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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Transcontinental Gyroplane Record Underway Now
By Dan Johnson, August 25, 2015

As I write this, an intrepid gyro pilot is "out on the course" as we used to say when I flew in hang gliding competitions. By the time you read this, he may be all the way home. What a great effort! I hope Paul earns a world record but either way, I feel certain he enjoyed the experience.

A Magni M-22 Voyager in flight. photo courtesy of Greg Gremminger
"Paul Salmon is currently crossing the country in a record attempt in a Magni M22," said Greg Gremminger, importer for the Italian Magni Gyro line of aircraft. "He is trying to set the record for a gyroplane to cross the country in both directions."

Greg added that Paul is on pace to set the record time, back and forth, in just four days. "This attempt is in the 500 kilogram + (1,100 pound) gyroplane category," added Greg. "There are no records established for this category. The under 500 kilogram category gyro record is currently about 14 days. So, if Paul is successful, he will hold the record for gyroplanes overall, and gyroplanes under 500 kilogram."

"Paul named his gyro "Missing Link II," said Greg. "Johnny Miller set the initial gyroplane record in his "Missing Link" Autogyro in May of 1931." Eighty four years later, Paul left Torrance, California on Sunday morning, August 23rd at 6:00 AM as soon as the tower opened. He arrived in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday evening. He's already headed back west, and according to Greg, will probably stop for the night in El Paso, Texas. If all goes well, he should arrive back in California on Wednesday evening the 26th. Whew!

If you read this soon enough, you can follow the final stretch at this link.

Catch our video with Greg Gremminger to hear about two models from Magni Gyro (shot at the Midwest LSA Expo that is coming up on September 10-11-12).
On Friday the 21st Paul repositioned Missing Link II to Torrance California from his home base in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He expected to set a new Eastbound Transcontinental Gyroplane record. "After arriving in Jacksonville I will be filing some paperwork, refueling the gyroplane and departing on the return flight back to Torrance, California," wrote Paul. The return trip will establish a new Westbound Transcontinental Gyroplane record, as well as a new Transcontinental "Round trip" Gyroplane record.

According to Paul, the first transcontinental gyroplane flight and record was set by Johnny Miller in May of 1931. Amelia Earhart attempted the flight but was unsuccessful. "Andy Keech is the current holder of the record," Paul added, "and I am attempting to improve on his record."

Arriving at Jacksonville at about 5:30 Florida time, Paul took two days to fly across the country, reported Greg. His first day of flying was about 16 hours and the second day about 14.5 hours. "The record is for the total time to cross the country and return. So, this will be about 4 days," wrote Greg, smashing the current record of 14 days.

As he made his mad dash east then west, Paul was carrying 100 small American flags. "These will be mounted in a display and sold for $100 each," wrote Paul. He indicated the proceeds will be sent to the ALS Association, in memory of Dr. Scott Gibbs, a former helicopter student of Paul's who recently perished from ALS. "He was a talented and caring physician and is missed by me and the community."

Record-seeking pilot Paul Salmon probably won't fuel up like this Magni pilot; he is carrying an addition 30 gallons in the aft seat.
Paul is carrying an extra 30-gallon fuel bladder in back seat as he makes his record-seeking flight. "After this attempt, he may add more fuel bladders and attempt to set the world endurance flight record in a gyro," wrote Greg, "as well as the longest, nonstop leg in a gyro." One wonders how such an active fellow has time for his day job.

Paul Salmon is an emergency room doctor who Greg says knows how to take power naps when necessary, a skill that may be useful between long flying legs. "He got his rotary wings in Magni gyros more ten years ago," Greg recalled. "His record-attempt aircraft is the fourth Magni gyro he has owned." Paul is also a helicopter instructor and has a Robinson dealership plus a certified repair facility in Missouri. "He may be the most active helo instructor in the state," added Greg!

Unfortunately, as the FAA never approved gyroplanes to be fully built Special LSA, Paul cannot provide compensated instruction in gyros, although various groups including LAMA are investigating how to change that restriction.


DemoVenture 2015 — Flying at Oshkosh
By Dan Johnson, August 20, 2015

Shows like Sebring and Midwest LSA Expo are known for being great places to demo fly a Light-Sport or light kit you may be considering to buy. They earned that reputation because it is typically much easier to fly at those lower-key, less crowded events than at giant shows like AirVenture. However, some companies make demo flying a mission at Oshkosh and this article covers three that delivered an exceptional number of demo flights.

Your author finally got a chance to fly the Icon A5 at AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. Watch for an upcoming Video Pilot Report on this warmly-received LSA seaplane.
Icon reported doing around 150 demonstration flights in the first public outing of the long-awaited LSA seaplane. Writers for aviation's largest magazines got their private crack at the new bird beforehand ... since returning from Oshkosh, I've seen A5 on the covers of Flying, AOPA Pilot, Sport Aviation, and Plane & Pilot. That's an enormous splash. I can't recall any single aircraft capturing all four titles in the same month, quite a credit to Team Icon for deftly executing such a major marketing push.

Once arriving in Wisconsin, Icon made sure many their owners-in-waiting got a chance to fly the bird they hope to own before long. Interspersed among them, more aviation journalists got their chance. I had to bide my time until near the end of the week due to an intense schedule and a couple days of less than ideal weather, but I finally got my shot at the much-talked-about LSA.

