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The 2015 airshow season is over. We covered it all and you can expect to read more articles in the weeks ahead. We also created many great videos including Video Pilot Reports. They will begin appearing one-by-one as the big job of editing is completed. Next up on the airshow circuit is the Sebring LSA Expo. Come see us in central Florida over January 20-23, 2016.

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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Aerolite 120 Launches in Britain and Ireland
By Dan Johnson, November 19, 2015

Aerolite 103 from U-Fly-It has been on a tear for the last couple years, producing at capacity and stretching to produce even more for 2016. Some of those very attractively priced aircraft — way under $20,000 ready-to-fly! ... take that, sluggish economy! — are headed off on the longest trip of their lives. The DeLand, Florida company has been shipping units to Europe where their German-based European distributor operates.

So much for too-costly airplanes. Aerolite 103 (and a few other well-priced examples from light aircraft producers) proves an airplane doesn't have to be costly to deliver a good time. The German Aerolite 120 is somewhat costlier to account for shipping, German certification expense, etc.

"British pilots have embraced Aerolite 120," said German distributor Vierwerk Aviation. "Aerolite's proper design, very good quality, and meticulous workmanship in every detail have been praised and recognized by everyone." Aerolite 120 is the European-approved version of America's Aerolite 103. The 120 designation refers to the German 120-kilogram (264-pound) class that is remarkably similar to FAA's Part 103.

Vierwerk and their United Kingom (including Ireland) distributor Kairos Aviation, said "Kiwi" (referring to its distinctive green color) was a real eye-catcher and was presented at the LAA Rally event called Sywell 2015.

Vierwerk Aviation is a family operation led by Wolfgang Labudde (far left) and wife Thilda (second from right) with help from their son and daughter.

Aerolite 120 was tested to assure compliance with the strict German LTF-L/UL regulations, and falls well within the criteria for the UK deregulated category called SSDR (Single Seat DeRegulated). The first example sold in the UK is G-OLAS (the British version of an "N-number" registration), which was exhibited by Kairos at the recent Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Rally 2015 at Sywell.

You can read a detailed report on the experience of first UK Aerolite 120 owner Stephen Oliver at this link (some browsers will open this in a new window; others may have to download and read with Adobe Reader). The article was published in the November 2015 issue of LAA's Light Aviation and relates the impressions of someone coming to the very light Aerolite from heavier aircraft and some readers may find this instructive. It is a very straightforward description with something of a surprise ending.

Some of Stephen's comments from the article are selected below.

"For a very light aircraft (only 120 kilograms (264 pounds) and a MTOW of 250 kilograms (550 pounds), the Aerolite 120 carries little momentum, so she responds rapidly to control inputs and airspeed bleeds off very quickly; consequently, you have to keep the power on to some extent right through to the flare." I don't find that to be the case, but I have plenty of light aircraft experience, unlike Stephen.

"[On takeoff] I applied full power from the Polini Thor 200 Evo air-cooled engine, which had easily started first time, every time, and I steadily climbed flapless out of the airfield, heading north over Pitsford. Best rate of climb is 41 knots (47 mph), which gives 1.6 meter per second (320 fpm) [of climb]; that's pretty much with full power at over 7200 rpm, [while] keeping a close eye on the temperatures.

"With so little weight, even with me on board, there's little momentum to slow its response to control inputs; it all makes for a lively experience. The stall is quite benign at 35 knots (39 mph) clean."

Much more detail appears in Stephen's full-length report found at the link above. Also, you can watch a video below for the first flight of Aerolite 120 in England.

Two LSA Manufacturers Score Overseas
By Dan Johnson, November 18, 2015

American readers of may be surprised to hear that more than a third of all visitors are from outside the United States. In a related fact, America has more pilots than any other country (very roughly half of the world aviator population) but more light aircraft are sold in other country by a ratio of around 10:1. These figures are fuzzy for a number of reasons but the point is that for LSA, the world is their market.

That statement is further proven by two recent successes.

Evektor reported it successfully passed the audit of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for production at the company's Kunovice, Czech Republic plant. "CAAC's audit team inspected the production facilities of Evektor-Aerotechnik focused on quality assurance, engineering and manufacturing, and quality inspections of fixed wing light sport aircraft," said Evektor.

