fuse' with our 25% scale model, enthusiasts everywhere want us to finish the real thing, now! Construction is well underway, but we need your help to reach the finish line. 

What does my backing pay for?

Your support helps provide component design and systems engineering, contract labor, tooling, equipment, and materials. This a pioneering effort that deserves our full time focus

It's important that we set achievable targets and keep making progress on a project of this scope. 

Our modest original goal supplies our minimum needs, which is to maintain present work output until our next milestone is reached in September.  By then we expect to have completion in sight and enough momentum to fund the last push. The next milestone puts us 'on the wheels' and 'powered up', even if the total raised by this campaign doesn't cover all the remaining costs. 

We have to complete the entire project in less than a year to maintain our preferred timeline, and although the total cost of that effort dwarfs what we expect to raise in this campaign, the high profile push this crowd has given us will almost certainly bear fruit in new opportunities, connections, and resources. 

We still need your help! The power of Kickstarter is to birth great projects, and frankly this technology grows up to be the most promising transportation development I've seen in my lifetime. Your passion above and beyond 'project life support' will not only stabilize and accelerate our schedule, it could help nudge an entire industry in the right direction. 

Our new, informal, goal was set at $165,000 when it became clear that it was possible to aim there. It might just be enough to get us airborne.

Obviously, getting from 'a project in our garage' to a finished one in your hangar involves serious business development and millions of investment dollars. This is not about that just yet. We don't believe in hyping 'vaporware'. 

We do believe that further success is achieved through diligence, integrity, capital, and teamwork, one well-planned step at a time. When we've proven our premise, the industry will be as close to cranking out Synergi as we've come from our first napkin sketch. 

By backing Synergy through its most vulnerable phase, you're filling the gap between concept and reality that has kept basic aircraft design stagnant for a lifetime.

Kickstarters, thank you sincerely for cranking this project to life! Every pledge counts, and every recommendation to others counts even more!!! 

Help us show the world what a fast, sexy, futuristic fuel-sipper can do!


  • This issue is driven by things that happen in the wake of a presumably successful flight test regimen, followed by production development and production flight test.

    As a designer, it is rare to have the opportunity to influence such things fundamentally and at the system level. So, given that we know how much it costs to build similar aircraft using less efficient methods, we can confidently predict that it will be possible for Synergy to substantially lower the cost of market entry. Early adopters will find the price highly attractive and competitive, but costs will drop when production hits its stride. Our goal is to offer unmatchable value.

    Last updated:
  • Yes! We keep forgetting to say so, as many are already familiar with the seating arrangement advantages of Synergy.

    There are actually THREE places where we can fly the airplane.There is side by side pilot-copilot seating, with a choice of control configuration, right behind the front seat. "Solo" can only be flown from up front, but "dual" can be flown side-by-side OR tandem.

    You can also have one instructor with two students, or a VIP passenger up front. (It's hard to tell the first side-by-side seats are pilot locations because the back instrument pylon isn't visible yet and the controls attach to the wing center section, still being built.)

    In the event of an emergency, we intend for all passengers to have access to the new VP-400 system from Vertical Power, which is a new technology to safely and automatically put the airplane on the safest available runway simply by "pushing the Runway Seeker button." Even if that's not looking too good for some reason, a pull of the "big red handle" will deploy the ballistic airframe parachute.

    Many other safety features are designed right into this aircraft from the conceptual level onward, including outstanding low speed handling.

    Last updated:
  • Synergy has an empty weight of 1650 lbs, 200HP, and 156 sq ft of wing area on a 32 foot wingspan. Casual use of these numbers would be misleading, however, because of our high span efficiency, laminar flow fuselage, and powered lift system.

    Synergy will offer high performance at both ends of the speed spectrum, but specifications won't be used for marketing purposes until they have been demonstrated in full scale atmospheric flight testing. More details are found on our website, and with formal non-disclosure agreements we can share more detailed information with prospective partners and collaborators.

    A video explaining the basic principles at work in the design is found here:

    Last updated:
  • Actually, Synergy with one or two seats filled will easily outperform most two seat aircraft on the same or less horsepower. It's also smaller than a 172 in terms of hangar footprint (L,W,H) even though it can seat six without anyone touching anyone else.

    Our Deltahawk diesel engine has already shown a 4 GPH cruise in the Velocity aircraft at 146 kts. We can do better than that.

    Build it as a one seater with a pickup bed in back, if you want.

    Last updated:
  • There's an option on our website for PayPal donations, and until August Friends of Synergy will continue the reward program for us. Thank you very much for your support!

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    77 backers

    We make every dollar count and we truly appreciate your pledge. Whether Synergy is out setting world records or flying to your city, not only will you be able to say you helped us make it, you can let everyone know it was your fuel that took us the last fifty miles!