Icon staffers were very accommodating, even mounting four GoPro cameras on the A5 in which I flew with ex-military jock and now Icon's vice president of sales and marketing, Craig Bowers. Look for our coming Video Pilot Report as soon as the video editing can be completed. Icon did their demo flying off-site where they could better control the experience. A group of perhaps 15 personnel moved people in and up in a pair of A5s with some staffers first briefing each pilot while others took care of fueling, taking photos, assisting the water docking and more in the expert fashion we've come to expect from the California company.

M-Squared's Breese 2 powered by a Rotax 912 flew many demo flights and drew the vice mayor from the Chinese city of Anyang who visited AirVenture with a delegation.
Next we move to a man I anointed as the "Demo King" of AirVenture in previous years thanks to his amazing performance at getting people aloft from the Ultralight Area runway at Oshkosh.

Compared to Paul Mather of M-Squared Aircraft, Icon is a Johnny-come-lately to this activity. Beyond making SLSA and kit versions of his Breese line, Paul is also a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) who assists others with getting approval for their Light-Sport Aircraft. He is very knowledgeable and very experienced.

Paul reported, "We flew 98 fights, about ten of which were to area volunteers; through these flights, we put 9.8 hours on our 912-powered aircraft." Paul has always been gracious about getting hard-working volunteers a chance to see their area as a form of reward for their hours of unpaid work. He added, "We also did two photo shoots for EAA." He explained that the photography missions were done with an automatic camera that captured more than 3,000 pictures, at least one of which EAA used in giant size in the main area of the event. "The automatic camera was operated by a subcontractor from National Geographic magazine." He was a very large fellow further proving the strength of Paul's open cockpit airplane. "His fisheye lens took in almost the entire field at Oshkosh," Paul added.

Paul was member of our travel delegation to China, where he found sales for his M-Squared models. Of our group, he was one who had earlier experience in this part of the world. His flying machines may fit an emerging aviation market due to very reasonable prices (less than $40,000 for a ready-to-fly SLSA) and being simple to fly. As seen in the inset photo, Anyang vice mayor Zhang Manru visited Paul's display along with other associates from China.

The ultra-deluxe Revo trike flew an impressive number of demo missions. The Chinese group see interest in weight shift aircraft in their country and paid a visit to Evolution Trikes' display. See plenty of activity on a fun video found on Evolution's Facebook page (August 17, 2015 post).
Evolution Trikes made another airshow splash. Although they set a blazing pace for demo flying — more on that below — what may distinguish the company the most was their trek from central Florida in four Revo weight shift aircraft, a 17-hour journey. Anyone who says trikes can't fly long distances evidently never examined one from Evolution.

Evolution's Larry Mednick reported that AirVenture 2015 was "one of the busiest shows I can remember. The flight pattern in the 'Fun Fly Zone' was so full it was difficult to get a chance to land at times." He added, "The flight line was packed with smiling faces watching the takeoffs and landings that were happening every few seconds." He observed that more people than ever evidently wanted to experience the fun instead of just sitting on the side lines."

"We flew two Revo aircraft almost every minute we were allowed to fly and we had a line of folks holding onto yellow waivers waiting for their opportunity to go up next." The Revo demo pilots kept very active — a fact many in the Ultralight Area noticed. Larry reported more than 120 demo flights given.

"One of my fondest memories is of a young boy who was next in line to fly when the field shut down operations," recalled Larry, who promised the lad he could fly the next day. "Sure enough the youngster walked up to our booth with his yellow waiver in his right hand while waving with his left. His time was limited as his dad and grandfather wanted to depart soon. Concerned he might miss his chance, he trudged away with his head a bit down. Ten minutes later he came running back with the biggest smile on his face. He'd convinced Dad to wait a bit longer later so we strapped him in and off we went. He took the controls and flew better than most of the adults that had their hand at piloting a Revo earlier that week."

So, three Light-Sport companies flew more than 360 demos with five aircraft. I have no way to know, but my bet is that is more than nearly all the other companies all over the sprawling grounds of Oshkosh ... combined. Bravo!


Virtual Fly-In and Three Fall Shows to Enjoy
By Dan Johnson, August 16, 2015
Update 8/17/15 AM — Even with almost two months to go, WUFI is growing. Look at the updated map at the bottom; it appears many ultralighters are ready to join the fun on October 10.

"One Day. One Sky. Be a part of it." That's the exclamation and invitation from the Dayton Ultralights World Ultralight Fly-In.

What is a virtual fly-in and why is the Dayton group organizing it? "Because the limitations of these aircraft mean it is unlikely all of us around the world will ever get to fly together, but we can all fly the same sky, on the same day everywhere on the planet, making this the first Virtual Worldwide Fly-in!

Why not? People get excited about "flash mobs" and this seems like lots more fun for people who fly. While thousands attend big events like AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun ultralight enthusiasts only rarely fly from, say, California, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin at 50 mph. It can be done, of course, but it's more probable airshow ultralights are hauled by ground.

The Dayton group has made an official application for a Guinness World Record, so join the fun and see if you can enter the record book.

How do you participate? The World Ultralight Fly-In (WUFI) starts at daybreak on October 10, 2015. Ultralight enthusiasts anywhere on the planet are invited, including any aircraft considered an "ultralight" — aircraft such as fixed wing ultralights, powered parachutes, weight shift trikes, powered paragliders, hang gliders, or, "any imaginative, magnificent flying machine."

