SPLOGs between January and March, 2008 in chronological order.
Welcome...to 2008 and SLSA #64, the S-Wing
By Dan Johnson, January 2, 2008
On December 30, 2007 the S-Wing squeaked in as the last SLSA certified this year (as the industry went from 45 to 64 approved models). "We completed the long process and have been issued airworthiness by Brad Burdue," reported S-wing USA import partners John Stickel and Ron Jones. Check S-Wing specs
Looking like a CT mated with a SportRider, welcome S-Wing ("Swing," they say). Bigger Americans should also welcome the widest cabin in the LSA fleet, at a spacious 51.95 inches, a whopping 13 inches wider than a Cessna 172. S-Wing is no CT performer and we'll see if it handles like the SportRider. But whatever its other qualities and features, size matters and S-Wing takes the lead in interior dimension. Cruise is modest, "typical 100 mph," stated S-Wing USA. Handling qualities have been compared to a Cessna 150. *** S-Wing USA said the Czech factory began production in 2005 and have 30 flying so far; 17 in Europe, 12 in Russia, and one in the USA. "Current production is 20 per year, but could be increased to 40 with current facilities," projected John Stickel. The U.S. import team is preparing their program but announced coming options: a radio package with transceiver and transponder; BRS parachute system; and floats. With radio and transponder, S-Wing currently sells for a fairly modest $89,900. *** S-Wing was designed by a Russian engineer and test pilot using a composite fuselage. Wings are covered with fabric but a composite wing is currently under development.

Oh, Wait! One More in 2007...Rans S-19LS
By Dan Johnson, January 4, 2008
The last one in under the wire, S-19LS concluded a productive 2007 year of SLSA approvals. Read about S-19LS safety. Rans will continue to offer an S-19 kit that you can get airborne for around $50,000.
As we bid farewell to 2007, up popped one of America's top kit producers: Rans. During the year the industry reached number 65 in Special Light-Sport Aircraft approved. Randy Schlitter sent a note saying, "We achieved SLSA status for the S-19LS on December 21st." He added, "The S-19LS is the first all new aircraft made and designed in the USA specifically for the light sport category to receive SLSA status since the ruling went into effect." S-19LS relied heavily on CAD/CAM methods. "In fact we never built a prototype; the first aircraft was production tooled," continued Schlitter. *** S-19LS features the 100-hp Rotax 912ULS, an all-glass cockpit, and a $110,000 introductory price. Since late 2005, Rans has successfully produced the $85,000 S-7LS Courier. Delivery of the first S-19LSs should begin in 10 months, according to the company. If demand warrants, the Hays, Kansas company projects building 50 a year within 12 months, and possibly doubling output later. *** My experience flying the S-19 for a pilot report showed excellent flying qualities in all areas. Its conventionally-shaped Hershey Bar wing (no taper) exhibited forgiving qualities and landings were straightforward, suggesting a flight training role for the model.

Dynamic Spins Into SLSA; Unveiling at Sebring
By Dan Johnson, January 7, 2008
Aerospool's Dynamic with fixed gear and prop becomes the company's entry to Special Light-Sport Aircraft. More info. Read my 2004 pilot report on the retractable gear version.
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- Sport Aircraft Works, importer and marketer of the fast-selling SportCruiser, will announce an LSA version of their Dynamic WT9. Previously, the retractable speedster (174 mph max cruise) was only available as a kit but the Slovak designer decided to pursue American SLSA certification at 550 kg (1,212 pounds). [UPDATE: Dynamic won SLSA approval on January 8th.] *** As part of their effort to meet the standards, the Aerospool Dynamic underwent spin testing by company test pilot, Jozef Chupek. "He finished this task without any undesirable control behavior," reported the company. Testing was done in a variety of CG load and control input configurations. "All testing situations were recoverable using normal spin recovery procedures," Aerospool added. "Spin test flights were flown with our standard aircraft; we didn't make any special modifications [other than] safety elements such as spin recovery parachute and ejectable cockpit." Testing was observed by members of the Slovak Civil Aviation Authority. See the spin test video (scroll down). *** Dynamic SLSA won't just be a slowed version of the retract model. The revised WT9 features modern winglets (photos). "With new winglets, its slow speed envelope is even more impressive," reports Sport Aircraft Works. Check the specs and head to Sebring in 10 days and see it for yourself!

