The Antares MA-30 was designed by Russian engineer Sergey Zozulya and manufactured in 1991. Sergey designed the aircraft with triangular engineering, distinctive fairing, and landing gear in order for the ultralight to be a durable aircraft capable of flying on wheels, tundra tires, floats, or skis at any location around the world.
The MA-30 was built for strength and was constructed of titanium parts. The design featured a Rogallo wing and a trike configuration. One unique feature of the MA-30 was its fiberglass cowling, installed to protect the pilot from the wind and any weather the Antares might encounter. The MA-30 was controlled by the weight shift system common to many modern ultralights and powered by a Rotax 503 engine.
In 1992, Mike Jacober decided to fly his Antares MA-30 to the summit of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. Mike enlisted the help of fellow MA-30 pilot Joel Wallace, stepson Matthew Howard, and friend David Swendiman. Beginning around Christmas of 1992, the four began meeting weekly to discuss plans for the adventure, figuring what they’d need for equipment, fuel, etc. and making contingency plans for different situations.
On May 1, 1993, the Mount McKinley flying group launched their expedition from Talkeetna, at an altitude of 346 feet, with Matthew and David flying into Kahiltna Base Camp in a Cessna 185 with all the supplies, while Mike and Joel flew their MA-30s across the 60-plus mile glacier. The McKinley flying group spent a total of eight days at Kahiltna, five of which were spent gearing up for the flight to the summit.
On May 6, Mike and Joel pulled on their flying garb, put on their oxygen masks and cylinders and fired up their MA-30s. A string of small problems prevented Joel from reaching the summit, but that didn’t hinder Mike. After 15-20 minutes, Mike was high enough to cross the Kahiltna peaks and the valley to the south buttress of Mount McKinley. The MA-30 picked up some ridge lift for about two miles and enabled Mike to reach the south peak. At the peak, the ridge lift went away and Mike had to make 12 or 13 360º turns in front of the face to work his way up, eventually making it over the summit by about 150 feet, reaching an altitude of 20,470 feet. After circling the summit, Mike snapped a few pictures, turned off the engine, and glided back down to Kahiltna.
Over the years, Mike has been referred to as an aviation pioneer, a dedicated instructor, and a thermal lift junkie, and he certainly lived up to each title. After Mike’s passing in 2002 he was inducted into the EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame as one of the nation’s most respected ultralight pilots and promoters. Ginny Jacober, Mike’s widow, donated the historic MA-30 to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 2004.
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