Online funding campaign boosts unique aircraft firm

Print Article

John McGinnis of Synergy Aircraft LLC, sits in the plane he designed on Wednesday, May 30, in Evergreen. The aircraft is McGinnis' attempt to utilize drag reduction breakthroughs.

Kalispell resident John McGinnis has a bold vision of what the personal aircraft could and should be.

And he and his team of family, friends, volunteers and partners continue to build a working prototype of his experimental Synergy aircraft.

A crowdfunding campaign on has gotten 664 people to pledge a total of $78,913 for the project as of Thursday morning.

Pledges range from as little as $1 or $5 to help buy gas to more than $10,000.

With an initial goal of raising $65,000 met, a new informal goal is to raise $165,000 by the campaign’s end Monday, June 4.

“If nothing goes wrong, that amount of money would probably get us to flight test,” McGinnis said of the unique airplane taking shape in his dad’s garage in Evergreen.

Synergy promises to be a lightweight composite aircraft with room for five, all of the modern amenities and unprecedented fuel economy.

The goal is fast, fun, quiet, comfortable and affordable air transportation with greater range and an ability to land at safer, slower speeds on local airfields.

The design has drawn attention from around the world for the role it could play in a general aviation industry where the average airplane, as described by McGinnis, is 33 years old as well as noisy, cramped, expensive, inefficient and reliant on low-lead aviation gas.

The general aviation industry is largely stuck in the past, and with its older planes it is a lot like Cuba’s car market, McGinnis said.

“You go to the airport and you’ve got a 1956 Cessna that looks awesome, but it’s a 1956.”

Synergy incorporates a unique “double box tail” to boost stability and reduce drag.

It includes a number of other streamlining improvements and a power drag reduction system that takes “sticky air” from parts of the wings and fuselage to further reduce drag and feed an efficient turbocharged diesel engine at the rear of the plane.

“We’re twice as fast, we’re three times as fuel efficient as the average plane with the same engine,” McGinnis said.

“Now take and add to that, I’m not using their engine, I’m using an engine that’s 40 percent more efficient than theirs. Now you’re getting what we’re talking about here.”

The plane also will feature the latest in avionics, including a push-button system to automatically fly to land at the nearest and safest runway.

McGinnis is trying to put together a world-class business team to eventually bring the Synergy aircraft to the kit market, where it could be assembled with low-cost automotive engines, the turbocharged diesel engine or electric hybrid engines. That kit market supplies about half of the new planes in the general aviation industry, he said.

“Where this goes is we need to plan to make thousands of them,” McGinnis said of Synergy. “Right now we’re just trying to get the first one up in the air.”

Growing up, McGinnis was inspired by experimental aircraft such as the human-powered planes built by Paul MacCready in the 1970s and the Voyager built by Burt Rutan in the 1980s. Rutan’s was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.

“When I was a kid there was stuff like this going on and I thought it was too late for me,” McGinnis said. “I was inspired by that. I never thought I would be a part of it, let alone the driving force behind something like that.”

The goal is to get the Synergy prototype built and in the air this year and then debut it at AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wis. The annual event is put on every summer by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

For more information on the fundraising campaign, visit

For more information on Synergy, visit

Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at

Detail of the new engine with the model of the Synergy Aircraft in the background. The engine runs on diesel fuel rather than Aviation fuel.


A provided photo of the Synergy one quarter scale model in flight.


John McGinnis, left, and his father Pat McGinnis dust off and clean the one quarter scale model of the Synergy aircraft on at their shop in Kalispell.


John McGinnis, left, and John Paul Noyes in the shop where they are currently working to construct the full size version of their plane.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Libby fire remains 1.5 miles from mine site

July 20, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Daily Inter Lake A wildfire burning off Highway 37 about 4 miles north of Libby has grown to an estimated 40 to 60 acres since Thursday afternoon when it was first reported, and is now believed to be human-caused. T...


Read More

Flathead County jobless rate up slightly

July 20, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Daily Inter Lake Flathead County’s unemployment rate ticked upward just slightly in June, increasing from 4 to 4.2 percent, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry said Friday. The county had a workforce of 46,...


Read More

Women’s shelter opens in Kalispell

July 20, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Two years of construction and many more of prayer and Peggy’s House, a women’s and children’s shelter by A Ray of Hope, will open its doors on Saturday with a grand celebration. The shelter’s namesa...


Read More

Crews attack fire near Libby vermiculite mine

July 19, 2018 at 11:03 am | Daily Inter Lake A wildfire 4 miles northwest of Libby reached 30 acres in less than three hours Thursday afternoon, potentially threatening power transmission lines and requiring the precautionary deployment of a sp...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2018 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy