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Flying Car Racing Event & Terrafugia New Weight
By Dan Johnson, June 23, 2016

If my title confuses you, regrets. The two are related in my mind but not in present-day fact. Nonetheless, I found both interesting and hope you do, too.

First, the fact. Terrafugia, of current Transition Roadable Airplane or flying car fame, won a weight exemption up to 1,800 pounds. This blows past the 1,680 pound exemption won by Icon Aircraft for their A5 LSA seaplane (only 1,510 pounds of which they chose to use). Earlier Terrafugia was granted an exemption to the seaplane LSA weight of 1,430 pounds but that didn't prove to be enough.

A problem, perhaps the major problem, for Terrafugia is contained in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (and let's be just as government as we can be to go with the inescapable abbreviation of FMVSS). You cannot take to the air with any airplane heavier than an ultralight vehicle (254 pounds empty plus certain exceptions) without satisfying lengthy FAA regulations and you cannot put a non-kit car on the road without meeting the considerable requirements of FMVSS. OK, in truth you can't go in the air with an aircraft weighing more than a few pounds, provided that aircraft is a drone, but that's a whole other story of growing federal regulatory intrigue.

After reviewing nearly 300 comments, most of which were supportive, FAA granted Terrafugia a gross weight increase to 1,800 pounds (819 kg) and a stall speed increase to 54 knots (...because Terrafugia argued that increasing the wing size to stay at the LSA standard 45 knots was not feasible for a conforming roadworthy vehicle). So, good for Terrafugia. They can now continue developing Transition, even while pondering their dreamier TFX, that is electric powered, semi-autonomous, and VTOL.

Bert Rutan's Bipod could be an entry (though not confirmed) in the Flying Car Racing event.
Terrafugia was not, however, aware of an event to which the organizer claims to have invited them. Transition design team leader Carl Dietrich wrote, "I don't recall hearing of a "Flying Car Racing" event, but if we were invited, we would almost certainly decline — as much fun as it may be — because our focus needs to be on other things plus Transition isn't designed for racing. I would design a very different vehicle for racing if there was a customer for it.

You can go to the Flying Car Racing website and draw your own conclusions but I must admit this is mildly interesting to me. As I replied to Carl, "I don't see it so much actual racing as capabilities demonstration. Who knows? It may never happen. They're talking about an event in 2017 though I'll give them points for at least planning well ahead. On the other hand, it could generate considerable media interest, I suppose."

Most of what the organizers show is a gathering of anything and everything that might remotely be considered a "flying car." They get more points for finding quite a few candidates but miss some obvious ones, for example, the recently Special LSA approved SkyRunner (video) though that is more off-road than roadable, but who wants to split hairs?

Have I wandered out of the solar system in exploring this topic? Maybe, but it has to do with the types of aircraft normally covered on this website and it could be a media generator (already has been to some extent) so I thought I'd look into it. If it continues to be something, I'll follow up. If it fizzles, well, hopefully you enjoyed looking at it with me.

Flying Car Racing is developed in — where else? — Los Angeles, California. The first invitational is planned for 2017, they stated.

Scarab Aviation Evolution
Here are the teams they invited. Some of these entries intend to be "flying cars." Others are simply vehicles you could drive around on the ground (sort of) with wings atop their carriages.

Three categories have been established: Radio-controlled, Electric, and Unlimited. Organizers note, "Entrants must be able to operate their flying cars legally on the ground and in the air between El Mirage Dry Lake, California and Boulder City, Nevada, USA." They add, "Vehicles that are not street legal may race in restricted trials on and above El Mirage Dry Lake, California. Radio-controlled flying cars will be raced within visual range of a control area on land and in the air." The latter seems in keeping with FAA current insistence on line-of-sight control of airborne drones. No word if FMVSS has an opinion, but they may weigh in later.

The RC group is defined as "Unmanned and human-guided in real-time," while the Electric category is "Manned with electric drive." Unlimited or "manned" types include I-Tec's Maverick (video), Terrafugia's Transition (video), AeroMobile 3.0, the old Molt Taylor Aerocar, Caravellair, PAL-V, the greatly modified Sportsman PlaneDriven PD-1; Scarab Aviation's Evolution, the telescoping wing Sampson, and Zee Aero's flying taxi (or whatever it is; they're being very quiet).

Shown: artwork for Zee Aero's project about which the company is saying almost nothing beyond Google leader Larry Page's involvement. This image was modified from patent application drawings.
Of course, the whole thing could lose energy as did the once-heralded Rocket Racing League. No teams I contacted had committed to attending. In fact, they didn't even know about it so this could be no more than an overhyped dream. Yet, the concept is rather cool, I think, and it would indeed begin to separate the men from the boys by asking all competitors to travel 219 miles. That's hardly an insurmountable distance for any credible entry but reliability could be a challenge for the less developed projects.

Groups like Terrafugia, I-Tec, and Aeromobile have flown their machines and driven them on roads. Heck, a Maverick traveled by road all the way from Florida to Oshkosh one year. So a 219 trip would be child's play for some but the more questionable entries might not go the distance. I should think a 219-mile trip by radio-controlled model would be rather tiresome.

Then again, anything's possible and this just might make the mainstream media sit up and pay attention. MSM reporters seem to love driverless cars, so who knows? I say, anything that paints aviation and flying in a good light is probably worthwhile. So... gentlemen, start your engines and spin your props. Boogity, boogity, boogity! Let's go racing!


LSA “Market Failing” Statement and My Response
By Dan Johnson, June 18, 2016

This month, I had an email exchange with a leader in aviation. I debated if I should reply. For a time, I did not but I felt compelled given the person's stature. I was driven to attempt informing those this individual might influence. I further pondered if I should write an article about it, but I feel one must confront potential errors if for no other reason than to promote healthy dialogue.

Cessna Skycatcher sold briskly for a time but was withdrawn from the market after more than 270 were delivered. Is that a failure?
I am not to going reveal with whom I had this exchange. Personality isn't important to the discussion but this person expressed what I suspect represents the opinion of a fair share of general aviation pilots, at least those who have not fully explored recreational aircraft such as LSA, or light kits, or ultralights.

The following comes from our second round of email. In the first, the writer referred to LSA "market failings" and I asked what was meant. The person wrote, "As for the 'LSA market's failings,' I'll point to a few: Cessna Skycatcher dead and gone, Piper and Cirrus both abandoned the market after fitful starts."

My reply: I would not in any way call those market failings. I would call them the market functioning quite perfectly. Cessna Skycatcher was not the product the market wanted; even their own dealers or flight schools generally didn't embrace it. As they worked on the design, people told them they made poor choices (engine, vertical tail volume, more) but Cessna felt they had to do it their way. I write this a big fan of Cessna; I did much of my early flying in Cessnas, have flown them many hundreds of hours, and I've owned three.

[Rather than develop their own model] Piper chose... to contract with Czech Sport Aircraft to rebadge their existing SportCruiser LSA as the PiperSport. They sold more than 70 in one year. I'm not sure that qualifies as a market failing.

Cirrus planned to represent the company-named SRS. This model flew for years before in Europe and still does as the Fk14 Polaris. It may return to the USA under the European name and will be represented by Hansen Air Group.
Cirrus [also selected an existing model]. However, they insisted on "Cirrus-izing" their SRS model and got so deeply into it that they never made it to market. That model, known as the FK Lightplanes FK14 Polaris is quite successful in Europe. It comes from a manufacturer still producing, one that has been in business quite profitably for nearly 30 years. Therefore, I'd hardly call that a market failing either.

I implored of this other aviation leader... "Market failing" is such a negative term, especially when it may be incorrect. I hope you will consider not repeating it. Let's keep it positive.

I could not rest with the preceding. The naysayer's general viewpoint appears to represent what I'd call a common myopia among American pilots who fail to consider the rest of the world. [Here is] a link to an article recently published by General Aviation News that gives more detail.

Summary factoid:  In 2014, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported deliveries of 969 single engine piston certified aircraft worldwide. For comparison, LSA-like aircraft sold around the world in that year exceeded 3,000 units.

The negativity continued with the other writer stating, "Several of the LSAs that remain on the market have poor flying qualities... and prices for LSAs are higher than what was anticipated at the start."

My reply: Yes, some LSA prices are much higher than we once expected but most of those are all-carbon-fiber, full glass-paneled aircraft with autopilot, ADS-B out, airframe parachutes, leather interiors, and more such deluxe equipment that customers demanded. As we all know, such fancy gear adds considerably to prices even without high certification costs.

For a few months named PiperSport, the more permanently named SporCruiser was previously and is still successfully represented by U.S. Sport Aircraft.
We also have perfectly airworthy (as judged by FAA designees) and fun to fly airplanes available for $50-75,000, which, given inflation, is actually less expensive than we forecast. Those prices are for three axis, fixed wing aircraft but if you will accept a gyroplane (still only a kit LSA, due to FAA's reluctance to fix this), a weight shift aircraft, or a powered parachute, the prices can be much lower. You may not care for those aircraft but many pilots do. They fly like a duck... etc., so any new aircraft that satisfies is a good thing — they keep pilots flying — and their prices can dip below $30,000. In 2004 dollars that's less than half what we once forecast.

Forecasts of market functions — like weather forecasting — are often wrong. In 2003 and 2004, no one, myself included, correctly guessed where the LSA market was headed.

Flying qualities can be very subjective; it depends what you want, are ready for, and what mission you have for the airplane. I've flown some certified airplanes that have less than optimal flying qualities. An H-model Beechcraft Bonanza I loved had a nightmarishly complex fuel system and my insurance check instructor absolutely forbade me from deliberately stalling it.

BushCat (along with a few other brands) is a great example of how LSA prices are actually lower than once expected if compared in constant dollars.

Finally the writer added, "Very few LSA makers are thriving financially, and several are barely hanging on."

My reply: I will not say [that is] wrong as I have no access to their accounting documents, but companies like Tecnam, Pipistrel, Aeropro, AutoGyro, and several others seem to be doing quite well. Would you expect every single manufacturer to thrive financially? If that is a requirement for market success by your definition, then the GA Type Certified market is not particularly healthy either.

While I would not disagree that some producers are suffering in a lethargic world economy, "hanging on" is still in business. Indeed, only a few of the 90+ manufacturers have departed the LSA market permanently. If I look at [general aviation] companies like Maule and Eclipse (contemporarily) or Bellanca and Navion (from days gone by), I see TC producers that are not even hanging on anymore, or marginally so.

Again, this is the market working, not failing. This is much like an economic recession being a corrective occurrence as it redirects malinvestments to better purposes.

Our exchange also included talk about FAA Part 23 rewrite project about which this person also has reservations and I responded to those comments as well. However, the above is enough for now and makes my point, I hope.

If you have comments about this article and the opinions of the other writer or my replies to that person, feel free to post them on my Facebook page, where I've posted a brief preview to this article.

Chart Sources: LAMA and LAMA Europe; ByDanJohnson.com Market Share Info; GAMA; Recreation Aviation Australia; and, other individuals that offered input.

Best Effort Statement: While care was taken and broad experience was applied to the counting, considerable interpretation was needed to create this chart. National figures are based on reports from many countries, laboriously assembled by GAMA, a study made significantly more difficult by widely varying reporting systems that define aircraft differently and group them by differing methods. GAMA's numbers were then further interpreted based on expert knowledge.

For Further Comparison: The U.S. type certified single engine piston (SEP) fleet — accounting for an estimated 80% of the global fleet of such aircraft — numbers 137,500 aircraft. Worldwide, the TC SEP fleet may count 165-175,000 aircraft; all other countries have about 20% of the global total. As we can identify about 13,000 LSA-like aircraft in the USA, America represents about 20% of all such recreational aircraft in the world; 80% are operating in other countries.


“Two Engine” SkyRunner Wins Special LSA Status
By Roy Beisswenger, June 10, 2016

Please again welcome Powered Sport Flying publisher, Roy Beisswenger, who sent the following story on the exciting new powered parachute from SkyRunner. —DJ

SkyRunner has evolved significantly. The current version is on the left; the original prototype is on the right. Size, seating, power plants, instrumentation, wing, chassis... nothing is the same.
I have been actively following SkyRunner for more than a year. The U.S. start-up company is rare in the Light-Sport world. The company's MK 3.2 entry is the first American two-seat powered parachute manufacturer to launch since the LSA regulation was issued.

Sadly, the SP/LSA rules actually ran most of the powered parachute manufacturers, dealers, instructors, and even pilots from the early 2000s out of the business and sport. It is refreshing to watch a company buck that trend!

Creating a powered parachute from the ground up is a challenge, and to build one that doubles as mighty gnarly all-terrain vehicle is even more of a challenge. SkyRunner's team did it more than once. They began their effort with a single-place model (photo) that owner and developer Stewart Hamel initially funded. The single-place edition was designed and prototyped in the United Kingdom and was to be sold here in the USA.

