For more than 18 years Mr Phillips has pursued his dream...
By ALAN HARDIE
An engineer’s lifelong dream came another step closer to reality when he installed a massive 300hp engine into a flying saucer he built in Maitland.
For several hours last week Duan Phillips and a friend – armed with everything from hand spanners to the latest electrical gear – laboured to install the former aircraft engine inside the flying saucer at Maitland Aerodrome in Rutherford.
And he emerged triumphant, setting March or April next year as the date for starting the engine and taking to the air in his revolutionary craft.
As the date for his historic flight draws nearer, great-grandfather Mr Phillips, 87, outlined a plan to enroll sponsors to advertise on his flying saucer.
For more than 18 years Mr Phillips has pursued his dream.
His said his flying saucer, made of kevlar and fibreglass and powered by a Volkswagen car engine, had already made an initial take-off, but it lacked the power to properly propel the craft.
“I believe my flying saucer will be a unique platform for advertising,” he told the Mercury.
“There will be lights on the craft so the advertisements can be easily seen.”
The operation to install the engine took place after a crane was brought in to lift it into place.
“I needed a replacement engine after a radial engine of 200hp had been donated,” Mr Phillips said.
“It was a good engine and would have fitted into the saucer nicely, but it was not powerful enough.
“Then, for $200, I got a Continental 520 engine of 300 horsepower.
“It had been used to power a Bonanza aircraft and it came with a propeller.
“I had to make a special cradle for the engine to sit in so before it could be installed in the flying saucer.
“It was an old engine but it works well. It cost about $200 – compared to a new one, which would have cost about $26,000.”
Even lifted by a crane, the engine was difficult to get into the flying saucer.
“There is still a lot of work to do before I can start it up,” Mr Phillips said.”