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Luminati to unveil solar-powered aircraft built in Calverton

Luminati Aerospace chief executive Daniel Preston at a

Luminati Aerospace chief executive Daniel Preston at a Riverhead Town meeting on Oct. 8, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Luminati Aerospace LLC, the enigmatic Calverton aerospace startup whose client is a major tech company, Friday plans to unveil and fly a solar-powered aircraft that it designed and built.

The company, which burst into view in September when it acquired the property of Skydive Long Island, said it will take the wraps off its homegrown V0-SubStrata aircraft.

When it was shown in April at the Sun ‘n fun Int’l Fly-In Expo in Lakeland, Florida, General Aviation News reported that the single-seat aircraft, with a 43-foot wingspan, was powered by a 27-horsepower motor and had climbed as high as 28,000 feet.

Luminati chief executive Daniel Preston has declined to identify the company’s client funding development of unmanned aerial vehicles capable of remaining aloft for long periods and beaming internet service to the ground.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last fall said the social networking giant “has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky.”

A Facebook spokeswoman Thursday said the company had “nothing new to share.”

Preston formerly was an executive at Brooklyn-based Atair Aerospace, whose EXO-Wing, described then as the world’s smallest human-piloted jet airplane, went on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008.

Luminati also announced that it has formed a joint venture with Great Neck-based SeaMax America LLC to manufacture amphibious aircraft that fit into the Federal Aviation Administration’s light sport aircraft category created in 2004.

Luminati has invested in advanced tools to manufacture lightweight composites, and the company said the joint venture aims to “take advantage of the state of the art facilities” and expertise of the Luminati team.

Luminati, which has invited political and aviation figures, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, to the Friday event, said the V0-SubStrata is the first aircraft to be built at the former Calverton Navy facility since Grumman Corp. stopped manufacturing there 23 years ago.

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