To join the fun go to the official WUFI Map and enter your name. Then, "Get your aircraft ready anytime before daybreak on October 10th, fly, and photograph or video your flight. To help with the Guinness record attempt, you need a photo with visible proof of October 10 showing on the screen while you and your flying machine are airborne." Afterwards, they suggest, "Post your picture to the WUFI Facebook site with your name, type of aircraft, and model, and a short description of where on the Earth you flew!"

Call 937-470-6168 or, see their Facebook page.

Coming before the virtual fly-in and the other two fall shows is one of my favorites, the Midwest LSA Expo (MWLSA) in Mt. Vernon, Illinois over September 10-11-12. This is a smaller event than spectaculars like AirVenture or Sun 'n Fun. However, size isn't everything.

The event about one hour west of St. Louis is big in other ways. You'll typically see about 50 aircraft on display and you can get right to the folks that bring them, without a dozen other people crowding your time. You can ask the in-depth questions that often are not possible at big shows. MWLSA is also big for demo flying the airplanes of your choice; it's easier and faster than at any other show I attend. Mt. Vernon is literally a spacious airport with big runways, open taxiways, and lots of flying-friendly space around it.

My favorite videographer and I will again be present — we've never missed a MWLSA event. This is a place where we can accumulate footage for our popular VPRs or Video Pilot Reports, longer shows where we mount our collection of seven Garmin VIRB cameras. With so many viewpoints, Dave gets lots of footage to use when he performs his editing magic to make the videos many of you love.

Mt. Vernon and MWLSA is perfect for us and for you to get in the air plus the town welcomes the pilots and airport manager Chris Collins always earns the strongest praise for making sure everyone gets what they need, including free rides to the town's restaurants and hotels.

After MWLSA and after WUFI come two events in western states. Videoman Dave and I plan to take the long haul westbound to the Flying Aviation Expo occurring October 15-16-17, followed by Copperstate on October 22-23-24.

Many in aviation are puzzled by a fact that the biggest aviation events happen well east of the Mississippi River. More pilots and airplanes are based in California than any other state yet the major events are hundreds of miles away.

That's changing with the new Flying (magazine) Aviation Expo in beautiful Palm Springs, California, just a few hours east of Los Angeles. This second annual event expects more than 300 exhibitors, plenty of forums and talks, plus a broad group of aircraft parked immediately outside the exhibit hall. Get a good view from the video interview with Flying magazine editor Robert Goyer below.

Here's a bonus: Register soon and get a free exhibit hall pass.

trike photo by Rudy Morris 2014
Then comes Copperstate. Starting 42 years ago in 1973 Copperstate has been a stalwart of western shows supporting a large pilot population in Arizona and surrounding states.

Copperstate Fly-In is a volunteer run, non-profit organization "dedicated to promoting recreational and general aviation through events, scholarships, and public education." Not unlike other big shows including Sun 'n Fun, "proceeds from the Copperstate Fly-In help support scholarship programs for youth seeking careers in the aerospace industry."

Pilot will enjoy attending along with about 5,000 other folks to view aircraft you might not see at eastern USA shows, simply because bringing them all the way across the country may not be in the cards for some of their owners. Late October in Arizona is a beautiful time of year with abundant sunshine but lacking the scorching heat of summer.

We plan to shoot more videos at Copperstate so those of you "back east" can still attend via your computer screen or mobile device and the good folks at YouTube. However, if you live "out west," come join us here, too.

Updated World Ultralight Fly-In map ...


The World of LSA and American Opportunities
By Dan Johnson, August 13, 2015

Updated 8/21/15 — This article has been updated with a reader comment seen at the bottom.

When the SP/LSA regulation was announced 11 years ago nearly all registered Light-Sport Aircraft originated in Europe. Indeed, the first two accepted as SLSA were the Evektor SportStar and Flight Design's CT series. For several early years, Europe accounted for more than two-thirds of all LSA brands in the USA.

However, in a decade, a lot has changed.

Now, American companies have had time to shift from kit making (a very different business model) or have developed brand-new aircraft or offer a revised version of an existing model to meet the ASTM standards so they could gain FAA acceptance.

American companies are also starting to make inroads into other countries that accept ASTM standards.

Some countries simply copy FAA regs while others accept the ASTM standards set and then layer on some of their own regulations. It varies country-by-country though a few appear to largely accept U.S. approval as sufficient for operation in their country. I'll cover China in more detail below.

Blue shows countries that have confirmed that they have adopted regulations, used ASTM LSA standards by reference in their airworthiness code, or accepted LSA on the same basis of airworthiness as in the USA; Red shows countries that indicated they are considering adopting the LSA category; Green identifies the European Union that has created CS-LSA (Certification Specifications for LSA) but have not yet fully implemented all rules. image initially prepared by SkyRunner, then modified for the EU
Our friends over at SkyRunner compiled a list of countries they found to support Light-Sport Aircraft and ASTM standards. We started with their work and added further information in an attempt to show the full potential of ASTM and LSA, what SkyRunner folks called a "|category [that] is quickly becoming harmonized worldwide."

Based on the concept initially introduced to Americans in 2004, ASTM-compliant LSA have subsequently been adopted in a number of countries (see map). SkyRunner elaborated, "Information obtained from FAA indicates that [CAAs] in the following countries have confirmed that they have adopted regulations, used ASTM LSA standards by reference in their airworthiness code, or accepted LSA on the same basis of airworthiness as in the USA: Australia, China, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Israel, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa." We might quibble a bit with some of this information, for example, Canada still uses their Advanced Ultralight regulation, but sources do confirm movement in the right direction.

