Here is an early, quick look at Skytrek SLSA
by Triton... China's first FAA approval.
Video sponsored by Continental Motors,
maker of the Powerful Titan X-340 Engine
SPLOG
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   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2005 
 

...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Most recent 20 postings.


Instrument Flying in Light-Sport Aircraft
By Dan Johnson, March 19, 2017

"It cannot be done," is the quick dismissal from many in aviation, referring to instrument flying in a LSA. In 2017, I venture to say everyone in aviation (worldwide) knows about Light-Sport Aircraft and the Sport Pilot certificate, but a superficial knowledge can be a bad thing. The details unveil more.

Think about IFR in an LSA this way: Can you fly IFR in a homebuilt aircraft? Can you do so in a Cessna 172? Does it matter that these two distinct types have not gone through a thorough IFR evaluation by FAA? If you know those answers then why should such flying be prevented in LSA?

It's true, the industry committee called ASTM F.37 issued advice on this subject to LSA producers. F.37 is the group that has labored for a dozen years to provide FAA with industry consensus standards allowing FAA to "accept" (not "certify") SLSA. The group has been working on a IFR standard for some time without arriving at consensus. Partly because the work is not done the committee urged manufacturers not to openly sell IFR capability until the standard was in place and accepted by FAA. (The agency accepts standards and aircraft under different processes.)

F.37's advice is directly related to a present lack of such a standard and possible resistance from legacy aircraft producers. However, neither the committee's advice nor the regulation creating SP/LSA prevents you from filing IFR. Instead yes-or-no relates to a manufacturer's preference plus written FAA-issued operating limitations.

So, as some say, it cannot be done, right? Wrong.

Bristell USA, importers of the superlative LSA of the same name built in the Czech Republic by BRM Aero, has a different approach. They use the ELSA opportunity.

An Experimental LSA starts out as a bolt-for-bolt copy of the SLSA version. Once issued its airworthiness certificate the owner can elect changes. He or she may not use an ELSA for compensated flight instruction or rental, but in other ways, they are significantly the same airplane. Am ELSA owner can change panel gear and other components (even including the engine) and need not seek permission for each change from the manufacturer.

Rather than repeat facts already reported here, I refer you to these articles: "A Raging Debate... IFR, IMC, VMC, and LSA""IFR and LSA: Much Ado About... What?""IFR 'Certification' of Avionics" — and, for those who want to examine FAA's exact words, go to "FAR Part 91.205 (required equipment for IFR)".

At Sebring 2017, I flew with Bristell USA's John Rathmell. John is not only a highly experienced pilot, he is knowledgeable about Bristell's IFR option. In our video shown below, I asked John to cover some of this detail for you and he was most accommodating.

Now, I understand plenty of readers of this website or viewers of the many videos produced by Videoman Dave and myself perhaps do not care a whit about flying IFR. If you fly strictly for fun in nice weather, good for you! Have at it and enjoy! Yet, if you like the versatility of IFR, it is possible.

To fly under IFR rules, the pilot must have an IFR rating on his or her Private or better pilot certificate, that person must be current in those skills, and the airplane must be qualified by the means referenced above and maintenance must be up-to-date. You cannot — and more importantly should not — go fly into clouds simply because you have wonderful equipment on board from companies like Dynon, Garmin, or MGL.

In summary, if you are an instrument pilot, and if you are current, and if you have a medical, and if you purchase an aircraft like the Bristell and register it as an ELSA, no regulation prevents you from filing and flying IFR including into IMC. Only you can judge if that is a smart activity for you, and I hope you'll do so wisely.

Hear more about IFR in a Bristell and join John and I for a flight in this gorgeous, well flying Light-Sport Aircraft in the following video:


He Built and Test Flew Airplanes for You!
By Dan Johnson, March 17, 2017

We lost one of the good ones recently. You may not have met or even know this man, but you certainly know — and may absolutely love — the airplanes he created.

We say a sad and final farewell to Professor Luigi "Gino" Pascale.

While it is somewhat melancholy to bid farewell to this man of short stature but giant achievements, he did what he loved for seven decades and until very near the time of his death. None of us can ask for much more than that.

Luigi is also succeeded by family members who continue to run and expand the operation he began with his brother Giovanni so many years ago. Officially he was chief preliminary design officer of Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam but Tecnam team members remember him fondly as the heart and soul of Tecnam. He was 93 at his passing.

Professor Luigi — as I heard several Tecnam employees refer to him — got his start in aviation designing model airplanes way back in the 1930s. His brother Giovanni and he were passionate about flight and never stopped pursuing the dream.

The Pascale brothers began work on their first full-sized airplane in 1948. They called it the P48 Astore. On the 65th anniversary of that modest beginning, the now-giant of light aviation called Tecnam, unveiled a brand new version of Astore (reported here). Of course, Professor Luigi had a great deal to do with this one as he did with the first. Subsequently all Tecnam designs have the designation P##, with the numbers representing the year the design was started.

Luigi Pascale poses in front of the Tecnam Twin, one of his many designs.
That original Astore first flew in 1951 after Luigi earned his pilot's license. In university, he achieved a Master's Degree in mechanical engineering, reinforcing an obvious aptitude for aircraft design.

Perhaps his most famous design — at least prior to the Light-Sport Aircraft of more recent years — was the Partenavia, a sleek twin-engine general aviation airplane started in 1957. Before that he and his brother created numerous race planes. Sport and recreational flying never left his mind and Sport Pilots today benefit from his tireless work. Indeed, the original company and the one we know today as Tecnam has produced and sold more than 7,000 aircraft, the company reported.

Perhaps his major success — from a number produced standpoint — is his P92, a two-seat metal airplane that has been delivered in several variations. This wonderful light aircraft remains the company's most popular design. After 25 years of service, more than 2,500 are flying in many, many countries around the planet.

While no one knows for sure, it would not be too much of a stretch to say P92 is the most successful Light-Sport Aircraft ever built (though not all models precisely meet the LSA description). That many airplanes flown an uncounted number of hours have delivered many smiles to many pilots regardless of the language they speak.

Luigi Pascale pictured with his nephew, Paolo Pascale. In this video, hear Paolo describe the new Astore and refer to his uncle.
Professor Luigi's final design, the 11-seat P2012 Traveller, is currently going through flight testing. I never heard if he did the flying for this one, but his nephew, Paolo Pascale, who now leads the Tecnam organization, once told me, "Not only does Uncle Luigi design these aircraft, he also test flies them." Amazing!

"Luigi was incredibly proud of Tecnam and all of its employees, and we will all miss him greatly," said Paolo Pascale, who these days is Tecnam's CEO. "His drive to excellence, determination, can-do spirit and commitment to our company will inspire and stay with us always."

Luigi accomplished much and his family of both relatives and company team members have much to be proud of and the pilots who continue to fly his design join with the family in bidding a fond farewell to the talented gentleman from Italy.

See Professor Luigi's heartfelt appreciation when he won the LAMA President's Award for 2016. It is clear he loved aviation and those who loved it with him:


Quick Update on Quicksilver... Parts Are Shipping!
By Dan Johnson, March 11, 2017

Quicksilver made perhaps the most successful kit in aviation history, with more than 15,000 completed and flying. All photos by James Lawrence
One of the major stumbles in the light aircraft world was the closure of Quicksilver Aeronautic's southern California factory in Temecula. That ended a long-running era dating back to the 1970s. See articles here and here. Plenty of folks expressed concern.

Their worry was warranted. As a kit supplier, Quicksilver was one of the most prolific in aviation history with more than 15,000 kits delivered, nearly every one of which got airborne after the short build time. Some have been retired due to age, accident, or neglect, but many thousands continue to fly.

What happens when that large fleet can no longer buy parts? With the factory closed, are all those owners orphaned, having no factory-fresh parts available?

