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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Ride-On Zlin; New Variation on Theme
By Dan Johnson, November 26, 2014

Thanks to powerful Cubalike airplanes — those vintage yellow taildraggers types with huge engines up front to make them perform more energetically — 2014 saw increased attention to the Savage Cub S. The Czech company offered their 180-horsepower version of the Cubalike phenomenon albeit at a more affordable price. The leading brand of Cub-like airplanes has pushed prices beyond $200,000, which strikes plenty of people as paying a premium, though most agree the design is handsomely achieved. They continue to sell well so vintage style appears to hold appeal.

Meanwhile, Zlin engineers aren't sitting still. This company has quite a flock of intriguing models, including Savage Classic, Savage Cruiser, Savage Cub (marketed as iCub in the U.S.), Savage Cub S, and Bobber. All these are now represented in America by SportairUSA, which also imports the TL Ultralight Sting and Sirius as well as selling Searey amphibious kits among a variety of other products and services they've assembled. Last year, I focused on the Bobber model variation and since then, engineers saw a way to take the lean concept even further.

It's so new that we don't know much about Agilis, let's start by reviewing a similar model called Bobber. At Aero Friedrichshafen 2013 we spoke with SportairUSA boss, Bill Canino and produced this video on Bobber, a form of customized Zlin Cub that deliberately lacks an exterior covering but offers many other special finishing touches. It can be customized in some 60 different ways, including fancy paint finishes, thick leather carry bags, chrome component parts ... much like a "Bobber" motorcycle, thereby explaining the choice of names. U.S. importer Bill Canino helps us understand the thinking. As with most of the Zlin line, Bobber is fairly modestly priced, in the $90,000 range before you start adding your choices of personalized equipment. Click this link to see the many ways you can make a Bobber totally your own ... to "bobberize" it, using the motorcycle enthusiast's term. Owing to Zlin director Pasquale Russo's interest in radio control model airplanes, the company even offers a Bobber R/C. Bill said that Pasquale looked at the R/C and thought it could be made even simpler. Presto! Agilis was born. Indeed, Canino said, "Agilis is the Bobber's baby."

Team's Airbike was introduced in 1994. photo by Scott Wilcox
Agilis (which Bill pronounced "Ah-JILL-iss") may look vaguely familiar to you. The nearby photo of a Team Airbike is surely the reason why. Agilis, like Airbike, is an airplane you "ride" more than "enter." The Team example introduced 20 years ago, has a very narrow fuselage on which you literally sit astride. Both your legs remain outside the aircraft. Coming from the often-open-cockpit ultralight industry this didn't seem unusual and having flown it, I can attest that on a warm summer day, Airbike was a superb experience. Check my mini-pilot report on Airbike from 1995. When you compare the two airplanes, you quickly see the similarity. What you may not sense is how much fun it can be to "wear" an airplane more than being contained within it. Thick of riding a motorcycle. Some of this appeal may stem from Zlin owner Russo's driving interest. Bill Canino said Russo is an accomplished driver who owns a BMW M-series high performance automobile.

The Team Airbike is no longer in production and was powered by a two-stroke engine that may be less popular today. Agilis uses the ubiquitous Rotax 912. "As light as the Agilis airframe is and with a 100 horsepower," Canino observed, "it should have outstanding performance."

Speaking of outstanding performance ... the attraction of the 180-horsepower Cubalikes has been a compelling reason for many buyers to select one of those potent (if rather costly) models. Zlin joined the ranks with its own 180-horsepower Savage Cub S (see our video). Since it sold for a $130,000 base price, people included the model in their search. Even well equipped the powerful airplane retails for about $160,000, offering a large difference from the leading brand.

