Welcome to Mirage Aircraft's Marathon and Celerity series, unique sportplanes that are "Fast with class!" Crafted to really move you, both literally and figuratively! With their streamlined double tapered wings and tail, a roomy and quiet cockpit, and 150 to 180 horsepower up front, you will rethink the notion of cross country flight. You're going to find out that having the best airplane in its class will not bankrupt you, does not require superhuman aircraft construction skills, and it doesn't mean that you have to fly in a noisy, cramped cockpit holding onto baggage! What’s more, the Celerity and Marathon feature easy-build wood structures with fiberglass over shaped foam. This unique construction combination absorbs sound and vibration, giving you the quietest ride in the industry.
The word "Celerity" is unfamiliar to most people. It means "speed" or "rapidity" and comes from the same root word as "accelerate." It's also a good description of our flagship airplane, the Celerity. The word "Marathon" is synonymous with speed and endurance, qualities you will appreciate in our new tricycle gear speedster. And the word "Mirage" in our corporate name is synonymous with "dream," describing your dream of building your own beautiful airplane.
The fluid almost dreamlike streamlines of gracefully styled one-piece fiberglass skin gives the builder a totally smooth surface without the drag caused by rivets, joints and abrupt angles. Inside your dream machine you will ride in total comfort, not sitting on a floor pad with your knees up in front of you. Our ergonomic adjustable seats make you feel good at the end of a long flight, something you probably don't associate with most small aircraft.
In recent years we have all been spoiled by fast, efficient cars that offer intelligent use of storage space. So we actually expect to be able to take real baggage with us when we fly someplace! Unfortunately many homebuilt airplane designs won't let you do that. But with more than 12 cubic feet of baggage capacity in the Marathon and Celerity, you won’t have to hold extraneous items on your lap, or shove them under or behind the seat, any longer. Our cavernous, covered baggage compartment holds up to 60 pounds of luggage, plus our large, deep hat rack extends almost four feet for those bulky, oversize but light weight items such as packages, a picnic basket or folding lawn chairs.
At last, you won't need to shove things between you and your passenger or place items on the floorboards, dangerous but all too common practices in the cramped cockpits of our competitors. Our roomy cockpit and large instrument panel (with a real glove box!) provide plenty of room for both IFR instrumentation and those critical items you need to have close at hand, but kept out of the way when you are handling cockpit chores.
Our standard range tanks will take you more than 700 miles between refueling stops at 75 per cent power, and still leave you with fuel reserves for another 45 minutes of cruising flight. And at popular economy cruise settings you can go another 125 to 200 additional miles depending on your power settings, up to a whopping 900 miles on a tank of gas!
Hopefully you're beginning to understand why sales of plans and components for the Marathon and Celerity are literally booming! Maybe you're beginning to appreciate why it's worth your time to take a good hard look at these designs, both of them leaders in their respective classes.
So let's take a few minutes right now to find out more about what's inside the Celerity and the Marathon. Hopefully we can anticipate the answers to your questions and help you get started building the airplane of your dreams!
Aviators have dreamed for years of an airplane that is solid yet lightweight, fast but inexpensive, classy and yet simple. A gentleman named Larry Burton shared that dream, only he decided to do something about it! Larry Burton came up through the ranks, building stick and tissue model airplanes as a child, later graduating to flying lessons and then construction of his own airplane, a Cavalier that was famous in its own right.
Always fascinated by speed, Larry was a model airplane, motorcyclist and auto racing enthusiast as well as a dedicated sportplane builder. Larry's aircraft reflected his very high standards of aircraft design and craftsmanship. His distinctive and unique Cavalier, which he dubbed "His Mistress," won numerous awards at air shows and fly-ins and provided many years of flying pleasure.
When Larry Burton wanted a faster, more roomy aircraft that was easier to build, it was characteristic of him to make his own design, the Celerity, and then have an aeronautical engineer help work up the plans. Not only that, Larry then went out and sawed all his own lumber from a Port Orford cedar tree salvaged from a ravine to make the prototype Celerity shown on the cover!