Don't worry, be happy (so the song said).

"We currently have all the Quicksilver parts in stock and are shipping mass quantities daily," said Gene "Bever" Borne, of Air-Tech, Inc. In case you don't know him — almost impossible to believe for any Quicksilver enthusiast, though new Quicksilver owners may be unaware — Bever is arguably the most experienced supplier of all-things Quicksilver since... well, since the very beginning of the powered Quicksilver aircraft. * (See a video interview with Bever.)

Quicksilver Aeronautics achieved Special LSA status for their side-by-side two seater, Sport 2SE.
Bever, his family (wife Kim and son Ken) have operated the Louisiana company for decades, in fact, they can celebrate their 40th year in business in 2017. I doubt anyone in the world knows more about Quicksilver products including all their history. If the Bornes tell you something about the former California company's aircraft, you can accept it as gospel.

"We've been shipping kits and are always packing more," Bever added. "We have a great crew."

Given his reputation and long time in the business, Air-Tech needs to do little advertising. Everybody who needs to know already knows how to reach them. "Our time is spent on the appropriate media forums and those with needs are being helped," Bever clarified. Keep up with Air-Tech on Facebook.

When Quicksilver was about to close their factory, Bever traveled west to negotiate and eventually acquired all the inventory and some of the (more modern) tooling and brought it all back to Louisiana in a caravan of semi-trailers. It was a massive undertaking but assures all the right components remain available.

Therefore, if you need factory-original parts, you can still get them ("Whew!" ...for many owners). Yet what if you want a kit?

Way back in 1993, Quicksilver won the very first Primary Category approval from FAA. That program never got any legs and the company sold few with this registration.
Air-Tech can supply them but as Bever cautioned, "I have absolutely no desire to produce 100 kits per year." After many years in the business, the Quicksilver expert prefers "a comfortable pace."

Apparently only one exception to parts supply remains outstanding. "The GT500 is a little bit different as I am lacking the aft boom tube drill fixture," reported Bever. I'll bet if the need arises, he and his team will figure something but the good news is that would be a rarely needed part.

He added, "I stay close with the Von Hirsch family [that ran Quicksilver Manufacturing for many years before selling it to Quicksilver Aeronautics]." Bever also noted that original design engineer Dave Cronk, presently enjoying his own slower pace in Moab, Utah, is still available for technical details. "He's an endless wealth of knowledge," said Bever.

In December 2016, Bever was contacted by the current owners of Quicksilver Aeronautics. "They have been going back and forth on a plan," he said. "If something develops, fine. If not, that's fine as well. We're busy."

Quicksilver owners can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Air-Tech is on the job! Those visiting Sun 'n Fun 2017 can find Air-Tech in Paradise City.

* Quicksilver was once a supplier of hang gliders before anyone ever heard of anything called an "ultralight." The company, originally called EipperFormance, made delta-wing-shaped hang gliders, which they sold by the thousands. A slightly different hang glider was an unpowered, foot-launched, wing-and-tailplane glider to which a small engine and landing gear was later added yielding, after much evolution, the Quicksilver you see in the lead photo.


Aero 2017 Approaches; Remos GXiS & More
By Dan Johnson, March 6, 2017

We are fast approaching an important time of year... only this year I am a bit conflicted. The good news is Sun 'n Fun and Aero Friedrichshafen are terrific shows. I have been attending both for more years that I care to admit. (OK, I guess I don't ming saying Aero 2016 was my 20th in a row. I've been going to Sun 'n Fun so long, it makes me feel old to say how many years it has been.)

Both events are vitally important to the light aircraft space I enjoy and as steadily reported on this website. Both have strong sectors serving Light-Sport Aircraft (and in Europe, LSA-like aircraft) plus light kit-built aircraft and ultralight aircraft (in Europe called 120-kilogram class or SSDR, which means Single Seat De-Regulated).

These classes of aircraft are the ones I love to report and probably the ones you also enjoy.

The bad news and the source of my conflict is that this year, the two shows runs concurrently... darn it! Because "Beam-me-up-Scotty technology has yet to be developed, I have zero way to attend both. Fortunately, I have a plan.

As noted in the "Welcome" text above, I will cover Sun 'n Fun 2017 and my fellow publisher, Roy Beisswenger of Powered Sport Flying will attend and cover Aero 2017 for ByDanJohnson.com. Thanks, Roy!

I'm irked I cannot attend Aero this year for another reason: it is the 25th anniversary event. Organizer and Aero project leader, Roland Bosch, said, "The entire spectrum of modern ultralights, gliders, and [larger] aircraft, as well as business jets, will be exhibited at the show." I enjoy his leading emphasis on the light side, where Aero truly got its start a quarter century ago. Roland also noted the e-flight air show taking place one day before the opening of the anniversary Aero. "We want to give you exciting insights into the world of flight and offer you the opportunity to talk with experts."

 

What I consider to be the largest, more interesting show in Europe is up in exhibitor bookings for 2017. More than 630 are expected. They welcome back GA heavyweight Diamond but more important to our readers, Tecnam will be back after an absence of two or three years.

Tecnam will be showing off their supersized Traveler, an 11-seater aimed at the regional airline market, but they will also be showing their new version of the Sierra, the Mark 2. In a reversal of the usual situation, Americans have already seen this one, just a few weeks ago at Sebring 2017. Now, Europeans will get to examine the newest member. Tecnam has larger aircraft, certainly, but they are still most attentive to the LSA market, where their numbers remain strong.

German LSA producer, Remos debuted their superb GXiS at Aero 2016 last year. It was a pleasure to see this handsome aircraft again displayed after the Pasewalk-based company recovered from their court-ordered reorganization. Remos appears financially healthy again and their aircraft has long been one I admired. See this article for more thoughts on how it flies.

I judged as extraordinary the job Remos engineers did implementing the wonderful but somewhat more complex Rotax 912iS engine. Beyond that, the GXiS is a beautiful example of what the world calls "German quality." The machine is beautifully appointed and delivers great ease of use. Remos communications guru Patrick Holland-Moritz noted, "GXiS takes just one push of a button to start the engine. Almost all preflight checks will be done automatically." I liked that; you might, too.

Continuing their pilot-friendly refinement of this already impressive aircraft, engineers will unveil a new "jet throttle" in the center console that combines the control of power and wheel brakes in one lever. See more and talk to the team at Aero in Hall B3, Booth 107. The B1-2-3-4 halls, each the size of a gymnasium (see arrow), contain most of the aircraft we cover on this website although a few are located in the southern row of A Halls.

With 50 employees, Remos builds GXiS and GXNXT (called GXnXES in American). These flying machines reside in 1,320-pound (600 kg) LSA category and in the European ultralight category that maxes out at 472.5 kilograms (1,040 pounds) gross. The company reports more than 450 Remos models are flying all over the world with about 120 in the USA.


Watch for a Whole New Look... Very Soon!
By Dan Johnson, March 3, 2017

Although some aircraft were pretty sleek and cool as the new millennia arrived (such as the handsome Thundergull with developer Mark Bierle flying), a host of new brands descended upon aviation. Today you know them; in 2004, not so much.
For thirteen years, ByDanJohnson.com has served the light aircraft community, covering Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit-built aircraft, and ultralight aircraft. Along the way, we've covered all manner of interesting light aircraft from the tiniest drones to the emerging new-style certified GA aircraft from producers of LSA. As my outgoing webmaster said, "It's been quite a ride!"

Of, course, since ByDanJohnson.com has been live for 13 years (almost to the day, which will be April 1st, 2017), this website preceded social media and even giants like YouTube. The website you have been so loyally visiting was assembled using the fairly crude tools available at the beginning of this new millennia. However, now that we are 17 years into the new century, it is time for a change... a BIG change.

In just a few days, after we check and recheck, adjust and tweak, we will hit the button for our "beta launch" of an entirely new look and feel.

