Most people have some sort of a hobby.
Some people travel or collect action figures. Others work on model trains or learn how to do tricks with their yo-yo. They’re normally activities a person can do at the end of the day, or take a nice vacation for, that don’t really take over their life. But that’s just most people.
Dave Gevers is not most people, in that regard. The Senior Technical Analyst at Closure Systems International has spent nearly three decades off and on designing his own airplane. Not a model airplane, mind you, but a fully-functional, innovational airplane he believes will revolutionize the modern aircraft.
This hobby of Gevers’ (pronounced Geevers) has been a long road, but with a manufacturer finally on board, the Genesis may finally soon take flight.
In the Beginning
Gevers first discovered his love for aviation in college. It was on a whim that he responded to an advertisement for an activity that would quickly take over his life.
“When I was at Purdue in the late ‘60s, I saw a call-out for the Purdue Pilot’s Club. They were giving rides for $5,” Gevers said. “So I went and got my airplane ride and decided this is something I need to do.”
From there, he took lessons and got his private license through the club.
He was drafted into the Army out of graduate school and took advantage of the military’s resources to get his glider pilots license.
“I had the G.I. Bill when I got out (of the Army) so I went back to Purdue and got my commercial license,” he said, which allowed him to become a flight instructor.
Over the last 40 years that Gevers has been soaring through the skies, he said he’s piloted around 50 different types of planes, although one remains his favorite.
“I’ve owned a Cessna 140 since 1978 and I still have it. I still fly it quite often.”
At the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport, Gevers has spent the last three years as the director of maintenance, inspecting aircraft and supervising maintenance. He said it’s a part-time job, but admits it’s where he spends most of his free time.
His main goal in aviation, however, was to become an aircraft manufacturer.
“Airplane designs are really not very innovative anymore,” Gevers said. “Airplanes all look about the same, from an engineering standpoint. So I saw some shortcomings with current designs, and just for fun I decided to try and solve those.”
He is calling his solution the Genesis, which represents a “rebirth of some old ideas.”
There were three main shortcomings in modern airplanes that Gevers set out to solve. The first problem deals with the loss of an engine on twin-engine crafts. In a typical plane, when one engine fails, the pilot has no choice but to put the plane down as soon as possible.
“This design solves that. Both engines are in the fuselage, so if one engine fails both propellers are still able to drive the plane forward,” Gevers explained, stating that it is safer than a typical twin-engine airplane.
The second issue Gevers wanted to focus on was the landing gear. His Genesis has multiple types of landing gear, allowing it to land on a variety of surfaces, including water and snow.
“I’ve made the landing gear doors stronger, so then they essentially become skis,” he said.
But amphibious takeoffs presented a new challenge. The propellers of the Genesis, normally low and right behind the wings for optimal flight efficiency, would strike the water. So Gevers designed a way for his propellers to swing up through a system of hydraulics to clear the water, then lower back down mid-flight to reduce drag.
“I designed it for universal use,” he said.
Then the final innovation, and perhaps the most noticeable, is the inclusion of telescopic wings, the first of its kind that can double in length at the flip of a switch.
“If you need something to get into the outback, or ponds and lakes, then you need a plane with longer wings. Same with surveillance or loitering,” he said. “But if you want to go fast, then you’ll need a shorter wing. This is a way to do both.”
Gevers said the reaction in the aviation community has been a mixed one, but not entirely unexpected considering the complex design of the aircraft.
“People who like to fly airplanes and want to experience the airplane love it,” he said, citing the versatility of its uses. “But manufacturers that have to figure out how to build it, don’t love it, or they’re afraid to say they do.”
To attract manufacturers, Gevers started his own company, Gevers Aircraft Inc., with a website devoted to the Genesis’ design specs and goal at geversaircraft.com. He’s even built his own wind tunnel with his brother, Matthew, in which they have proven his design will fly.
And now, almost 30 years after the idea first popped into his head, and after getting a nearly inch-think patent approved in 1997, Gevers finally signed a contract with the Halberd Corporation last month to produce a full-scale flying prototype.
“I used to think that I’d like to manufacture airplanes. Now I’d be happy if it actually was a good enough idea I saw somebody pick it up and use it,” Gevers said.
The Halberd Corporation, based in Las Vegas, seems to think it is a good idea. Known for the production of both short and long-range unmanned aircraft, Halberd sees the potential of Gevers’ aircraft being able to land on multiple surfaces and its ability to fly quickly or loiter above an area.
“As a former Navy Seal, I see numerous advantages for this unique configuration as it affords operation on snow, water and land,” Halberd President Reuben Lowing said in a press release. “The U.S. military, especially the Navy Seals will find these abilities superior to our competition.”
Halberd is currently working on three sizes of the Genesis — all amphibious.
Gevers hopes that by this time next year he’ll be able to fly the Genesis out of the Crawfordsville airport, an experience he believes will remain unmatched in all his years of aviation.
“That would be the crown of an engineering career — to see your innovative idea that didn’t catch on right away actually help mankind and have a place in history.”