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Aviation enthusiasts making history in Spanish Fork

Sep 06, 2019 09:22PM ● By Ed Helmick

Right here at the small-town Spanish Fork Airport we have aviation history being made by a couple of innovative aviation enthusiasts, twin brothers Mark and Mike Patey.

These guys have created so many unique and record braking airplanes one aircraft maintenance technician at the airport, Hal Jackson, calls them Howard Hughes times two. Mike’s latest project, a super STOL turboprop (jet prop) airplane has the national and international aviation media buzzing with excitement. STOL stands for Short Take Off and Landing airplane.

Mike’s four-seat airplane can take off in 97 feet and land in 110 feet at sea level and at our higher altitudes it takes just a little bit more. The airplane cruises about 200 miles-per-hour with a service ceiling of 28,000 feet. Mike calls his bright red creation DRACO, which is Spanish for dragon.

He demonstrated DRACO at the Spanish Fork Open House event on Aug. 24 to the amazement of the crowd. Mike was flying along-side a couple Carbon Cub STOL which are impressive performing airplanes themselves. Now we see why DRACO has won so much media attention and numerous trophies since it has been flying.

Slow flight and STOL characteristics are great for back-country airplanes, but what most people like about airplanes is speed. A few years back the Patey brothers set a world speed record for piston-powered airplanes flying west to east across the United States.

The two made the simultaneous flights in identical home-built airplanes, one flying a northern route and the other a southern route, in a little over six hours flight time. That flight beat the previous record set by Howard Hughes in 1937 in his H-1 Racer, which took seven hours and 25 minutes. To go even faster Mike extensively modified a Lancair Legacy to accommodate an 850 horsepower turboprop engine. The airplane is made entirely with carbon fiber material for lightness and strength. The airplane is called Turbulence and has a top recorded speed is 438.02 miles per hour.

Mike has a couple of more projects on his mind. One is a back-country airplane to be called Scrappy, because it will be made from a left-over parts. For a higher and faster goal Mike is thinking about a tandem seat, pressured airplane he will call ballistic.

In a recent interview Mike was asked if he thought of himself as an airplane builder or as a pilot. He immediately responded pilot, but then added he likes the challenge of creating something new.

When asked what he thought of the Howard Hughes analogy, he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)