Further expansion is expected, indicated the SkyRunner team. Their research shows CAAs in the following countries have indicated that they are considering adopting the LSA category: Argentina, Guatemala, Venezuela, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, and Thailand.

Please note that while we believe this to be accurate information, understanding another country's regulations is not always straightforward and even when fully understood, these things are subject to change.

Some countries appear to be moving faster than others. One that has shown significant effort is China. I recently reported that Searey gained CAAC approval for both their design and the manufacturing process. More on that below.

Meanwhile, a Facebook friend, Jane Zhang of Silk Wings Aviation, reported that additional LSA-types have obtained similar levels of approval in China. She noted, "First one was Flight Design CT back in 2009/2010, then [Cessna's Skycatcher]162, two German Autogyro, [Germany's] C42, [Evektor's] EV97 ... that's six. Jabiru's J230-D is #7 and Searey is #8." I asked Jane if all had both TDA (Type Design Approval) and Production Certificates (PC), the latter being a much more involved process.

Jane continued to aid my understanding, "I know for sure CT, 162, Autogyro (two models approved) and C42 have gained PC ... awarded to [a producer's] home manufacturing location. A LSA company has to have both TDA and PC granted by CAAC to officially and legally sell in China."

When I inquired further about how many LSA type aircraft may be operating in China, Jane replied, "CT has an Asia/China dealer. Autogyro and C42 have one common dealer and he is selling well. EV97 ... I am not sure. A Chinese designed LSA — by Sunward called Aurora SA60L (photo) — is selling relatively well." She said she'd have to check for exact numbers but, "I guess around 50-70 'legal' ones in total. At least 10-20 LSA in China do not have CAAC approval (yet).

For those curious about China and the requirements, I followed up with Searey CEO, Adam Yang. First, he noted Progressive Aerodyne had some audit findings, but they were not major points. We are basically in good shape but need to write a report to show compliance." He said another two months are needed to get the final Production Certificate, however, his company is allowed to register the eleven Searey LSA already sold.

In an interesting twist not unlike how Europe handles certain aircraft, Adam noted "CAAC is not administrating powered parachutes, trikes, powered paragliders, and such aircraft types. "Instead China's sports administration is handling this," Adam added.

All this shows the challenges of answering the seemingly simple question, "Where are LSA accepted around the world." The answer is as complicated as the various government agencies choose to make it and every country handles approval somewhat differently.

Nonetheless, American LSA producers wishing to sell outside the USA have it vastly easier than manufacturers of Type Certificated (Part 23) aircraft. Hence, we see a global LSA market that is far easier for smaller companies to tackle ... and that seems a great thing.

Update — Reader Torkell Sætervadet wrote, "Norway is a part of the EASA area (on your map it is white, it should be green), and it is not correct that CS-LSA is not fully implemented in the EU. It is — but it requires an expensive type certificate based on the ASTM specifications (with some modifications). The cost of the type certificate is why EU/EASA only has a selection of three LSA models as of today. The rule may be changed in the future, but don't hold your breath."


What’s with FAA’s Worry Over Electric Airplanes?
By Dan Johnson, August 9, 2015

I'm always impressed with good turns of phrase and cleverly-worded presentations. Given that I am a writer, I suppose that doesn't surprise you. However, I am even more impressed when someone can present a concept in such clear language that everyone gets it right away. Following is such a story.

Yuneec's eSpyder powered with an electric motor.
My longtime friend and fellow board member, Tom Peghiny, participated in our annual Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association board of directors meeting at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, where EAA kindly provides a quiet, air-conditioned space for our group to meet.

LAMA has four initiatives that the association is pursuing*. One of them is trying to break the logjam of electric propulsion

In an FAA-organized gathering on this and other subjects at AirVenture 2014, industry experts observed that FAA never intended to block electric power. Agency rulewriters were intent on preventing use of turbine engines on LSA so the regulation specifies reciprocating engines only, effectively blocking electric power even if doing so was never the goal. While only a couple sentences in the preamble to the rule prevent electric — along with an important definition — FAA personnel replied that it is now a major challenge to change their rule, even though most appeared to agree it was never their intention to prevent electric power.

Cartoon art by Robert Ariail
Since the SP/LSA rule was released in 2004, lithium batteries have grabbed the attention of FAA officials in a very powerful way. The fires onboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner made news all around the world after FAA had given their approval to the new design.

Today, any talk of advancing electric propulsion on the lightest-of-all aircraft where the technology is currently quite viable brings an immediate response about lithium battery fires. The danger of an onboard fire is so scary that some authorities seem unable to see a solution beyond the hazard.

As board members discussed how to move the needle on LAMA's electric propulsion initiative, board member Tom proposed a scenario that soon had everyone in the board meeting either laughing out loud or smiling broadly. He supposed ... "Imagine if all airplanes were currently powered by electric motors and someone came along with a great new idea to power airplanes with gasoline."

Perhaps it would be best if I present Tom's hilarious lines using an imaginary dialogue between an inventor and FAA officials.

FAA tests show that lithium batteries can explode and burn even more violently than previously thought, raising questions about their use and shipment on passenger flights. image from eetimes.com

INVENTOR: "FAA, I have an idea. I think we might be able to power airplanes with a fluid. It might prove to be very efficient."