Larry’s beautiful Celerity won awards all the way from his home town of Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Oshkosh. He subsequently flew the prototype airplane more than 900 hours over nearly a decade, proving its worth as a comfortable, fast, and affordable cross-country aircraft. As Larry used to say, the Celerity is “Fast with Class.”
Unfortunately, the world of sport aviation lost Larry in late 1994 due to a sudden heart attack while he was walking out to his shop. But Larry's dream lives on in the Marathon and Celerity designs. The owners of Mirage Aircraft are dedicated, as Larry was, to making your airplane building and flying experiences enjoyable.
The Marathon and Celerity are, first and foremost, designed for speed and comfort. The main difference between the two aircraft is the landing gear--the Celerity is an all-retractable, tailwheel type design and the Marathon features fixed tricycle gear. The airframes are otherwise almost identical. They both fly predictably, with no unusual quirks or super high-speed takeoffs and landings to get used to.
Both the Marathon and Celerity are two-place aircraft with wood structure and fiberglass covering that will fly you where you want to go in speed, style, and outstanding comfort. Since the structural frame of the airplane is wood, a natural sound deadening material, we have been able to reduce cabin noise to levels the builders of metal, fabric or all composite airplanes can only dream about. The Marathon and Celerity both offer excellent comfort and visibility with a 40-inch wide cockpit and more upright seating. We are adding an extended "EZ-step" and recessed grab handle for easier boarding of the tri-gear Marathon.
Quality, speed, and comfort are hallmarks of the original Celerity design that have been incorporated into our new Mirage Marathon with its fixed gear. We believe the new Marathon tri-gear will appeal to persons who have little or no tail dragger experience and to those who would like to realize additional savings in builder time and cost.
We urge you to spend some time looking at various designs carefully. You will find that we have greatly reduced the parts count, and the related number of cutting, shaping and fitting operations that you need to do in order to build the airplane. All of the wing ribs are cut from a single material (plywood) and each rib is one-piece! Compare that with other designs where each rib might consist of 10 to 15 or more pieces that all have to be put together in a jig. We have also greatly reduced the amount of welding required for the construction of hardware, fittings and controls. If you opt for the Celerity rather than the Marathon, you will however have to construct your own landing gear, as shown below, or find a fabrication shop that can do this for you.
The Celerity was originally designed for 150 to 180 horsepower Lycoming engines. Just as introduction of tricycle gear offers our builder/pilots more variety, we now encourage the use of alternative power plants. We have examined several automotive engines that are available for the homebuilt aircraft market. However, many auto engines turn out to be a little heavy, and due to their size and shape, difficulty arises in making the front of the aircraft clean and sleek.
We currently have several builders planning to use the 2.2 liter Subaru Legacy engine. At the time of Larry’s death he was building a Celerity with a 170 hp Subaru engine and a Ross 2.17 to 1 propeller speed reduction unit (PSRU). This engine shows excellent potential with its electronic ignition, fuel injection, and automatic mixture leaning to 15,000 feet. Also, the Subaru has an excellent track record and it is being used in numerous other experimental aircraft designs. Aircraft builders using the Subaru engine are especially pleased with its light weight and its great fuel economy numbers. No wonder the ranks of those builders using Subaru engines are steadily growing!
We are also seeing a lot of other experimentation with auto engines, especially the hot little V6 engines produced by GM, Ford and Chrysler. We also have builders experimenting with the Mazda rotary engine, the older aluminum block Buick V8s, and even a Cadillac Northstar engine! We will keep subscribers to the “Mirage Aircraft Builder,” our newsletter, updated on any recent engine developments.
The basic airframes of both the Marathon and the Celerity are constructed of wood. We have been asked, “Why wood?” The answer is, wood offers the average builder ease of construction, the use of ordinary tools and equipment, and with the use of modern glues and sealers, very high strength and durability with low weight. Wood has the time-honored respect of aircraft engineers, has been used to construct wing spars for aerobatic aircraft for many years, and has been extensively used on recent production aircraft such as the Bellanca.
