Cougar Designer’s Desk #1

Cougar Designer’s Desk #1

As many of you know, we showed off the first bits of the Cougar (AKA 2 seat Panther) at Oshkosh 2019. Until this point, we had maintained “radio silence” about the project.  We simply shared that we intended to build a 2-seat version, had released a 3 view of what we thought it may be like, and that was it.  Now we are ready to publicly talk about it and document the build of the first aircraft.  The reason we wanted to show what we have so far, and a general idea of where were headed, is for feedback.  We wanted to know what the current climate is with “potential customers”.  To be clear, we are building Cougar #1 as a personal project, much like the Panther.  We want to Learn, Build and Fly, and see how it goes from there.  But… we wanted to know what potential builders of an aircraft in this class would want.

SO, we do not know when, how much or exactly how fast…, but below is what we do know at this point.

Our first thoughts of a two seat were a very slightly scaled up Panther.  In truth, even that is not 100% correct, as the Panther is a single seat version of a smallish 2 seat aircraft that I started to design a few years before the Panther.  It was originally called (in my head) the “Pop Rivet Rocket” or PRR.  It was initially to be a tandem conversion of a Sonex kit.  In the end I decided to start fresh and it evolved into the current Panther.  The natural progression was to add 20 inches to a Panther, add 6-inch wider flaps and ailerons to the current wing (along with any needed structural additions) and add 10 more gallons of gas.  We figured that all people really needed/wanted was a extra area called a seat to carry the “financial officer”.  When we finally started to lay out the standards and get moving, about 24 months ago, we had a design meeting.  Basically, Rachel and I had many talks on the long motor-home ride home from Oshkosh 17.

The buzz at the time from current builders was that a true 2 seat aircraft vs a single seat with a small jump seat was more desirable.  At that time, we looked at the Panthers that were flying and it was obvious that the 0-320 Lycoming was by far the desired engine.  We decided to build an aircraft with a “Lycoming” or clone, and full-sized front and rear cock pits.  This sent us down a path that didn’t really allow us to have any Panther part commonality.  The wing and tail both needed to be larger.  We took the opportunity to design this project in “3D” CAD or Solid Modeling (the Panther was all done in 2D) so the Cougar will not use any Panther components.  We have been using a cloud based solid modeling system called OnShape and we are very happy with the results.  At Oshkosh 19 we showed some load test structures, 2 views, basic specs for the first prototype and we asked for informal feedback.

Below is a is a configuration and option list of what we are currently building toward.

  • 2 seat tandem front seat solo, but with large rear cockpit and full canopy.
  • Unlike the RV-4 and 8 – the rear seat will have full canopy volume vs your head in little bubble type feeling.
  • The cockpits are both 28 inches wide. Imagine a side by side aircraft with similar width and comfort would require a 56 inch wide cockpit!
  • Front seat will have even more leg room than the Panther.
  • Large canopy for excellent visibility and comfort
  • Full dual controls. Control stick, rudder pedals and toe brakes, throttle, and a full size EFIS available for the rear seat. This will greatly increase the rear seat experience, and also allow real transition training for Panthers and Cougars.
  • Large baggage area with 60+lbs capacity (varies with empty CG and specific loading conditions)
  • Forward baggage area to help with CG and loading.
  • Welded forward “safety cage” like the Panther with large integrated roll over structure.
  • Tail dragger and Tri-gear configuration.
  • 7075-T651 Airfoil shaped legs with brake lines in rear and no need for further fairings.
  • All welded cages have mounts for both TD and Tri-Gear configuration so the airframes will all be convertible. This will “cost” less than 2 lbs. and is a no brainer option
  • New Tapered Folding wings, even easier and more useful than the Panther.
  • Over-sized aerodynamically, and mass balanced ailerons for snappy roll rates and light forces.
  • Large flaps for good landing approach control and soft/short field performance.
  • Aerodynamically and mass balanced rudder and elevator.
  • Have same sexy and sleek look as the Panther.

Our Prototype will be equipped for, and the production kits will support the following:

  • We will be using GRT 10.1 screens in front and rear cockpits
  • Matco wheels and brakes
  • ADSB in and out
  • Lighting for night flight
  • Front and rear seat ventilation and separate front/rear heat
  • IO-370 Titan engine @195 HP
  • Full inverted fuel and oil systems
  • Fixed Sensenich GA prop to start and configured for a CS prop in the future.
  • We are building the first aircraft from production tooling with fully CNC match tool parts
  • We are using all blind rivets for test and flying structures.

Since Oshkosh we have revised and finalized out tail kit, mostly the hinges and hydro press dies. We should build the final tail flying structures by end of August.

Then we will finish the wing rib tooling and build the load test sample of the wing.

For now, we have no other information available. Read that as “Please do not call or email asking for more information”.   We will post what we have when make substantial progress or want feedback.  I will document the build with somewhat regular “Designers’ Desk” or “Builders Bench”, and eventually “Test Pilots Posts” as we move along.  Rachel will be posting to the website and social media so feel free to leave comments etc.  Just know that we won’t be specifically answering questions at this point so we can concentrate on building.

Here are some snippets from our design studio OnShape – just to show what we have been working on.  (Some photos load slowly – please be patient)


Cougar tail overview

Cougar elevator hinge

Cougar rudder control horn

Cougar elevator and control horn

Share your thoughts