This Czech company — the first to obtain FAA acceptance back in 2005 — was able to prove compliance with CAAC requirements for Light-Sport Aircraft, meaning Evektor is fully authorized by the CAAC for deliveries of SportStar SL aircraft to the Chinese market. While not required by Evektor's U.S. representatives, it represents further bragging rights about the design and its manufacturing processes.

"The Quality Management System audited by the CAAC of China [in concert] with the FAA and the European EASA Part 21 Design & Production Organization Approvals represents the continuous compliance of Evektor's Quality Management System with the highest general aviation quality standards and is the basis for the high quality of Evektor's aircraft," stated Jaromír Matu|ka, Quality Manager of Evektor-Aerotechnik.

Slovenian LSA builder Pipistrel claimed to have signed the largest single-point contract for delivery of 194 of their Virus SW models to the Indian Armed Forces. The model will be called SW80 Garud for use by the Indian military. Garud is a bird from Hindu mythology.

Pipistrel reportedly beat ten other competitors for the contract. The Garuds will be used to train cadets of India's Air Force, Navy and National Cadet Corps spread across 100 locations in the country. Deliveries are to begin in eight months with the contract specifying that Pipistrel must deliver all 194 aircraft within 30 months of the first. Upon learning of their victory, Team Pipistrel must have celebrated enthusiastically but nearly 200 aircraft over two and a half years is a serious order, especially as the contract stipulates spare engines, ground support equipment and tools, 10 years of product support, plus training for aircrew, instructors, and technical staff.

Garud aircraft will be powered by the 80 horsepower version of the Rotax 912 engine, which Pipistrel claims will provide a cruise speed of 133 knots with fuel consumption of only 3.6 gallons per hour. To achieve such speed and fuel economy infers an in-flight adjustable pitch prop. Garud is to be built for operation from semi-prepared surfaces and will include a ballistic parachute rescue system, digital avionics, energy-absorbing seats and a Kevlar-reinforced cockpit.

After two years of intense negotiation, some experts see challenges. One wrote, "Doing business with the Indian government, with all their red tape, bureaucracy and corruption makes for tough duty." Penalties for non-compliance may be substantial and our expert noted, "The Indian government will find areas of non-compliance. Further, he supposed Pipistrel had to cut their margins to earn the contract. Finally, "A contract for six or seven aircraft per month may soak up their production for other markets."

Congratulations to Evektor and Pipistrel for these accomplishments!

DeLand Airport to Host Air Race March 12
By Dan Johnson, November 17, 2015

Our title was the headline for a news article in the my hometown Daytona Beach News-Journal newspaper recently. That's rather unusual. Anytime Light-Sport Aircraft make the local headlines — and not due to an accident, that has to be a good thing.

Let me set the stage ... Daytona Beach is a major race venue with the Daytona 500 commonly ranked as one of the top auto races in the world. It draws huge numbers of people. Estimates say 250,000 people attend the '500 inside the track with a vast number tailgating outside. For comparison, seating at even the biggest football games is less than half that count. Whatever the actual numbers, a great many people come to Daytona to enjoy auto racing.

An even larger event in Daytona is Bike Week. According to Wikipedia, "Approximately 500,000 people make their way to the rally area for the 10-day event." This number is almost equal to all the pilots in the USA.

SPAR organizer, Doc' Bailey
As reported by Daytona's News-Journal, "The inaugural Sport Pylon Air Races event is set for DeLand Municipal Airport on March 12, the final Saturday of the 75th annual Bike Week motorcycle rally that runs March 4-13, 2016."

The newspaper report continued ... "We hope to capitalize on all the people and national media already here," said Christopher 'Doc' Bailey, the air race's organizer. "Right now we are piggybacking on Bike Week for the first event, but we want to make this a winter series across the country that starts and ends in Volusia County."

Can SPAR attract some of that immense audience? Only time will tell but nearby air racing certainly has a chance. The idea has been some time in the making with an earlier report stating that entrepreneur Bailey hoped to launch SPAR in 2013. Doc' is persistent, though, and this air race for the light aircraft crowd may be nearing reality.