FAA: "Oh, what's that? We have to be very careful with new ideas, you know."

INVENTOR: "We'll it's an explosive liquid ... really packs a punch. It could keep aircraft aloft for hours at a time."

FAA: "Explosive! Oh, we don't like the sound of that very much."

INVENTOR: "No, really. This stuff, called gasoline, has a very high energy density, is compact, can be easily loaded onto the aircraft, doesn't cost too much for the energy it delivers ..."

FAA: "Don't try to snow us with all that technobabble. You said 'explosive,' didn't you? We're still trying to wrap our minds around that."

INVENTOR: "Oh, it can be done without much danger. We'll put the fuel in the wings. We'll put a firewall between the engine and the occupants. Fuel lines will be carefully routed around the cockpit."

FAA: "You mean you want to pump an explosive liquid near the occupants, put it into an engine compartment forward of the cockpit, make a spark many times per second, and explode this stuff in cylinders!?"

Cartoon art by Glenn Foden
INVENTOR: "Yeah, I think it can work really well. This gasoline stuff ... sure it's highly flammable, but we can handle it safely."

FAA: "Flammable! Explosive! Sparks to ignite it! All with the occupants downwind of this stuff!?"

INVENTOR: "Yeah, FAA. This gasoline thing is gonna be big. We might even use it automobiles, in lawn mowers, and in children's toys."

FAA: "Hold on, wait a minute, stop right now. I can't see us approving such an energy source for perhaps years. This sounds crazy. Who would possibly think carrying around hundreds of pounds of explosive liquid in a three dimensional environment could be safe. We're going to have to examine this very carefully. It could take decades."

INVENTOR: "Oh, man. I don't think I can stay in business that long.

FAA: "Yeah, well, we have reliable electric-powered airplanes today. We honestly don't know what you are thinking with this half-baked idea to carry gasoline in airplanes. Plus, we're obliged to alert the automobile, lawn mower, and children's toy regulators since you mentioned those products as well.

FAA: (walking away muttering under their breath...) "What on earth will these crackpots come up with next. Really, gasoline on airplanes. That's just nuts. We better form a new department to confront this possibility. What if Mr. Inventor is right and this gasoline-on-airplanes idea should take off. Crazy ..."

INVENTOR: (sighing deeply...) "Dang it! I thought this was such a great idea, but man, convincing these government folks is going to be tough. Whew! Better join LAMA and see if they can help."

OK, that last sentence is tongue-in-cheek, but that's the story. Hope you liked it. I'm still smiling from Tom's sharp-as-a-pin humor. Thanks, Tom!

LAMA's four initiatives are: (1) aerial work for LSA; (2) fully-built, SLSA gyroplanes; (3) electric propulsion; and, (4) simplifying the LODA process for training in sub-87 knot airplanes.


Searey Now Completely Ready to Enter China
By Dan Johnson, August 5, 2015

Icon recently won FAA acceptance as the California company demonstrated meeting ASTM standards for their A5 seaplane and made a big show out of delivering the first airplane to EAA Young Eagles ... the same move, by the way, as Cessna did with their Skycatcher. We expect Icon's future to work out better as they begin to fulfill more than 1,300 orders.

However, another LSA seaplane is demonstrably ahead in the government approval race.

"Led by consultants from SilverLight Aviation, Progressive Aerodyne of Tavares, Florida recently received Production Certificate approval from China's CAAC." According to SilverLight spokesman Abid Farooqui, "This makes Searey the first U.S.-made LSA to achieve this distinction and have both Type Design Approval as well as a Production Certificate for its Searey LSA airplane." Searey's earlier Type Design approval and recent Production Certificate were gained under the supervision and guidance of SilverLight, which is based in Zephyrhills. Florida. In addition to doing consulting work, Abid's Z-hills company represents a fixed wing LSA, a trike, and a gyro.

Gaining a foreign country's approval for a production certificate is no small accomplishment and hearty congratulations are in order. "Type Design Approval [from Chinese CAAC authorities] was much more thorough than FAA," said Abid. He refers to FAA when the agency examined Progressive Aerodyne's compliance with ASTM standards and FAA best practices in an unusually clean and swift acceptance.

Certification team, from left (U.S. team in bold): Abid Farooqui; Bill Roche; Guo Yonggang; Shi Yi Fang; Adam Yang; Wang Xuemin; Sun Yanling; Dan Saunders; and Apollo (of Searey China). Not-shown members of CAAC's certification team: Li Honglin; Zhou Zhimin; Ding Xiaoyu.
"It took one year and multiple meetings to earn the Production Certificate," noted Abid. He said that this effort involved "two one-week-long, grilling technical meetings conducted in China and another visit from CAAC's team to the Florida factory where they had us perform selected structural tests and in-flight spin tests, while they observed."

The Production Certificate was earned partially by submission of documents and their approval followed by a one week visit of four inspectors. "It was similar to FAA's audit," said Abid. "They selected processes and spot checked their implementation and general safety conditions in the factory."

Why go to all this effort for a market that is just emerging, insofar as civilian or recreation flying goes?

Progressive Aerodyne has been at work on this market penetration for many months. As reported earlier, the company opened an office in the country and hired a sales representative.

"Searey already has 12 orders from China and 28 more in pipeline," reported Abid on behalf of Progressive Aerodyne. All of them will be factory assembled here in Florida, flight tested, and then shipped. In China, after some reassembly, they will conduct a final test flight before it is legal to sell to an end user.