Long-Gliding Lambada Soars Into Sebring 2008
By Dan Johnson, January 9, 2008
Urban Air USA manager, Josef Bostik shows the Lambada to Wallaby Ranch hang gliding resort owner, Malcolm Jones (seated).
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- After watching hang gliders speck-out to 5,000 feet at Wallaby Ranch, I was caught off guard when a slippery white airplane streaked across my field of vision. Following a low pass, the bird with the gorgeous slender wings turned and approached for landing. At a hang gliding resort like Wallaby, the 30:1 Lambada quickly drew a crowd of admirers. Urban Air USA proprietor Josef Bostik flew in to show off the newly certified SLSA motorglider. *** PHOTOS: The multiple-compound wing is about as far from a rectangular Hershey Bar wing as a designer can go. At lower left, the circled red handle changes a spring-loaded prop to full feather for lower drag during soaring flight (it is not technically an adjustable pitch prop). At lower right, you see the prop at full feather. Not seen are wing spoilers that deploy with a handle between the seats similar to a flap lever. The snug-looking cockpit is actually the width of a Cessna 172, said Josef, and proved cozy but comfortable for two good-sized occupants. *** Lambada offers many features; get all the details and see other new airplanes at the Sebring LSA Expo in just 8 days.

Jabiru USA Brings 4th SLSA to Market
By Dan Johnson, January 11, 2008
Jabiru USA's new J230-SP has the same cavernous three-door cabin as the J250 (top) but has a higher aspect wing fitted with winglets that cruises efficiently at altitude. Panels can be full glass. More info?
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- Like rapid fire, approvals and preparations for the Sebring Expo are coming quickly. In less than a month before Sebring we've seen approval of the SeaMax amphib; Rans' all metal S-19; the super-wide S-Wing; all-new Flight Design CTLS; composite Dynamic WT9; long-gliding Lamabada, and many upgrades to the Thorpedo 120LP and 85LP. Now, welcome the fourth Jabiru: J230-SP. *** Good for flight schools, Jabiru USA president Pete Krotje added, "It's ideal for those longer cross country trips." J230-SP has achieved European JAR/VLA certification and Pete elaborated that J230 is one of the most tested LSA in the world because it passed all of the FAR Part 23 testing for strength, stability, and spin recovery. It has been drop tested from five feet at its design gross weight of 1,540 pounds with no serious damage. When operated at a gross weight of 1,320 pounds, design strength is reported to exceed ASTM standards by a good margin. *** Looking similar to the J250 (photo) J230-SP differs only in a wing design that employs a 105 square foot wing with winglets. "These winglets seem to give an effective increase in wing area that really helps low speed performance," said Krotje.

Brazilian LSA Invasion; new Paradise P-1
By Dan Johnson, January 14, 2008
Called "Noe's Ark" for the name of its Brazilian designer (right), the P-1 has sold 64 units, all in Brazil, mostly to ranchers flying long distances to properties in regions where roads are sparse. Paulo Oliveira is general manager of Paradise USA based at Sebring. Check P-1 specs.
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- OK, two hardly makes an invasion, but after 32 months, we had no Brazilian Special Light-Sport Aircraft; now we have two since Christmas. On January 10th, the American importer of Paradise P-1 won approval to become our newest SLSA model. Like nearly every player in the LSA industry, Paradise will display at Sebring, except this company calls Sebring home so they won't even get airborne to attend. *** The metal P-1 is a beautifully finished, all-leather interior, spacious airplane in the Cessna 150 tradition...except P-1 offers much better performance to go with the larger cabin. Built of welded 4130 steel tube covered with aluminum, P-1 qualifies for a 1,650-pound gross in Brazil. At 42 inches wide and using panel mounted yokes, Paradise enjoys unhindered floor space with lots of legroom. More than 30 cubic feet of space in the aft cabin (enough for a golf bag) can hold 70 pounds of baggage. *** P-1 cruises 115 mph, stalls at 38 (min), can travel 500 miles, and is priced at $106,000 with a good standard equipment list including 100-hp 912 with slipper clutch, 3-blade prop, radio, transponder, leather interior, and wheelpants. Dynon, autopilot, and other goodies are available.