As BDJ1.0 launched back in April of 2004, we had aircraft like this Drifter on Lotus amphib floats (flown by gurus Phil Lockwood and Jeff Hudson) powered by the two-stroke Rotax 582.
To be perfectly honest, this is making me a little nervous.

Most humans, myself included, are not always comfortable with change. While the new look — which new webmaster Russell Kasselman (of Iron Dog Media) and I abbreviate as "BDJ2.0" — will contain all the material you want most but it will not be 100% complete when it launches.

Oh, don't worry. BDJ2.0 will have all the news and video you have come to love in the last few years since video swaggered onto the stage. We definitely will get every aspect of the old site ported over to the new during the month of March. By our "grand launch" — hopefully by the April 1st 13th anniversary of the original website — you should find everything you ever sought on the old site.

Back in 2006, I traveled to Connecticut to fly an old favorite — the Flightstar II powered by a four-stroke HKS — with a longtime friend in the business, Tom Peghiny. My smile shows how I felt about it.
Indeed, we'll have some new features you never saw before... such as an easy comments section. It should be easier to navigate. Plus, most importantly for you — and for Google, used for more than 90% of all web searches* — BDJ2.0 will be fully "responsive" to mobile devices. It should look good on your big screen desktop, laptop, or TV. It will work nicely on your iPad or other tablet. Additionally, billions of smartphones will also be able to use BDJ2.0 as they never could on BDJ1.0. Here in 2017, we understand about two-thirds of all ByDanJohnson.com visits come from smartphones.

But BDJ2.0 will be different to use. I hope you will tell us what you like or don't like. We do this for you so we want it to work well. With literally millions of words, more than 100,000 images, thousands of articles, and hundreds of videos, plus one-of-a-kind features like PlaneFinder 2.0, our popular SLSA List, our resource-rich FIRM List, LSA Market Info, and the most informative advertisements you can find anywhere in aviation... (whew!) it has been been a major undertaking. We've been at this for 18 months and, truly, the work is never really done because the world of tech changes even faster than the world of affordable aviation.

Please stay with us as the "great ride" continues. I so sincerely appreciate each and every visitor. We love what we do and we hope it shows!

* Google's vaunted page ranking system highly values websites that are "responsive" but since we are launching a fresh site based on new servers, our ranking may suffer for a short period. In days or weeks, we think we will regain our high position on a Google search once their robots have thoroughly scoured BDJ2.0.


Shock Treatment for Real Get-Up and Go
By Dan Johnson, February 27, 2017

Once upon a time, the producer of a yellow LSA taildragger installed the industry's most powerful engine resulting in a performance leader. This gambit succeeded handily and the builder enjoyed several strong years of sales. Others looked upon this success and saw that it was good.

So, of course, being aviation entrepreneurs, others worked to do the original one better. How about not only an excess of power but other features and macho good looks to cause jaw-drops at every airshow? You may believe I am writing about Just Aircraft and their magnificent SuperSTOL. I've enjoyed flying this aircraft and you can research it further here.

Adding exceptional wing qualities to a potent engine results in a sub-market within the LSA sector that has been drawing strong interest and the sales that follow. With newcomers offering appealing features and reducing the price into more affordable realms, it's not hard to see why pilots are learning about these new flying machines and bringing one home.

Into the cauldron of development activity stepped Zlin and their Shock model. This Czech-based company is no newcomer. You already know their Savage models, reported here frequently as the former iCub and later the Outback and Nomad plus the one-of-a-kind Bobber.

With advice and suggestions from SportairUSA proprietor Bill Canino — himself already a highly skilled veteran of the SP/LSA movement — Zlin took the model SportairUSA sells as the Outback and added what Bill calls "the Shock options." He words it that way because these fresh features can be retrofitted to earlier Outbacks. In addition, the auto-functioning leading edge slats can be removed (with only eight bolts) translating to great versatility.

Custom hydraulic, side-mounted shock absorbers with 12 inches of travel and suspension geometry integrated into main and tail landing gear virtually eliminates the problems of touchdown rebound and ground hop that are all too common with traditionally sprung cabane-style landing gear. The gear position is also moved forward to enhance braking capacity with less risk of overturning. As a result, the Outback Shock lands and taxis with remarkable control and stopping power. The tailwheel is also shock absorbed.

Looking deeper into the details, the Shock options include what SportairUSA calls the "hyper-STOL" wing profile boasting short takeoff and faster rate of climb. This incorporates slatted wings that move according to airflows without pilot involvement combined with two-element Fowler flaps and strategically placed vortex generators in numerous locations to optimize low-speed control.

Compared to earlier models the Shock's wing is different in ways beyond the visible slats and Fowler flaps.

The newly designed wing has six inches of added chord length, all-new spars, stamped aluminum ribs plus strengthened attachments and other structural improvements. Truncated wing tips have wing tip fences (plates on the tip) to control tip vortex and reduce drag. Joined to a sturdy welded steel inner structure, Zlin successfully subjected the Shock-option Outback to more than 1,600 pounds at 6G holding this load for over two minutes without deformation.

A 40% increase in aileron surface area, together with a refined airflow design aided by vortex generators, allow the pilot to keep full control authority at extremely low speed on approach. Shock's Fowler flaps extend 70% from their retracted area and the flaps can be equipped with mini vortex generators installed inside the vane (see video). Zlin and SportairUSA love VGs; they are available for the wings, rudder, flaps and horizontal tail.

As Bill notes in the video below, the tailplane also saw changes, beyond the shock-mounted tailwheel. Rudder and elevator surface area were extended more than three inches aft to balance the moment from the new wing design.

Alright, you might accept Outback Shock as a engineering marvel with all the right attributes to qualify as a "hyper"STOL but what does all this do for you?

The significant increase in wing lift provides added performance in landing and takeoff. With the 180-horsepower Titan engine doing the pulling, Outback Shock can launch in less than 200 feet at gross weight and land in barely over 100 feet. With a single occupant these numbers are halved.

One part of the takeoff and landing prowess of Shock is low stall speeds... really low. Stall in the airplane with a single occupant is an astonishing 18 mph or about 15.6 knots; even at gross weight stall occurs at 23 mph (20 knots). However, Outback Shock is not a particularly speedy cross country cruiser. "Max" speed is 115 mph or 100 knots. Typical cruise is about 90 mph or around 80 knots.

Shock lets you keep an better eye on your landing site thanks to a pitching moment generated by the deep flaps that results in a lower nose attitude on approach.

Shock pilots can operate from smaller fields and land in places you might not otherwise consider (although this comment is not intended to encourage risky piloting behavior).

Find out more from SportairUSA located at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport (KORK) in North Little Rock, Arkansas. You can come see the airplane at the upcoming Sun 'n Fun airshow over April 4-9, 2017.

Find out more and see lots more detail of Outback Shock in the video from Aero 2016:


The Future of Flying... Could It Happen?
By Dan Johnson, February 21, 2017

Two forms of flying are racing at us at increasing speed. This is both scary and promising at once. What can we expect? My crystal ball is no better than yours, but let me tell you what I can imagine may be headed our way.

I refer to two generally unrelated activities in the air: autonomous aircraft and FPV drones. Most pilots to whom I've spoken seem intrigued by these innovations and a few are enjoying their quadcopters, myself included.

Others are not so sure if they like the idea of either unmanned but man-carrying aircraft or a swarm of drones buzzing about the airport or neighborhood. I understand this viewpoint. Most of us treasure our privacy and don't want it invaded.

Yet I invite you consider the following scenario... perhaps 3-10 years in the future.

Think about why you like recreational flying, in your LSA, light kit, or ultralight. I've asked many pilots this question; the most common answer is sightseeing, seeing your neighborhood or the planet from a few hundred or a few thousand feet up. Glorious, most of us agree!