However, while Zlin can call their airplane a "Cub" outside the United States, SportairUSA was notified that CubCrafters had bought the name Cub from Piper and that SportairUSA had to cease using the name. To make lemonade out of that lemon, the Arkansas company decided to offer a "Rename the Cub S" contest and offered an iPad prize to the person submitting the chosen name. The contest has been a hit. "We receive 10 suggestions a day," said Bill. "We have received more than 800 names offered." He admits some are silly or repetitive but they will definitely pick one — and a winner — when the contest ends in mid-December. If you'd like a free iPad for Christmas, you better act soon (here). Come to Sebring 2015 and see the airplane formally known as Cub S that will be emblazoned with a new name.

Be one of the first to view Zlin's new Agilis that even American importer SportairUSA has yet to see:


Paradise Lands In Sebring to Start Manufacturing
By Dan Johnson, November 24, 2014

An original paradise P1 (SLSA #70). photo by Geoff Jones, courtesy of Paradise Aircraft
Back a decade, soon to mark eleven years of operation the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo had a goal of putting the KSEF airport on the map. Doing so should attract business activity. Expo focused on the new segment of aviation — Light-Sport Aircraft — although it also included ultralights, lighter kit-built aircraft, and on occasion, conventional GA airplanes. It appears that 2014 is the year that goal was met. Sebring now claims longtime light airplane resident Lockwood Aircraft, added Tecnam of Italy in the spring with a major new facility, and in November garnered Paradise Aircraft of Brazil. The south of the equator company announced it had leased a 5,000 square foot hangar to launch their U.S. manufacturing and distribution operations. In a visit earlier this fall, Noe Oliveira told me that he was taking steps to build aircraft in Sebring for sale in the USA but also for export to other countries. Assisted by an interpreter, he explained that shipping from the USA is easier logistically so they will serve the globe from their Florida facility, aided by existence of a Sebring Free Trade Zone that reduces government fees. The program will start with shipping a few already completed aircraft for reassembly and delivery, followed by partial manufacturing, and culminating in full manufacturing in America. I know of another Brazilian LSA company consider something similar and Brazilian jet maker Embraer has recently set up shop at the Melbourne, Florida airport ... so Paradise may be on to something with their recently announced move.

Designer and company director, Noe Oliveira stands by one of his popular P1 models at Sebring airport.
In the beginning days of Light-Sport, in 2005, Paradise Aircraft had a distributor based at Sebring. A local newspaper article reported, "It didn't work out," according to Sebring Executive Director, Mike Willingham. "The economy did all those terrible things." Willingham continued, "[Paradise was] looking for a location, but they didn't seem to be able to work out anything anywhere but here." The U.S. operation will move into the hangar on December 1, 2014. "One supervisor will train the workforce, which will be hired here," Willingham said. "Initially, about five to ten people [will be employed]." After Paradise starts building additional models, the workforce will grow, explained Willingham. "Who knows," he asked? "The sky is the limit." Bert Motoyama will be Director of Operations at the new facility and confirmed the earlier plans, "The main focus is to manufacture right here in Sebring, using U.S. sourced parts as much as possible. Eventually, all P1-NG production will take place at Sebring for distribution around the world." Counting Paradise, Willingham said Sebring is nearly full. "We're almost to that point now," he noted. "We started the year with 200,000 square feet of available space. Today, it's almost zero." It appears the airport's ten-year-old plan is working.

The revised, streamlined, and enlarged P1-NG has a full size third door, greatly easing loading of baggage.
At the upcoming Sebring Expo, Paradise plan to feature their new P1-NG, a next generation Special Light-Sport aircraft with a new full-size cargo door (photo, arrow) and additional streamlining to allow faster cruise speeds. Bert said, "The main focus is to manufacture right here in Sebring using U.S. sourced parts as much as possible. Eventually, all P1-NG production will take place at Sebring for distribution around the world." Paradise Aero Industry was formed by Noe Oliveira in 2001 quartered in Bahia, Brazil. His Paradise P1 debuted in 1999 and today the company builds several models including P1-NG, P2, P2S, P4, and Eagle. FAA and other government agencies accept Paradise aircraft as SLSA. For more information about the fleet of Paradise aircraft visit the company website. The Sebring Expo runs January 14-17, 2015. Planning is already ramping up quickly so make your plans to attend soon. A fresh year of recreational flying awaits you.