SportairUSA to Unveil Evolved Sting S3 at Sebring
By Dan Johnson, January 16, 2008
Those attending Sebring LSA Expo can examine S3 live and up close. Sebring starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday the 20th. C'mon down, y'all!
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- Through the first three years of LSA sales StingSport from TL Ultralights has earned the #7 rank equaling an estimated 5% of the U.S. market. The new Sting S3 should push the popularity of this 98% carbon fiber low wing. S3 has a new fully-tapered wing and redesigned elevator trim. According to Bill Canino, president of SportairUSA, "Lower stall speed, shorter take-off roll, faster climb rate, balanced controls and exceptional slow flight characteristics are among the results." Clean stall speed is 39 knots (45 mph); with full flaps stall comes at 34 knots (39 mph). Cruise speed at 75% power is 116 knots (133 mph), according to SportairUSA. "Rate of climb with the 100 hp Rotax 912S is better than 1,100 fpm and take-off ground roll has been measured at 255 feet," added Bill. *** A basic fly-away Sting S3 including the GreenLine EMS is priced at $102,900. Load it up with an advanced analog panel or the Dynon EFIS D100, Garmin 496 with weather, SL40 radio, GTX327 transponder, PCAS collision avoidance, plus night lighting and S3 becomes very well prepared for cross-country flight at $120,500 to $123,500. In addition, StingSport comes with a long list of standard safety features such as airframe parachute.

Tecnam's New Eaglet Lands at Sebring 2008
By Dan Johnson, January 17, 2008
Tecnam's LSA line -- now four deep -- has long impressed pilots with highly predictable handling and conventional construction. Read my Sierra report.
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE -- U.S. rep' Lynne Birmingham beamed, "The Eaglet has landed!" She referred to the newest Tecnam model to win SLSA approval -- the fourth model from the Italian manufacturer. Eaglet makes its worldwide debut at Sebring 2008, which opens today. Tecnam has achieved an enviable #4 rank in the U.S. Light-Sport Aircraft fleet. And around the world, Tecnam, a six-decade-old Italian company, has more than 2,100 aircraft flying making it arguably the largest producer of this class of airplane. *** Mike Birmingham reports the new Eaglet is a blend of the best qualities of the strutted Echo Super and the cantilevered Bravo; Eaglet is strutted. It has a new look with resculpted wing root and larger door windows to allow better lateral visibility plus longer, more comfortable seat cushions. The new model sports a redesigned instrument panel that will appear in other models later. The nose cowl was lenthened which enhances handling, says Mike. *** Tecnam has been busy. Besides changes coming to the Echo Super and low-wing Sierra, Tecnam will offer a twin Rotax 912S aircraft that bears a great (and complimentary) resemblence to the Partenavia built by this company years ago. *** Finally, welcome to SLSA #72 and 73, respectively the Skykits Rampage and Gobosh G-800. I'll have more on these in the days ahead.

Cirrus SRS Orders + a dozen LSA & an Ultralight
By Dan Johnson, January 19, 2008
Cirrus captured attention and nearly 100 orders on the day they went public with order taking on the SRS. But more than a dozen new Light-Sport Aircraft also showed.
SEBRING 2008 -- Opening day started fast with press announcements from Cirrus -- the GA company started taking orders for their SRS -- and from Flight Design as the company unveiled their much-anticipated CTLS. But that was hardly all as the fourth Sebring Expo got going. I found a dozen newsworthy airplanes at the event and I may have missed some (I'll keep searching). *** Gobosh introduced the 800XP, a sleek composite companion to the metal 700S. Sport Aircraft Works offered their just approved Dynamic LSA with fixed gear and prop. Skykits showed their shiny new Rampage with electric slots and Fowler flaps, and Urban Air USA showed their Lamabada LSA motorglider for the first time at a U.S. airshow. SportairUSA revealed their third generation Sting S3 with a new wing design and other updates. Jabiru USA showed their newly certified J230 with its higher aspect ratio wing. Tecnam brought the one-and-only Eaglet with a new instrument panel. Rans had their previously seen but now approved S-19 SLSA. Newcomer Paradise revealed their P-1, a design never seen outside of Brazil. S-Wing USA brought their newly approved wide-cockpit S-Wing. And SeaMax USA had their freshly certified SeaMax composite LSA flying boat; they delivered to their first customer just before Sebring. We also welcomed the return of the low priced X-Air, which is currently working on SLSA approval. *** One attention getter was Interplane's single seat Part 103 composite, the ZJ Viera. The innovative ultralight is the genuine article weighing in well below the max empty weight of 254 pounds. *** Finally, the launch of our FIRM List has brought several new updates from visitors who sent names for us to verify. Thanks for helping us grow this warmly-received directory.