FPV (First-Person View) of drones racing through gates.
Sure, we also like to fly cross country... or fly from off water... or perform aerobatics... or master soaring flight... take a friend or the family on an aerial excursion... travel regionally. Might some of these activities be done another way, specifically, could a drone do the job? You might not think so but please keep reading.

At Sebring 2017, the Drone Zone was of interest to check out the equipment but also to witness the series of short races vying for a $25,000 purse. Let me tell you, this was one fast-paced affair. Drones about the size of a dinner plate whipped around a turning, twisting, up and down course at 80 miles an hour! I could not even follow the action, such a frenzy it was.

No racers ever glanced at their aircraft. This isn't like standard radio control flying where the pilot holds a joystick controller and closely watches their flying RC model.

Racers use VR goggles — basically a hood into which you insert your smartphone — to direct the aircraft using FPV, First-Person View. They see what a tiny little pilot seated in the drone would see. Are you starting to get where I'm going with this?

Imagine it is 2021. You go out in your back yard, or go to a park, or any number of places. You prepare your drone for launch, snap in your smartphone, put on your VR goggles, pick up the controller and go flying. Once you get this method down, you might replicate a real sightseeing flight to a significant degree.

This can be done today. In five or 10 years far more sophisticated and longer-flying drones with rapidly-advancing technology will help prevent conflicts or crashes. A vastly improved VR (Virtual Reality) experience might include 3D, 360-degree view (even wider than your big-windowed LSA). Can you see that flying by drone could replicate at least some of the joy we feel when we go aloft in our little airplanes?

Of course, such FPV drone flying won't replace manned flying or the satisfying experience of mastering stick and rudder. Yet FPV drones could be a game changer, perhaps getting more people involved with flying. Cross pollination might follow with drone pilots wanting to sample manned flight.

Here's a kicker. After observing the drone races for a while, I wandered over to a vendor to ask how much a basic drone racing rig would cost. A compact quad copter, batteries, charger, control unit, VR goggles... all you need to race: $275; you use the smartphone you already own. These prices have dropped and will surely go down further. How do you suppose that cost sounds to a young person compared to taking flying lessons in what the drone guys call "full-size aircraft?"

Now, let's add another dimension.

To the futuristic superdrone scenario, factor in recent news about the Dubai Transportation authority allegedly approving operations within a year (!!) for a fleet of eHang autonomously flown air taxis. Does this sound far-fetched and unlikely? Yep, it does to me, too. However, many believe it is only a matter of time before such services might be available. We may know in a year.

The smallish eHang 184 is a single seater, which makes it seem more achieveable with today's technology. Its four twin-motored boom arms fold up to occupy minimal space. Plus, these things keep getting smarter and such smart tech has gone mainstream.

Recently I watched a friend's Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner work all by itself, even recognizing when the battery starts to run low and heading "home" to dock before running out of juice. It was amazing to watch but you don't get much more mundane than vacuum cleaning.

That's not a joystick inside. It is a controller unit to tell eHang 184 where to go.
Apply the tech needed to provide autonomous air taxi service to drones of tomorrow and you get something surprising. Two people (or more!) sharing VR goggles means you could take friends along for a flight, perhaps where everyone can watch where they want, not just 360 degrees, but a full spherical view. Meanwhile, pilot and "passengers" are safely on the ground merely enjoying the view through the VR apparatus.

Go even further with chairs that transmit motion — another technology that is already here and not particularly expensive — and the sensation of a sightseeing flight around your part of the world while sitting in your living room becomes a very possible reality.

Like all tech, flying an aircraft is largely information, just data. With enough data and improving sensors, eHang or its certain competitors could reasonably be expected to navigate from building top to other designated landing areas in good safety and with no human control, and at ever-decreasing cost. Because tech is eminently sharable, drones and autonomous vehicles benefit from each other's progress.

FPV drone flying and autonomous flying are coming. Should you adapt? Should you resist? It might be time to give serious thought to an alternative future of flying.

To see what FPV drone flying looks like from inside the VR goggles, check this video (one of many available):


Hawk is Finally Back and Looking Good
By Dan Johnson, February 19, 2017

At Sebring 2017, another long-awaited aircraft emerged... or re-emerged. After wandering for a few years since original Hawk developer Chuck Slusarczyk retired and sold his company, the once-popular design has a new home in central Florida.

I've written about this before (earlier article), but we hadn't seen much until Sebring 2017.

The season-starting Sebring Expo brought the debut of CGS Hawk now making its home in the sunshine state after migrating from Ohio to Alabama. Thanks to accomplished kit builder and restorer, Terry Short, this celebrated brand that once held a major presence in the ultralight aircraft space has returned. A refreshed Hawk was looking good.

Indeed, Terry beamed when he told me that he'd already sold six aircraft (recently; not all at the show), most of them the two-seat variety as shown in the nearby photos plus one Part 103 ultralight.

Because original designer Chuck Slusarczyk won FAA acceptance for an ASTM-compliant model, Terry can supply a fully built Special Light-Sport Aircraft version and at Sebring 2017 he told me that he fully intends to do so. Because any new manufacturer, even of an existing brand, can be required to go through an FAA audit, a SLSA Hawk may not be an immediate development. (The agency can also elect to review documents and not do an on-site inspection, at their discretion. For a slower speed, lighter weight aircraft with many hundreds flying, FAA may choose not to make a manufacturing site visit.)

Amid the displays at Sebring's 13th annual Expo, many attendees took a look at this new model and came away with a smile. Several times as I passed Terry's display at Sebring, people seemed to be examining his handsome entry with interest.

New Hawk proprietor Terry acquired the venerable Hawk line from previous owner Danny Dezauche who bought the company from Chuck. Danny kept the brand alive but did not progress too far with it.

All told, CGS Hawks number close to 2,000 units flying. Many owners to whom I've spoke truly love this simple but well-flying aircraft.

CGS originally stood for Chuck's Glider Supplies. Chuck was an early leader in hang gliding and made thousands of them. As "motorized" hang gliders arrived on the scene back in the late '70s and early '80s, Chuck made the jump. In fact, he formerly sold "power packs" to others who wanted to power their hang gliders.

One thing lead to another and Chuck developed his company into a airplane manufacturer, leaving behind his youthful days as a hang glider pilot and entrepreneur.

After decades of operation, Chuck sold his company to enjoy a well-deserved retirement and Alabama businessman Danny Dezauche kept it going for a few years.

A year ago, in January 2016, Dezauche sold CGS Hawk to Terry Short based in Lake Wales, Florida. After retiring from the Polk County School Board, Terry and his son Chris will operate the enterprise in central Florida. They will support the many hundreds of Hawks still flying with parts and services in addition to build several of the models including the Special LSA Model called Hawk II, a tandem two seater.

Catch Terry and the Hawk at Sun 'n Fun 2017, coming in just six weeks! In the meantime, interested pilots can contact Terry Short Aircraft Services in Lake Wales, Florida by calling 863-430-5829 or by emailing him. Short's website remains under construction.


Video — BushCat Is Fun and a Bargain!
By Dan Johnson, February 12, 2017

Are Light-Sport Aircraft too expensive? With yellow taildraggers from some companies exceeding $200,000, it certainly sounds so. Gorgeous and modern carbon fiber LSA run $125,000 to $180,000. So, yeah, if your budget is leaner or if you merely want to keep the price tag down for a recreational aircraft, it's tougher than imagined before the SP/LSA regulation was announced in 2004.

Tougher, but not impossible. In fact, I've long maintained that we do have more reasonably priced LSA for sale but some folks want the more expensive, every-bell-and-whistle aircraft even while they resist the prices such gear costs. Our PlaneFinder 2.0 feature tries to address this with a price above-or-below $100,000. Even determining that can be difficult as some aircraft offer most optional equipment as standard while others prefer a very basically equipped airplane for a low price and let buyers add the stuff they want. Fair enough; a free market in aircraft should offer more choices and let the buyer decide.