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    Pledge $10 or more

    92 backers Limited (908 left of 1000)

    US backers will receive a signed, limited edition full color postcard expressing our thanks for your support, mailed with a cool Synergy stamp right on it. International backers please add $3 to cover additional postage and handling.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    169 backers Limited (831 left of 1000)

    Enthusiastic backers deserve our awesome Synergy beverage mug, a device that puts a daily smile on our faces... surely yours too. Show up with yours where we happen to be and it'll double as your credential for a seat in the cockpit, event rules and circumstances permitting. International backers please add $5 or more to cover additional postage and handling.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    85 backers Limited (1915 left of 2000)

    Backers at the $50 to $100 level will become the proud owner of our special Sponsor Edition Synergy shirt, a garment that also comes with all of the VIP privileges that we can bestow on the wearer, such as those above. You helped make this happen! International backers please add $5 or more to cover additional postage and handling.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    221 backers Limited (279 left of 500)

    $100+ backers will find their name printed on the finished full scale prototype. You'll also get to fly in it, if you want... just don't expect a short line! A VIP edition, US-made Synergy 'icon logo' hat included at this level serves as your credential.

    (We aren't promising to connect with backers by means of a tour or anything at this point, just saying that when we're in the same place at the same time and can offer rides, sponsors and Kickstarter backers come first! We expect that Synergy will be in high demand, so we will be making every effort to be at major aviation events and otherwise be available.)

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    Pledge $250 or more

    39 backers Limited (1 left of 40)

    We understand that you missed your chance to help the Wright Brothers, but there's another genuine bike mechanic once guilty of 'flying contraptions off hills', and since he had to decline Burt Rutan's awesome job offer to live in Montana, he'd probably appreciate your support! In addition to a 'swag' bag containing all of the goodies above (name on the plane, ride, etc), John will set a date with you for a personal interview and tour of the prototype in the shop via webcam.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    25 backers

    All of the above, plus Backers at this level join Noah's Marine, Plum Creek Timber, Jack Moon, David McCloskey, John Kazickas, Chris McGeary, Edward Gallagher,, Tom Woodruff, and others as Synergy Bronze Level Sponsors and will be recognized along with them equally. Sponsors at all medal levels will be invited to join our entourage if they're among the visitors at AirVenture Oshkosh. (Synergy "sponsorship" benefit details predate this campaign and are not public at this time. They should not be considered as having any specific Kickstarter reward value other than the cumulative rewards described in prior pledge levels).

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    7 backers

    You have the means. This IS the opportunity. For your pledge at this level you'll get all the rewards below it and enjoy exclusive access to a live video stream of engine first start... plus an appointment with executive staff to spend time with you and hear you out regarding ways to ensure this compelling premise succeeds as a business someday. You'll have our full attention, and we'll set an appointment for AirVenture, on site, or via webcam.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $2,000 or more

    3 backers

    Backers at this level join Eric Peterson, MAS Epoxies, Howard Wilkins, Howard Handelman, and others as Synergy Silver Level Sponsors and will be recognized along with them equally. Synergy "sponsorship" benefit details predate this campaign and are not public at this time. They should not be considered as having any specific Kickstarter reward value other than the cumulative rewards described in prior pledge levels, but TEAM SYNERGY swag is included (with all other benefits, of course) for Kickstarters.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer

    Backers at this level join Justin Daugherty, Tamarack Inc, Deltahawk Engines, and others as Synergy Gold Level Sponsors and will be recognized along with them equally. An exclusive web video link will take you to live coverage of first flight. An exclusive Synergy desktop model with moving parts is also included (with all other team swag, of course) for Kickstarters. (No extra wait on most items. Synergy "sponsorship" benefit details predate this campaign and are not public at this time. They should not be considered as having any specific Kickstarter reward value other than the cumulative rewards described in prior pledge levels).

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    Fluid Dynamics Level 1 Safari with John. Domestic round trip airfare to Kalispell for two; two nights at the Hilton for up to four; a comfortable day at the shop followed by dinner with the McGinnis family, then a guided trip down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River bordering Glacier National Park with Glacier Raft Company the following day. Over the course of this incredibly scenic, "WOW! I get it now!" excursion, backers will acquire, with zero effort, a better mastery and visualization of advanced fluid dynamics principles than in a semester of college... and probably, a tan. Naturally, a selection of truly exclusive Team Synergy souvenirs to take home.

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  • You selected
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    1 backer Limited (6 left of 7)

    One of only seven exclusive museum-quality bronze castings of an original centerpiece artwork, "Synergy prime": archetypical sculpture by John McGinnis.

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Funding period

- (21 days)