Also, the wood airframe builds very fast and you see results immediately. Builders have reported constructing the entire wood fuselage and tail section in less than 100 hours logged time. And our wing ribs are simple, cut from full size patterns laid over 1/4 inch plywood, rather than built up piece by piece in table top jigs. In fact, all of the wood assemblies in the Marathon and Celerity are designed for fast construction by average builders. When sealed with modern urethane type varnish or thinned epoxy, the wood airframe will last indefinitely.
But even more important than the ease with which you can work wood, the strength and fatigue properties of aircraft grade wood are well known. Since the builder does not manufacture the actual piece of wood, the strength of the member does not depend on the builder's skill as much as, for example, built up composite wing spars where the strength and fatigue properties are directly related to the builder's construction skills.
Our fuselage features wood frame "truss" type construction using 3/4 inch square Sitka spruce framing. The box type frame is covered with 1.5 mm birch plywood skin for continuous gusseting, with lightening holes used to reduce weight. (See photos) The wood is all covered with foam and fiberglass, unlike designs that use heavier wood skin. As we have mentioned, the tremendous sound deadening properties of wood, foam and fiberglass make the Celerity and Marathon the most quiet and comfortable aircraft in their class.
After the fuselage box assembly is built and sealed with Varathane and the hardware is mounted in place, it is covered with a layer of one-inch foam and sanded to shape, then covered with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin. Techniques used in glassing and finishing the Marathon and Celerity are easily learned, even by people who have never done this sort of construction before. The result is an extremely smooth finish that reduces drag and is ready to accept nearly any type of painted finish.
We highly recommend the CONSTRUCTION VIDEO TAPES, available from Mirage Aircraft, Inc., for those who wish to learn about Celerity and Marathon wood construction techniques, fiberglass skills, installation of controls, fuel cell construction, etc. There are presently five titles available, and we will be offering more in the future.
The wing and tail skins, as well as the turtle deck, are similarly constructed except that we use a thinner 1/4 to 1/2 inch foam core with fiberglass and epoxy resin bonded to both the inside and outside. This creates an extremely strong, featherweight "sandwich" type skin. The strength to weight ratio of sandwich core composite panels is truly amazing, relegating aluminum and fabric covering to curiosity status.
The canopy of the Celerity slides back to expose the entire cabin area for easy entry and egress. The lift-up type canopy on the prototype has been eliminated because it was difficult to build and was unsteady on its articulated supports. Your canopy will have a built-in tube steel frame for rigidity and rollover protection. Also, this will help to maintain a better quality canopy seal.
The Marathon will feature a single, two-thirds gull wing type canopy door that you can more easily manufacture. It will eliminate a lot of the problems associated with getting a good seal around a sliding canopy and will be much easier to construct and install.
Because of our extreme devotion to your comfort and safety, we are also working on an emergency window exit, something you just don't see on other sportplane designs. They seem to be conceived with the notion that nothing bad can ever happen. Take it from those who know, it's very comforting to be able to pop open an escape hatch from either the inside or outside of the airplane in case of emergency!
On the comfort side, our roomy cabin, 40 inches across, can be beautifully appointed with custom upholstery, crafted in part from Temperfoam®, giving the ultimate in comfort for the pilot and passenger. The seats are individually adjustable for persons of different sizes, and the builder has the option of forming a personally fitted, ergonomic seat back made from fiberglass with a foam core, or a plywood seat back. The builder or an upholstery shop should have no trouble installing custom upholstery. Our interiors feature solid backing everywhere the material needs to be attached.
The Celerity and Marathon are both equipped with dual stick controls, a popular design that is easy to construct. Some pilots have expressed concern over using a control stick (or "joy stick") rather than a yoke type control. Actually the transition to a stick control is extremely easy, and everyone who has tried both prefers the stick over yoke control. The armed forces have performed numerous studies and you will find stick controls in all their fighter aircraft. The only reason so many of the commercially available aircraft designs (Beech, Cessna, Piper) use a yoke type control is because they are yesterday’s designs. (1930's and 1940's) At that time their promoters were trying to interest every auto owner in buying an aircraft, and it was believed that the control yoke's resemblance to the steering wheel on an automobile would increase airplane sales!