One company has a great value for you and a longtime American representative to sell it. The company is South Africa's SkyReach and their Wisconsin-based U.S. distributor AeroSport sells the BushCat. It is not a carbon fiber speedster. It is a very modestly priced aircraft that flies well, performs well, and has hundreds flying around the world for many years.

At the 2016 edition of the Mid-West LSA Expo, I got to fly BushCat with AeroSport partner Jeremy Knoll and the video below attempts to fill in some of the details.

Normally I stay away from price quoting as these figures change and, as noted above, stating a price means determining what is "standard equipment," what is "optional," and what you likely want... the latter being an impossible task since I am not you and as I have no idea what you want today (which itself could change tomorrow). Nonetheless, I'm stepping out on the thin ice to at least put it in perspective. Check with the company for current pricing.

I referred to Aerosport's price sheet and you can dig into the details yourself if interested.

As of November 2016, the starting price for BushCat is $65,400 for a Special LSA ready-to-fly model using the 80-horsepower Rotax 912. That engine is perfectly fine and can use 87-octane auto gas for low-cost, highly-reliable operation. Yet for only $67,600 you can have 20 more horsepower, so nearly everyone selects this option. Those low prices include basic analog instruments and are enough for most recreational aviators. If you like traveling with digital instruments and a transponder to handle certain FAA airspaces, you can spend $1,500 to $5,000 for a fairly deluxe panel or for much less choose an iPad and a flight app as an alternative.

A three-blade prop, a parachute, lighting, and cabin heat will bid the price up further but you can still stay in the $75,000-range. Even an amphibious float-equipped BushCat can be had for $105,000. From my viewpoint, BushCat is one of the great bargains of the LSA space.

An observation: BushCat is priced almost exactly where everyone seemed to expect back in 2004 after adjusting for inflation. That ain't bad.

To learn more about BushCat from SkyReach and to get views inside and out plus flying footage, catch the video below.


Video—Jabiru J-230D Reviewed at Midwest LSA
By Dan Johnson, February 10, 2017

Why do we go to all the little airshows? Good question. Everyone knows that a professional journalist or true-blue aircraft enthusiast almost has to trek to the big events like AirVenture or Sun 'n Fun — with the latter coming up soon April 4-9, 2017. Fine. Yet are the smaller events worth the travel expense and time?

For Videoman Dave and I this is a no-brainer. Gotta go! Why? Because events like Sebring just finished or DeLand's end-of-the-season show or the Mid-West LSA Expo early in September in Mt. Vernon Illinois (about an hour's drive east of St. Louis) are perfect for us to collect video footage and flying experiences that we can relate to viewers on Dave's widely-watched YouTube channel (to the tune of a million and a half minutes every month!) or here on our LSA Video page.

These smaller-venue shows are more relaxed, have smaller crowds, and access to the runways to go flying are the best of any airshows.

The great news about these shows is... well, a few reasons. Perhaps number one is the possibility for those attending to be able to spend more time with aircraft vendors to ask all the questions you want. At major shows, crowds can be so dense that you must compete with other attendees to get face time with a supplier. No so at Midwest, Sebring, or DeLand.

Visitors can also get demo flights more easily and achieving those flights will consume far less time, meaning you can do more of them if you wish. Perhaps your chosen aircraft representative can fly with you for a longer time because he or she does not have fourteen other people waiting for their turn. Finally, once you and the seller agree, you can hop in the airplane and in literally minutes you are launching into yonder blue skies.

For the many who cannot attend, we bring you videos like the one below about the Jabiru North America J-230, now in the newest "D" model. Frequent feedback tells us that most pilots seem to truly enjoy these videos and we are happy to keep making more.

Thanks very much for visiting this website and for watching the videos Dave and I produce. We plan to keep up the pace well into the future. Enjoy!


Video—Race Around Sebring 2017…a Quick Tour
By Dan Johnson, February 6, 2017

At last November's DeLand Showcase, I tried something new. I didn't know how it would work or be received but I took a shot. As it turned out, a good many folks seemed to enjoy my "Race Around DeLand 2016" video. I literally used a golf cart and did a drive-by video shooting of most outdoor booth spaces at the Florida event. A surprising number of pilots told me they enjoyed it.

With those comments in mind, I thought to repeat this with "Race Around Sebring 2017." You can see it below. This would be tough to do at Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh where the LSA, light kits, and ultralights are scattered all over the grounds. It might work, though, in Sun 'n Fun's Paradise City or in AirVenture's Fun Fly Zone... we'll see about that.

Until those spring and summer extravaganzas, I hope you'll enjoy this rather speedy glimpse of Sebring 2017, the 13th running of this grandaddy of the small, focused events that draw enthusiasts of these recreational or sporting aircraft.

If these Race Around videos remain popular, I might even attempt this at Aero Friedrichshafen, except that will have to wait until 2018 because in 2017 Aero runs concurrently with Sun 'n Fun... darn it!

You might regard this as an (under) 15-minute tour of Sebring for those of you who could not make it. However, honestly, I hope you can attend either or both DeLand 2017 and Sebring 2018. I think you'll enjoy... good winter weather, concentrated aircraft in your interest area with many of your flying friends present, plus you can take all the demo flights you want.

See more about all kinds of affordable aviation... LSA, light kits, and ultralights on our LSA Videos page that is approaching 500 videos.

You can watch more than 1,000 videos on Videoman Dave's YouTube channel publishing as SportAviationMagazine.com. Your support of Dave's YouTube channel allows him to do this work. Please consider subscribing annually or Lifetime.


Announcement...Major Upgrade for ByDanJohnson.com!
By Dan Johnson, February 2, 2017

Light aircraft as they were when ByDanJohnson.com went live in April 2004.
Once upon a time, the world was without Internet, static and boring. In those ancient times, to follow aircraft developments, most aviators had to wait for a magazine that arrived once a month. In 1995, the World Wide Web was born and only four years later work began on ByDanJohnson.com. *

Many have called the Internet, specifically the Web, the most important change in history for human communications! Since that time, the pace of change has been ever quickening.

I am pleased to announce to you that ByDanJohnson.com is upgrading to a brand-new site that will have a modern look and will automatically adapt to your phone or tablet. This redesign has consumed more than a year's worth of work but the change will occur this month.

With more than 1,500 pages of information featuring millions of words, thousands of articles with photos, and hundreds of videos plus special features like PlaneFinder 2.0, the SLSA List, and our FI.R.M. List, this shift has been a massive undertaking. We have been working for many months but we are nearly ready for beta launch. Overwhelmingly our purpose has been to assure these changes will make for a better user experience.

The website view as you know (and hopefully love) it today.
All the same features you enjoy will still be available and nearly everything remains free of charge. However, while you should find everything much more accessible, you will see some changes in how you access various parts of the website.

Let's go back in time a few years...

With help from long time webmaster Dan Barker, this website was built starting in 1999. Due to the lack of modern tools and my focus on other work at the time — I was VP of BRS Parachutes in those days — we did not go live until April of 2004. This was a few months before the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation was announced. By pure luck, my timing was exquisite and I was able to position ByDanJohnson.com right at the front of the parade for FAA's newest aviation sector.

However, that early start meant we had to "stick build" the website. The project cost far more in dollars and hours than it does today to create a comprehensive, database-driven website. Years were spent creating everything from scratch. I had no idea what I was doing but Barker guided me well. Every time I wanted to add a new feature, it could take weeks, where today the same function might be added in hours or even minutes. In Internet Time, 13 years ago was something like the dark ages.

A fresh new look and function that is "Coming Soon!"
It was clearly time to jump into the future.

