Record-breaking aircraft is star attraction

Aviator Dave Corey of Bennington has been flying airplanes for 45 years. As a skilled pilot and businessman, Corey expanded his passion for aviation into a successful Vermont-based airfreight operation, called AirNow. The cargo carrier operates out of Bennington's busy William H. Morse State Airport. Aside from normal business operations, AirNow, in partnership with Evangelistic World Outreach, is also doing good things, quietly, behind the scenes-it has been flying vital humanitarian relief missions to earthquake victims in Haiti. But that's just the sort of thing that a man and aviator like Corey responds to without any prompting.

This month, Corey flew his personal, record-setting experimental Questair Venture aircraft to the Middlebury State Airport. He made a special visit to the Addison County airport to drop in on a local pilot friend.

Corey's unusual aircraft holds the National Aeronautical Association's world record for a single-engine propeller flight between Pacific and Atlantic coasts-it took the pilot a mere 7 hours, non-stop, to fly from San Diego, Calif. to Palm Beach, Fla. Corey accomplished the feat-solo-back in 2008.

Only 30 such experimental Venture aircraft exist in the world, according to Corey, and only 20 are flying. Legendary aircraft designer Jim Griswold designed the Venture for speed. However, its popularity was less than spectacular; now the Venture has become a very rare bird that turns heads wherever it touches down.

Using technology derived from the speedy Piper Malibu, the Venture is a bit of an ugly duckling at first glance, looking a tad aerodynamically challenged. But looks are deceiving; in fact, the planes stubby look is its great advantage in the air.

First launched in 1987, the experimental Venture series are built of all-metal, pre-formed multi-curvature panels. The plane has jet fighter-like tricycle retractable land gear, too, which-when tucked up inside the fuselage-help the plane slip through stubborn air molecules. Corey's Venture has an American-made Continental 300 hp powerplant. And while the wings are 25 feet long, the fuselage is only 12 feet long, an unusual wing-to-body ratio, it is a bird built for speed.

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