Sebring 2008 Concludes, and Still They Arrive
By Dan Johnson, January 23, 2008
Several changes from Skyleader (new marketing company) -- conventional, that is, no-longer-staggered seats in new factory upholstery and additional interior finishing; hinged, self-fairing wing steps on both sides, an LED landing light array; a clearer flap switch, cleaner engine cowl fasteners and other small finishing touches.
SEBRING 2008 -- Every outdoor airshow organizer must cope with weather. Florida was beautiful before the Sebring Expo opened. Cold, strong wings the final day brought out jackets but several companies continued demo flying. Plenty of flights were taken during the event and good sales were reported by several companies including Flight Design, Cirrus, Cessna, and others. Conditions in the southeastern states prevented some aircraft from reaching the show though that didn't stop sales; Higher Class Aviation sold a Sport Hornet even though their showplane didn't make it. *** Many who departed by midday Sunday (20th) missed the tardy but safe arrival of the new KP-5 from Kappa/Jihlavan ...which has now become the Skyleader 500 LSA model from the Skyleader company. The restructured Czech business was recently energized by entrepreneurs and engineers that build simulators for the airline industry. They seem determined to lift the company to new heights; the late-arriving models showed various refinements (photos). *** The 148 exhibitors at Sebring '08 appeared pleased with the show, though many complained about the hours-long sensory assault from the adjacent racetrack. The noise into the evening on the night of the LAMA meeting kept listeners from hearing speakers. Bob Wood reported on Tuesday (22nd), "I was told the race was changing its date, but have learned this morning that they may stick with the weekend they had." He will consider other dates as needed. "I will do my best amid this shifting sand," Bob promised. Overwhelmingly, Bob and his team got high points for the 2008 Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. The 2009 event appears certain to continue the success story.

Big Airplane Boss Chooses a Little (SLSA) Airplane
By Dan Johnson, January 25, 2008
Scott Carson is an alumni of Washington State University so CubCrafters offered the Boeing executive a custom paint job honoring his alma mater. Carson (left) shakes hands with Todd Simmons, CubCrafters President and company A&P Jason Bass, whose grandfather worked for Boeing.
Who in the Light-Sport Aircraft business wouldn't like to log a sale to the President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes? CubCrafters made such a delivery yesterday when they presented a special Sport Cub S2 to Scott Carson. The 34-year Boeing veteran makes the big planes by day and can now fly his Light-Sport Aircraft on the weekends. He'll also fly the colors of his alma mater of Washington State University (photo). To pick up his S2 Carson returned to Yakima where he grew up in the late 1940s. His dad worked for Lamson Aircraft, builder of the Air Tractor, a biplane crop duster. Carson's father later joined Boeing as a test pilot. *** Todd Simmons of CubCrafters observed that his company and Boeing are the only two aircraft builders in Washington with a production certificate. "We're Washington's 'other airplane manufacturer'," Todd said. The Sport Cub builder offers two all-new, FAA-certified, ready-to-fly aircraft: the second generation Sport Cub S2 and Top Cub. The latter is built under Part 23 rules and includes an FAA Production Certificate. In 2007, CubCrafters reported producing a combined-model total of nearly 100 new aircraft; Sport Cub tripled its numbers and lifted the Washington producer to number five in LSA market share.

Year-End Market Shares; LSA Grows 98% in 2007
By Dan Johnson, January 29, 2008
Year-end figures show excellent growth for Light-Sport Aircraft. Thanks to Jan Fridrich of the Czech Light Aircraft Association for several hours of work each month to compile data used to make charts on ByDanJohnson.com. The LSA industry certified 20 new models in 2007.
Light-Sport Aircraft ended a successful year in 2007 with sales up 98%, registering 565 new fixed wing airplanes for the calendar year for a total of 1,118 airplanes. Including weight shift, powered parachutes, and gliders (no gyro or lighter-than-air yet), total registrations for the year hit 720, up 120% over the previous year close and totaling 1,395 LSA nationwide. For comparison, the general aviation industry produced as many single-engine (SE) piston airplanes each quarter as the LSA industry did all year, and GA is expected to ship more than 2,200 SE pistons for 2007. Can LSA match that performance in the next two or three years? My forecast says, "Yes!" I estimated 600 for 2007 (we hit 92% of that target). I've forecast 1,000 units in 2008 and doubling that again in another year or two. If I'm right, LSA may someday meet or exceed all other SE piston sales in the USA. *** GAMA says the GA industry built 85% of SE pistons in the USA, where about two thirds of all LSA come from outside the USA. GA SE piston sales were off about 5% in 2007, perhaps an early effect of LSA taking some of those sales. But the GA industry need hardly be worried given their far higher dollar revenues and a continuing, robust upward trend for turbine and jet sales.