Hamel quickly found that the market was less interested in that aircraft and more interested in a two-place version of the powered parachute. For that and other business reasons, he brought the design work from the UK to his home town of Shreveport, Louisiana and took a more hands-on approach to development.

Features for the powered parachute were essentially "crowdsourced" with SkyRunner listening closely to what potential customers wanted. Then the military got wind of it because of its potential as a special operations platform. However, the list of features that the military was interested in was more than the typical civilian's "roll out, warm up, take off, and fly" mission profile.

What special forces operators really wanted was an aircraft that can fly, but also act as a ground tactical vehicle. They also wanted it to be multi-terrain. They wanted more payload. Since the goal was to take the aircraft into battle (or even deep behind the battle), they wanted reliability. SkyRunner MK 3.2 delivers!

Satisfying the military and first-responder wish lists makes the SkyRunner an aircraft that appeals to adventurous civilians, too. So instead of turning his focus to a "government only" design, Hamel worked from the outset to make a product that also conforms to the FAA's SLSA standards. SLSA regs — and a weight exemption similar to ones issued for the Terrafugia and Maverick flying cars — make it possible to offer the SkyRunner to the public.

While new to manufacturing, and certainly to aircraft manufacturing, Stewart is not new to business or parachutes.

He was involved in successful startup companies in the past such as ReachLocal (once a $800 million company), he understood business fundamentals well. When I visited his facility early in 2015, I was very impressed. The factory he was in was absolutely huge, being an old AT&T pay phone factory. Instead of renting the whole space, though, he only leased and fenced off a tiny fraction of the cavernous facility. As production ramps up, SkyRunner won't have to move. Stewart will simply lease more floor space and move the fence.

Getting their pink Special Airworthiness Certificate. Shown are Stewart Hamel, CEO & Founder; Doug Leinberger FAA Air Safety Investigator from the Ft. Worth MIDO; and, Cody Lackey, Director of Production for SkyRunner.
Stewart's experience under canopies came from skydiving. Once an avid jumper, a bad accident and injuries in the sport prompted his doctors to encourage a new hobby. After some looking around, Hamel found powered parachutes and pursued his new sport with a passion.

One of the lessons learned during the development process was what to build in-house and what to outsource. Initially Stewart wanted to outsource all he could and do only final assembly at his facility. During the prototyping and development work, he found that it was easier to control quality and get things done faster if he did more work in-house.

Now with initial development complete, current plans now are back to only to doing the final assembly at their Shreveport facility. "We are having the welded chassis and wiring harnesses outsourced," Hamel said. "For final assembly, a team of four can complete eight to ten SkyRunners per month," he added. "That makes production scalable. As we grow, we can bring in additional teams of four to increase production."

Even without a wing above, SkyRunner is one gnarly, exciting machine, an ATV on steroids.
Any pilot (or ATV enthusiast) wonders how SkyRunner performs.

This is actually two questions since MK 3.2 is both ground vehicle and aircraft. I only have experience with it on the ground, and I have to say that it is a thrill ride. With its wide wheelbase, light weight, and Polaris motor, SkyRunner will go places and do things that you'd never try with normal ATVs. Yes, you read that right. It has a dedicated Polaris motor for ground operations, making it an off-road bandit.

SkyRunner also has a Rotax 912. As a powered parachute MK 3.2 takes off like any other powered parachute, only easier. Four wheels, that wide wheel base, and a low center of gravity combine to make the SkyRunner almost immune to tipping over.

It also seems that the ground motor could also have a function for takeoff. Kiting (getting the parachute inflated and above the chassis) is one of the most challenging tasks for the new powered parachute pilot. Kiting in light and variable wind is even more of a challenge. If the wing comes up crooked or slides to one side, the parachute lines or risers could get caught in a spinning prop. Let it go too far and you can tip some powered parachute carriages.

With a separate ground engine, a pilot wouldn't have to turn a prop to roll forward enough to kite the parachute. As the wing rises, the four-wheeled cart can handle most any odd kiting weirdness, and when you are happy that the wing is where it belongs, you can start the prop engine for actual take-off and climb. This isn't the official text book takeoff procedure, but it appears to hold promise.

The cockpit of SkyRunner MK 3.2 has both a ground operation and an airborne set of controls.

Now with the their newly awarded SLSA airworthiness certificate, SkyRunner is kicking things into high gear. While it hasn't been a secret that they exist, they haven't aggressively promoted their product to the aviation community... yet. Nonetheless, they have delivered a couple aircraft overseas to impatient customers while working through FAA paperwork.

With the design settled and the production facility in place, deliveries are going to start taking place in the U.S. The approved design is now something that the military and other agencies can test and see if it suits their purposes. Expect to see a lot more out of this company this summer and in the future. Congratulations to Stewart Hamel and his entire crew!


Greg Koontz’s Crazy Flying Act in Titan Legend
By Dan Johnson, June 7, 2016

No, he's not going to fly into the hangar... you hope, but Greg Koontz's airshow act keeps you wondering.
Probably you've seen an act like this before. A crazy-acting farmer or a supposed drunk hops into a Piper Cub or similar aircraft after the regular pilot leaves it unattended for a few minutes. The crazy guy has no flying experience but somehow proceeds to start up the airplane and to take off in the most out-of-control manner imaginable. As he erratically careens around the sky, handling the aircraft wickedly out of control, he nearly impacts the ground over and over. The entire act takes place within a couple hundred feet of a hard-as-concrete surface.

Even though it's only an act and even if the pilot is actually a gifted aviator, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and fear that nutjob is going to whack the airplane into the ground right in front of the airshow crowd watching in fascination.

So, you may look at the act Greg Koontz performs and you might undervalue the skill involved. Yet, Don Wade worked with Greg to develop this project and reported, "Greg is one the most precise airshow pilots in world. You have no idea how difficult landing on the truck is. You have just six inches either side of the wheels!"

Most of us are pleased to make a "squeaker" landing where the landing gear kisses the tarmac oh-so gently. We beam with pride should someone witness our skill. We're pleased to do a precision landing that gets within a couple hundred feet of a preplanned target. Our flight instructor might nod approvingly. Even experienced pilots competing on spot landing contests are pleased to landing within a ten or twenty feet of their target... and their runway isn't moving! An error tolerance of six inches on a surface that is itself moving, well now... that is really something.

Approaching for landing on the "world's shortest runway."
Koontz has his American Legend, awesomely powered by the 180-horsepower Titan, painted up to say "Bob's Discount Flight School." Hmmm, is that like a discount doctor? The Dodge pickup truck on which he lands is lettered with messages to resemble a plumber's work vehicle complete with a big rack on top. We're supposed to believe this might be used for hauling pipe and it merely happens that some crazy pilot might try to land a plane on top. In truth, as our video shows, the rack is quite carefully built to allow Greg to artfully land while in motion. After he touches down he tweaks the throttle to move the main gear into curved wells sized to the Legend Cub's wheel stance.

He makes it look easy enough but you can bet this is something you should not try at home without lots of experience. Yet the result is great fun.

After Greg touches down with the mains and cautiously rolls them forward into the wheel wells, he holds the tailwheel up as the truck driver slowly decelerates, allowing the tailwheel to settle where planned. Then, as the announcer goes on with the story, the truck driver again accelerates smoothly and Greg is able to lift off and continue flying. It looks so deceptively easy but it surely is pure deception. As I watched the video footage we captured, I knew I'd never try anything so crazy.

The crowd eats it up. Even jaded airshow pilots who have seen it all have to admire the skill Greg applies (along with his capable truck driver) in making the entire act work. The 2016 version of the act — the "smallest airport" — will include 16 venues that started with Sun 'n Fun 2016 and includes that summer celebration of flight known as Oshkosh. For the show schedule and additional details visit Greg's GK Airshows website.

Landing the Titan-powered Legend Super Cub... as viewed from the truck.
American Legend entered the SLSA space early; they were the 10th LSA to achieve their special airworthiness out of a list now 140 strong. They first used the 100-horsepower Continental O-200, later mounting the 115-horse Lycoming O-233, the 120-horse Jabiru 3300 six cylinder, and later still, the still-to-come Superior diesel engine entry. However, from the view of Greg Koontz and many other pilots, the big Titan does a terrific job and, following Continental Motors' acquisition of ECi in 2015, it might be said that American Legend returned to their roots.

Titan's X-340 engine, now offered by Continental Motors, is a four cylinder, 340 cubic inch displacement engine that produces 180 horsepower. Sulphur Springs, Texas-based American Legend said their Super Legend HP with the Titan X-340, offers "fast cruise speeds and the best ever takeoff and climb performance in a Light-Sport Cub." Company boss Darin Hart explained that to qualify as Light-Sport Aircraft, maximum takeoff power must be limited to five minutes with continuous output limited to 80 horsepower.

Others have used this engine and fought mightily to keep the weight within LSA's challenging standard of 1,320 pounds. Darin explained, "Special lightweight custom paint and carefully selected panel equipment are helpful to maintain Super Legend HP empty weight at less than 904 pounds," as required by FAA to qualify as a Special LSA.

Good job, American Legend. Great act, Greg Koontz. Pilots, while you might not want to follow Greg's aerial antics, I'll be you enjoy the big Titan power that makes the act that much more entertaining.

Catch the whole act and hear from Greg in this video...


Jabiru 170D Returns, Offering Excellent Value
By Dan Johnson, June 1, 2016

Given that the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft sector is only a dozen years old (announced July 2004 with the first Special LSA approval in April 2005), Jabiru North America seems almost an old timer with 17 years of business in their corporate logbook. During those years, the onetime Wisconsin company relocated to Shelbyville, Tennessee.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Jabiru North America announced their new J-170D model.

Australia's most popular LSA trainer has been noticeably improved and updated. Among other improvements, the down-under engineers redesigned the vertical stabilizer, giving it a more swept stance and a wider airfoil shape, which makes the aircraft more stable and require less rudder input than before, according to Jabiru. They believe this enhanced two seater will make an even better flight instruction airplane.

"The [previous] J170-SP has been a great trainer here in the USA, with its stout landing gear, stable handling, and fuel economy of less than 4 gallons per hour in daily use," said Pete Krotje, President of Jabiru North America. J-170D does even better.

You might need to get in line for one of these well-valued airplanes.

Jabiru North America reported, "We will be allotted one J170-D per month starting in late July 2016." That July aircraft is already sold and will be used for flight training. My guess is the Tennessee company will find more orders as they did at Sun 'n Fun 2016. They are quoting an introductory price of $99,900, which impressively includes a Garmin G3X touch-screen EFIS system; Garmin remote comm radio and Mode S transponder; 2020 compliant ADS-B in & out; and night lighting package. Optional instrumentation is available to allow instrument training.

While I know people often say SLSA seem more costly that promoted at first, Jabiru's new 170D offer a solid value, in fact being the equivalent of $78,950 in 2004 dollars. Back then we didn't even think about ADS-B and the G3X wasn't even a gleam in Garmin's eyes.

"For an aircraft that is tough enough for day after day flight training and will cruise over 100 knots (115 mph) for weekend excursions, the J170-D is a terrific bargain," said Pete. "Other LSA suitable for training [can be] double the price, and spare parts can be difficult to obtain. In contrast, all parts for the J170-D engine and airframe are readily available from Jabiru North America," he added. "The long-term relationship we've built with Jabiru allows us to offer outstanding support to our LSA owners in cases where parts, repairs or alterations are necessary."

So, what do active flight schools think of the modestly-price 170D? Chris Cooper, chief flight instructor of Hummingbird Aviation, a full-service flight school outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was quoted by Jabiru North America, "We are very, very happy with the J170 as a trainer and are looking into adding a third aircraft the future." Jabiru reported that Hummingbird has operated a J170-SP for several years, accumulating over 2,000 hours on its first aircraft, and recently acquired a second J170-SP to expand the business.

One imagines they'll be even happier with a J-170D offers several enhancements to the J170-SP originally offered in the USA, including a longer fuselage for more stability, the airfoil-shaped vertical stabilizer for improved turn coordination, and the latest version of the Jabiru 2200 engine with all the newest enhancements.

The list goes on... J170-D is equipped with the most advanced avionics offered for light-sport aircraft. Garmin's G3X touch-screen flight display has intuitive controls and features synthetic vision 3D terrain, GPS moving map with the capability to display geo-referenced charts, AOPA airport directory, and a 2020-compliant ADS-B package with weather and traffic display. Full electronic engine monitoring, including four-cylinder CHT, EGT, and fuel flow, is also standard.

