In The Works: Maverick Jets Leader

 - January 22, 2008, 5:02 AM

A Maverick Leader kit twinjet, registered as N750TJ, crashed in Melbourne, Fla., on January 24, killing the kit manufacturer’s chief pilot, Jack Reed. According to Sandy Scott, Reed had been out sick the week before the accident, complained of a headache that day and was flying erratically just before the crash. An autopsy revealed coronary blockage.

The all-composite, five-seat experimental jet, powered by a pair of 750-pound-thrust GE T58 turboshaft engines modified to turbofan configuration, crashed a quarter-mile northwest of the arrival end of Melbourne International’s Runway 9L following multiple go-arounds. Just after the 1650 EST takeoff, Reed radioed that he had a problem with the landing gear and flew by the tower several times. According to the NTSB’s preliminary report, he was going to attempt a belly landing on the grass between a runway and taxiway, but apparently lost control and crashed into trees at 1700.

The first of two Maverick kit jets reported to be flying, N750TJ was registered to the kit manufacturer, Maverick Jets of Melbourne, but had been developed by its predecessor company. The airplane had been displayed at aviation trade shows, including last year’s NBAA Convention. The Leader design was originally derived from the Seawind kit amphibian and kits are priced at $750,000, including engines and avionics. Maverick Jets owner Jim McCotter bought the company about a year-and-a-half ago. He is reportedly developing a six-seat production version of the Leader powered by engines in the 1,000- to 1,300-pound-thrust range.