ZJ Viera Part 103 Composite Excites Sebring Crowd
By Dan Johnson, February 4, 2008
Cute as can be...and I don't mean the two handsome pilots in the seats of this pair of ZJ Vieras. Interplane Aircraft CEO Marek Ivanov sits in the $21,900 ready-to-fly tri-gear version; the monowheel is $19,900. We'll be seeing more of the ZJ, I'm sure. See specs.
Maybe you've heard: "You can't build a three axis airplane that can safely remain under the 254-pound weight limit." Some allege, "You can't buy a three axis Part 103 ultralight that actually meets the rule." I've said this many times... WRONG! You have a few choices for Part 103 airplanes that perform well and they aren't all trikes or powered parachutes (though several qualifying candidates do come from these segments). I'll soon post fresh articles on the Kolb FireFly and Phantom X-1. Each can meet Part 103. *** Now, we have what may be the first all-new Part 103 ultralight in many years. ZJ Viera was designed in Europe by Marek Ivanov, CEO of Interplane Aircraft (photo). At Sebring 2008, plenty of attendees spent time examining the two examples present; one was the original monowheel (which I tend to prefer) and a tri-gear variation. Strong winds prevented flying demos but the machine itself is fascinating. *** Several design qualities are unique but perhaps none more than the innovative "control stick." ZJ's yoke has cleverly incorporated many controls including: ignition switch, starter button, throttle, brake, ailerons, and horizontal stabilizer. The yoke tilts to move the elevator and turns for aileron control. ZJ is sold by LSA America.

Spiffy New Thorpedo...IndUS Aviation's LP Series
By Dan Johnson, February 8, 2008
Painted in a more conventional, but tasteful, scheme, this Thorpedo shows the smoother lines of the LP series from IndUS. The nose cowl was radically resculpted and the wing tips were dressed up for night life.
IndUS marketing geniuses called their program "Refresh '08," but perhaps it ought to be "Renew '08?" The changes on which IndUS staffers have long labored gave the proven design its smartest look yet. Here's a neat trick for what may be the oldest SLSA design in the fleet, what with Serial Number One T-211 turning 61 in 2007 ("and it's still flying all over the place"). *** In January 2007, IndUS announced a partnership with LoPresti, the Speed Merchant people who helped Piper and several other GA brands extract more performance from their airplanes without airframe modifications. IndUS left the partnership but a clever team at the Dallas company took up the innovation effort and produced impressive results. *** The Thorpedo shown at Sebring 2008 sported a snazzy new engine cowl treatment, light-emitting wing tips including built-in landing lights, and streamlined gear leg fairings. Comfort factors included renewed boarding steps and seats lowered to accommodate tall pilots. IndUS has been pushing to improve fit and finish and the fleet the Texans brought to Sebring were the best iterations I've seen for this venerable design -- which back when led to the Piper Cherokee series (do you see the familiarity?).

X-Air's Return Brings Lowest-Cost SLSA
By Dan Johnson, February 11, 2008
The relationship between Weedhopper and X-Air LS is hard to identify anymore. But articles here on ByDanJohnson.com reveal the history. Read reviews of the X-Air H or the X-Air Standard and F models. See X-Air LS specs.
Upon seeing modern LSA, many aviators say, "Oh, these aren't 'those ultralights' at all." Truth be told, even those ultralights aren't ultralights any more. Today, a certified but ultralight-like aircraft will be either Special or Experimental LSA. *** Witness what I'll call the "return" of the X-Air. I've reported on this design as it has evolved (see photo legend). Astute visitors may recognize X-Air LS as an evolution of the pioneering Weedhopper, though little of the original design remains. The latest iteration of this venerable design is working to gain SLSA airworthiness. X-Air founder and designer, Joel Koechlin, has three decades of experience in light aircraft. His X-Air series has been a mainstay among European microlights for 15 years, selling more than 1,200 copies. *** The coming SLSA model employs the 85-hp Jabiru 2200 powerplant. Koechlin said, "This aircraft is exactly what the LSA category was meant for; it is light and easy to fly and simply fun!" U.S. marketer Justin Reimer reported, "The X-Air LS will be introduced as a lower cost entry-level aircraft with excellent training qualities." Customers are impressed by the initial ready-to-fly price of $46,900, the best bargain yet among three axis Light-Sport Aircraft.