According to Jabiru North America, the standard engine, Jabiru's 85-horsepower, direct-drive, 4-cylinder 2200 model, "offers simpler and smoother operation than the competition and features the latest Jabiru safety enhancements, including roller-bearing cam and lifters, valve-relief pocketed pistons, enlarged through-bolts, and reinforced flywheel attachment.

Flight schools and private owners alike often focus on cabin comfort and again, J-170D does well. It may look diminutive from the outside but its 45-inch-wide cabin offer six inches more width than a Cessna 172. Placing the control stick in the center console makes for easier entry and exit and I've always like the armrest to steady your control movements and reduce fatigue on longer flights. Though J-170D does not have the J-230's enormous aft cabin — a result of the larger Jabiru model being designed as a four seater in its home country — 170D offers a carpeted area behind the seats. Especially if you don't fill the large 35 gallon fuel tanks, you can carry luggage for two. Optional adjustable rudder pedals accommodate taller pilots.

While I understand $100,000 is a lot for some budgets, you have to put this in perspective to realize Jabiru is offering quite a bit of airplane for the money. If it's still too rich for your taste, you have many other new choices and a growing fleet of used airplanes. Nonetheless J-170D offers an excellent value in a proven, well equipped airplane that should work for most pilots.

  • SPECIFICATIONS FOR JABIRU J-170D
  • Wingspan — 31.7 feet
  • Cabin Width (at elbow) — 44.9 inches
  • Aircraft Empty Weight (typical) — 748 pounds
  • Maximum Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds
  • Load Factors — +4.0/-2.0 G (+7.0/ -3.5 G tested)
  • Horsepower — 85 @ 3300 rpm
  • Climb Rate at Gross Weight (average) — 500 fpm
  • Cruise Speed (75% power) — 100 knots True (115 mph)
  • Never exceed Speed — 140 knots True (161 mph)
  • Stall Speed, Full Flaps — 40 knots True (46 mph)
  • Stall Speed, No Flaps — 45 knots True (52 mph)
  • Fuel Capacity/Type — 35 gallons (100LL)


Icon Downshifts, Softens Tough-Love Contract
By Dan Johnson, May 25, 2016

On a conference call with aviation media, Icon Aircraft sought to mitigate blowback from the 40-page contract announced just before Sun 'n Fun 2016. Plenty of people took them to task and several position holders reported dissatisfaction with some of the more burdensome aspects of the lengthy legal document.

"We [messed] that up," CEO Kirk Hawkins told me at Aero 2016, adding that they would take action on it quickly. Since his comment in late April, the purchase agreement, meant to protect the company's brand, intellectual property, and legal liability, was heavily revised. Cut from 40 to 11 pages, the new agreement removes a 30-year life limit on the airframe. Neither will Icon install cockpit audio and video recorders. Numerous other changes should encourage position holders to sign the dotted line.

Several aviation news outlets have faulted the company for continuing to take orders while production appeared stalled, for issuing a contract no one could love except lawyers, and for tightly controlling the journalist flight experience. For the record, I was one of those. However, other than insisting on supplying all photos to me and limiting my flight time to 30 minutes, I was allowed to fly the airplane as I wished. Afterward, Hawkins and chief pilot Jon Karkow also solicited my opinion on changes I'd prefer.

Icon also sharply rolled back their production forecast. At Sun 'n Fun representatives were saying 175 aircraft would be produced in 2016. Today that number was dropped to 20 A5 LSA seaplanes. The news release indicated that seven have been built (photo) with eleven more currently in production. Our review of the FAA database showed a total of four as of the beginning of April.

In the conference call and in a press release, Icon also said, "These changes are part of a strategy to improve the A5 production processes and manufacturing supply chain while simultaneously supporting flight training for Icon customers." Icon reported that they have received a total of "30 composite aircraft sets." They added, "We've learned that our production process and parts of our supply chain are not yet ready for high-rate production."

Because of these major changes for the 10-year-old company, they will make "temporary workforce reductions primarily of the aircraft assembly team." In the meantime, Icon said that their investors are sticking with them and will commit to a "substantial infusion of new capital."

"Most customers can expect a delay of approximately one year from their previous estimated delivery dates." One can almost hear a collective groan from more than 1,000 customers who have already been waiting, in some cases for several years.

"I realize this news will be as big a disappointment for many of our customers as it is for us," Hawkins was quoted as saying. "I wish there were a better answer."

While the company works to make ready a more substantial production effort, they will focus on Icon Flight Centers, with locations in Texas and Florida to add to the home base one in Northern California. Several of the first 20 airplanes will be allocated to the California training facility.


Sun Catches Lightning — Sun Flyer Rollout
By Dan Johnson, May 23, 2016

Recently, aviation titles chronicled the rollout of Sun Flyer's prototype electric powered airplane. To careful observers, the aircraft might appear somewhat familiar. Good eyes, folks. The prototype was built for Aero Electric Aircraft Corporation by Arion Aircraft. The beautiful sweeping lines of the Sun Flyer are nearly identical to the Lightning LS-1.

The one notable difference — and in fact this is the whole story — is the electric motor up front allowing Sun Flyer to look even a bit more streamlined than the dashing outline of Lightning. This is a first article aircraft as photos don't yet show any solar cells on the wings, as promised by Aero Electric.

Regardless of how AEAC develops Sun Flyer down the line, it was wonderful to see them linking up with Arion Aircraft whose LSA and kit models have been admired for their gracefully smooth shape for some years.

Arion Aircraft's Lightning LS-1, available as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft or a kit. The shape works for Aero Electric's Sun Flyer vision.
In its unveiling at AirVenture 2014, Aero Electric showed a single seater. This was actually the Elektra One, designed and created by Calin Gologan, who also predicts an all-electric four-seat GA airplane in the next ten years. That was 2010, so we have time for AEAC to get their two seater ready and move onward. (We'll see how that turns out.)

Paying tribute to Calin, George Bye of Aero Electric said, "[Our] two-seat solar-electric light sport aircraft project was created under license agreement from German technology partner, PC-Aero, which introduced the Elektra One single-seater."

Readers seeking a broader view are invited to read my survey of electric airplanes from a few years ago: electric airplane review. A year earlier, we had this earlier article about Elektra. Now, you have some of the history.

Most of the electric airplane projects currently capturing media attention are pure electric plays, although Aero 2016's e-flight-expo organized by German publisher Willi Tacke showed a hybrid (gas & electric) project. Other than some fascinating one-off projects, pure electric mostly means batteries to supply the current needed to spin the engine and prop.

AEAC's Sun Flyer is the first "commercial" project proposing to incorporate solar cells as a power-gathering apparatus. The company stated, "Solar energy collection from solar cells affixed to the composite wing skin, produces electric power that is combined with Lithium Ion batteries to run the electric propulsion system."

Flying the eSpyder a couple years ago showed it was both easy and different for the pilot. While operation was simple, I had unfamiliar information references I needed to track. They were not intuitive for someone used to fuel flow, magneto operation, tank capacity, and power settings. You can read my flight impressions aloft in eSpyder. Alternatively, watch this video with airframe developer, Tom Peghiny, after eSpyder became the first electric airplane to win German certification.

Speaking to the pilot operation of Sun Flyer, Aero Electric reported, "The electric motor's throttle is very intuitive with one control lever. [The pilot has] no need to adjust mixture richness and monitor cylinder head temperature as in aircraft with internal combustion engines; a throttle computer control unit is responsible for optimum motor operation, battery status and the entire power system."

Beyond its quiet, drip-free operation, "fuel burn" is another saving grace of electric. AEAC said, "Only about $1 of electricity is needed for each flying hour." We've heard this number from other producers and it seems to suggest this could be great for flight schools trying to operate efficiently. Even the fuel miserly Rotax 912 iS burns four gallons an hour and even at today's somewhat lower auto gas prices, that still translates to at least $10 per hour for fuel alone.

Swapping out battery sets (and fast charging) could keep an electric flight school plane flying almost continuously, augmented by Sun Flyer's solar cells, but of course, batteries are some of the most expensive components so to buy at least two sets per airplane on top of the cost of a new airplane may be a deal breaker for smaller flight schools. AEAC has hinted at a price of $180,000, a bit precious for many flight schools. A breakthrough in energy storage (i.e., better batteries) could dramatically alter the landscape but we're still waiting for long-lasting, fast-charging batteries that don't cost a fortune.

This artist's rendition shows Sun Flyer with wings equipped with solar cells to aid battery recharging.
Regardless, the appeal of quiet, trouble-free electric propulsion generates significant interest from many both in the pilot community and from neighbors, community leaders, and various interest groups. The move to electric seems inexorable driven even faster by the arrival of names like Airbus and its Voltair subsidiary (for more, read this and this) or giant Siemens. AEAC and its Sun Flyer may be coming in to view at just the right time. We'll keep watching them.

In this ANN video, company boss George Bye gives his vision for the future of Sun Flyer and electric propulsion.


Invasion of the Titan; More LSA Go Big Power
By Dan Johnson, May 18, 2016

Kitfox Aircraft has installed the Titan X-340 and is currently testing the engine.
In my many years in aviation, I've learned this about light aviation pilots: If 80-horsepower is good, then 100-horsepower is better, and even more is best of all. It explains why interest was so high when Rotax announced their new 915iS that will provide 135 horsepower. It also illustrates why the 180 horses of the Titan X-340 is succeeding in the Light-Sport Industry.

Interest from LSA producers started with CubCrafters adopting the engine several years ago. When that company's boss, Jim Richmond, held a press conference at Sun 'n Fun, the reception was somewhat cool. Of ten persons in the audience, only four of us were journalists. The other six (yes, 6!) people were from FAA. No wonder, perhaps, as ASTM standards at the time brought questions to mind regarding the use of such a powerful engine. Those standards have since been modified somewhat.

Indeed, the western producer instructed users that the engine could only be used at full power for takeoff or climbing, but otherwise had to be set to lower power. Of course, you would not run many engines at full power for all phases of flight but my guess is many users put the noise lever where they wish and don't worry too much about what standards or regulations state.

Flash forward to 2016 and interest in the Titan engine is clearly revved up all the way. Let's see... this list may not be complete as new brands seem to be regularly considering bolting on the powerhouse engine -- CubCrafters Carbon Cub, American Legend Super Legend, Zlin Outback (Shock Cub in Europe), Just Aircraft SuperSTOL, Kitfox STi, Rans Raven, Vickers Wave LSA seaplane.

Why do these leading companies use a more costly engine? What pilots doesn't love plenty of power for performance, climbing strongly without straining the engine. With an excess of power, pilots can thrill to short takeoff rolls, exhilarating climbs north of 2,000 fpm on some models, and somewhat higher cruise speeds, though the latter depends much more on airframe and wing shape than horsepower. It may also provide a safety factor in some situations.

Continental Motors said, "The Titan 340 is unlike any other engine we offer. This little stroked 320 can put out over 180 horsepower and is 20 pounds less than a stock 360. ASTM certification has proven this engine to be reliable and a great performer." Titan Engines remains based where ECi was founded in San Antonio, Texas.

Zlin's Shock Cub uses the Titan. Attendees can examine the model at AirVetnrue Oshkosh 2016 under the Outback name at SportairUSA's booth.
The company reported, "Titan's 340CC engine has been tested and is manufactured in accordance with ASTM F2339-06." This is the standard for the design and manufacture of reciprocating spark ignition engines for LSA. The 340CC engine is a four cylinder, direct-drive, horizontally-opposed, and air-cooled engine, differentiating it significantly from the gear-box-equipped, liquid-cooled Rotax 9-series. To help reduce weight, heads are made of aluminum alloy castings. "The cylinder barrels are made of thru-hardened steel that have a Nickel+Carbide coating for additional corrosion and wear prevention." Pistons are machined from aluminum alloy. The engine is "designed to be cooled via air pressure forced from the top of the engine to the bottom of the engine during flight. Air is directed over the cylinder heads via baffles." Titan's carburetor is a single barrel float-type equipped with a mixture control and an idle cut-off.

Operationally, Titan is somewhat different from the ubiquitous Rotax that asks pilots to assure a certain temperature before takeoff. Continental said, "The engine should be warm enough for taxi as soon as it takes throttle with no hesitation." Pre-takeoff runup is similar to most American made engines where you spin the engine to 1,700 rpm and check left and right mags plus exercise the carburetor heat control. Although you can use the full 2,700 rpm for launch, Titan advises reducing engine revs to 2,500 when an acceptable climb is established. LSA manufacturers may add further instructions.

Descent for landing calls for slightly decreasing power and letting the airplane decelerate. "Chopping the power should be avoided unless there is an emergency," said Titan. Abrupt power reduction can cause the cylinder barrel walls to receive cold air cooling while the piston is still hot and this can cause problems. Final engine shut down is done by pulling the mixture control, not be switching off as on a Rotax.