The Marathon and Celerity instrument panels provide plenty of room for all IFR instruments and radios, especially since there isn't a control yoke in the way. The radio stack is in the center of the panel, and on the right side there's room for a glove box and other storage. Seat belt and harness attachments are well placed and securely anchored for safety. Baggage storage of up to 60 pounds is provided in a compartment behind the seats, which is covered with a nicely fitting lid constructed from foam-core fiberglass.
With the more upright seating that is a hallmark of both the Marathon and Celerity designs, and with plenty of cockpit room for looking around, you will find that visibility from the cockpit is outstanding to nearly 270 degrees. You can purchase a “blown” Plexiglass canopy from Van’s Aircraft and adapt it to your Celerity or Marathon. Or, you can construct gull-wing type entry doors for easy cockpit access.
Mirage Aircraft's double tapered wing (tapered in both thickness and chord) enhances the graceful beauty of the airplane. The wing construction utilizes a strong wood box type spar, plywood ribs, and a wood rear spar. All the covering on the wing uses a layer of 1/4 inch high density foam with a single layer of fiberglass cloth on the inside and three layers of glass cloth bonded to the outside after the foam has been sanded to shape. The tail is constructed in similar fashion.
The Celerity and Marathon airfoil is the proven 23000 series, 23015 tapering to 23010 at the tip, with 2˝ degrees of washout. Unlike some aircraft, the one-piece wing on the Celerity or Marathon is removable. This makes construction easier because you can mount the wing on a stand and rotate it as your work on it, thus allowing construction in a smaller workspace. You can work on the fuselage and the wing separately, storing one or the other out of the way.
The Celerity prototype (pictured in front) had wing tip tanks with 15 gallons of fuel capacity on each side. Auxiliary tanks (five gallons each) were installed between the front and rear wing spars. We now offer wing leading edge fuel tanks with a total fuel capacity of 40 gallons on the Marathon. The Celerity leading edge tanks are limited to 30 gallons total capacity because of the need for a landing gear wheel well, so the builder may wish to install auxiliary tanks behind the main spar. Unlike many designs, we do not carry fuel inside the fuselage, not even a small "header" tank, for safety reasons!
With a fuel capacity of approximately 40 gallons in the Marathon, you will have a 75 per cent power operating range of more than 700 miles, with reserves. If you have been around Piper Cherokees or Cessna Skyhawks, you need to change your way of thinking--you simply do not need 50 gallon tanks with an airplane this fast! When you are cruising at 180 mph or more (versus 125 mph with the same engine in a slower design), your need for fuel capacity decreases proportionately. And flying around with unneeded fuel just detracts from the performance and the useful load of the aircraft.
The retractable gear on the Celerity is an electro-hydraulic actuated system using slider type gear legs designed by Mirage Aircraft, Inc. A hydraulic pump driven by an electric motor supplies pressure to the landing gear actuation cylinders. A unique feature of the retractable gear Celerity is that even the tail wheel retracts, reducing landing gear drag to zero in cruise. High quality wheels and brakes from Matco allow the retractable main gear to fold completely into the wing with no bumps or bulges in the gear doors.
The Mirage Marathon features fixed tricycle gear manufactured from spring steel or aluminum. It's about as simple as you can get, with a swiveling (castering) nose wheel. Steering on the ground is accomplished with the rudder and differential braking. Once installed, our landing gear is virtually maintenance free.
We can provide the drawings for you to make your landing gear, or you may wish to work with a fabricator. We will work with you no matter which option you choose.
The Celerity is a delightful airplane to fly. Ground handling is excellent and much easier than many tailwheel type aircraft. A competent tail dragger pilot should have no problem. Visibility over the nose is good and the controls are responsive. The use of proven landing gear technology will make the Marathon also easy to handle on the ground, and adapting the Celerity airfoil and controls to the Marathon design should give it the same excellent flying qualities.