Today, mobile (smartphones and tablets) is dominant and PCs are fading. Websites remain as useful as ever — even in the age of social media — but a modern website needs to be something called "responsive." This term means a website knows what device is accessing the information and formats itself to better fit that device. The ByDanJohnson.com you know could not be so adaptive because of the way it had to be built in the early 2000s. Smartphones are smart so you could view the website but it wasn't optimal on mobile.

Change is hard for most folks. When you greet the new website, I hope you'll look around and get familiar with it. Our news stories will appear in brief form instead of one long home pages of article after article. If you prefer the original look, you can click "Switch to Classic View" at the top of the page (photo, arrow). You will also be able to leave comments on any article. Continued improvements will follow launch of the new website.

If you are one of the many who view ByDanJohnson.com on an iPhone, Android, iPad, or other tablet, the look will be different. If you seek one of our sponsors — advertisers... the main reason you can read most articles or watch videos for free — they'll be available but might appear in a different place. (Things will look mostly the same on a Mac or PC; it is on mobile that pages will appear different...)

The aircraft we cover as they look today (in addition to those above).
After a month or so of feedback and further tweaking, we'll launch ByDanJohnson.com 2.0 on April 1st (no fooling!), the 13th anniversary of ByDanJohnson.com going live. This will be our Grand Opening, once everything is working perfectly.

Thank you SO much for your loyal readership over the last thirteen years! We love what we do and we hope it shows! We will continue to provide highly focused content in written and video form covering Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, ultralight aircraft, and the emerging new GA aircraft from companies we already cover.

* Thanks to longtime friend Cliff Whitney, who encouraged me to load my hundreds of pilot reports from print magazines onto a website; I'm not sure how soon I would have done this without his encouragement, and, as it turned out, my timing was perfect.

Video—BasicMed & LSA...Sebring 2017...More
By Dan Johnson, January 29, 2017

News from Sebring Expo 2017...

The thirteenth annual running of the Sebring Expo is history concluding on Saturday, January 28th. By most accounts it was a solid event. Show organizers were blessed with wonderful weather no doubt helping foot traffic to be substantial each morning and early afternoon. Several vendors told me they booked orders for aircraft and if anyone had negatives of substance they were not brought to my attention.

Kudos to principal organizer Bev Glarner (a full video interview with her will follow) and to airport director Mike Willingham for changing up the show in several successful ways.

On Friday of the event, I appeared as a guest on the Florida Aviation Network with host Diego Alfonso. We chatted about several matters that Light-Sport Aircraft or light kit-built aircraft enthusiasts and business owners may find of interest.

My goal in the interview was to hit a few topics generating high levels of attention at this time. These include: BasicMed, the new relaxation of third class medical and how that recent development may affect Light-Sport Aircraft.

We also talked about the revised show and its changes and how people seemed to receive them.

We discussed the advocacy work by LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association in conjunction with FAA to advance fully built gyroplane Special LSA, electric propulsion, and the exciting potential for aerial work or light commercial use for Light-Sport Aircraft.

Diego also asked about how I got into aviation. I hope you might find this 25-minute interview of interest, primarily for the sector-specific perspective.

Enjoy the video below and watch for more news and video about Sebring 2017.


Sebring...Meet Elf, a LSA Motorglider from Ekolot
By Dan Johnson, January 28, 2017

News from Sebring Expo 2017...

"We had a lot of interest in Elf," said Don Reece, the man behind Apogee A.C.E., the Florida dealer for Ekolot. Indeed, though even smaller and tucked behind Ekolot's better known Topaz, Elf caught the attention of Videoman Dave and I as we scoured the Sebring exhibit grounds looking to shoot video of any aircraft or development of interest. We get to do this at many shows so catching our attention means something. (Watch for an upcoming video on Elf after editing is complete.)

Ekolot Elf — It looks small and is physically smaller because Elf seats comfortably (but narrowly) a single occupant. It read "Light-Sport" on the outside but it has not completed the proof of compliance as of Sebring 2017. However, that's the plan after an FAA regional office told importer Krzysztof "Kris" Siuba that Elf was too fast for Part 103 and any attempt to remedy that would be fruitless so it could not qualify for FAA's simplest, least regulated category.

While Elf is capable of speeds close to 80 mph, the factory lists cruise at 71.5 mph (62 knots) which is not much above the Part 103 speed limit of 63 mph — or, per regulation, 55 knots. The Polish producer intended Elf to fit in Europe's fairly new 120 kg class (120 kilograms is 264 pounds, not much above Part 103's 254 pounds, though trimming weight when an aircraft is already this light could prove challenging). Because the Elf at Sebring had a parachute system it could weigh 278 pounds but the speed problem remains.

As Ekolot has already achieved SLSA approval for their two seat Topaz, they should be experienced in proving compliance. Once Elf has earned a Special Airworthiness certificate, the aircraft can use its full speed potential and could add pounds while easily staying inside LSA parameters.

Controlling Elf is common with center-mounted joystick and dual rudder pedals. The nose wheel is steerable and features a hydraulic brake. Dual main gear use composite suspension; the gear width is rather narrow but while permitting regular ramp operations, keeps the gear closer to the fuselage adds to the general smoothness of the design. The only unusual control is a right-shoulder-mounted braking handle for the prop.

Ekolot's JK-01Elf uses a single cylinder engine with folding prop, which itself is sophisticated with a small disc brake to slow the prop allowing it to fold back on hinges. When restarting after soaring as long as you wish, the blades will swing out and forward as motion develops lift. The electric-starting Polini Motori Thor 200 two stroke one cylinder air cooled engine offers max power of 26 horsepower at 7000 rpm. Elf is sleek enough and light enough that 26 horsepower is sufficient, said Kris. On board fuel is about 4.5 gallons. Under high power that won't last too long but this slippery airplane is meant to be flown with engine off or at low power so that represents plenty of fuel.

Electric propulsion enthusiasts will be interested to hear Elf is being fitted with a Geiger electric drive. Check with Kris or Don to hear about availability of and prices for a gas or electric powered Elf.


Sebring...Aeropilot Debuts L600 to American Market
By Dan Johnson, January 27, 2017

News from Sebring Expo 2017...

"Looks like a Cessna 182 Skylane." I heard that comment from several others and I thought it myself. The only difference is that I got that impression when I first saw this aircraft in Europe a few years ago where those I overhead saying it were here in the USA. No wonder as Sebring 2017 provided a venue for Deon Lombard to debut the new aircraft. (Watch for an upcoming video on L600 after editing is complete.)

Aeropilot L600 — known as Legend in Europe where that model is a European ultralight — the design does offer an uncanny resemblance to the popular Cessna model. Viewed from the rear and seeing L600's full-width rear window, the similarity is strong. (Cessna's 172 Skyhawk has a split rear window where 182's is full width.)

Aeropilot L600 — Built of mostly carbon fiber, L600 is sleeker than the riveted Skylane it emulates. Of course it has two seats to Skylane's four and it won't fly quite as fast. Yet it will consume one quarter to one third the fuel of the heavier spam can and it will cost approximately one sixth as much, comparing new to new. L600 has a starting price of $91,000 with a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 and three-blade Woodcomp prop. You probably want at least a $107,000 model with plenty of extras, though at $129,000 a fully loaded L600 may end being the most popular. You have several LSA choices below L600's higher price and a few LSA priced even below the basic L600 but Aeropillot is clearly offering competitive pricing.

At the end of the year I reported Aeropilot L600 had earned its pink Special Airworthiness card upon FAA inspection (see earlier article). At Sebring more folks got to examine L600. With its familiar exterior shape, dual yokes inside, and go-places performance, Aeropilot may be well received by Yankee pilots. Importer Deon Lombard of Aeropilot USA hopes so.