According to the News-Journal reporter the inaugural SPAR event runs from 10 AM to 5 PM and will feature timed heats of Light-Sport airplanes flying at 120 knots through a twisting and turning course of pylons — also referred to as "gates." More than a dozen pilots from throughout the country are expected to compete in the event which will feature races in different categories of LSA.

The newspaper reported FAA is allowing spectators at the air race event to sit about 500 feet from the course, which will be 70 feet above the airport's runways. "This makes our event much more fun and interactive than sitting a mile away with binoculars," Doc' said.

FAA officials are expected to visit DeLand in the next 60 days to inform airport officials what preparations and actions the federal agency will require for the event. The air races will not stop most other airport activities but will "inconvenience" some, said John Eiff, who manages DeLand Municipal Airport.

The inaugural SPAR will also feature food and drink vendors, aircraft displays, skydiving and short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft demonstrations, the newspaper article continued. Post-event activities are also being planned. Tickets will be $25 per person and $20 for a couple. Children age 12 and under, and military veterans with an identification card, will be admitted free, Bailey said.

"[SPAR] will also help highlight the Sport Aircraft Village [a LSA business area planned for] DeLand Municipal Airport and the city's outreach to attract the sport plane industry, as was done when making DeLand a leading skydiving and parachute industry center," said Nick Conte Jr., executive director of the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce.

Rans’ S-6 Evolves; Remains a Great Bargain
By Dan Johnson, November 13, 2015

all photos courtesy Rans, Inc.
With my good friends over at General Aviation News, I recently published an article about Light-Sport Aircraft available for less than $96,000. While that is still a good chunk of change, it is far less than the top-tier LSA that can run $150,000 to more than $200,000. Yet brand-new, fully-built LSA don't have to be so costly. You can read the article at this link.

The four aircraft I picked for my article are not the only well-priced choices in the Special LSA world. They happened to be four airplanes I had flown recently but I did mention at the end that buyers have even more choices in SLSA that were good values, some down below $50,000 ... although those choices will not be carbon fiber speedsters with full glass panels and autopilots.

Keep this in mind: When the SP/LSA regulation first came out in 2004, plenty of potential buyers expected prices in the $50,000 to 60,000 range. Of course, those numbers never included dual screen digital instruments, autopilots, airframe parachutes, leather interiors, or state-of-the-art, fuel-injected engines. Even so, given the effects of inflation, $60,000 in 2004 is the same value as $76,000 in late 2015. Therefore, some of my choices in the article referenced above do indeed sell for the price once expected.

"I saw a great article by you about SLSA planes [available for] well under $100,000," wrote Rans CEO, Randy Schlitter. "I would like to let you know we now have a nice plane on the market for only $79,000. It is our venerable S-6ES [the kit version] called the S-6ELS [the fully built version]."

"If you check out our specifications and price list, you will find it comes with a very nice panel and the very reliable 80 horsepower Rotax," Randy added. "Many pilots are fans of the S-6 Coyote II and for this price in ready-to-fly form it rivals the amount of dollars kit builders are spending for parts in a box."

"S-6ELS also has one of the highest payloads LSA on the market," he added. Indeed, based on a full fuel load of 18 gallons, S-6ELS has a 537 pound allowance for people and luggage, enough for 30 pounds of gear and two 253 pound occupants. "We are currently building the 2016 version" Randy continued. "It now includes an updated interior, similar to the S-20LS, and we have dropped the sailcloth laced-up covering for conventional dope and fabric."

He also noted that S-6ELS is available in tricycle gear or as a tailwheel plane. Click this link to see a PDF page showing all specifications for the S-6.

How well equipped is a $79,000 S-6ELS? Rans says their base price is for a "deluxe analog day VFR" aircraft with radio, intercom, GPS, transponder, three-inch airspeed indicator, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, compass, ELT, and the 80 horsepower Rotax 912UL engine with two-blade Warp Drive prop. For many buyers that could be all you need and would allow you to fly cross country with ease.