After a short take-off roll (600 feet at sea level, 1,500 feet at 4,100 feet elevation), you'll lift off at about 60 to 65 mph. Your climbout is 1,500 to 2,000 fpm depending on the gross weight. Best rate of climb is 110 mph, and best angle is 90 mph. Once level, speed builds up rather quickly and you soon find yourself slipping along at 200-plus mph cruise in the Celerity and around 185 mph in the Marathon (based on 150 to 160 hp Lycoming engines and a constant speed prop in the Celerity). If you like long cross-country flights, you will get where you are going in a hurry.
With the retractable Celerity, your true airspeed at cruise is 200 to 205 mph using only a 160 horsepower Lycoming engine with a constant speed prop! That’s about 190 mph indicated airspeed at 2,300 rpm and 20 inches manifold pressure. At 2,000 feet msl, settings of 2,400 rpm and 24 inches manifold pressure yield a speed of 200 mph indicated, and 25 square gives 210 mph indicated. Top speed is 220 mph.
We expect a very high level of performance with our new fixed gear Marathon. It should cruise at about 185 mph, and the rate of climb will be about 1,500 to 2,000 fpm. Once you reach cruise in either aircraft, you will find the control response is light and quick, similar to other high performance aircraft.
Roll response is excellent, with coordinated aileron and rudder inputs. The cabin is quieter than anything you've ever flown, and the excellent visibility will really be appreciated. You'll always feel safe in cruise, with the knowledge that your wing is designed for plus 6 and minus 3 G's.
When it's time to slow down you have to plan ahead with such a sleek bird! The Celerity landing gear can be extended at speeds below 100 mph, and pattern speeds of about 85-90 mph are just about right for either design. Extend the big 80-inch flaps as needed, and bring your Celerity or Marathon in “over the fence” at about 70. You will touch down at less than 60 mph in a full stall type landing. A landing rollout of as little as 600 feet can be expected, due to the low landing speed!
Your Celerity or Marathon will be a fun, responsive aircraft for your flying pleasure. You will get more pleasure from flying your own Celerity or Marathon, a beautiful plane you have crafted with your own hands, than you have ever had with any other high performance aircraft, no matter who constructed it. To tell the truth, you will probably have more fun than any one person deserves!
Fuel stops will never be the same either! You better be prepared to meet a lot of people, because you won’t be able to pull up at a gas pump, even at a small airport, without a crowd quickly forming to admire and ask you questions about your beautiful airplane, one that you created with your own hands.
But the real beauty of your Marathon or Celerity is most fully appreciated by you, the builder who has lovingly crafted his or her showpiece, a unique airplane like no other. For no other aircraft offers the combination of speed, beauty, strength, economy, safety, and ease of construction that Marathon and Celerity builders simply take for granted. “Fast with Class!”
The most basic shop space required to build your airplane is a single car garage (14 X 24 feet) or equivalent. A bench 28 inches wide and the length of the shop (24 feet) must be built to construct the wing spar. Usually you can add extensions to an eight-foot bench and take them down afterwards. About 16 feet of tabletop is needed for building the fuselage. Some method of storage should also be planned, such as parts drawers, bins, tool storage, and racks to store wood and foam pieces. Basic tools for construction include:
Optional tools which are nice to have, but not required, include a band saw, drill press and belt sander. Some builders have been able to borrow certain tools they don’t own from friends, or rent them when needed.
This is a natural question, often asked by prospective builders. It relates to their ability to perform all the work necessary to complete an aircraft. The builder should have some prior experience in woodworking. Most skills, however, can be learned with practice. You can also find professional instruction at local EAA chapters, community colleges, etc. If you just ask, many other sportplane builders are more than willing to let you help them, or they will help you with your project or lend you a tool.
Then there is Mirage Aircraft, Inc. We are committed to helping our builders complete their project:
The basic Celerity airframe can be built for approximately $12,000 to $14,000, depending on various options that you choose. With the simpler fixed gear Marathon, plan to spend between $8,500 and $10,500, depending on your choice of pre-built options. At this stage your airframe is ready for wheels, tires and brakes, paint, interior, and your choice of engine, prop, instruments and radios.