With 29 gallons of fuel on board and given a Rotax 912's modest fuel burn L600 boasts an endurance of seven hours yielding a 700 nautical mile range. Stall comes at 30 knots with flaps deployed. L600 can fast cruise at 113 knots or 130 mph and climb rate at sea level is reported at more than 1,300 feet per minute; The Aeropilot model can scoot along well enough to bring the model to Sebring from southern California in 20 hours of flying. With 66 pounds of luggage capacity (weight and balance allowing), L600 appears to be a good cross country cruiser.


Legend Cub Continues to (Slowly) Tear Up the Skies
By Dan Johnson, January 25, 2017

At last fall's inaugural DeLand Showcase event, I got a chance to fly Legend Cub on their own Legend Floats. I've interviewed Legend folks about this model, but flying one was still on my to-do list.

American Legend Aircraft Company was one of the very first in the Light-Sport Aircraft business and they've now fleshed out their product line of pretty yellow taildraggers... though, of course, they don't have to be painted yellow even if almost everyone orders them this way. I guess it's a vintage look thing, but I'm hear to tell you these Cubalikes are nothing like your granddad's Piper Cub (thank goodness, as Legend has made many desirable improvements).

One of the biggest changes is the wide variety of engines this company has offered. They started with the Continental Motors' venerable 100-horsepower O-200, added the 120-horsepower Jabiru 3300 six cylinder model, then tapped the 115-horsepower Lycoming O-233, and now Legend offers the mighty 180-horsepower Titan, offered these days by Continental following their acquisition of ECi of Texas. Along the way, Legend also did a preliminary mount of the Superior diesel entry although that particular engine has yet to come to market.

If you are patient enough to go through all the material you can see something about most of these powerplant variations in articles or videos found on this site. We've gathered it all in one place for you if you click this link to American Legend. Get a snack and a cold one and enjoy all things Legend Cub.

The company recently promoted some of their hard work. "Legend Cub from American Legend Aircraft Company continues to improve," the company wrote. "Since its introduction, the now-standard inclusions of a wider cabin, electrical system and double doors are amended with gentle strokes of progress." Some of those strokes come via the multiple engine choices the Sulphur Springs, Texas company offers.

ALAC's Super Legend boasts the big Titan engine coupled with a Catto propeller. "With so much power up front, a Legend Cub personifies short takeoffs. As a leader in STOL performance, the Legend Cub is light footed and makes short work of getting airborne." What a fun way to turn modest amounts of fuel into major amounts of fun.

Your grandfather's Piper probably had few instruments on board, perhaps an airspeed indicator, altimeter, and a few engine instruments... every one of them round dials. These are simple flying machines that need little else. Yet in the modern tech-world with far more helpful information available at, literally, the touch of a finger for reasonable cost, why not have the good stuff?

Legend Cub readily admits, "Cub has never really needed instruments for flying. So a glass-paneled Cub may seem the archetype of counterintuitive. Yet at the press of a button today's advanced Legend Cub instrument panel options broadly expand a pilot's navigation and communications capabilities."

Legend offers Garmin's wonderful G3X and Dynon's trendsetting SkyView. You may also equip your Legend Cub with an autopilot and ADS-B for traffic, weather and flight information services. To some Cub purists, this may seem sacrilege, but those folks may be privately envious at such a well-equipped Cub.

"Far from being a comprehensive list, power and panel are complemented by a host of other options," said the Texas airplane manufacturer.

Other gear Legend uses on their aircraft includes: Catto composite propellers -- lightweight and able to deliver high performance; bright LED lighting in the leading edges and wingtips help a pilot see while consuming less power; supersized tires allow Legend Cubs to master a greater variety of surfaces; and bungee-supported seats upholstered in ultraleather keep the occupants cooler on a pleasant summer day.

My flight in November benefitted from wonderful 80-degree weather in DeLand, Florida (about 20 miles inland from Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Ocean). It was a great time to check out Legend Cub on floats.

Learn more in the video below, including in-flight views and observing water operations. (See the same video on our page and skip the opening ad.)


Vickers’ Wave Is Gearing Up Quickly for 2017
By Dan Johnson, January 24, 2017

This simulated image shows what Vickers' Wave will look like as it takes flight later this year.
Pilots not closely following Light-Sport aviation can be excused for thinking only one LSA seaplane is available. Established LSA companies like Progressive Aerodyne and their Searey or Scoda's Super Petrel or Airmax's SeaMax or any number of aircraft to which floats have been fitted may be somewhat baffled by the outsized attention Icon Aircraft's long-delayed A5 receives from aviation and non-aviation media. On the other hand, most leaders of these companies do admit that Icon's media juggernaut also brings attention to LSA seaplanes in general.

With that in mind, are you ready for one that might out-WOW the A5? You cannot ride a Wave today, but 2017 may be the breakout year for this impressively-configured LSA seaplane entry from the other down-under country of New Zealand.

Indeed, principal, Paul Vickers -- the namesake of Vickers Aircraft -- wrote at the end of 2016, "Great strides have been made in the past months here at Vickers. We may have appeared quiet but we have been very busy preparing for 2017, which will prove to be an incredible year."

See an earlier article on the company and read about Wave's use of the Titan engine.

Any company making a product as advanced as A5 or Wave (or Lisa or MVP) requires two ingredients never in sufficient supply, it seems: time and money. Reams have been written about Icon's ambitious fund raising and the other developing LSA seaplanes just referenced have also been active in the finance arena. Vickers was working hard at this 18 months ago, but found solid financial support a while back. This allows them the ability to concentrate all their energies on finalizing the aircraft.

Paul confirmed this impression when he wrote, "We have secured funding from the USA that will allow us to expand our operations." He continued, "New machinery for carbon fiber part production and larger premises will streamline our processes." He noted that additional staff was hired to fill key roles to ensure smooth production and timely deliveries.

"I traveled to various U.S. states in 2016 to personally meet with potential investors and found the ideal partner in Florida," said Paul. "Our new partner brings not only a vast wealth of aviation knowledge but incredible American business experience which will ensure a strong and responsible Vickers brand in the USA."

With adequate funds in place, Vickers is charging ahead.

You are reading it first here that Vickers recently moved into what they call their "Stage 1 production facility," located at Hamilton Airport, New Zealand. This first stage of three will enable Vickers to produce 30-40 aircraft per year, according to Paul.

"In this new temperature controlled environment production carbon fiber parts are being prepared in accordance with manufacturing procedures that have been finely tuned over years of development," he explained. "It has always been of extreme importance to maintain control, quality, and cost over all components for the Wave. This has allowed for a modest investment and will result in an actual aircraft that will be both deliverable and affordable provided by an aircraft company that is sustainable."

"We have been developing the processes to produce conforming production components and we are very close to beginning structural testing on production sub-assemblies such as the wing carry thru and rear empennage." Nearby you see a recently infused carbon fiber mold insert just prior to trimming and finishing.

TenCate Advanced Composites USA has joined Vickers as a strategic partner to supply carbon fiber materials for Wave. "TenCate is pleased to support Vickers Aircraft with carbon fiber epoxy prepreg and ancillary composite materials for the development and production of their Light-Sport Aircraft," said David Clarke, CEO of TenCate. "We look forward to their successful introduction of this unique aircraft platform."

"Working with TenCate's superior products will enable us to produce an aircraft which will be of the highest quality yet help keep weight within LSA specifications," noted Paul. "TenCate is a leader in the aerospace composite industry and having them work with us to bring our aircraft to market will help make Wave exceptional."

Most readers know that carbon fiber is wonderful to combine strength with low weight but preparing the material for use on aircraft is an exacting effort.

"We have now acquired a critical part of our production process, a Zund carbon fiber cutting center," said Paul. The Zund cutting machine can cut carbon fiber at an astonishing three feet per second, ink mark part numbers and bar codes to integrate individual pieces of carbon fiber into our inventory system to ensure full traceability and correct placement during laminating." He added that the Zund cutter has the capacity to produce parts for more than 100 aircraft per year.