However, many pilots like to personalize their airplane or want more goodies, so pick from the following:

  • Lighting Package — $2,500
  • ...includes nav, strobe, position, instrument and taxi/landing lights
  • Canopy Cover — $500
  • Tru-Trak auto pilot (only available with analog panel) — $5,000
  • ADS-B — $900
  • Passenger elevator trim — $500
  • Headrests — $200
  • Gear leg fairings — $800
  • Aft baggage (30-pound capacity) — $1,000
  • Taildragger, including gear leg fairings and 6X800 tires, with 8-inch tailwheel — $2,000
  • Canopy cover — $500
  • Rotax 912ULS (100 horsepower) with 3-blade Whirl Wind prop — $3,500

Those of you know or have talked to Randy at an airshow might imagine the friendly grin on his face when he added, "We are hoping to be a leader in value and are planning even more exciting combinations of price-busting planes for the LSA market from both existing and designs under development."

Years ago, Randy used to show up at every Sun 'n Fun event with a new model, earning him such fawning comments as "airplane-of-the-month-club designer." A prolific creator of more than 20 distinct aircraft — while simultaneously operating a bicycle manufacturing business (since sold) — Schlitter remains an essential person to watch.

With more than 4,000 aircraft in the Rans fleet in countries around the world, Rans is one of America's leading producers of both kit aircraft and ready-to-fly models.

While the GA News editor since corrected the article in its online form (sign up for free), I originally wrote the Aeroprakt A-22 sold for $88,500. That was information from a previous distributor and the new representative Dennis Long clarified that the current base price is $68,500, or about $80,000 with a good number of options.

Open Air Pilots of the World ... UNITE!
By Dan Johnson, November 12, 2015

Around the world, starting early for many like this Louisiana paraglider, pilots joined the virtual flying called World Ultralight Fly-In or WUFI. It went so well a 2016 event is planned.
After many years in aviation and being a regular on the (trade) airshow circuit, I know one thing: it is darn hard to start a new event. So when The World Ultralight Fly-In announced its ambitious run at a Guinness Book world record, I thought it was a very fun idea but probably quite hard to assemble.

That was before key promoter Paul Lindamood began putting out what seemed hourly updates to the group's Facebook page. The power of social media is unveiled for serious events such as Arab Spring or whimsical photo flash mobs. In our world of recreational aviation, WUFI '15 proves the new media is also very useful.

Good for Paul and the WUFI gang of open air pilots. My tongue-in-cheek title notwithstanding — I am definitely not a Marx enthusiast — WUFI surely qualifies as the project that put more open-air (and other) ultralights or ultralight-types in the air on one day, all around the world. To see where they all launched, see the map below.

"One Day. One Sky. Be a part of it." That was the slogan and invitation from the Dayton Ultralights WUFI. With the drumbeat of social media encouragement and with the second, ambitious goal of entering the Guinness Book of Records ... how did they do?

Pilot and WUFI participant Doug Smith showed the true colors of a fellow ultralight enthusiast.
According to main man Paul, "The final numbers to date (a few days into November 2015), 900 virtual pins were located on the map, with a pin being pilots who previewed their location on the world map showing their intent to fly, weather permitting." This significant population hailed from 46 countries.

"What a great way for pilots to come together all over the world to share their love of aviation," said Doug Smith (painted face photo). The organized effort has also done great things for membership in the group known as Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines (abbreviated as MagMen). As this article posted, main man Paul said the group had grown to nearly 2,000 members. Clearly the idea has been motivating.

Organizers say the first World Ultralight Fly-in was picked up by numerous TV news stations, publications, and online resources. Anecdotal stories include these: "We had guy from Mexico who wanted to fly WUFI so bad he flew to his wedding rather than miss it! Another guy flew four different categories of light aircraft (paramotor, tandem paramotor, skydive, and sailplane) during WUFI day on October 10." Tim Heylbut, an avid flyer from Australia said, "This has been (and is) the greatest action taken towards uniting ultralight pilots around the globe."

Participating aircraft owners got into the WUFI event in various ways; this gyro pilot put the logo and slogan on the underside of his flying machine.
But what about that record book attempt? "We are still counting actual certificated 2015 flyers for Guinness — it's over 532 and we're not done." They are presently verifying each one, as required. "We had an amazing start, but what we are finding is a real enthusiasm across the world for a sense of community among these pilots."