Tecnam’s Stellar 2014 ... “10/90 Works!”
By Dan Johnson, November 21, 2014

Italian company Tecnam has been a leading producer of Light-Sport Aircraft since the beginning of this newest aviation sector. Early distribution arrangements proved less than optimal so, like any progressive company, Tecnam retooled ... and retooled again. In 2014 it appears they finally dialed in the correct lock combination. While keeping their friends at former distributor Heart of Virginia Aviation, they installed a factory presence at the top of the pyramid. A new factory-operated facility at the Sebring airport was announced at Sun 'n Fun 2014. At the same time Shannon Yeager was hired to run the Florida center. As the year comes to a close, I called Shannon and asked for a summary of how things are going for Tecnam U.S. Inc. In particular I wanted to know how their 10% down program was working. When I first reported this, I found it a compelling answer to the concerns many American buyers have regarding the common need to send many tens of thousands of dollars overseas for an extended period of time. Tecnam proposed to significantly change that, asking buyers only to put down 10% of the purchase price with no balance due until the airplane was in the USA with N-numbers and FAA airworthiness certificate, test flown, and completely ready for delivery. I though it a game changer but how's that working?

Short answer: Based on a ten month track record, Tecnam forecasts U.S. deliveries of 34 airplanes in 2014. Shannon reported sales were split evenly between the P2008 LSA and the Part 23 approved Twin. By any measure in the post-2008 recession period, that is a reasonable performance and one likely to accelerate next year. Shannon noted that while interest is very keen, none of the new Astore LSA models were among those counted for their Sebring operation sales. The company debuted their sleek new low wing LSA at Sun 'n Fun, however, it went through a few final design changes so American deliveries of Astore are "just now beginning," said Yeager. Aircraft like Tecnam's Twin aren't the focus of this website and cost half a million dollars, but the model sports two Rotax 912 engines very familiar to all of us and it has secured a place in the market. At roughly (and amazingly!) half the price of a loaded Cirrus SR22 turbo, Tecnam's Twin represents quite a value. Shannon noted that Cessna 182 owners trading up to Twin get the same or better fuel economy with twin engine safety plus a bit more speed; cruise is about 150 knots in the light twin. About half the GA models are involved in leasebacks.

P2008's interior. Buyers can select from a broad range of avionics. Learn more about P2008 in this video.
Tecnam's strongest LSA seller is the handsome part-composite, part-metal P2008 but I was surprised to hear that 80% of those Light-Sport models are being delivered with the Rotax 914 turbocharged engine. This noticeably bids up the price over the carbureted 912 ULS but it delivers higher power that remains steady even as density altitude increases. "For those flying in more demanding environments (locations with high heat, humidity, or elevation), the 914 provides steady boost," according to Shannon. "We state ground roll at 300-400 feet and climb at 1,200 fpm." He observed they remain very pleased with the performance for the 912 ULS and for buyers holding to a budget that engine remains the most economical choice. (Those on the leanest budgets should be pleased to hear that Tecnam offers a very modestly priced Echo Classic Light LSA for around $80,000.) "Add about $10,000 for the fuel injected, fuel miserly 912 iS Sport," said Shannon, "or another $15,000 for the 914 turbo." In addition to performance numbers, Tecnam models have earned a widely accepted reputation for good handling.

