Luminati unveils aircraft, introduces new project at EPCAL

Luminati Aerospace Calverton UAV

Luminati Aerospace isn’t just building unmanned aerial vehicles at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The company is also building an amphibious aircraft.

The SeaMax M-22 amphibious aircraft is the first Special Light-Sport Aircraft certified flying boat in the world, according tochief executive officer Daniel Preston. The company recently partnered with SeaMax America to manufacture the amphibious aircraft, Mr. Preston said.

This latest project, combined with the UAV work already taking place at Luminati, should result in a drastic increase in the number of people working there, Mr. Preston said.

“We have 25 employees now, within three years we hope to be up to about 800,” he said at an invitation-only event on the company’s runway Friday.

Initially, the first wave of hirings relating to the SeaMax project should be about 40 employees, he said.

“We have to go to full production faster,” Mr. Preston said. “If we’re only rolling out one aircraft every couple of months, we’re leaving jobs and production capacity on the table.”

The partnership allows Luminati to engage in full-scale production of the SeaMax while the UAC is still in the development stages.

Richard Rofe of SeaMax America, which is based in Great Neck, purchased the U.S. distribution rights to the SeaMax brand in 2012.

As much as the news of the SeaMax partnership made waves at Friday’s event, it was the UAV that was on full display for the 200 guests in attendance. Luminati Chief Pilot Robert Lutz flew the solar electric powered VO-SubStrata UAV, which can fly manned or unmanned, and has the capacity to fly perpetually above the stratosphere.

“Our primary mission is perpetual flight to provide a platform for internet connectivity for the four billion [people] remaining in the world who do not have access to information services,” Mr. Preston said.

“I cannot think of another engineering project in the world today that will have a greater social impact,” he said.

Despite strong winds, the VO-SubStrata, controlled by Mr. Lutz, took over from the EPCAL runway and flew quietly around for about 15 minutes before landing.

Officials say it’s the first aircraft to be designed and built at EPCAL since Grumman ceased manufacturing there about 23 years ago.

The Grumman Corporation employed about 2,000 people in Calverton, according to former Congressman George Hochbrueckner, who attended Friday’s demonstration, and who lobbied for the former Navy land where Grumman operated  to be given to Riverhead Town in the mid-1990s.

At Friday’s event, speakers discussed the important role Grumman and Long Island placed in building military aircraft and other space vehicles that led to America’s dominance in the world, and stressed that Luminati could signify the start of a new era of Long Island dominance in the aviation field. Among those who spoke were Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter; County Executive Steve Bellone; Andrew Parton, the executive director of the Cradle of Aviation Museum; and Jeff Clyman, the president of the American Air Power Museum in Farmingdale.

Top Caption: Luminati chief pilot Robert Lutz flies the company’s UAV over the Enterprise Park at Calverton Friday. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

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