Regarding fuels, Titan advised, "All 340CC engine series are designed to use 100/100LL aviation grade fuel. In the event of an emergency, automotive premium grade fuel may be used." If you operate from airports, 100LL is easily obtained across the U.S. For those preferring auto gas, another engine may be preferable.

An old line in car racing used to go: "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?" You can buy a Rotax or a Jabiru for less investment and engines like UL Power or Viking for homebuilders can be even better deals. The potent Titan X-340 is a shade under $26,000 at present. One advantage over most others is that it is Made in the USA and you deal with a U.S.-based company. Power on!

Following are a few specifications for the Titan X-340 powerplant:

  • Maximum Continuous Horsepower — 166 / 180
  • Maximum RPM at Full Power — 2,700
  • Recommended Time Before Overhaul (TBO) in hours — 2000 / 2,400 (ASTM)
  • Number of Cylinders — 4
  • Displacement — 340 cubic inches
  • Compression Ratio — 8.0 / 9.0
  • Fuel Delivery — Carb / injection
  • Fuel Grade, Aviation, Octane (recommended) — 93 / 100 / 100LL
  • Dimensions in inches — 20.63-23 height X 32.27 wide X 29.07 long
  • Estimated Dy Weight — 260 pounds
  • Available with — a wide range of colors


Remos is Back and Scores at Aero 2016
By Dan Johnson, May 11, 2016

Think back far enough in the still-fairly-new LSA sector and you should recall a time when one brand made some major impact on all of personal aviation. The company was Remos and their U.S. team amped up promotional activity to the level of full page ads in most of the biggest aviation magazines in aviation. By my casual estimate, Remos was spending north of $35,000 per month on splashy advertisements.

Remos also did an airplane giveaway with AOPA; the company was a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut. Prudent or not, you had to admire that the company pulled out the stops in an effort to become the main LSA brand. Such a no-holds-barred approach has worked for products in other industries. However...

Then the door of opportunity slammed shut. It was not that the advertising didn't work. Certainly it did make the brand well recognized. However, by 2009 the global economy was in a tailspin. When the initial pent-up demand for LSA was significantly satisfied sales began to contract, a victim of these two influences. Remos' aggressive marketing push began to look risky.

Indeed, within months, the German company got in too deep. Bleeding red ink, Remos was forced by German laws to enter a condition that might called bankruptcy in the USA. Yet as Americans know very well, companies can and do emerge from bankruptcy. By working hard to correct earlier mistakes and by finding fresh investment, these enterprises can be stronger and better after such an ordeal.

That seems to be the case with Remos. They recovered from their brush with disaster and have been clawing their way back up the LSA ladder. At Aero 2016, the company's display — while modest compared with their elaborate (and costly) exhibit from years back — looked proper and professional.

Team members held a press conference and announced their new GXiS model that is powered by Rotax's fuel injected 912 iS model. As it has for years the airplane looked good inside and out. Plus Team Remos did their work to install the 912 iS in a customer-pleasing manner.

Remos reported on their GXiS implementation, "It's the first Remos aircraft powered the Rotax 912 iS Sport with electronic fuel injection. Among other things the prototype shown in Friedrichshafen had a state-of-the-art avionics suite, a redesigned cowling and a new system called Remos SMARTStart. "Starting-up the engine has never been so easy," said Remos. After logging more than 150 hours in two LSA using the 912 iS, I can say that the Remos method of controlling this engine looked excellent.

"With this new version, [we are aiming at] the European LSA market with EASA certification." While similar to achieving FAA acceptance of a Special LSA, gaining a Restricted Type Certificate in Europe involves a few more steps and it would signify a worthwhile achievement.

"GXiS will also be available as an ultralight aircraft by the end of the year," stated the Pasewalk, Germany company. At Aero, they showcased their GXNXTClub model. "The avionics suite contains the new Dynon SkyView SE with 7-inch-screen, radio, and transponder. Customers who place an order before the end of June, will get their ultralight GXNXTClub starting at only 83.990 Euro plus tax. At present exchange rates that translates to a reasonable price tag of just over $95,000 (this "Club" aircraft is aimed at Europe; U.S. sales of this lower-priced model were not discussed).

Christian Majunke, Remos head of design (L) poses with new public relations & marketing man (previously a journalist for Aerokurier magazine), Patrick Holland-Moritz.
When Remos appeared to fold under the effects of overly ambitious marketing and a slumping world economy, I feared we might have seen the last of this brand.

My worry was exaggerated and I'm pleased to see the aircraft recover and return to the market. Presently, it appears this German producer is significantly concentrating on European sales and that started well at Aero 2016. On the strength of their showing the new GXiS, the company reported, "Six aircraft were sold [in] four days [of Aero]. Further contracts were prepared during the show." They explained that one customer is a flight school based in Bavaria in the south of Germany. "This school has been using Remos aircraft for training for a long time — now the fleet will be expanded by two new aircraft."

Fortunately for U.S.-based LSA enthusiasts, we reported earlier about their Missouri importer that has a ready supply of parts to serve the American fleet comprised of 118 Remos models (see 2015 market report).


Parachute Collides with Cessna Close to Ground
By Dan Johnson, May 7, 2016

Here's a fitting story for the weekend. I have more airplane news for next week, but this... well... what a time to be standing somewhere with your camera at the ready.

The story isn't new. The article with accompanying video was posted March 8, 2014, but the photos only recently came to my attention thanks to a family member who knows how I follow aviation and knows of my background at BRS parachutes. (Thanks, Earl!)

The story was broken by Fox 13 TV in Tampa Bay, Florida. The "witness" referred to in the Fox 13 video story was Tim Telford who captured the shots that I assembled into a short movie below. I certainly marveled at the images he captured. These 18 images represent only a brief moment in time.

The rest of the story that follows comes from the Fox 13 reporter, Aaron Mesmer. You can read it all and see their video here.

Mesmer reported, "Two men were hurt Saturday morning when a plane collided with the parachute of a skydiver in Mulberry."

The airport where the collision occurred is the South Lakeland airport situated very close to Sun 'n Fun. Many of us have flown from the old Circle X field for years. It is both an active airport and a base where sky diving is pursued, which may explain the potential for conflict, though I am not aware of any other incidents.

Mesmer continued, "The Polk County Sheriff's Office says the pilot, 87-year-old Sharon Trembley, a World War II veteran, was doing touch-and-goes in his private Cessna at the South Lakeland Airport."

"I have never seen anything like this and this is the last thing I thought I'd see today," said Tim Telford, who took pictures of the midair collision as it happened."

Mesmer continued, "The skydiver, 49-year-old John Frost of Gainesville, Florida was flung to the earth. The plane nose-dived into the ground.

"I thought they were both seriously hurt. We rushed over there," said Paul Fuller, one of Trembly's friends who was also watching from the ground. "He's a pretty good pilot. He's been flying all of his life, probably 60 some-odd years."

Mesmer reported that both men were taken to the hospital, however, neither was seriously injured. Frost was treated and released. Trembley was held for observation. He suffered some cuts and bruises but after landing directly nose first on the ground and being an elderly man, it is quite remarkable he was not more critically injured.

"Both these guys walked away [relatively] unscathed," Telford, the photographer said. "A scratch here, a bruise there and I think both are just happy to be here today."

In the Fox 13 video both men said they took some action to avoid more serious injury. Cessna pilot Trembley reported pulling up so as not to collide directly with the sky diver. Frost said he took evasive action, too.


You Wanna Be a Jet Pilot? Check out UL-39
By Dan Johnson, May 5, 2016

When they introduced Light-Sport Aircraft FAA prohibited use of a jet engine. Looking at the photos nearby you can see that this airplane cannot pass must as a LSA. Or, wait! That's no jet. It just pretended to be one at Aero Friedrichshafen 2016.

At my home airport (Spruce Creek Fly-in), I regularly see one or another full-size L-39 in various stages of being prepared for a new American owner. I was told that about 200 of these ex-Czech military jets are operating in the U.S. They are handsome, sleek, and fast-like-a-jet. Contrarily, the UL-39 is not as fast but neither should its cost of upkeep be anything close to a military jet.

We're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. The UL-39 on display was a wonderful proof-of-concept aircraft that managed to engage nearly a generation of students in aeronautical engineering disciplines at the Czech Technical University in Prague. Market plans remain a couple years away, though interest appeared strong for the many who examined it closely at the just-concluded German airshow.

in-flight photos of Albi UL-39 by Jan Fridrich
Albi UL-39 was reportedly 17 years in the making lead by Dr. Robert Theiner, whom I met alongside his creation. He and a team of students over these years created this unusual entry. While closely resembling an L-39, this edition is more affordable (projected around $225,000) — and operable — by recreational pilots when powered with a conventional gasoline reciprocating engine versus a turbine. Such engines alone can cost more than an entire Light-Sport Aircraft.

UL-39 uses a high-revving BMW SR1000RR motorcycle engine producing 193-horsepower to drive a 13-blade impeller nestled in the fuselage aft of the tandem-seated occupants. With Albi's retractable landing gear, the BMW powerplant can push the aircraft to speeds of 124 knots. Stall is a modest 35 knots. Top speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh) is 140 knots. Therefore UL-39 is no slouch but neither is it an military-grade jet.

Thoroughly designed and tested Albi UL-39 could qualify as a Light-Sport Aircraft. Only minor adjustments would be needed. Fixing the gear in the down position — as required in the U.S. — would surely lower the current listed cruise of 124 knots. Weight can actually go up, perhaps allowing a more deluxe interior. Despite its larger look, UL-39 can make European Ultralight weight, said developers, meaning 472.5 kilograms (1,041.6 pound), which figure includes an airframe parachute that is mandatory in Germany). An LSA Albi UL-39 seems easily possible.

Created in a collaborative university setting with various partners involved, the bare fuselage and air inlet qualities of the design were tested in a wind tunnel (photo). As an engineering project, this was undoubtedly a fascinating project for groups of students and their faculty advisers.

The carbon-fiber composite construction was done by LA Composite. Assembly of the pieces was achieved by Skyleader, a producer of Light-Sport Aircraft such as the Skyleader 600 (video) among several other designs. This ambitious LSA company also has an versatile full-motion flight simulator that can be made to function with a wide variety of aircraft designs.

As our photos show, the aircraft has successfully flown in the Czech Republic. No problems were reported though engineers say more work is needed to achieve a finished aircraft. A video playing in the Skyleader space caught your attention partly by the high-pitched whine of its impeller spinning rapidly. It may not sound like a pure jet engine, but neither does it sound like a piston engine driving a conventional prop.

Albi UL-39 weighs only 772 pounds empty, holds 26 gallons of fuel that will give it a range of 300 miles (no doubt much further if they chose the coming Rotax 915). Skyleader, the marketing name for Jihlavan Airplanes, said that during construction, care was taken to assure compliance with CS-VLA, a certification system for Very Light Aircraft in the European Union that is recognized by FAA.

While UL-39 will not ready for market for a couple more years, one day those Walter Mitty jet jockey wannabes enthralled by the slippery lines of Albi. could have one of their own.

Join me at Aero 2016 for a live-during-the-show look at Albi UL-39...


The “Showcase” is On in DeLand this November
By Dan Johnson, April 27, 2016

What's in a name for an airshow? Quick, what's the official name of the big July show north of Chicago? "Oshkosh?" Yes, to most, but the association prefers EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. How about the one in Lakeland, Florida? "Oh, you mean Sun 'n Fun." The full name is Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. Have you ever heard anyone say the whole thing? Another mouthful is Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, but it gets shortened various ways.

At Sun 'n Fun 2016 DeLand airport Manager John Eiff and recently hired Sport Aviation Administrator Jana Filip held a name-that-show contest. More than 30 entries were received. "Some were very clever and witty like DeLand, DePlanes, DeShow," said Jana. In the end, the winning word was "Showcase," offered by veteran Paradise City Commentator, Michael McClellan.

Jana Filip sits in the PIC seat of an AutoGyro gyroplane with Terry Rose. photo by Florida Aviation Network
Why Showcase? "Because that's what the event will be — a showcase for airplanes and aviation stuff," McClellan said. "In my conversations with Jana, it became clear the focus of the event will be to showcase what sport aviation has to offer... and what DeLand's Sport Aviation Village has to offer. So why not just use the word that best describes what they're going to do?" Michael will be DeLand's official commentator.

The first annual DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase will take place on November 3-5, 2016, following National Business Aircraft Association's NBAA 2016. That giant event with more exhibitors than even Oshkosh will take place just 30 miles down the road in Orlando, Florida. Filip said, "We hope that will make it easy for vendors, visitors, and the media to stop by to see what we have to offer in DeLand."