Paul explained that the idea was to have an event for the grassroots types of machines. Such machines can't as easily attend venues like Oshkosh due to speed, range, and weather limitations. "However, they can share the same sky on the same day," exclaimed Paul! "We're finding that language, location and political barriers all but disappear within the smiles of this unique brotherhood of flyers ... and the sisters as well.

"The Guinness response is still pending," Paul said. "It goes very slowly and we can't do much but wait. They say on their website they get 1,000 entries a week."

As they prepare for a second effort next year, Paul stated, "We are developing a world wide team of WUFI 'captains' — individuals who will recruit from their individual countries — plus WUFI experts in all primary segments of recreational, open air aircraft from powered parachutes to weight shift trikes to gyro, to airplanes and beyond." The group plans to execute an even more comprehensive WUFI 2016.

In this fetching image WUFI participant Dave Kukura flies his stealthy black Beaver in a low pass. All WUFI '15 pilots got a handsome certificate like the one shown for principal organizer Paul Lindamood.
For the successful 2015 event, Paul wrote, "Thanks to all the WUFI captains!" He listed Marc Carofano, USA east — Thomas Fleming, USA south — Rafael Cortés, Puerto Rico — Yf Yen, Malaysia — Michel Mahler, France — J'm Smith Lobo, China — John Bullpin, UK — Paul Escott, Australia — Adolfo Bikkesba, South America — Jacqueline Costa, Portugal — Tobie Lépine, Canada — plus representatives in Indonesia and Wales."

More "captains" will follow. Indeed, being a good promoter, Paul and his Ohio-based group are already soliciting for more leaders and participants for WUFI 2016.

Co-creators, Bill Esker and Paul Lindamood from the USA with Koen Van de Kerckhove from Belgium were extremely gratified by the exceptional turnout and enormous amount of support worldwide. The event spanned virtually every category of recreational aircraft imaginable, with pilots as varied as the countries they represented.

Kerckhove said, "The goal of the flying event was to show that grassroots, open air aviation is alive, attainable and affordable." He added, "It is also a love and a bond that bridges all geographical boundaries. We look forward to the 2016 event and expect a tremendous increase in the participants.

Aircraft of Copperstate 2015 Continued (Part 2)
By Dan Johnson, November 6, 2015

Copperstate 2015 crowds were good on Friday and Saturday as shown by a throng examining this Scoda Aeronautics Super Petrel LS seaplane.
In this Copperstate Part 2 article we resume the list of aircraft Videoman Dave and I reviewed at the show south of Phoenix, Arizona in Casa Grande. To remind you, this was the 43rd running of this show that invites all sorts of aircraft — and many dozens did fly in each day plus others did fly-over demonstrations.

However, Copperstate generates a particularly strong response from manufacturers and representatives of Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and utralights. That makes it a must-go show for our team at and Dave's YouTube channel that so many of you seem to enjoy.

Like other shows, many of you approached us at the event and expressed your ongoing interest in the video content we create. We are very pleased about your loyal viewership and will continue to work hard to build our growing video library ... already at 400+ videos and moving steadily to 500 and beyond. Dave started his channel before I joined the party and his channel now offers around 1,000 videos ... lots to enjoy!

Kitfox's new STi model with John McBean and Dan preparing to go aloft for a Video Pilot Report.
KITFOX STi — Around the globe, everybody knows Kitfox. Some 6,000 kits have been sold and owner John McBean is sure of more than 4,000 flying all over the world. (Many countries don't report such things so he was estimating conservatively.) No matter the precise count, Kitfox qualifies as one of the most successful kit aircraft of all time.

John and his group have also achieve Special LSA status for the Super Sport model, sometimes referred to as Series 7. Dating back nearly three decades Kitfox is a very familiar shape, but what you might not know is all the updates that have occurred over the years. While early Kitfoxes had a reputation of being very light on the controls and a bit jumpy in yaw, that's all ancient history for the models produced under John and Debra McBean's careful guidance.

Yet making the aircraft more refined and more enjoyable to fly is not all the Kitfox'ers have been doing. At Copperstate I went aloft with John in the STi, which stands for "STOL inspired." With substantial changes to the wing (more chord, for example) and 29-inch tundra tires, the STi left the runway in even less distance than a typical Kitfox, which is no slouch in that department. The flight with John proved he is a consummate professional with very adept in-flight practices that show his years of experience. I believe you'll enjoy the VPR this flight created.