Tecnam U.S. Inc., is quartered in the former Lockwood AirCam building at the Sebring airport.
As we spoke, I directed Shannon back to what he calls the "10/90 plan," the payment method I thought could be a game changer. People like it and indeed, why not? You select a Tecnam model; they have a large range from which to choose. Let's say it retails for $150,000 so you plunk down $15,000 and wait. They guarantee you won't wait more than 180 days or you can get your deposit back. "We have skin in the game," explains Shannon. "We have to spend much more than the 10% to build a plane, put an engine on and install avionics, plus ship it to Sebring. Therefore, we are committed to delivering your airplane." The engine alone costs Tecnam more than the deposit you pay, so Shannon is right; buyers have less at risk than Tecnam. The company has to deliver the airplane to make a profit but buyers need send only a smaller fixed amount to Italy while their airplane is built. You probably won't wait the guaranteed maximum of six months. "The norm has been four and a half months," said Shannon. So, by my reckoning, this company is playing their best game yet in the U.S. market and 2015 may be a breakout year for Tecnam U.S. Come to their home field for the Sebring Expo and check out the company and their facilities for yourself.


So Long, Dave Goulet — Challengers Fly On...
By Dan Johnson, November 19, 2014

Dave Goulet (L) presents an award to Gene Clark at the 25th Anniversary event honoring the Challenger aircraft line.
He had one of the longest runs as president of an airplane manufacturer and guided his company to produce an impressive 4,000 aircraft. Few other companies can boast such a record. I am writing about Dave Goulet, president of Quad City Aircraft. Dave passed away last week after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old. The company he founded in 1983 has supplied low-cost, well-flying aircraft. Over the years I've had the pleasure to fly and report on most of Quad City's models and you can click Challenger to read more. In this 2011 video, Dave discusses his airplanes that can be bought for $25-40,000, numbers that include everything you need to fly and, as he reported on camera, build times can be as low as 150 hours thanks to all the work Quad City does at the factory. In celebration of the long run for the popular flying machine, a couple hundred people drove and 56 Challengers flew to Erie Airpark in Illinois on September 19-21, 2008 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Challenger line of aircraft. Though often speaking in a soft voice, Dave was surely in his element among the large flock of Challenger pilots who have so enjoyed flying his creations.

A Challenger II flies in a paint design created by Dave Goulet.
"I started the company in 1983, and I still own it," said Dave a few years back. "In fact," he added in the earlier interview, "it's probably the oldest ultralight company still under the same management." After reviewing all the ultralight companies still operating, I agree with his assessment. Although he had associates Goulet was the main man behind the Challenger aircraft design and Quad City Aircraft company. Thinking of other long-term operations, Goulet mentioned Kolb Aircraft, Quicksilver and CGS Aviation run by another longtimer, Chuck Slusarczyk. However, the first two sold several times and even Chuck dabbled with outside ownership and management before finally selling the company. That left Goulet standing tall as the person holding the reins for the longest continuous operation of an ultralight aircraft company. Rans Aircraft boss Randy Schlitter has been at it a comparable amount of time and did once make ultralights. However, for the type of aircraft most people think of when they hear "ultralight," Quad City Challengers are a leading example. The Challenger design has been an unqualified success for more than three decades. According to representative Carol Oltman the company will continue to manufacture and sell Challengers. I'm sure Dave would be very pleased to hear that.


AOPA Regional Events Wind Down ... Successfully
By Dan Johnson, November 11, 2014

Overhead at the St. Simons AOPA Fly-in (arrow depicts the main hangar and center of activity).
It was interesting to visit Palm Springs for the Flying Aviation Expo's first-ever event at the location AOPA once said was their single best venue for the series of annual events known most recently as Summit. The Palm Springs show was larger when AOPA put it on but several reasons exist: • AOPA has 400,000 members to tap in encouraging attendance (though even at their strongest event, they drew somewhere under 20,000 visitors, I've been told) • the Flying Aviation Expo was a brand new event • ...and, promotion for it had only begun a few months back • Flying magazine signed on as the name sponsor for the Lift Management organizers only a few weeks back. Yet I'd like to put this in perspective. Setting aside the really big shows like AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun, aviation events appear to be doing reasonably well when they attract 5,000 people. That number was suggested for one or two of AOPA's new Regional Fly-ins (though only the member organization knows the exact figures and even they may not have an accurate count; for example, I flew in with two other men and we were not counted so far as I know). Copperstate draws 5-6,000. This year's Flying Aviation Expo reported "around 5,000." Update 11/17/14 The final edition of AOPA's national Summit event in Fort Worth, Texas last year counted 5,700 persons, it was recently reported.

