I’ve seen and written about some truly odd recreational vehicles. The ones that seem to be wildest out there are the ones that try to be multiple types of vehicles at once. Near the top of that list has to be the MVP Aero Model 3, a plane that could touchdown on land, water or snow and then be used as a small camper and fishing boat.
MVP Aero opened its doors in 2011 by father and son team Darrell and Michael Lynds with friend Steve Pugh. The trio had an ambitious goal: to create a light sport aircraft that would earn the distinction of being the world’s most versatile plane. Yes, that’s what “MVP” means.
As pilots themselves, they felt aviators deserved more utility than the light sport aircraft on the market, and thus the Model 3 project was born.
As an aircraft, it can land on pavement, grass, snow, water and other surfaces depending on how the undercarriage is set up. It seats two and achieves a 104 knot cruising speed carrying up to about 450 pounds. That performance comes a Rotax 912 making 80 HP or a Rotax 914 making 115 HP.
Of course, the Model 3 isn’t just a plane, so it also has some going on as a boat, too. It features a configurable floor where the pilot could rearrange the seats to set the plane up for fishing or swimming or be removed entirely to turn the cockpit into a tent camper.
There are more clever tricks going on, too, from implements to hang a hammock between the engine and tail to a water resistant instrument panel. Even the wings can be folded up. MVP Aero even suggested that you’d be able to cook food on an aviation gas-fed stove.
This all sounds pretty unbelievable, but MVP Aero actually got legitimate help in making this plane a reality. The design was led by Mike Van Staagen, a former Cirrus and Sikorsky engineer notable for his role in developing the Cirrus Vision SF50.
The little plane was to be built with carbon and glass composites and featured fabric covered wings. The initial model would fall into the Experimental Amateur Built Kit (E-AB) category with later models being Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) and Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA). Pricing was projected to start at $169,000 for the kit version and $189,000 for fully built ones.
We’ve actually written about this all the way back in 2014, but sadly, it seems the project has been lost to time.
MVP Aero flew a 30 percent scaled model in 2013. That was followed up with a full-scale mockup unveiled at EAA Airventure 2014.
MVP said that the plane would release in 2017, but that didn’t happen. The company pushed production to 2018 and 2019. MVP’s site was still up and marketing the plane in 2020, but as of now the site is down.
It’s unclear where the project is today, and that’s sad, because this thing is pretty neat. And while it may never come, there are vehicles out there that are built to similar versatility goals like the Sea-Doo Switch and Happier Camper HC1.