The corporate suits that populate elaborate booths at NBAA might like to have a day of fun in the sun. Or, maybe not; the busy people who can buy multimillion dollar aircraft have to run back to the corner office and review business plans. However, the folks who fly those bizjets, and fix them, and sell them might indeed taking an extra day to enjoy a walk (or demo flight) on the light side.

The big prize from following NBAA would be attracting some of the media throngs that attend the convention center show. That might help put the DeLand on the aviation map.

DeLand Airport seen from the air. Arrows identify (1) locations of U-Fly-It and Aero Adventure; (2) the SkyDive DeLand operation; and (3) the proposed site for the Sport Aviation Village, presently home to Renegade Aircraft.
"With this premier event, we'll be prepared to host 40 indoor and 40 outdoor exhibitors, as we get our infrastructure developed for a larger show in years to come," Jana said. "We're excited to build this show expressly to serve the sport aviation community. We'll make it easy for companies to offer demo rides and for customers to visit with exhibitors."

"People enjoy air shows (with aerobatic or military acts), Jana continued, "but when you're seriously shopping for an airplane, propeller, avionics, or whatever you need for your plane, you want as much face time with the companies as you can get. That's what we'll provide, along with a fun atmosphere for people to enjoy all that sport aviation offers."

Owned and operated by very supportive City of DeLand, DeLand Municipal Airport is open 24 hours a day. One reason the city likes the airport is that it carries its own weight, operating in the black and not consuming taxpayer dollars. It does this partly because some 35 businesses employ over 600 people in the parachute industry. It is also home to at least three airframe builders: U-Fly-It and the Aerolite 103, Aero Adventure, and Renegade Aircraft. It is the proposed home site for SPAR, the Sport Pylon Air Races.

The airport opened in the 1920s with the first asphalt runway built around 1936. The city donated the airport to the Navy in 1941 as part of the war effort. At the end of hostilities, in March of 1946, the Naval Station was returned to the City of DeLand.

The airport, officially named Sydney H. Taylor Field, sits on 1,600 acres in Volusia County, approximately 40 miles north of Orlando and just west of Interstate 4. Daytona Beach and the Atlantic Ocean is 16 miles to the east. Airport data for KDED is available from AirNav.


My 4 Favorite Aircraft Seen at Aero 2016
By Dan Johnson, April 23, 2016

I always love traveling to Aero Friedrichshafen because of the new aircraft I will see. We media types live for the new stuff (because it's what we believe our readers or video watchers want to consume). I made my last dash through the hall on Saturday — Aero ran from April 20-23, 2016 — and I am now in Zurich, Switzerland awaiting my flight back to the USA.

I saw many aircraft worthy of closer examination. I will prepare articles on those and more detail about the ones below, too. Later on, some of my Aero videos will hit YouTube after some editing. While the memories are fresh, though, I want to give an early peek at four aircraft that grabbed my attention ...and that of many others, judging from the challenge to get near them during opening hours. I present these in no particular order.

Zlin Savage Shock — Shock definitely created awe at Aero. On my final visit to their unique space with carpet that looked for all the world like grass (not that astroturf stuff that does a crude imitation), I saw visitors literally crawling under Shock, poring over its exterior details, and getting inside for a simulated experience. If you've seen Savage before — called Outback in America — you'll want to take a much closer look when it appears at Oshkosh this summer. This machine is a piece of work.

Importer Bill Canino of SportairUSA gave me a full tour. Actually, he had to do it twice as I experienced... um, technical difficulties with my new video camera's audio. Here are some highlights.

What's most obvious is the Just Aircraft SuperSTOL-like large shock absorbers and the big balloon tires. Shock also uses three sections of automatically-deploying leading edge slats (to SuperSTOL's two) per side. It has Fowler flaps with an integrated slat and vortex generators neatly tucked between the surfaces. The tail is larger to coordinate with a bigger wing (both deeper and of longer chord) and the tailwheel is, again like SuperSTOL, equipped with a shock absorber.

More changes inside include, most notably, a rearrangement of the welded steel cage to provide much more headroom so that pilots in the outback can comfortably wear a helmet. In all, this is a very thorough and detailed update. Add a 180 horsepower Titan engine and this baby is ready to scream.

UL-39 (at SkyLeader display) — I acted like everyone else when I first saw the UL-39. Although I'd already seen photos of it flying, thanks to my EuroColleague, Jan Fridrich, I still had to marvel. This pointy nosed, fighter-looking aircraft appears in most ways to be jet powered. It closely emulates the popular L-39 Czech military jet (200 of which are reportedly flying in America), so of course, it had to look jet-like.

UL-39 is presently powered by a BMW motorcycle engine driving a type of ducted fan though it uses impellers (13 of them!) with the engine running at a high revolution, more than 10,000 rpm at cruise, I was told. This aircraft uses retractable gear, naturally, as it tries to look like the fighter aircraft.

Yet UL-39 is in some ways more modern and I don't mean it has a glass cockpit. Indeed by the use of all carbon fiber (an L-39 is metal), this dashing aircraft can actually make Europe's ultralight class meaning gross weight is confined to 472.5 kilograms or a bit less than 1,042 pounds. Amazing ...and I clearly was not the only who thought so.

Led by professor Robert Theiner, UL-39 is a university project 17 years in the making. Composite parts were made by one of the partners with assembly of the pieces by LSA manufacturer, SkyLeader.

Bücker & Funk Clubman — He's done it again! A few years ago I got a big smile out of my longtime friend Peter Funk after seeing his latest Aero showplane ...a supersexy version of his FK-14 Polaris with a LeMans look to the cockpit. I called him the Steve Jobs of the light aviation world for his showmanship and superb craftsmanship. He rightfully beamed over the compliment but he comes back nearly every year with something equally attention getting.

This year it was a Clubman complete with a seven-cylinder radial engine that, like the airplane, looks old but is new. "Retro" was how Flight Design director Christian Wenger described it and he only referred to the aircraft. Not to leave it at that, Peter convinced all his exhibit space partners that a dress code was part of the environment he wanted to create. Indeed, the whole team was in dapper period costumes. Peter shared his space with BRS Parachute rep for Europe, Frank Miklis; he and daughter Stephie got into the game, too. The space had a vintage motorcycle, an old tabletop radio, and a collection of furniture built new to look old.

However, this was not simply a display. These aircraft Peter creates are built in small batches and sold to customers. Even this idea seems to work. By limiting the number available, they tend to sell out quickly. Marvelous. Well done, Steve ...er' I mean Peter!

JH Aircraft Corsair — Conveying a look something like the UL-39, I almost passed this by before Bill Canino of SportairUSA told me this wonderful creation could qualify as a U.S. Part 103 (or the German 120-kilo Class) aircraft. "You have to be kidding me," I exclaimed to Bill! I was intrigued by its resemblance to the F4U Corsair military fighter with its inverted gull wing design but I thought this was some heavier kit-built airplane. Of course, that would have been interesting, too, but I don't cover the heavy segments of aviation.

Yet Jörg Hollmann's creation is indeed aimed at Germany's 120 Kilogram Class of airplanes that are remarkably close to America's Part 103 category. Part 103 has a maximum empty weigh of 254 pounds — a shade more than 115 kilograms. Alternatively 120 kilograms is 264.5 pounds but we're splitting hairs because Jörg is targeting 110-120 kilograms so he should easily be able to make Part 103.

I was still skeptical as all that large diameter welded steel structure surely weighed too much. Wrong. That isn't steel in the photo; it's all carbon fiber tubes, deftly cut and laminated together. To prove the light weight, Jörg got inside and picked up the whole bare airframe like it was nothing.

Jörg said his superlight Corsair will fly by Aero 2017 and be available for sale by Aero 2018. At a reasonably affordable $60,000, this might be the sexiest Part 103 aircraft ever.

I plan to come back with more on these aircraft and others seen at Aero Friedrichshafen 2016. I hope this appetizer whetted your appetite for more.


SLSA Market Shares Report & Commentary for 2015
By Dan Johnson, April 21, 2016

Updated 4/26/16 - This chart was updated to correct a formula error. The changed line refers to the "All other producers..." figure. It was 429 airplanes and 14.7% and that was incorrect.
My associate in Europe, Jan Fridrich of LAMA Europe, has been the source for a database search for many years as I seek to report market share statistics in the USA. He scours the FAA registration information and laboriously assembles the numbers. As he and I work to produce accurate info, Jan often makes contact with selected companies when questions arise, as they often do. I also reach out to producers in our effort to make the best possible use of the registration data to create our rankings.

Jan has been one of his country's representatives in the Czech Republic's official work with the Chinese to help that nation build its lighter aviation infrastructure. He's made many trips to China in the last two years. Along with frequent travel in his job for the Light Aircraft Association time is short for him to find the hours it takes to review FAA's data. For 2015 data, he completed the effort as I headed to Sun 'n Fun and then to Aero, so... finally, here is our report with hearty thanks to Jan for doing this tedious work.

The summary view is that American LSA registrations have remained very consistent over the last three years (2013, 2014, and 2105). Most industry players believe we should be seeing higher figures but the LSA results closely mirror trends reported by GAMA for type certified aircraft. Likely reasons for lower numbers may include pilots still uncertain what will happen with the medical and a large fleet of still airworthy though increasingly older used aircraft — the average age of which is around 38 years — that are available at lower cost than a new Light-Sport Aircraft. Since I am in Europe as this is written, I can pass along that several Europeans see a similar picture here, albeit without the medical issue.

SportCruiser by Czech Sport Aircraft, sold in the USA by U.S. Sport Aircraft, moved up again with a solid 2015.
As 2016 began, America had just shy of 3,000 LSA airplanes in the registry. As we've said for years, this figure does not include weight shift aircraft, powered parachutes, motorgliders, or gyroplanes, which, if they could be accurately counted, would conservatively add 20%. Also, the figure also does not count many ELSA and should not count Experimental Amateur Built even if those aircraft are nearly identical to Special LSA. See this 2014 article for an effort to give a more accurate total of the LSA, LSA-like aircraft, and Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft operating in the United States.

Our main fleet chart above reflects all SLSA airplanes ever sold in the USA, less any that have been removed from the registry, for example, if sold outside the USA or lost in an accident.

As you can see, CubCrafters continues their climb and is now hovering just below Flight Design. Czech Sport Aircraft, American Legend, and Tecnam continue their growth making up the top five names.

We leave Cessna on the chart for now but most readers know Skycatchers are no long being produced so they will climb no further. However, companies like Icon made their first tiny impact on the list with a single registration in 2015. I visited with Kirk Hawkins at Aero; he invited me to see their production facility in a month or so. When that California airframer begins serial production, their large number of orders should thrust them upward at an increasing pace (troublesome contract problems notwithstanding).

In recent years our main chart also attempts to at least mention ELSA ad EAB where we believe we can rely on the numbers we find.

Our more recent chart of single year performance is lead again by CubCrafters although even their pace slowed for 2015. The Western U.S. producer remains well ahead but others have done credibly well: Czech Sport Aircraft, Pipistrel, Progressive Aerodyne (Searey) and Van's. SportCruiser registrations were up from 2014 as were Pipistrel's while Van's, American Legend, Aerotrek, and Flight Design were down. Tecnam's numbers reflect only registrations of their LSA models but the company reports selling a similar number of type certified aircraft so their total American market presence is greater than our charts reflect.

One you haven't seen at airshows in the last couple years is the Phoenix Air motorglider, an elegant machine but one in too-short supply, said U.S. importer Jim Lee. He has not been attending shows and will drop his advertising as delivery delays have stretched out too far despite interest he has found from American soaring enthusiasts.

While repeating another respectable year of SLSA sales (in addition to their kit sales), Searey may have become the best-selling LSA in China.
As noted, Icon added only one SLSA registration in 2015, Cessna is gone, and Quicksilver experienced their own drop from 2014 as that company reorganized. However, honorable mentions are deserved for Super Petrel (4 added), Sling (3), Brazilian Paradise is returning to the market after an absence (2 in 2015) and Topaz continues to build modestly (2).

Another interesting development just announced includes the return of Zenair and their popular CH-750 STOL aircraft that will again be assembled as a ready-to-fly SLSA by M-Squared Aircraft in Alabama.

Those readers fascinated with these numbers may wish to compare 2014 and 2013 info, so click those links to read those earlier reports.

We dropped Allegro from the top-20 ranking even though their aircraft still has a good count as we've done with a few other brands over the years.

Finally, while our main chart focuses on the top brands, note that the largest single percentage are registrations from "All other producers." So-called boutique brands still have their place in the LSA spectrum.

As always, our disclaimer is that we only count FAA registrations and only those from the USA, which leaves out the rest of the world that accounts for most sales of LSA-type aircraft. Our statistics will not be identical to what companies reports as sales and do not include aircraft retired from service for any reason. Lastly, I repeat we cannot accurately count a share of new aircraft sales that might amount to 20-25% more if the data were reliable. These observations combine to make a more conservative report than may actually be factual but we prefer to err on the side of caution.