So, thinking of how many attend aviation trade shows and fly-ins and what that means for the health of aviation and how good it is (or maybe isn't) for vendors at these events, here's some more on the AOPA events. According to our good friends at General Aviation News and their "The Pulse of Aviation" eNewsletter (sign up here; it's free), "AOPA President Mark Baker reported that the regional fly-ins were such a success that 45 airports are now bidding to host next year's fly-ins. AOPA officials estimate that between 16,000 and 17,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts attended the regional fly-ins, which were held throughout the country." As noted above, earlier reports pointed to a turn-out of perhaps 5,000 visitors at the strongest 2014 events. Mark Baker's reference was for all the AOPA regional events.

BRM Aero's Bristell LSA on display at AOPA-KSSI. photo courtesy of General Aviation News
Do you see any commonality here? Five thousand seems to be a solid and workable number. I asked many vendors what they thought of the Flying Aviation Expo event and all but one said they would return in 2015. My information is not scientific nor are vendor speculations something organizers can take to the bank. I asked a smaller number of exhibitors at AOPA St. Simons (KSSI) fly-in and they also seemed to feel good about their participation (although at slower times the phrase "vendor bonding" enters the conversation). Naturally, these smaller shows carry lower space costs but their smaller size allows deeper conversations with visitors compared to the onslaught that can occur at the biggest events. At the smaller venues attendees seem more motivated and relatively few of those "general public" folks asking basic questions interrupt the more serious pilot/buyers at the focused shows.

Up next: Sebring 2015
One of the grand experiments in the smaller, focused venue shows is the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, now entering its second decade. We often call it the Sebring LSA Expo to abbreviate a bit but that is not entirely accurate as kits and some larger airplanes are also present. Sebring reports drawing 15,000 or more though this count may be similar to Oshkosh where I'm told one person coming in the gate counts each day even if that individual repeats for several days. I don't believe it truly matters how you count so long as organizers are consistent. In the next few days I'll have more about Sebring. The central Florida show is repositioning itself as the "Affordable Aircraft Expo," featuring "Light-Sport, Homebuilt, Refurbished Production Aircraft, and Ultralights." We'll start covering details in the barely two months remaining before it kicks off a new season of flying on January 14th.


Aeromobil, Now at Version 3.0, Nears Production
By Dan Johnson, November 10, 2014

I have reported on Aeromobil before and we've tried to keep up with those MIT geniuses at Terrafugia and their Transition that basically reinvigorated the flying car or (as Terrafugia prefers) roadable airplane. However, saying Terrafugia reinvented the flying car is hardly fair to other producers, in this case Slovakia's Stefan Klein. At the Pioneers Festival — an entrepreneurship and future tech event held in Vienna, Austria at the end of October 2014 — Klein and his financial associate Juraj Vaculik unveiled their latest iteration of Aeromobil, specifically model 3.0. Beside a public showing, he demonstrated its flight capabilities to the public for the first time. Think what you will of Aeromobil or Transition, or for that matter, Maverick, but these ventures continue to attract attention and sufficient funding that it's likely we'll see some in the sky one day. How many you'll see is anyone's guess. Original Aerocar developer Molt Taylor once took the concept far enough to win CAA approval in 1956 yet the idea of combination airplane and car has yet to secure a market foothold.

Klein's Aeromobil had previously flown just a few feet off the ground. This is not a negative statement; most aviators know it makes sense for a new design to stay close to terra firma on initial flights. However, around the time of the Pioneers Festival the flying car went significantly aloft with a chase plane to record the flight. The video below shows the entire realm of flight.

