Patchen Explorer / Observer
Patchen Explorer N1EX
Only one Patchen Explorer was ever built, in the 1960s, registered N1EX.
By 1982 the prototype was shipped to the Republic of South Africa and evaluated by the SAAF's test flight and development centre for use as a light recon forward air control aircraft, but was not quite what was required. As a result it languished in a hangar for many years before being donated to the SAAF Museum.
National Dynamics (Pty) Ltd, South Africa, was formed 1975 after acquiring the prototype and all production rights of the Patchen Explorer/Observer four-seat cabin lightplane conceived originally by Thurston Aviation Corporation in the U.S.A., as a landplane development of the Teal amphibian.
Engine: Lycoming, 200hp
Max speed: 130 mph
Cruise speed: 115 mph
The aircraft is still alive and well, operated by the South African Air Force Museum. Why only one prototype was ever built I do not know, as it is a great little aircraft with a fantastic helicopter-type view from the cockpit. I will admit that it does not have the greatest control harmony (sensitive rudder and elevator, heavy ailerons), but it goes well with a 200hp Lycoming and variable-pitch prop. I served with the SAAF Museum during 1999 as a display pilot and flew the Patchen at many airshows. It looks so weird that it attracts far more interest at airshows than many of the vintage aircraft! (James R Feuilherade 11/15/00)