However, Abid stated, "Searey will now definitely be a legal aircraft to fly in China." To my knowledge, this is the first American company to go through the entire process to allow sales in China.

Consultants from SilverLight Aviation completely led and worked on and defended the Type Design Approval process and guided the Production Certificate process which was originally set up under contract by SilverLight.

Pictured are the team from Anyang City in central China, lead by Shu Dong Li of Aero Sport Association (3rd from left). Next to him in the green shirt is Anyang's Vice-Mayor, Zhang Manru.
As I wrote a couple months ago following my first-ever visit to China, this country has some distance to go before an aviation culture will develop. However, the nation has moved swiftly to modernize, achieving in the last three decades such stunning progress that human history has no parallel. On my visit I heard of plans and a deep determination to take earlier successes with automobile factories and tech-product plants and repeat this fast pace with airports.

They will need to as the area I visited had only a single airport ... today. I would expect fast progress toward airport building and a continued opening of airspace to civilian use and when that begins to happen, airframe producers may enjoy surprising growth. As such, Progressive Aerodyne appears especially well positioned to profit from this newest focus of Chinese authorities.

As further proof of their attention to airport infrastructure building, a team from Anyang City where I visited attended AirVenture 2015. With cities leading the charge in much of such development, it was great to again greet these Chinese contacts in Wisconsin (photo), lead by Shu Dong Li of the Aero Sports Association. I will continue following progress in China.


Gutsy-Looking SkyRunner Turned Heads at AirVenture
By Dan Johnson, August 2, 2015

To many eyes, Icon stole the show at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. Many other newsworthy announcements were made — several of which I reported on this website — yet Icon's splashy marketing probably drew the most eyes, just as it does on Facebook. However, thanks to fellow journalist Roy Beisswenger, I was introduced to the high-energy gang at SkyRunner.

I don't know if "radical" fits the marketing designs of SkyRunner LLC, but their take on the flying ATV or dune buggy takes the genre to a whole new realm. I find myself searching for the right words to describe SkyRunner. Imagine I-Tec's Maverick but with an attitude. Then wrap your mind around two powerful engines to make this baby go. Maverick looked vaguely like a mild-mannered road car where SkyRunner abandons that image for a Ninja motorcycle look crossed with the baddest four-wheeler ATV you ever saw.

The company stated it succinctly, "SkyRunner is the ultimate recreational vehicle combining off-road adventure with one of the safest forms of aviation." Is it any wonder the military has reportedly expressed interest in SkyRunner along with more than 100 other buyers? Engineers deliberately made it sexy and wild enough to pique a soldier's mind yet based on the millions of sales of off-road recreational vehicles sales, Team SkyRunner may be tapping into a rich vein of motorsports interest ... perhaps even moreso than Icon.

When SkyRunner first came on the market, they approached more stealthily than the A5 LSA seaplane designer. Icon has to appeal to aviators or wannabes ... it is an airplane. SkyRunner doesn't have that constraint. Anybody could enjoy the potent dune buggy ATV concept and the fact that it can also go aloft is like a meter-thick icing on the cake. Sweet!

When I visited with Stewart Hamel and his team of designers, instructors, and marketers in their display in EAA's Innovations tent, I found a group of fun-loving yet highly motivated people with a sincere interest in flying but more than that.

As you can see in the artist study of the concept, the early focus was on the carriage, not the wing. That's hardly surprising as the wing is a component they'll buy from somebody else, much like every other powered parachute manufacturer in the world. Yet in a single glance at SkyRunner, you may not see a powered parachute; instead, you see a ground vehicle that can strap on some wings. Nonetheless, the proof of SkyRunner as aircraft shows in the effort to meet ASTM standards for powered parachutes (as has done Maverick). Work is underway, said Stewart.

Powered Sport Flying editor and powered parachute instructor, Roy Beisswenger (aft) joins me in SkyRunner, looking all Darth Vader in this gnarly rig ... well, sorta.
Terrafugia earned an exemption for their Transition roadable airplane — a grant stemming from the onerous requirements to put a vehicle on the U.S. highway system. SkyRunner is also anticipating qualifying for the privilege as they state gross weight of the rig at 1,320 pounds (or 1,430 with the exemption). Dry weight is stated as 1,050 pounds giving a useful load of 380 pounds. That includes no fuel; it carries 16 gallons. However, in casual discussion, Team SkyRunner envisions trimming a few pounds. The carriage is mostly welded steel and other materials might convert quite a few pounds to useful load or payload.

One reason for the higher empty weight comes from dual engines. SkyRunner's ground engine is a ProStar 1000 cubic centimeter four-stroke two cylinder powerplant coupled to a an automatic transmission and yielding 89 horsepower. For flight a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS is used paired with a Duc or Powerfin prop. The two engines are not interlinked. They plan a Performance Design Sunriser 550 wing that should carry the weight reliably.

You might wonder what is the market for SkyRunner ... assuming you are thinking as a pilot as are most ByDanJohnson.com readers. That may be too narrow a view. Every year, better than half a million ATVs are sold in the USA (according to a report from the U.S. Forest Service), a yearly market double the number of all airplanes registered by FAA. Producers include household names such as Polaris, Bombardier, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha.