Early Preview of Aero Freidrichshafen 2016
By Dan Johnson, April 19, 2016

The great show of Europe called Aero Friedrichshafen is about to begin. It starts officially tomorrow and runs through Saturday (April 20-23, 2016). I've lost count, but believe this is my 20th year of attending, far more than any other European show. As he worked to help exhibitors and manage the million details of his event, boss Roland Bosch said the event started in 1977, meaning next year would be its 40th, but... Aero alternated years from 1977 through 1991 (as do many European airshows). With the 1993 event it went annual, meaning this is the 31st Aero.

On Monday, the vast 11 halls of the Messe (the facility name) were largely empty but slowly becoming populated with airplanes. In all of the gymnasium-sized halls with their elegant curved wood roofs, workers assembled displays. In Halls B1, B2, and B3 — where the light aircraft I follow are concentrated — displays are more elaborate than anything we typically see at U.S. shows. However, in the A-side halls, displays are magnificent, much like what one sees at the National Business Aircraft Association events (see Continental booth photo below.)

I enjoy observing the set-up effort. I've gone to many airshows and I am always amazed at this: on the evening before the show opens, chaos appears to reign. I can envision no chance it will all be ready in time. Yet, hours later as the entrance gate opens, booth spaces (called "stands" in Euro-English) seem completely finished, serenely awaiting the rush of first attendees. It's a marvelous transformation I've witnessed again and again.

As they set up their spaces, aircraft can be seen before they are dolled up for public consumption. I caught the retractable version of the BRM Aero Bristell. We may not see this airplane in the USA as the Light-Sport regulations don't permit retractable land planes (though, obviously, amphibious LSA seaplanes use what was once called "repositionable gear." I'm guessing this Bristell is quite a speedster that likely exceeds LSA's 120-knot speed limit in America.

Pipistrel, as you will read in my market share post to follow, continues to move up the U.S. LSA market ranking and this company refuses to sit still. Today, an announcement boasted that their Virus SW 121 has achieved full EASA type certification. A limited number of other LSA producers have earned a Restricted Type Certificate (RTC) for their aircraft; Pipistrel noted their's is not that but unrestricted approval by the European Union's equivalent to the FAA.

While Pipistrel charges (pun intentional) off in all directions, they chose to feature their Alpha Electro prominently in their booth space or stand. The company has already delivered a few of these pure-electric-powered Light-Sport-like aircraft to flight schools that use them for pattern flight training. A quick swap of batteries to keep one set charging can theoretically allow for very economical, and quiet, operations. An American company is doing likewise with their Sun Flyer project but has some ways to go to catch up with Pipistrel.

Over in the A halls, specifically in A-3, we see engine producers like Rotax — right up front in the highest traffic area — and Continental Motors, now also of Titan fame (the much-appreciated sponsor of our new video in the header above). In the A halls, visitors will find a dizzying array of flying products but also the biggest airplanes at the show. Along with their larger size, these companies mount impressive displays, like the two story-exhibit workers were assembling as I poked around early in the process. Along with their GA engines and their diesel entry, Continental displayed their Titan engine that has found favor on so many LSA in America. Company marketing guru, Emmanuel Davidson, said Continental will have some major announcements on opening day and I'll be present to hear items of interest to readers of ByDanJohnson.com.

When I first started attending Aero, it was not in these giant halls. The new Messe was built after Aero began. In the first year I attended, the largest aircraft on display anywhere was a Cessna 206. Today, jets and big business aircraft are very much a part of the overall event, though I spend most of my time with the smaller aircraft that are my focus. The little guys cannot all afford to be present every year so this even-numbered year will not see the sailplane displays. Some LSA producers also don't come annually (for example, Tecnam will not be present) to preserve funds for other marketing expenses.

Positively electrical and a glimpse of the future is how you might describe exhibits in the e-flight-expo.

The Slovenian company Pipistrel, with a facility in very nearby Italy — where it finishes Light-Sport Aircraft intended for export to the U.S. (a necessity due to government requirements) — is one active outfit. In the e-flight-expo area, in the large entry foyer on the west end of the giant complex, Pipistrel was preparing a mock-up of their supersleek four seater called Panthera with a hybrid electric propulsion system.

The e-flight-expo, significantly arranged by my publisher friend, Willi Tacke of World Directory of Leisure Aviation (WIDOLA) fame, was setting up to show off the technology achievements by enormous corporations like Siemens (supplying the motor on the Panthera mentioned above) and tiny companies, those enterprises that often lead the race in new innovative directions. I plan to spend some time in the entry foyer looking over the achievements of these companies. We don't know that electric propulsion, or hybrids, will truly arrive on the aviation scene anytime soon, but plenty of folks are rooting for such, including myself.

One thing you will not see, as the show opens on Wednesday, will be the giant semi-tractor trailers that hauled in the merchandise. In the nearby view you see the enormous dual, tandem-wheeled trailer holding Roko airplanes (a company once associated with the aircraft now produced by BRM Aero, builder of the Bristell series). American companies have more modest funding, normally using trailers or flying their aircraft to events. Not all Europeans are so well-heeled either, but some have major hauling vehicles. The custom-built rig used by TL Ultralights was steadily being unloaded of aircraft and display equipment as I snooped around on Monday, two days before opening.

When Aero open on Wednesday the 20th, I will continue my investigation of all things marvelous in light aircraft. I hope to capture some video material for later editing by Videoman Dave and I hope to post daily stories about cool aircraft and flying gear ideas I find. Stay tuned. This is going to be as interesting as ever, I predict.


Sun ‘n Fun 2016 Debrief & Summary
By Dan Johnson, April 15, 2016

Doing What We Do... Interviewing Hsieh Chi-Tai of AeroJones Aviation about his Taiwan company's manufacturing of the Flight Design CTLS for import by Flight Design USA.
The super-short summary of Sun 'n Fun 2016: weather was beautiful; even the one night of rain gave way to a sunny day and all other days were as good as it gets. No accidents occurred to my awareness. Crowds were good if not record-setting. Airplanes were sold; I conservatively estimate about 30 sales of light aircraft, based on my inquiries. What's not to love?

As with any such attempt to cover an event the size and breadth of Sun'n Fun, this article cannot include all deserving aircraft, with regrets to any not mentioned below. We also shot lots video that will follow as the editing can be done (photo).

This article is longer than I prefer but I have plenty to tell you and I was simply too engaged during the event to keep posting. So... let's get going!

AIRPLANES (three-axis control) — Sun 'n Fun drew all the wonderful light airplanes we love but a few were touting fresh news not previously reported.

Paul Mather (L) shakes hands with Zenair CEO Matt Heintz after they inked a deal to join forces in creating a new SLSA version of the popular CH 750.
One of the most significant developments was a Zenair of Canada collaboration with Alabama's M-Squared Aircraft. They inked a deal for M-Squared to fully assemble the popular "Sky Jeep" CH 750 and deliver it as a fully-built Special LSA. Some years ago AMD and then Eastman built the popular STOL aircraft (as the 701, at that time) in a partnership with Zenair but it's been a rather long time since you could buy a ready-to-fly 750. That will change by summer; M-Squared boss Paul Mather reported the first subassemblies are being manufactured now. He expects to build perhaps 10 in 2016, ramping up as demand suggests. This is a smart move by Paul who will continue to make his also-SLSA Breese 2 among other models.

I reported earlier that Progressive Aerodyne won Chinese CAAC approval for their Searey amphibian, without a doubt the most successful light seaplane. Given a (presently) small market for that populous country and with 11 aircraft already shipped, Searey may have bragging rights as the best-selling LSA in China. Congratulations to Adam Yang, Kerry Ritcher, and the Searey gang. Given Icon A5 pricing soaring past the $200,000 barrier, Searey is a relative bargain for an aircraft with more 500 already flying (most built as kits).

Jabiru North America (their new company name) boss Pete Krotje was pleased to announce the first Jabiru J170-D will appear at Oshkosh, sporting a value-oriented price tag below $100,000 for a surprisingly well equipped aircraft. It should work well in flight schools, he believes; I think individual pilots could flock to the model. Pete's company will also debut new models of engines: their 81 horsepower 2210 four cylinder and 120 horsepower 3310 six cylinder.

We saw the first U.S. appearance of the handsome all-metal low wing Viper SD4 from Tomark Aero. Work is underway to gain SLSA acceptance though this may be some time off yet. They will reportedly also debut their high wing Skyper at Aero. I'll be looking for it next week.

Flight Design USA had a "come-back" show, we heard, thanks to their new arrangement to buy completed SLSA versions of their popular CTLS from AeroJones Aviation of Taiwan. They said the first aircraft will soon be delivered to distributors. The company is offering their 202 model, all ready with ADS-B gear. However, in work with consultant John Hurst, they also announced an ADS-B Out solution for the 400 existing owners of CT-series LSA.

Fixed wing Part 103 ultralights continue to attract buyers and the choices are broadening. In this file photo we see the lightest Quicksilver Sprint.
PART 103 (ultralights) — Although too many people mistakenly believe otherwise, the world of Part 103 fixed wing aircraft is alive and well. At Sun 'n Fun, we did a video interview with Dennis Carley about his kit version of the hot-selling Aerolite 103. He's doing that to offer shorter delivery times while he facility is working to capacity (about 50 aircraft per year). Kits will also allow non-103 customization some customers want.

We also did a video interview with Kolb Aircraft's Bryan Melborn about his tricycle gear version of the Part 103 FireFly, dubbed the TriFly... and they don't mean you have to try and fly it. They can build you one for around $25,000 or save you a bit with a kit you can customize. Kolb's display TriFly had a Rotax 447 mounted; that engine is out of production but many are available in good condition and, yes!, Bryan said TriFly can make Part 103 with that engine.

Other news involving three-axis Part 103 aircraft invoke two well known brand names: Quicksilver and CGS Haw. Both are very longtime players in the light aircraft space and both have just gone through major organization changes.

Quicksilver sold all inventory and numerous fabrication tools — "several semi-trailers worth" — to Bever Borne's Air-Tech Inc., operation in Reserve, Louisiana near New Orleans. Bever has been a Quicksilver man far longer than anyone at Quicksilver so he's arguably the best choice to hold all the cards. However, the California company has reportedly also signed an agreement with Aero Adventure to manufacture kit versions of the line at their DeLand, Forida operation. We'll watch to see how this plays out since the company restructured last summer.

Terry Short bought all the inventory, tooling, and rights to the CGS Hawk line. He had a booth space to talk to prospective clients but declined to do a video interview until he is better set up; the deal only transacted a couple months ago.

Sleek, smooth, and looking jet-fast is this new P&M Aviation entry called Pulsr.
WEIGHT-SHIFT (trikes) — We saw several interesting new trikes at Sun 'n Fun 2016. Among them was the P&M Aviation Pulsr that managed to score a Light Sport Innovation Award from the judges. Congratulations to representative Tony Castillo and the British design team lead by Bill Brooks. Pulsr manages to look fast sitting on the ground with its sweeping windscreen smoothly integrated to the aft carriage and engine cowl.

Evolution Trike, with the most colorful trike hardware on the planet, had a new Polini engine installation on their single seat, Part 103-capable Rev. This fascinating lightweight engine has gear drive and a clutch to make for a smooth-running single banger packing 35 horsepower. Between Rev and Revo, this Zephyr Hills, Florida company is always one I watch closely.

Tiny and superlight — and quickly foldable to fit in your sedan or light truck — are the operative terms for the Aeros Nano Trike (ANT), made especially for hang glider pilots who no longer want to run their take-offs or landings. This highly successful producer of competition-winning hang glider wings is helping their customers fly longer more comfortably. The Ukraine company is represented in the USA by SilverLight Aviation.

Rob Rollison of Aerotrek gives an interview for the new ELA gyroplanes he is representing including this very handsome Eclipse 10.
GYROPLANES — Rotax Aircraft Engines, the dominant player, by far, supplying powerplants to the light aircraft field around the world, has in recent years said they sell more 912 engines to gyroplane producers than any other aircraft segment. Between Germany's AutoGyro (which has delivered around 2,000 units) to Italy's Magni (900 units) to Spain's ELA (700 units) and all other builders (about 500 units), this class is exploding... although in the USA, one can only say it is growing because owners have to build their aircraft from kit as FAA never completed the goal of allowing a Special LSA version.

The agency's sluggishness to remedy this situation, despite years-long efforts by industry, brought segment leader AutoGyro to pursue Primary Category approval, a significantly-costlier and more complicated process than following ASTM guidelines (standards for gyros have been done for years). As reward, the company will be able to sell fully-built gyroplanes to Americans, though that approval may not carry over to other countries.