Sling LSA was one of two The Aircraft Factory models we flew at Copperstate 2015.
SLING LSA and SLING 4 — From way down under in South Africa comes the Sling. Ha! That long distance is no big deal, really. This company has flown multiple models all the way around the world | not once, not twice, but three times! I guess that answers all questions about the cross country capability of this handsome design | or designs. Yep, at Copperstate, I got to fly the Sling LSA but also the Rotax 914-powered Sling 4, their kit-built four-seater entry.

Sling was a bit late to the LSA party. While The Airplane Factory had been operating in South Africa and selling in other countries, The Airplane Factory USA only brought in the first Sling in 2012, SLSA #125 out of 136 so far. When it arrived, Sling displayed some very interesting lines; I especially like the angular engine cowl shape. Obviously, the designers believe the craft is very solid as they were willing to make 'round the world flight #1 almost immediately after the design was completed and built. That's confidence! Main man Mike Blythe brings tons of experience to the table and it shows.

However, The Airplane Factory's presence in the USA owes a debt to Matt Litnaitzky and his team. While also tending to the build-up of MGL Avionics , Matt has calmly and steadily nurtured TAF's models now including a Sling SLSA and EAB kit in both tricycle gear and taildragger plus a roomy four seat Sling 4 kit that boasts 1,000 pounds of useful load. I got to fly both at Copperstate and we did a fourth VPR on the LSA model. Look for it when the editing chores are done.

Just Aircraft's SuperSTOL painted in the colors Rotax BRP uses for their fuel-injected 912 iS Sport engine.
JUST SUPERSTOL — At the Flying Magazine Aviation Expo in Palm Springs, California the week before, Videoman Dave and I sharpened our focus on women in aviation. We shot four new videos about women pilots and aviation participants and we continued that at Copperstate in Casa Grande, Arizona.

We didn't fly in SuperSTOL as we had already done that at Sun 'n Fun (video) with Just Aircraft designer, Troy Woodland. Instead we focused on this SuperSTOL because Hutch Hudgins was aided by wife Ann Summerton in building this example. Their five month effort on six days a week moved to even longer hours every day of the week before they needed to head back to Montana. Every step of the way, this aircraft was a husband and wife project. Sharp readers may observe that this SuperSTOL is painted in the colors Rotax uses for their fuel-injected 912 iS.

A nurse by profession, Ann was no delicate flower guilted into helping her husband. With obvious pride, she threw herself into the project just like Hutch and the result is first a vastly greater familiarity with literally every part on the SuperSTOL but also a deep and genuine interest in the airplane. Now the couple will host builders of SuperSTOL at a builder assist center they are creating where folks can come assemble their kit with supervision from Hutch and Ann (when she's not helping other folks in her nursing role). More info will appear in the video that follows.

We have more videos coming about women in aviation that we think you'll enjoy! Click back often.

VPRs & More at Copperstate 2015 (Part 1)
By Dan Johnson, November 4, 2015

The main view above was taken toward the end of the day. On Friday and Saturday the ramp was packed with show planes and a large number of aircraft that flew in for the day.
Updated 11/5/15 with video at end ...

We went. We flew (and flew). We shot video ... lots of video. Videoman Dave's dual hand held cameras got a workout as did our six Garmin VIRB cameras. We did more of our popular interviews but we also captured multiple angles on several aircraft as we continue to build our expanding library of VPRs or Video Pilot Reports.

Nearly always hard at work on terra firma, Dave went aloft (photo) to get some air and to capture aerial images. Dave took a seat in the twin-engined AirCam with company designer and boss, Phil Lockwood so you can see Copperstate 2016 from the air.

Honestly, I can hardly imagine how Dave keeps track of those hours and hours of video much less organize them into the productions you enjoy to the tune of 1.5 million minutes a month of viewing. Quite a number of you came up and offered Dave and I appreciation for this effort and we most assuredly like the encouragement this represents. Don't worry. We'll keep making more!