As an outsider in the powersports industry my guess is that SkyRunner might find a solid market for a few hundred units per year, even at their $119,000 price tag. A quad from one of those familiar corporate names might be more affordable but they can't get off the ground for more than a few seconds. Plus, like Icon's A5 LSA seaplane, the cool factor of a flying ATV can be marketed broadly. I got excited enough to promise a visit to the Shreveport factory one day where they offered to take me out on their 60 acre spread and show me a good time. That figures to be a hoot, I'm sure.

Here's a 360-degree video to view the SkyRunner design:


AirVenture Wrap-Up: Shiny Part 103, Icon Rising
By Dan Johnson, July 27, 2015

The big summer celebration of flight has ended. I have more info from AirVenture 2015 and next I plan a summary article. A preview includes the most positive prognosis from industry players I have seen in recent years; strong sales reported by several producers; several interesting developments or benchmarks; and a wonderful week of weather as icing on the cake. My video partner and I put in long days to secure perhaps 30 or more new videos including many on the freshest topics in light aviation. Stay tuned for more and go here to see the hundreds of videos we have posted from previous events.

The Shiniest Part 103 ... We shot a video interview on the line of Hummel Aviation light aircraft, including two Part 103 models and one Experimental Amateur Built version. Toward the end of the week, one that had been sheltered in a tent on one end of the sprawling AirVenture grounds was hand towed to the Ultralight Area — called the Fun Fly Zone — so people could see this mirror-finish (highly polished aluminum) UltraCruiser in the air.

The gleaming example in the nearby photos was built by Steve Cole from Indianapolis over a three year and eight month period, from plans. It meets all the Part 103 parameters — empty weight of 254 pounds; 5 gallons of fuel; 55-knot (63 mph) cruise; 24-knot stall — yet can climb enthusiastically at 1,000 fpm using its half-VW 45-horsepower engine from Scott Casler. The four stroke powerplant burns only 1.7 gallons an hour.

You cannot probably imagine the effort needed to make aluminum gleam like this effort by Steve Cole.
For those a bit less ambitious or skilled than Steve, kits are also available — see next — and all models boast truly affordable prices. You may not be able to make yours look like Scott's UltraCruiser, but certainly here is a line of airplanes for those on tighter budgets, and isn't she a pretty thing that still requires no pilot license, no medical, no N-numbers, and a very simple set of rules that fit on a single sheet of paper.

UltraCruiser is a Part 103 legal all-metal ultralight, although the company notes that the trigear version will be too heavy to qualify as a 103 as is a model with a full canopy.

"UltraCruiser is an easy to build and even easier to fly aircraft," stated Hummel Aviation. The design can be built straight from plans up to, and including a full kit. The kit includes predrilled laser cut components. All parts are formed or welded for you. Wheels, tires, brakes, harness, and even the seat cushion is included. The kit is very complete. Everything is included to complete the aircraft less the engine, prop, spinner, and instruments.

"The complete set of plans contains 26 large drawings with all bulkheads, wing ribs and skins [depicted in actual, full] size. A 30-page step by step manual is very complete. Only simple shop tools are required," said company owner Terry Hallett.

As AirVenture 2015 drew to a close, Friday was the day I got to fly the A5 from Icon Aircraft. Weather as the week started delayed Icon's two-airplane demo flying schedule. Oshkosh has so much going on that my schedule also got loaded yet after a couple false starts we found a workable time slot and I finally got my chance on the most discussed airplane in the Light-Sport space.

I will begin work on a more detailed A5 review in the days ahead. but following are a couple brief temptations of what to expect.

A few supposedly jaded aviation journalists flew A5 and the reviews I've heard have been quite favorable. No, that's not right. They seemed to love A5. As AVweb's Paul Bertorelli put it, "coverage the A5 has gotten so far has amounted to one long sloppy wet kiss from the aviation press." Former Cessna president and EAA Chairman Jack Pelton repeatedly used words like "incredible" and "remarkable." You know ... to a great extent their warm embrace of A5 is deserved.

Two of us flew A5 in 12 gusting 22 mph wind conditions and lake water with one to one and a half foot swells. As CEO Kirk Hawkins put it on my return, "not all light seaplanes could handle that." A5 did very well in those rowdier circumstances. I certainly did not fly the plane in smooth summer breezes and a gently rippled water surface.

On whole, I found A5 very docile to fly. We did the Icon spectacle of pitching into a stall, holding the stick full aft (literally pulled all the way rearward) and moving the stick briskly from left to right without any upset of the airplane. Even when power was moved to idle thrust and we repeated the maneuver with 30 degrees of flaps, A5 merely set up about a 900 fpm descent rate. Taking that to the water with zero corrective action would result in a very firm but survivable landing, I believe. Given all A5s sold in the USA will also have an airframe parachute, safety has been carefully approached.

Like most seaplanes, speed is not paramount in A5 with cruise from 85-95 knots (100-110 mph) according a top Icon test pilot. Banking sharply and gracefully is easy in A5. We did 60+ degree banks only a few hundred feet off the water in complete confidence. She feels very solid and Icon's intuitive Angle of Attack indicator — the best execution I've seen — is a good guide to the limits when executing such steep turns. We commonly cruised around at 70 knots with 4500 rpm from the Rotax 912 iS engine.

Water operations, even in fairly challenging conditions, were quite straightforward. As you sense in the air, Icon's large vertical tail surface brings good A5 flight behavior and makes maneuvering on the water authoritative. Even with the added complexities of water ops and retractable gear, piloting A5 is within reach of any well-trained newbie pilot. Icon is also gearing up an entire training program that I'll discuss more fully later.