SilverLight made a public debut with their brand-new American Ranger AR-1. Developer Abid Farooqui, with whom we shot a video interview, said he went from concept drawings to completed aircraft in barely over nine months. Having given birth, SilverLight has created the first American gyroplane in the modern European style... all "Made in the USA!" (except for rotor blades, from France). SilverLight is an unusual light plane supplier representing a fixed wing aircraft, weight shift trikes (both by Hungarian builder Apollo), and their new gyroplane. Abid is also a well qualified engineer and ASTM expert who has helped several other companies. Impressive!

Speaking of impressive, people practically drooled over the very sleek ELA Eclipse 10 gyroplane being offered by Rob Rollison's Indiana-based Aerotrek. We've seen their open cockpit gyroplanes before but Eclipse 10 made its American debut at Sun 'n Fun 2016. Only a handful are flying though the Spanish builder has a solid track record with earlier models.

Miguel Soto has it down pat, completely tearing down and reassembling the Titan 180 horsepower engine in their display — twice! — during Sun 'n Fun. Videoman Dave's camera is mounted high to capture time-lapse imagery of the whole event.
POWERPLANTS — What goes up... must have an engine to do so. We looked at several, interviewing several officials.

Market leader Rotax, represented by Aircraft Engines Manager Marc Becker reported the new 915 iS engine debuted at AirVenture 2015 has more than 50 flying hours and some thousands of hours logged on the dynamometer in their factory test cells. The engine is highly awaited by many in the LSA field and Marc noted several dozen airframes are working with the design now. The 915 iS features the fuel injection of its 912 iS sibling but adds a 5:1 turbo that will deliver a high percentage of power up to 20,000 feet or more. So potent is it that an intercooler is needed and the new equipment needs planning by airframe builders. The company is consistent in saying the new engine will be available, all certified and ASTM approved by the latter half of 2017.

Continental's super-powerful, 180-horsepower Titan line is finding increasing support. CubCrafters started the parade but is now followed by Zlin's Savage Outback, American Legend, Kitfox Aircraft, Just Aircraft, Rans, and Vickers for the Wave seaplane LSA. Continental bought developer ECi last year and all signs are full speed ahead for this powerplant with a surprisingly good power-to-weight ratio. The company did a public tear-down and rebuild of a Titan engine in their display... twice. We mounted a camera set for time-lapse imagery to record the whole process. We think you may enjoy this when ready.

Belgium's UL Power is another company with growing acceptance, with more airframe companies giving one of their models a try. U.S. representative Robert Helms — who enjoys referring to himself as a "recovering lawyer" since he ditched the suit to pursue something more gratifying — took time away from his display to moderate three of LAMA's panels (see below) and participate in one of them. Robert reported that the Belgium-based creator of these high-tech engines (even featuring FADEC) is working to meet ASTM standards that could one day result in engines being factory installed on SLSA.

In the One-More-Thing department made famous by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, work by Aircraft Spruce deserves a mention. The company is geared up to address homebuilders who want to speed the building of panels. The publisher of a giant 1,000-page+ catalog has a division of their company that custom builds wiring harnesses making the addition of a wide variety of avionics faster, easier, and more accurate than many kit builders might manage on their own. We did a video on this subject; watch for it in the weeks ahead.

DEBATES — I'll end this rather lengthy recap with something that kicked off the event and ran the first four days. I refer to the "Great Debates in Paradise City." In its big tent in the light plane area of Sun 'n Fun 2016 — made possible with generous support from Aviators Hot LineLAMA hosted four debates.

Sixteen of the best suppliers to the light airplane industry. Top left, engines (L-R): Moderator Sebastien Heintz, Zenith Aircraft; John Heitland, Continental Motors; Robert Helms, UL Power; Marc Becker, Rotax Aircraft Engines; Pete Krotje, Jabiru ||| Top right, writers: Ben Sclair, General Aviation News; Pia Bergqvist, Flying; Robert Goyer, Plane & Pilot; Paul Bertorelli, AVweb ||| Bottom left, avionics: Matt Litnaitzky, MGL Avionics; Ian Jordan, Dynon Avionics; Andrew Barker, TruTrak; Ananda Leon, Levil Technology ||| Bottom right, apps: Angela Anderson, ForeFlight; Steve Podradchik, Seattle Avionics (FlyQ); Paul Edhlund, WingX Pro (Hilton Software); Jim Laster, Garmin Pilot. writers photo by Kathy Lubitz
The first on Tuesday featuring engines for light aircraft, including Continental Motors and their Titan line, UL Power, Rotax Aircraft Engines, and Jabiru; next on Wednesday, a debate between four top aviation journalists including writers for General Aviation News, Flying magazine, Plane & Pilot magazine, and AVweb; on Thursday, LAMA collected four leading avionics producers including MGL, Dynon, TruTrak, and Levil; and concluding on Friday were all the best-selling iPad and Android apps featuring ForeFlight, Seattle Avionics' FlyQ, WingX Pro, and Garmin's Pilot.

A sincere thanks to all 16 panelists for taking time out of their busy days to participate and to the Flying Musicians Association for arranging professional-grade public address equipment to make it work.

All four debates were captured by Videoman Dave for his YouTube channel. In the way of the Internet, all these are freely available, but I encourage you to support his efforts by subscribing annually or get a great deal on hisLifetime offer.

Tomorrow, I blast off for southern Germany and the Aero Friedrichshafen show, where I hope to make more frequent posts about cool aircraft and gear I find in Europe.


Gyronauts ... Pre-Sun ‘n Fun Wing Fling
By Roy Beisswenger, April 5, 2016

Welcome to a guest editorial by Roy Beisswenger, publisher of Powered Sport Flying magazine and a close follower of the gyroplane scene. —DJ

The new American Ranger 1 in flight. photo by Roy Beisswenger of Power Sport Flying magazine.
Bensen Days in Wauchula, Florida is our annual pre-game party leading up to Sun 'n Fun. The Sunstate Wing & Rotorcraft Club schedules this annual soiree to coincide with Sun 'n Fun. By holding their fly-in one week before SnF, they make it possible for vendors and participants to get a two-for-one deal. One trip south gets them two great sport aviation events. The scheduling certainly makes it possible for Vickie and me to participate.

Gyroplane organizations are not the huge organizations that we see sponsoring major events like Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture. There is no paid staff and no big budget. The volunteers that put it together collect fees and donations to cover their expenses and build up the kitty for the next event. That is why it is such a pleasure to see an event like Bensen Days continue on year after year. It says a lot about the gyronauts in Florida!

A selection of the gyroplanes on the ramp at the Wauchula Airport. photo by Roy Beisswenger of Power Sport Flying magazine.
Anyone who shows up gets a lot of bang for the small number of bucks it takes to participate. Want to go for a flight in a gyroplane? This event gives you several choices and little to no waiting. Want to talk about gyroplanes? Try talking about anything but gyroplanes! Want to see what is new? Because this is the first major gyro event of the year and the scheduling proximity to Sun 'n Fun, you will often see things here first.

Named after famed gyro pioneer Igor Benson, Bensen Days gives people a chance to visit with vendors and pilots in the home-built market who don't make it to the larger fly-ins. These participants are just as enthusiastic as the newer, Euro-gyro owners, but they don't have the budgets to attend the larger events.

Some of the vendors I saw there included importers or manufacturers for Titanium Explorer, Dominator, Ela, Autogyro, Xenon and SliverLight Aviation. In fact Abid Farooqui officially introduced his American Ranger 1 gyroplane at the event. The gyroplane is going to be one of the first European-style gyroplanes designed and manufactured in the United States.

Bob Snyder with Autogyro USA's naked MTO. photo by Roy Beisswenger of Powered Sport Flying magazine.
The breezy day didn't stop the flying. Light airplanes could handle the winds, but they were quite a handful for the plane I saw take to the sky. The gyroplane pilots were aware of the wind, but had no problem with it.

One of the interesting designs I saw at the event was a 'naked' MTO Sport. It is 'naked' because it has none of the normal fuselage panels — nose cone, the floor, and integrated composite shell. Instrumentation for the aircraft is contained in small nose pod.

Autogyro representative Bob Snyder offered a flight in this unique version of their MTO. On a nice, warm Florida day, my short-sleeved shirt was just fine for the open-cockpit flight. I emptied my pockets of droppable stuff and stripped my camera down to the basic frame and lens for the flight.

After a quick introduction to the aircraft, I had to ask a somewhat embarrassing question, "How do you get in?" Most gyroplanes have some structure to use when entering, but this MTO had no floor. It stands up high on some tundra tires. Answer: Just throw your leg over the seat and slide on up. I'm glad I'm taller than average. It's like mounting a short horse without the benefit of a saddle horn!

Once aboard, the taxi to the end of the runway took very little time and Bob got us quickly into the sky. What a blast! All open cockpit aircraft remind me a little of a flying motorcycle, but this one really fit the definition. I was seated in a more comfortable seat than on a bike and had on a seat belt and shoulder harness, but everything else was incredibly open.

Sun 'n Fun will feature a good selection of gyroplanes including this new-to-Americans Eclipse G10 offered by Aerotrek.
Bob gave me the full familiarization flight. He showed me the capabilities of the gyro in the practice area next to the airport and over the cattle. Then he asked me if I wanted to see some alligators. Being from the Midwest, those animals always fascinate me. We went off to the phosphate mine ponds and saw some monsters, along with other wildlife.

And remember that wind I mentioned? It was barely noticeable to me on the flight. Fast-moving rotor blades have a way of just subduing most unruly winds.

I didn't do a survey, but I expect most vendors at Bensen Days will soon be at Sun 'n Fun. For the last few years, the gyroplane vendors have been located in Paradise City and conducting flight operations off of that runway along with the airplanes. The aircraft get along together famously. So if you have a desire to fly gyroplanes, you have another chance to see a lot of different models in one place!

Thanks for that report, Roy. Sun 'n Fun 2016 starts on Tuesday April 5th and runs through Sunday, April 10th. You can occasionally find Roy Beisswenger in the LAMA Show Center Pavilion. Check the Daily Schedule here. —DJ


A Powerful Wave Is Headed Your Way!
By Dan Johnson, April 3, 2016

This a rendering of Wave's upper fuselage center of Wave. Get a more complete view of the airplane in this article.
Unless you've had your mind on other pursuits — oh, for example, preparing to head to Sun 'n Fun 2016 next week (the show runs April 5-10) — you could hardly miss the growing buzz surrounding Icon. A soft whistle of air escaping the cabin turned into a deafening roar as Aero-News.Net (always fast with news), AOPA online, AVweb and others piled on to a story about Icon's 40-page A5 purchase contract.

Credible journalistic work was done by Jim Campbell, Jim Moore, and Paul Bertorelli (respectively of each of the publications mentioned above) in documenting the behemoth contract. I have an opinion too — one part respectful of the California company's wish to protect their brand and their investment and and one part saying, "What the...?" I see no reason to delve into further than the lengthy stories my fellow writers already posted.

Instead, I like following what's new in Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and ultralights. I have such an abundance of story material, my task is how to present it all. Thanks to Jim, Jim, and Paul for doing their jobs but I prefer to look south... way south, all the way south to New Zealand, nearly on the other side of the planet.

I refer to Wave from Vickers Aircraft. I've been following this since near the beginning (much like I did with Icon) and I want to provide an update from the company.

The above image shows three upper fuselage carbon fiber production components, some of which are for first customer aircraft deliveries.
People are scratching their heads about Icon. Many (like me) wish them well in their goal to grow aviation but wonder what is taking so long. Meanwhile, working furiously but out of the glare of bright stage lights is Paul Vickers and his dedicated team at Vickers Aircraft. Their work demands careful planing and other elements.

First: vision. Many think Icon started something good. Certainly their airplane is handsome and flies without fault. They had vision. Over my years in aviation publishing, I've met hundreds of engineers and hundreds of artists. I find those creative folks share a common theme, that of wanting to do something excellent. Aircraft designers envision what some of us cannot. Then they start drafting. The same could be said of a sculptor looking at a massive block of granite or marble and seeing the finished work before picking up a tool.

"From the beginning our plan was to build a production aircraft using realistic techniques and real world solutions," said Vickers CEO, Paul Vickers, with whom I've been communicating steadily for more than two years. "I am pleased to say that real progress is exactly what we are achieving."

Especially in light of recent events, Paul's observation — made several days before the Icon furor started — was, "The LSA sector is screaming out for an amphibian that is real and delivers on its promises. Wave will do so, you have my personal guarantee," asserted Paul.

In this image the windscreen mold has just been cured in Vickers' oven and is now ready for the first batch of screens to be made.
Second: money. You have to have it and plenty of it to build a new-from-scratch LSA seaplane. This may be one of the toughest tasks: birthing a new airplane company... just ask Icon or many other companies.