Started 43 years ago in 1973 Copperstate Fly-In has been a stalwart of western shows supporting a large pilot population in Arizona and surrounding states. Copperstate is a volunteer run, non-profit organization, which they describe as "dedicated to promoting recreational and general aviation through events, scholarships, and public education." Copperstate's leadership added, "Proceeds from the Copperstate Fly-In help support scholarship programs for youth seeking careers in the aerospace industry."

Between 5,000 and 7,000 people come out to view aircraft and more, this year including (on Saturday) a large collection of gorgeous vintage automobiles. Late October in Arizona is a beautiful time of year with abundant sunshine but lacking the scorching heat of summer.

Videoman Dave takes his camera aloft in the AirCam with Phil Lockwood.
AIR CAM — This constant flying of airplanes for Video Pilot Reports ... it's hard work but somebody has to be willing to do it. OK, that was a tongue-in-cheek comment as I take very little encouragement to climb into the front seat of an AirCam. Doing so over the beautiful landscape (to my eyes, anyway) surrounding Copperstate was pure pleasure. That this is also my job just proves the right kind of work can be a joy.

Before the event started, I went aloft with Lockwood Aircraft main man, Phil Lockwood. This was our first VPR since the Midwest LSA Expo in early September and we had to fiddle with our flock of VIRB cameras to get everything set. Phil and his sales manager, Robert Meyer were very patient but we finally went airborne with all cameras recording both video and our audio conversations while aloft. We hope you'll enjoy this when it is posted. (Please be patient; video editing is very time consuming work.)

AirCam is such a pleasure to fly. Of course, it performs extraordinarily well with 200 horsepower pushing it enthusiastically into the sky. However, I learned from Phil that in modest cruise, he can reduce fuel consumption to 3.5 gph ... and that's for BOTH engines. AirCam can also fly slowly with full authority thanks in part to its huge vertical fin. It looks right-sized on this aircraft but in my opinion looks aren't what matter. Flying qualities are superb on this aircraft and that big tail is a major reason why. I look forward to tell you more on the VPR.

A couple members of Videoman Dave's fan club wanted to pose for a photo in front of the Bumblebee Revo that we fly for a Video Pilot Report. Amy Saunders (L) and Nicole DeLuca both fly the Revo. Nicole is in training and Amy has flown from Florida to Oshkosh and to the West Coast and back. The Bumblebee-themed Revo belongs to Henry TrikeLife.
REVO — Speaking of powerful machines with good performance, how about Revo? Hoo yah! I've described Revo as the most deluxe weight shift trike built by anyone and I stand by that comment after experiencing not one but two Revos at Copperstate. Revo is also one of the best performing trikes I've flown. This rig will blaze along faster than 100 mph, the virtual sound barrier for weight shift aircraft.

Now in talking to other trike enthusiasts at the event, some said more than $100,000 for a tricked out Revo is too much and that it's too fast. That's fair. If you want something more modestly priced, you have many choices including some desirable aircraft from North Wing and others ... but also from Revo maker, Evolution Trikes. Their single seater Rev, which I have yet to fly, can be had for much less than $20,000 ready-to-fly as a Part 103; many options are available, which will increase cost and move it out of 103 but the point is you have several choices from Evolution.

Price aside, even after six years of observing Revo, I remain amazed at the level of detail Larry Mednick and his team have engineered into their top-of-the-line aircraft. The trike carriage is a brilliant melding of art and function but I want to mention the wing. Also their own configuration, some believe a trike this heavy cannot handle well. Indeed, that's been true with several other trikes, but Revo handles with remarkable ease and it's trim systems (pitch and yaw) work beautifully. If you never tried a weight shift, here's one to consider early although it may spoil you for any other model. See more in the VPR when it's ready.

In Copperstate Part 2, I'll cover our work on the Kitfox STi, a pair of Slings, and more women in aviation as we look at a special SuperSTOL. Click back soon!

Catch one of our first Women-in-Aviation videos with Amy Saunders of Evolution Trikes below ...

Here Is My “I Have a Drone” Speech
By Dan Johnson, October 27, 2015

I have a confession to make. I ... have a drone (with a nod to Dr. King and his "Dream" speech). No, I have not abandoned my love of flying inside the cockpit; far from it. However, in my role as an aviation journalist and with my goal of creating great content, I wanted to explore the new realm.