Stefan Klein has devoted nearly a quarter century creating his flying car dream. He graduated from Slovak University of Technology in 1983, later studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (AFAD) and the École des Beaux Arts et Design in Saint Étienne. Following his academic training, Klein became the head of the Department of Transport and Design at AFAD where he had responsibility for leading research projects for car companies including Audi, Volkswagen, and BMW. Klein reports logging 1,200 hours in powered aircraft, and like many Europeans, has even more time in gliders: 8,000 hours.

Even while he led developments for auto makers Klein tinkered with his flying car, starting with Aeromobil 1.0 in 1990. I earlier reported on Aeromobil 2.5, which was called "final prototype" before the 3.0 iteration that is aimed at production. Klein reported changes made from version 2.5 include the addition of avionics, an autopilot, and a parachute system as well as suspension upgrades designed to make take off and landing on rough terrain easier. The designer he has also "integrated some advanced technologies such as a variable angle of attack for the wings that significantly shortens takeoff requirements." However, Klein was reported saying further testing was required before final specifications are confirmed and Aeromobil can be put into production. As with Terrafugia's Transition, media reporters appear highly intrigued by a flying car concept that looks advanced and Aeromobil certainly does.

Note the dual steering wheel and control yoke set up. All images courtesy of Aeromobil
Aeromobil is powered by the same Rotax 912 aircraft engine that powers so many Light-Sport Aircraft. Besides the good reputation of Rotax, the engine also accommodates (even prefers) auto gasoline, which suits the driving function of a flying car. Like Transition, Aeromobil uses the engine to spin a rear-mounted propeller. As the photos show, one blade of the four-blade prop is perilously close to the ground where rocks and other FOD could cause damage though protecting it could be part of final design changes. In driving mode, a gearbox shifts power from the prop to the rear wheels, a necessary bit of engineering when the wings fold back along the tail boom. With wings swung back to drive mode, width is less than eight feet, which should fit into standard parking spaces. Additional (and still preliminary) specifications are shown below. The company did not speak to gross weight nor has the Slovak company announced any plans to sell its flying car in the USA, but if it can stay light enough the LSA category appears to be good fit.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Construction — Steel frame and carbon fuselage/body
  • Powerplant — Rotax 912 (flying and driving)
  • Length — 19.7 feet
  • Span — 27.3 feet (with "variable angle of attack to shorten take-off roll")
  • Width (wings folded) — 7.3 feet
  • Top Speed — 124 mph or 108 knots (flying) / 100 mph (driving)
  • Rotation Speed — 90 mph or 78 knots
  • Minimum Speed — 40 mph or 35 knots
  • Range — 430 miles or 374 nm (flying) / 540 miles (driving)
  • Fuel Consumption — 4 gph (flying) / 29.6 mph (driving)
  • Capacity — 2 seats
  • With four million views already, perhaps you have already have discovered this but as it is a slickly produced video that also shows Aeromobil doing a good bit of flying, I wanted to be sure you saw it.


    LSA Taildraggers Broaden the Sector’s Appeal
    By Dan Johnson, November 7, 2014

    Taildraggers may be among the least understood and most feared aircraft available in the LSA space ... or for that matter throughout general aviation. While we have many good choices that I'll list below, I have nonetheless heard from many readers or airshow visitors that they are uncertain about their operation of an aircraft that has no nosewheel. If you have no taildragger skills, you'll also find it a challenge to get proper flight instruction in a "standard" aircraft. For those seeking new skills in flying, however, taildraggers may provide high satisfaction. Most who have crossed the barrier to taildragging subsequently look very fondly at such aircraft, seeing a sleeker yet gutsier, more rugged appearance. Of course, nosewheels dominate general aviation as they can be easier to land, especially in crosswinds, but once you learn the lesson of "happy feet" — or keeping your feet active on the rudder pedals throughout approach and touchdown — you may always yearn for more taildragger time.