I was pleased to get my experience on this long awaited Special LSA seaplane and I look forward to telling you more about it.

More Oshkosh light aircraft news will follow ...

To read SPLOG postings going back to 2005 -- all organized in chronological order -- click SPLOG.

 



 

 
 

Progressive Aerodyne designed and supplies the SeaRey series, arguably the most celebrated of all light seaplanes in America. A close community of hundreds of owners offers camaraderie few other brands can match.

Renegade Light Sport produces the sexy low wing, all composite Falcon in America. The Florida company has also established itself as the premiere installer of Lycoming’s IO-233 engine.

Hansen Air Group represents recognized brands in the LSA
space: FK Lightplanes and their distinctive biplane Comet, FK9, and FK51 plus the great-flying Magnaghi Sky Arrow. Based in Atlanta, Georgia Hansen Air Group is an experienced player in the LSA space.
Multiple LSA



Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge.Powered by the 180-horsepower
Lycoming O-360, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.
Wave

Phoenix Air USA imports the beautiful Phoenix Special Light-Sport Aircraft, a performance motorglider that can cruise swiftly and serve both functions with excellent creature comfort. Given its clever wing extension design, you get two aircraft in one!

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport aircraft offering more models and variations than any other producer.

Besides the world's fastest-selling light twin and their new P2010 four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: P-92 Eaglet, Astore, and P2008.

Many Light-Sport Aircraft & General Aviation models

Flight Design USA imports CT, the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft. CT is a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment ... the market leader for 10 years!
CTLSi


The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

Kitfox is one of the world's best selling light aircraft kits with more than 5,000 delivered. With unrivaled name recognition, Kitfox is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and more. The design is flown around the world.

X-Air brings a return to reasonably priced Light-Sport Aircraft, with a ready-to-fly flying machine you can purchase for a genuinely low price. No new arrival, X-Air has a rich history in light aviation.

SportairUSA imports the dashing and superbly-equipped StingSport S4 that has won a loyal following from American pilots. More recently, they introduced their TL-3000 high-wing LSA. SportairUSA is a full-line operation with maintenance and training, too.

Quicksilver Aeronautics is the world's largest producer of ultralight aircraft, selling some 15,000 aircraft. The company's designs are thoroughly tested, superbly supported, and have an excellent safety record.

Lockwood Aircraft is the builder of two of light aviation's best-recognized flying machines: AirCam and the Drifter line. Most sport aviators already know the Lockwood brand, a leader in Rotax maintenance and aircraft services.

Jabiru USA builds the spacious and speedy J-250 and more recently J-230 plus the training-optimized J-170, each certified as Special LSA. The Tennessee-based company also imports and services the popular Jabiru engine line.

Corbi Air represents the Made-for-Americans Direct Fly Alto 100. Created in the Czech Republic, Alto 100 was upgraded for USA sales and the result is a comfortable, handsome low wing, all-metal LSA with features you want.

Aero Adventure offers what is likely the lowest cost boat-hull seaplane in the light aircraft space with a kit that, complete with engine, sells for less than $50,000. Add a long history to its credit and Aventura is a seaplane worthy of a close look.


Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Edra Aeronautica in Brazil and represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. A biplane design, this is well established flying boat with more than 20 years of history.

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

North Wing is America's leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company's wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.

Just Aircraft has delivered more than 300 kit aircraft since 2002, but in 2012 they electrified pilots with the awesome performance of their all-new SuperSTOL. It may look extreme and performs extremely well, but it is truly docile and forgiving to fly.

MVP.aero turned many heads when introducing its one-of-a-kind entry to Light-Sport Aircraft seaplanes. MVP, for Most Versatile Plane, justifies that phrase by doing more than flying off water. Here’s one to examine much more closely!


Aeromarine-LSA represents an economical Part 103 ultralight that is within reach of almost any budget. For local fun flying, or for those who enjoy soaring flight Zigolo is light enough to be lifted by even the most gentle thermals.

Arion Aircraft has designed and built one of the most beautiful low wing entries in the Special LSA and kit-built aircraft sector. The all-American designed and built aircraft is priced fairly and flies wonderfully ... need you search for more?

BushCat is the distinctive Light-Sport Aircraft within reach of almost any budget. With a solid heritage BushCat by SkyReach is fun, capable, and available as a kit, fully-built SLSA or ELSA.

Evolution Trikes developed and continues to refine their Revo, an absolutely magnificent weight shift control aircraft (or trike). Rev is their new very affordable single place machine.

American Legend has been in the LSA space since the beginning, offering their iconic yellow taildragger. The Texas company offers a full line of LSA and kit-built aircraft including the 180-horsepower Super Legend HP.

U.S. Sport Aircraft Importing represents the popular SportCruiser, one of the best selling Special Light-Sport Aircraft among 130 models on the market. The Texas-headquartered importer has long represented this familiar model.

BRM Aero manufacturers the handsome Bristell all-metal SLSA. This highly evolved, next-generation Light-Sport was carefully engineered for luxury, comfort, excellent stability, and safety while being fun, fast, and easy to fly.

Aerotrek Aircraft imports the A240 and A220 tricycle gear or taildragger Special Light-Sport Aircraft. A finely finished aircraft at an excellent price, Aerotrek has wide, affordable appeal.

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Updated: August 25, 2015

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