"We secured American investors to help us bring Wave to reality," said Paul. "Their incredible support helped to shape 2015 into a year of progress and success." The images accompanying this article give visual proof of progress much better than engineering drawings can.

"Our customers continue to give us the confidence and determination to reach beyond our limits to bring our incredible product to the aviation market," Paul expressed. "With strong encouragement from our supporters we were driven to strive for excellence."

Third: tooling. In 2015 Vickers Aircraft fired up their first curing oven. "We are well underway with producing the pre-preg carbon fiber parts for the first production cycle," said Paul. He added that custom-developed PLC software enables detailed control of heating cycles and offers the full traceability that is required to manufacture aircraft. Vickers' oven is capable of producing components for 30+ aircraft per year, he said.

Team Vickers is fully in control of their process. "All components for the Wave, both aluminum and carbon fiber, are made in house by our dedicated team," Paul noted. You cannot build an all-carbon-fiber airplane without some rather exotic tools. (For comparison, Icon does not primarily use carbon fiber, though companies like Flight Design have done so for years.)

Nose components of Wave. See more complete images of the LSA seaplane and read all we offer at this link.
Fourth: manufacturing. Over my years following more companies than I can recall anymore, I've seen brilliant designers create some fantastic airplanes... and then never build them, or not very many of them. Some engineers design for production from the start and Paul Vickers relentlessly stresses this is his goal.

Paul said, "As we enter into the next stage of growth for Vickers Aircraft we have begun looking for a suitable location to base Vickers Aircraft USA, our sales, training and delivery facility in the United States." He has begun exploring sites on the East and West coasts.

As reported earlier, Wave will be powered by the 180-horsepower Titan engine, now offered by Continental Motors. This potent powerplant should do wonders compared to similar weight LSA seaplanes using 100-115 horsepower.

"Deliveries will start early 2017," promised Paul. "We are aiming to be flying late this year." Indeed, a powerful Wave is building.

Below, watch a video of production work to make carbon fiber parts for the Vickers Wave...


Two More SLSA Makes 140!
By Dan Johnson, April 1, 2016

Predictions of a great thinning of the herd... of a consolidation of LSA producers to a handful of leaders never came to pass. No wonder, when the new Special LSA acceptances keep piling up.

What I find quite fascinating is that the four newest SLSA were Made-in-American aircraft or seven of the last ten. The Yankees are coming on stronger after the Europeans owned the market for the first few years.

I have new SLSA airplane market share numbers for 2015 thanks to hours of work by my friend and LAMA associate, Jan Fridrich. With Sun 'n Fun and Aero approaching I have simply been short of time to give such important info the attention it deserves. Yet, as soon as possible...

Meanwhile I am pleased to announce the latest SLSA. Welcome to Glasair's Merlin LSA that we reported in this video with company president Nigel Mott.

Merlin images are courtesy of Glasair Aviation.
AOPA crack reporter, Al Marsh reported Merlin LSA is priced at $149,950. He noted that that this acceptance by FAA "marks the kitplane company's first entry into factory-produced aircraft." He added, "It will not be sold as a kit." Glasair said Merlin LSA meets the regulation-mandated 45-knot stall speed and claims a 104-knot (120 mph) cruise speed. The company reported the new SLSA has a useful load of 530 pounds. When filled with a full load of 24 gallons of fuel, Merlin will have a payload of 386 pounds.

Other Merlin specs: wingspan 32 feet; cabin width of 47 inches; and baggage capacity 50 pounds. The company has selected Rotax's fuel-injected fuel-sipping 912iS engine along with Dynon's SkyView Touch digital instrument. Al reported "Glasair plans to offer an optional BRS airframe parachute system."

Over at Flying magazine, Pia Bergqvist wrote, "The FAA sign-off comes less than a year after the Merlin first took flight last April and two years after the program was announced at the Sun 'n Fun 2014." She added "Glasair has taken eight deposits to date. The initial production rate is set for 18 airplanes during the first year." Glasair Aviation is owned by Jilin Hanxing Group in northern China, a mere "155 miles from North Korea" Al Marsh noted.

Please note that Glasair's Merlin LSA is different from Aeromarine-LSA's Merlin PSA. Merlin PSA is a kit-built design at present.

SkyRunner image is courtesy of the company. This does not represent the current version displayed at airshow which is a larger two-seat variety.
One that everyone in aviation appeared to miss was the SkyRunner Mk. 3.2. That is no wonder, perhaps, as Team SkyRunner has focused their airshow displays on boat shows although they did attend EAA in the Innovation Pavilion last year and the Flying magazine Expo in Palm Springs.

Article Update 4/2/16 — A correction is needed to say that SkyRunner has not received the full blessing of FAA on their Mk 3.2. In most SLSA audits, authorities have a few points in documentation they want revised. Team SkyRunner is making these adjustments; I will report the final acceptance.

While I look forward to flying both these interesting machines that occupy nearly opposite ends of the LSA spectrum, the one that truly captures my attention is SkyRunner, if only because it can drive as well as fly. Based on their videos, it appears to haul butt on a sand dune or other off-road terrain. Indeed, the company has generated interest from the military and other non-traditional customers.

The last time we spoke at length about SkyRunner, boss Stewart Hamel said his company had logged around 150 orders for this gnarly-looking contraption. We also made a video about the cool ride for your viewing enjoyment.

Anyone who says the LSA sector does not remain vibrant and fascinating is either not paying attention or has a bad attitude. As closely as I follow this industry, it seems wonderfully alive and well.

Neither Merlin nor SkyRunner will be available for examination at Sun 'n Fun next week, but attendees will have plenty to catch their attention (see article below, which is surely not a complete list). I hope to see many readers present, but for those that can't come, I'll try to stay up late enough to post news as I find it. Stay tuned!


Sun ‘n Fun Preview ... 17 Aircraft to Check
By Dan Johnson, March 30, 2016

Aerolite 103 by U-Fly-It
Every year before the big shows, I often hear from journalist friends working for other publications. This year as other years, they need advance knowledge to get things started for print publications working on longer deadlines than those of us in the online publishing game. To help my fellow writers, I've been keeping a tally of what I expect at Sun 'n Fun 2016. Here we go...! By the way, these are not order of importance or impact. Please don't assume.

U-Fly-It, producer of the popular and agreeably-priced Aerolite 103 (ready-to-fly for well under $20,000) is well along in planning for a kit version. While running their facility at or near capacity, this move may help get airplanes to people faster plus allowing those who want features that will not qualify as a Part 103 ultralight to go Experimental Amateur Built.

Thinking of modestly priced aircraft, Quicksilver will be represented at Sun 'n Fun at the Air-Tech space. Air-Tech's Quicksilver Superman, Bever Borne can support any model the company ever made (and more). Meanwhile, another plan begins to unfold. Details are still forming but pilots (and dealers) interested in arguably the most successful kit in all of aviation history will want to inquire further.

Jabiru J170-D from Jabiru North America
Many folks are buzzing about Icon Aircraft making their first Sun 'n Fun with an exhibit for their professionally-marketed A5 LSA seaplane. Since Florida has thousands of landable waterways, it seems an obviously-smart decision to mount an exhibit in Lakeland (even the city name seems to invite the California company).

Speaking of first viewings (to Americans anyway), Rob Rollison of Aerotrek fame is bringing the superbly sleek ELA Eclipse 10 from Spain. This gyroplane is literally a thing of beauty and is the top of the company's line of rotary aircraft. Of course, he'll also have plenty of great-selling Aerotrek A240s and A220s

In other gyro news, a brand new model will be seen from Abid Farooqui of Silverlight Aviation. His American Ranger AR1 has gone from sketches to a beautiful aircraft in barely over nine months, no surprise to me, given the engineer's strong credentials. Abid helped aircraft like Searey get through their FAA audit with flying colors and now he's bringing his own design.

At their centrally located booth, at a press conference, and at the LAMA Great Debate about engines on opening day in Paradise City, Rotax Aircraft Engines is prepared to give an update on their much-anticipated, fuel-injected, turbo-boosted 135-horsepower 915 iS engine. Come hear and meet engine division manager, Marc Becker, a most affable fellow.

Another closely-watched company is Flight Design. Their U.S. importer will be present to talk about their new second source for completed airframes, called AeroJones. The clouds are beginning to clear for the LSA market leader and president Tom Peghiny will be prepared to field inquiries from press and pilots alike.

Pulsr by P&M Aviation
Like Quicksilver, new owner Terry Short will be present to talk about his acquisition of the historically-important CGS Hawk line. He only recently took over the company so he will not rush to assemble an airplane but he will be available to update fans of the very affordable and well-liked aircraft line.

Paul Mather of M-Squared Aircraft reported a new plan progressing well for him to work with the Zenith/Zenair CH-750 aircraft as he seeks to make the popular "Sky Jeep" available one again as a fully-built Special LSA. We've seen this before (as the 701, at that time) from AMD and then Eastman Aviation but it's been some years since you could buy a ready-to-fly 750. Come hear more.

Continental Motors, now owners of the popular Titan series seen on several Light-Sport Aircraft and various kits will be doing a full disassembly and reassembly of one their 180-horsepower Titan engines. Technicians will do this twice during Sun 'n Fun 2016. This will provide interested parties a rare chance to see the insides of their potent powerplant.

A few new or renewed aircraft will return to Sun 'n Fun. One is the Jabiru J170 D, the somewhat smaller version of their spacious-cabin, three-door J230. The 170 model is especially appropriate for flight schools and carries a modest price of $99,900 even very well equipped. Jabiru North America proprietor Pete Krotje will also field questions about the new Jabiru engine models at his booth and at the Great Debate about engines in Paradise City.

Brand new is the significantly enclosed, and very smooth-looking Pulsr trike (no, that's not a typo; it follows their Quikr model). Other than the very impressive Evolution Revo, we haven't seen as much development in larger trikes so it will be good to see P&M Aviation showing their newest model.

ELA Eclipse 10 presented by Aerotrek
The P&M model is a larger two-seat, go-fast design, but for those interested in getting a hang glider wing aloft for soaring flight the super-light Aeros Nano Trike (ANT) will be present with a folding landing gear model.

We also look forward to updates from Super Petrel USA as the beautiful Brazilian biwinged LSA seaplane establishes it factory-owned outlet in Florida. To facilitate North American and other deliveries the southern hemisphere company has set up shop at the Ormond Beach airport (north of Daytona Beach).

Speaking of seaplanes, we understand Aero Adventure has outfitted an Aventura with a powerful Subaru engine and it could make an appearance. This company also has very some interesting plans that we hope they may be prepared to flesh out in the near future.

Finally, but hardly last are a series of changes to the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association display in the heart of Paradise City. The organization — of which I am the president... my "volunteer job" in light aviation — has for nearly a decade arranged the LSA Mall. That will scale down slightly as many former Mall participants now exhibit in Paradise City. Joining the LSA Mall, LAMA has created some other interesting activities.

New American Ranger AR-1 from Silverlight Aviation
You can use this link to download the Daily Schedule for the LAMA Show Center pavilion in Paradise City. Print it out for reference at the show or bookmark it on your favorite mobile device.

Beside the always popular LSA Mall, I wish to bring to your attention the daily "Great Debates in Paradise City." LAMA will have an engine debate (TU-4/5/16), a debate between your favorite aviation journalists (WE-4/6), you can hear from no less than four top avionics producers (TH-4/7), and the debates conclude with all the best-selling iPad and Android apps (FR-4/8). All these are free and shaded seating for 100 is available. All Debate panels start at 1 PM and will run about an hour.

On each evening — Tuesday through Saturday — the LAMA pavilion will have special events, parties, or receptions sponsored by vendors and others. Beverages and snacks will be provided. In particular, LAMA would love to have you come by Wednesday evening from 5-7 PM to help celebrate the life of our fallen friend and LAMA volunteer Gregg Ellsworth.

As always, Sun 'n Fun is what its name implies. All y'all come by and enjoy!



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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.

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

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

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.

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.


Jabiru USA assembles the spacious and speedy J-230 with new, more attractive pricing making the model one of the best values in Light-Sport Aircraft.

The Shelbyville, Tennessee company also offers the Jabiru engine line with new 3310 and 2210 models in 2016.

The New J-230D

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.
Wave


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!


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?

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.

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.

Aeromarine-LSA represents economical aircraft like Merlin PSA, fully enclosed and all-metal for less than $35,000; or Part 103 ultralights like Zigolo, a dual-purpose ultralight and motorglider with prices starting at only $12,000.

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.

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.

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Scoda Aeronautica in Brazil and built by Super Petrel USA, a branch of the Brazilian company in Ormond Beach, Florida, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. This biplane flying boat is well established with more than 20 years of history.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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