    The Airplane Factory pilot launches the new Sling Taildragger in South Africa.
    Photos accompanying this article illustrate two established nosewheel designs now offered in taildragger configuration. Both are new to the market but they join quite a flock. Consider these other taildragging Light-Sport Aircraft: Tecnam's Taildragger • the long popular Kitfox • Rans' S-6, S-7, and S-20 • Renegade's taildragging Falcon • Just Aircraft's SuperSTOL and Highlander • Aerotrek's A220 • FK Lightplanes' aerobatic Comet • Phoenix Air's motorglider • and Pipistrel's Sinus motorglider ... and these are just the landplanes. Plus, I've left out a few models that appear to have gone quiet in the marketplace. LSA seaplanes can also be taildraggers (as well as pusher designs). Icon's highly visible A5 is a nosedragger as are Super Petrel, SeaMax, Mermaid, and Freedom that feature retractable nosewheels, yet taildragger LSA seaplanes include Progressive Aerodyne's Searey and Lisa's Akoya. The splashy new MVP and Wave seaplanes still in development plan to offer what might be called "hybrid" landing gear configurations (more on them in the future). Of course, the Cubalikes are taildraggers in keeping with their vintage looks; likewise for the Savage series. Work aircraft like the Dragonfly hang glider towplane are also well served by being taildraggers.

    The Airplane Factory USA's always upbeat team led by Matt Liknaitzky reported, "After a wonderful trip to the Copperstate Fly-In [we] sold [our] first U.S. based Sling Taildragger or Sling TD. This tailwheel version of the Sling 2 is the latest model designed by Mike Blyth and The Airplane Factory team." Matt added that the South African factory has received the order and has already begun the production process. "This beauty should arrive in the U.S. in about 6 months and we can't wait to have her join the Sling family," said Matt. He also noted that beyond the inaugural taildragger, two ready-to-fly four seat Sling 4s will arrive in the U.S. by the start of 2015 and will be available to demo. Ready-to-fly Sling Light-Sport Aircraft will be arriving every two months, with a few orders already placed. Four kit builders have joined the Sling builders brigade. The Airplane Factory maintains a vigorous pace of development and manufacturing and enjoys good U.S. presence thanks to TAF USA's operation at the Torrence, California airport run by expat South African Matt Litnaitzky who has since gained permanent U.S. status.

    BRM Aero has reconfigured its shapely Bristell into a taildragger called TDO (for Taildragger Option).
    Last but by no means least is the BRM Aero TDO or Taildragger Option Bristell. This handsome airplane was much admired in trigear form after its arrival in the USA. Some see it as a new generation version of the SportCruiser, which is hardly a surprise as the company owner and chief designer is Milan Bristela who had a great involvement in the original development of the popular airplane sold today by U.S. Sport Aircraft back when it was manufactured by Czech Aircraft Works (renamed Czech Sport Aircraft following an ownership change). Milan has developed BRM Aero into something of a boutique aircraft manufacturer custom building airplanes for customers in a very intimate fashion. Like The Airplane Factory, Milan stays very busy with new ideas and the TDO is another handsome airplane being added to the LSA fleet.

    You may not think taildraggers are for you as they do require some additional training (for insurance if no other reason) but nearly everyone admits these are good looking aircraft that draw appreciative looks in the air or on the ramp. Welcome to both Sling Taildragger and BRM's Bristell TDO!

    Although not in a taildragger Sling, you might enjoy this short video of a couple aviatrixes flying the Pacific Ocean shoreline from Sling's base in Torrence to Camarillo, California.


    Western Shows: Copperstate & Flying Aviation Expo
    By Dan Johnson, October 31, 2014

    Two western U.S. shows are filling the aviation calendar at the end of October. They are the last two major events of 2014. Next up will be the Sebring Expo in January 2015. While I attend the Flying Aviation Expo in Palm Springs, California, I am once again amazed that the West has never truly generated any strong aviation events. The Copperstate event is one of the most long-lived at 42 years. More on that below. Yet with California alone having more pilots and aircraft than any other U.S. state — indeed, more by itself than many countries can boast — it has long puzzled me that the trend-setting state has never birthed a great aviation trade show or expo. The biggest events remain in the eastern part of the country led by AirVenture Oshkosh and Sun 'n Fun. Even in the LSA space the stronger events are in Sebring, Florida and Mt. Vernon Illinois.