"We looked globally at other industry leaders and concluded that Zund was a stand out within composite manufacturing companies," reported Darryn Todd, VP of Composites for Vickers.

Along with the fresh funding Vickers has also appointed the American distributor for Wave. "We are very pleased to have such strong support from the USA," exclaimed Paul. "We are equally excited to have appointed a U.S. distributor in Florida, the ideal location for Vickers Aircraft USA."

Changes have been made to the Vickers Aircraft website and it now conforms to all screens including mobile and tablets.


Duc Hélices' New Factory Hosts Engineer Students
By Dan Johnson, January 22, 2017

In my experience, pilot love learning about engines. Yet without a prop, that engine may run fine, but nothing happens to the airplane other than converting a tank of fuel into noise. To get up and go, you gotta have a prop. How about a beautiful composite one?

French propeller maker, DUC Hélises moved to a brand new facility in late 2016.
DUC Hélices New Factory — French propeller manufacturer DUC Hélices moved its facility late in 2016, relocating from Lentilly to Frontenas on the Villefranche-Tarare Airfield.

Last year marked a turning point in the evolution of DUC Propellers, the company said. A relocation project was launched in April 2016 with the primary goal to move the company to the Villefranche-Tarare aerodrome to be at the heart of its business. "This move will allow [us] to expand our premises and modernize further. The move started in November of 2016 and an inauguration or grand opening will be completed by spring 2017."

Shortly after the big move, DUC was pleased to welcome engineering students from Centrale Lyon Engineering School the new site at the Villefranche-Tarare Airfield (LFHV) for a presentation of the facilities and DUC's design and manufacturing activities (nearby photo).

In other DUC news, the company announced, "After three years of work, DUC Propellers received in summer 2016 a EASA Type Certification for the three-blade FLASH-R and five-blade FLAIR-2." The company also supplies many propellers to Light-Sport Aircraft and many European ultralights.

"DUC Propellers will be pleased to welcome visitors to its booth at the US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring (Florida) from January 25 to 28, 2017," the company invited.

See DUC Hélices at Sebring Expo 2017 in exhibit space NC114.


Guardian Adds More Cockpit Power for iPad Users
By Dan Johnson, January 22, 2017

If you own an iPad, iPhone, or its Android equivalents -- wait a minute, have we any pilots who don't own one or more of these handy gizmos? Well, if you're among the many, you need power for your favorite handheld tool. When I fly commercial and I'm in the gate house waiting for my flight, I appear to be like everyone else... looking for a free outlet to juice up my devices.

Now, your cockpit does not have to be one of those places of searching. Thanks to Guardian Avionics, you can recharge in flight in your GA airplane that was manufactured with a cigar lighter outlet.

Guardian Power Port — The Tucson, Arizona company introduced a new and simple USB power upgrade option for aircraft owners who have an old 12 volt cigarette lighter socket in their current panel. Guardian's Power 250-101R Dual 2.1 Amp USB Power Supply with a 0.9" diameter round faceplate is designed to fit a standard round cigarette lighter socket opening in the instrument panel.

"Since USB has become a popular standard for powering smartphones and tablets, pilots in certified aircraft have been required to use bulky adapters for their existing 12 volt lighter socket to gain a usable USB port," explained Guardian. "The new round USB unit perfectly replaces the lighter socket and adds a clean dual USB port that sits flush with the panel converting any aircraft power source from 9 VDC to 48 VDC down to an output of 5 VDC at 2.1 Amp per USB port. Only two countersunk screws need to be added to mount the new unit and the power supply can be wired to aircraft power through a 2 Amp circuit breaker in place of the existing circuit breaker for the 12 volt lighter socket."

This round dual USB unit, along with all USB models offered by Guardian, is listed as part of FAA's "Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment" (NORSEE) letter of authorization issued to Guardian Avionics. This means the unit may be installed by an A&P/IA with only a minor alteration logbook entry in any Part 23, 27, or 29 certified aircraft/rotorcraft. No time consuming and costly STC or Form 337 required.

"There are tens of thousands of certified General Aviation currently flying in the United States with a factory installed cigarette lighter in their panel," noted Ash Vij, President of Guardian Avionics. "More and more of the pilots flying those aircraft are using tablets and phones with apps for navigation and they need reliable and safe USB power to power them in flight. Our simple, affordable, and attractive replacement is a fantastic upgrade for any aircraft owner."

See Guardian Avionics at Sebring Expo 2017 in exhibit space NC107.


California Power System Announces Rotax Classes
By Dan Johnson, January 22, 2017

Maybe you missed the last series of classes. Maybe you simply weren't ready yet. Maybe you just joined Club Rotax (meaning your aircraft is powered by the popular Austrian engine). Whatever the reason, the more you know about Rotax engines, the better your flying experience.

Rotax Maintenance Classes — If you are a professional or wanna-be pro in the maintenance or overhaul of Rotax engines, you must take factory-approved training. You have choices in such training by recently California Power Systems announced a series of classes.

Rotax 2-Stroke Service Course is for technicians wanting to rebuild or maintain all water-cooled and air-cooled 2-stroke Rotax aircraft engines. Learn to perform a complete engine rebuild with failure analysis and a focus on preventative maintenance. —March 6-7, 2017.

Rotax 912 / 914 Service Class is for technicians wanting to service 912-series engines or owners wanting to do their own scheduled maintenance. This course will give any FAA A&P or LSA Repairman certificate holder the credentials to perform all scheduled maintenance and level #1 troubleshooting procedures. —March 8-9, 2017.

Other classes include: a 912 / 914 Maintenance Class for technicians wanting to perform more in depth maintenance tasks. —March 10-11, 2017; 2 Stroke and 912 / 914 Renewal Course for current iRMT license holders. —March 12, 2017; and, a 912 / 914 Heavy Maintenance Class for professional mechanics. —March 13-15, 2017.

All classes are held at California Power Systems' training facility at the Chino Airport (KCNO). Visit the CPS website for all details. You can also call Bryan Toepfer at 800-247-9653 x302 or email Bryan.

See California Power Systems representatives at Sebring Expo 2017.



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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.


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.

SilverLight Aviation created the first all-American gyroplane with modern sophistication and equipment, built by a proven expert. Gyroplanes like AR1 fly much like fixed wings but with real advantages.

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

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.

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.

Glasair Aviation became famous for their Glasair series. Today the Washington state company is focused on the newer Sportsman in several varieties and on Merlin LSA. Later in 2017, buyers can buy a Merlin in fully-ready-to-fly form from this much-admired company renown for its top-tier customer service.


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

Triton America started with a familiar-looking LSA model and significantly improved it, making it stronger while preserving the well-regarded flight characteristics. Welcome to a newcomer with lots of experience and their new Skytrek.

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.

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.

J230-D & J170-D


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

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

Murphy Aircraft offers a wide range of highly capable aircraft from the light biplane RENEGADE to their newest RADICAL with many variations in between. Years of design and manufacturing experience combine with modern computer-based tooling to make solid, well performing aircraft kits.



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.

Remos AG is the manufacturer of the next generation GXiS. This beautiful composite design built by German craftsmen offers excellent performance, light responsive handling, and a deluxe cockpit finish to please any aviator.

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

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

Bristell USA distributes the highly-refined Bristell aircraft in North America. The Czech-built aircraft is a 5th generation design with excellent performance, wonderful handling, and a most appealing shape. Other airplanes may look similar but Bristell has gone far beyond.

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.

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.

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

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


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.

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?

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.

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

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

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.

Sonex Aircraft is one of aviation's best-known brands offering exciting performance, easy building, prices to match the budgets of most pilots, and you will do business with some fine people. Taking years of success to new heights, Sonex debuted the "B" models with numerous upgrades.

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