Each of the six Epic LT aircraft, kitbuilt versions of the airplane King plans to certify for sale around the world as the E1000, had four to five people on board, with luggage for three weeks and all sorts of spare parts crammed in. They were prepared to replace components large and small, prepared to do just about anything short of heavy maintenance, even in remote regions.
In the end, they only needed the changes of clothes. The Pratt & Whitney powerplants, along with the rest of the aircraft systems, performed beautifully, King said. The only truly hair-raising moments came in the final phase of the last leg, as the flight of six approached Wittman Regional Airport with Oshkosh ramping up for its week of being the busiest airport there is. King said a light jet “flew through the formation” as the Epics navigated the arrival, and a Cessna “landed between us. The most dangerous part of the trip was the last 30 seconds.”
The voyage, dubbed the “Epic Odyssey World Tour” and detailed with stories, images, and aircraft tracks posted on the company website, was both an advertising and proof-of-capability mission, and succeeded in both respects. King said the effort to certify the aircraft (which he built as a kit of his own before stepping in to salvage the former maker from a 2009 bankruptcy) is well underway. Structural testing of the major components is “largely complete,” King said, and certification flight testing is expected to continue through the end of the year.
King said the company has collected about 65 deposits for the $2.95 million aircraft (the kit version flown by AOPA in 2013 is $1 million less), and the company is working with the FAA to secure both the aircraft certification and the production certificate simultaneously. King said that with backing from a Russian investor, the program is fully funded (with the dollars in hand).