I believe we can capture great video, for example, of airplanes taking off in ways not possible with either ground-based cameras or via air-to-air photography. Love them or hate them, drones can produce certain images that are simply not possible any other way. Plus, I wanted to investigate and learn about this new range of aircraft.

My primary goal is to take my drone to airshows and, after securing permission from the show organizer, use it to give you a better perspective. When it can be used safely, a drone should allow more intriguing viewpoints of Light-Sports, light kits, or ultralights during take off and landing.

The dji (brand) Phantom 2 Vision+ drone and gyro-stabilized camera.
With assistance and support from new website sponsor Drone Source, I acquired a dji-brand Phantom 2 Vision+ drone. The quadcopter comes with a three-axis gyro-gimbal stabilization that allows smooth filming even in windy or moderately turbulent conditions. The Vision 2+ holds a tiny video camera that produces 1080p-quality video and/or 14-megapixel still photos. Using on-board Wi-Fi Vision+ sends what is called first person view (FPV) to your Apple iOS or Android device that is held by clamp to the remote controller. The smartphone screen shows what the camera is seeing along with other data such as height, distance, battery life, orientation, and more.

Drone Source proprietor Ron Bishop wisely counseled my use of prop guards as I learned to fly the Phantom. The good news is that if you let go at any time and don't bump the two joy sticks (one for throttle and yaw; the other for fore/aft, right/left), Vision 2+ will hover smoothly and hold altitude and position until you give it a further command.

Phantom is remarkably smart. Should you lose radio signal, Vision+ rises to about 55 feet, above common obstacles, and then will fly back to the launch point completely on its own. You can program the Phantom to autonomously (without human input) fly a course of up to 16 waypoints. If the battery gets low Vision 2+ comes home and lands without input. All this costs about $1,000 and prices will inevitably fall as drones develop at "Internet speed."

Learning to fly the Phantom 2 Vision + with prop guards to prevent problems.
"The world's largest retailer by revenue recently asked the FAA for permission to use outdoor unmanned aircraft to test everything from package delivery to inventory management," reported the Wall Street Journal. "Wal-Mart's interest in drones [follows] ... industries such as farming, filmmaking, and construction."

Amazon, Google, and DHL are testing drones for the final leg of package delivery, often said to be the most inefficient and expensive part of delivery logistics. Although the agency seemed to move lethargically at first, FAA has established a new office headed up by former EAA LSA champion, Earl Lawrence. Things are moving faster now. Wall Street Journal reported, "FAA has issued more than 2,000 approvals in the past year to use drones commercially and the agency has recently accelerated such approvals."

Manna from heaven or pizza from Domino's?
Cool as flying and using drones may be, it is increasingly more complicated as authorities insert themselves. Purchase prices are the least of your concerns. My drone ran a bit north of $1,000 and you can spend $3-10,000 for more professional units. This pales in comparison to shooting photos with a helicopter.

However, if you want to use a drone professionally, to be paid for the images you create, you will need a 333 Exemption. I am currently in this process with assistance from others. Typical of efforts to gain a license or other government approval, the task is tedious at best.

Next you'll need to obtain a pilot's license if you don't already have one. Powered Parachute instructor and Designated Pilot Examiner, Roy Beisswenger, has had a busy summer training pilots who seek to fly drones to, for example, take real estate photos. The fastest way to a Sport Pilot certificate is through powered parachutes, which require only 12 hours (assuming good aptitude).

Now, FAA wants to register drones ... sigh! OK, I'll do it all and perhaps all the regulatory steps will bring order and enhance safety. Certainly, I'll learn a lot. Fortunately, it is quite enjoyable to fly one of these things and the FPV is exceptional. The resulting images are excellent. Watch for some good visuals on this website and in our videos. Drone on ...

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




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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Aerolite 103 is a remarkably well priced (way below $20,000), well-equipped, Part 103 ultralight that flies beautifully. Several hundred are airborne and production has never been more solid. Here is an airplane every pilot can love and afford.

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge. Powered by the 180-horsepower
Titan IO-340CC by Continental Motors, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.

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

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Scoda 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.

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!

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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!

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.

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.

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Updated: November 25, 2015

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