    I should not leave out the 45-year-old Arlington show up in Washington state nor the Golden West event near Sacramento, California but for reasons that escape me neither has grown into the very large gatherings characterized by Oshkosh or Sun 'n Fun. Arlington inhabits a lovely location and is a fine event I've enjoyed several times. However, its timing only weeks before and geographically far from Oshkosh makes it tough to get into the schedule of many companies. Neither am I ignoring convention center extravaganzas like those produced by the National Business Aviation Association (with perhaps more exhibitors than any other aviation event) or Helicopter Aviation International but these are highly focused commercial aircraft events that have limited appeal to the general aviation enthusiast.

    The 2014 Copperstate Fly-In and Expo in Casa Grande, Arizona — located approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson — was the 42nd year for this southwestern show. It ran the weekend before the Palm Springs show on October 23-25 at Casa Grande Airport (KCGZ). Main organizer Steve Bass wrote, "We don't have any real numbers yet but I think we matched last year's [attendance] numbers." He observed that visitor traffic was down on Saturday because of the heat at 95 degrees but added, "although we did have a full ramp." As surprising to me as anything was the display of no less than 18 weight shift trikes. While these machines once were very strong at many aviation events, their numbers have been much lower in recent years. Copperstate bills itself as "the fourth largest Fly-In in the United States." Copperstate is a very recreational aviation-oriented show out west but this year it was too close to the Flying Expo and I was unable to attend both.

    So that brought me to beautiful Palm Springs, a resort town in the desert east of the Los Angeles basin. The former AOPA Summit many times came to this city first popularized by movie stars back in the day and plenty of people in and out of AOPA said this was their best location drawing the most visitors. The location a couple, three hours drive (or a one hour flight) from the massive L.A. metropolis assures organizers of plenty of nearby enthusiasts. It has also long featured a parade of planes from the main airport to the convention center. The beauty of this for attendees is that the aircraft are on streets right outside the hall and you need take no transportation to go have a look at them. Under direction of Lift Management, Flying magazine editor Robert Goyer noted in his opening keynote address and panel discussion (in which I was pleased to be a participant, waving the LSA flag) that this was the publication's first event in the 87 years that title has been publishing. I write this on opening day and the hall is filled with about 120 exhibitors. People are streaming in and I want to make the rounds and see what people think. It's already scheduled for 2015 as well. If you live in the Southwest, you should put this one on your schedule. It's time for me to get back to the show.

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

     



     

     
     


    Pipistrel has designed and manufactures a range of beautiful, sleek aircraft that have found markets around the world. Starting with gliders and motorgliders, Pipistrel now offers a line of powered aircraft using multiple power sources.


    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.

    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

    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?

    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

    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.


    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.

    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 a new four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: Echo Classic, Eaglet, Bravo, Astore, and P2008.
    Many LSA
    & GA models

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    World Aircraft Company is Columbian design expertise joined to Canadian entrepreneurship based in Paris, Tennessee USA. Welcome to World Aircraft and a brand-new short takeoff and landing (STOL) Light-Sport Aircraft, the all-metal Spirit.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    SkyCraft Airplanes is America’s first Light-Sport Aircraft single seater. SD-1 Minisport is affordably priced, very well equipped, and was designed to exhibit docile handing qualities. It can be flown for less than $12 per hour.

    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.

    Zenith Aircraft is one of America's leading kit suppliers featuring well proven models from legendary designer, Chris Heintz. Centrally based in Mexico, Missouri, Zenith offers kit aircraft for several popular models.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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    Updated: November 27, 2014

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