The engine and propeller choices approved for use in the Marathon and Celerity can vary greatly in price, but this gives the builder a lot of flexibility. For those on a tight budget, or if you simply prefer automotive engine reliability, a used auto engine, speed reduction unit and new fixed pitch prop can be installed for $5,000 or less. This will give you excellent performance. A new Lycoming engine with a new constant speed prop will run $20,000 or more.
You also have a great deal of flexibility in choosing and installing your instruments, radios, paint, interior, and lighting. Builders who choose to do their own sewing and painting, who don’t need any radios, and who purchase used instruments and lights, may spend less than $1,500 finishing their airframe. At the other end of the spectrum, those who want an all out IFR panel, custom paint, and plush upholstery, should plan on spending another $20,000 or even more. Either way, it's not bad for a brand new airplane that will last the rest of your life!
Material packages are available from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. (Western U.S. 1-800-824-1930, or Eastern U.S. 1-800-831-2949--they also have international warehouses.)
Mirage Aircraft, Inc., offers a set of plans for the Celerity or the Marathon priced at just $250.00 which includes U.S. shipping. (Add $25.00 for international shipping) The plans are well illustrated with many parts drawn full size. All ribs are full size and fittings are drawn to size and are shown in multi-view for clarity. The plans were drawn by an aeronautical engineer. Any changes are sent to builders free of charge, as long as we have your correct address.
We offer a set of six excellent construction video tapes (VHS) at $25.00 for each video, postpaid. (Shipping is extra for overseas orders). See below for a list of the construction video contents. We also have a bi-monthly newsletter, “Mirage Aircraft Builder,” available for just $7.50 per year ($10.00 international) to keep you well informed and to help maintain your level of enthusiasm.
Today there are many choices available for the sportplane builder. If you look at all of them, you will see why the Celerity or the Marathon is your design by choice:
If the qualities mentioned above are important to you, then you have found the airplane you should be building. Celerity and Marathon are no-compromise designs for the discerning airman--you don’t have to compromise quality for cost, or give up performance for easy handling.
One of our builders has said his plane is “In a class by itself.” Other aircraft designs may do one thing quite well, or fulfill a certain expectation but disappoint you in other respects. You won’t really find another airplane as unique as the Celerity or the Marathon, proven designs that do so many things so well.
If you agree, all you need to do is fill out the order blank, start ordering your building materials, line up your tools and get started! You will be in good company, and help is readily available from the series of six excellent Construction Videos, most of them featuring Celerity designer Larry Burton.
Answers to your questions are usually just moments away when you make a phone call to Mirage Aircraft. Finally, “Mirage Aircraft Builder,” our newsletter, will keep you enthused, informed, and up to date on what’s happening with our design, our builders, and the products and supplies we evaluate on a regular basis.
We are dedicated to having successful builders of our aircraft, people like you who are glad they chose this project. Builders who are energized by an opportunity to build the very best!
We hope to have you on board soon as a builder of your very own dream machine. Ordering information is contained in the next few pages of this booklet. We accept checks and money orders, and all the prices quoted for merchandise include postage and shipping within the U.S.
As a builder, you will be asked to sign a Builder’s Agreement before you begin construction. This agreement limits you to the building of only one airplane from a set of plans, restricts you from manufacturing parts for sale to others, and limits the liability of Mirage Aircraft, Inc., against any possible builder errors or substandard workmanship.
You can start building the airplane of your dreams in a couple of weeks! So why delay any longer? Start your Celerity or Marathon now and in a few years you will be proudly showing your airplane to others and using it for quick, safe and economical cross-country flight. Join other satisfied builders across the country and around the world, who are making their dreams into reality!
Materials kits are available from
Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. (Western U.S. 1-800-824-1930, or Eastern
U.S. 1-800-831-2949--they also have international warehouses.) Call them for
their catalog and for price quotes on the materials packages. All prices subject to
change without prior notice. When you order, tell them you are building a
Marathon or Celerity!
VHS format only. Only $25.00 each postpaid ($30.00 international) from Mirage
|Construction Video No. 1|
|Construction Video No. 2|
|Construction Video No. 3|
|Construction Video No. 4|
|Construction Video No. 5|
|Construction Video No. 6 - “Easy Fiberglassing”|