Hat Trick: 3 Six Chuter Powered Parachute SLSA
By Dan Johnson, February 13, 2008
I've never flown a side-by-side powered parachute so I can't comment on the XT SSDC model but the others may be fairly represented by my flight review of the Spirit. See all Six Chuter specs.
Six Chuter marketing man, Doug Maas, figures it's like soccer where three goals in a game makes a "hat trick." With their third model gaining SLSA airworthiness before the January 31 deadline for ultralight conversions, the Washington company has earned the sports phrase. The powered parachute (PPC) producer's newest approvals brings the total to 75 SLSA models...in less than three years! *** Boss and designer Dan Bailey planned to create three models based on common airframes. Consequently, Six Chuter has the market covered like, uh...well, like a parachute canopy. They have a "conventional" tandem (Legend XL); a rare side-by-side PPC (XT SSDC), intended as a trainer appealing to instructors who want to be alongside their student; a single seat SLSA (P103); and a Part 103 qualifier (P103UL), when flown with the Rotax 503 and few accessories. The mainline PPC Legend was derived from Six Chuter's SR7 and Spirit models but all were redone to fully address the Light-Sport Aircraft rule. *** However, Six Chuter is not only in the ready-to-fly LSA market. They can also supply kits for all models. As an Experimental LSA, the builder percentage can be any value the manufacturer chooses. ELSA kit PPCs are cheaper and offer all the same privileges except doing instruction for hire or rental.

Sport Aircraft or GA; Contrasting USA & Europe
By Dan Johnson, February 20, 2008
In America (top left pie chart), general aviation (deep blue) accounts for 7 out of 8 registered aircraft where in Europe, light sporting aircraft (light blue) greatly outnumber general aviation aircraft with 4 out of 5 being microlights or non-powered aircraft.
In Europe, airplane segment counts are upside down compared to U.S. figures. In the USA approximately 200,000 single engine airplanes are registered. Of these, more than 25,000 are homebuilt aircraft, and around 1,400 (less than 1%) are Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Conversely, in Europe, general aviation aircraft up to turbines number about 50,000, while microlight (European "ultralights") and non-motor-powered aircraft number 180,000 to 200,000, reported Liz Moscrop for AvWeb in late January 2008. Sport is king in Europe with regard to the number of aircraft; GA represents only one-fifth of the total. Could this signal a changing face of airplane segments for the USA? Will Light-Sport Aircraft truly become a significant chunk of the fleet as have kit-built aircraft (which did so over a time period of 25-30 years)? *** In Europe, Moscrop reported, sport aircraft activity also accounts for much faster growth than the GA segment. But, here's one fact that I feel American GA or the airlines have yet to recognize: "Recreational and sport aviation is one of the big sources of qualified aviation staff for airlines." In Europe, young enthusiasts learn about flying in air sports before pursuing careers in commercial aviation.

On the Rampage...Yet Another SLSA from Skykits
By Dan Johnson, February 27, 2008
Eric Giles, a Canadian, is gaining U.S. incentives to relocate in Tennessee, so he can assemble the Italian-designed airplanes for American pilots after he certified them to a worldwide standard. Component parts come from far flung countries. Does anyone doubt the globalization of light sport aviation?
Rampage looks so dissimilar to its predecessors from Skykits that it took a second glance to make the connection. While it shares the STOL wing devices with versions of the Savannah, Rampage has a sleeker look that might broaden the appeal of these short takeoff and land designs from ICP of Italy. *** For those who got to see the new model at Sebring the airplane's lines weren't alone to admire. Deep blue paint was used in strategic accent to highly polished aluminum on most of the fuselage; Rampage gleamed brilliantly in Florida's warm sun. The finish was brought inside where a polished aluminum instrument panel frame contrasted with royal blue inset subpanels (photo). Skykits director Eric Giles reported that the bright metal inside had not caused reflective problems on their long flight from western Canada. *** Rampage, the fourth SLSA model for which Skykits has gained airworthiness, uses electrically deployed leading edge slats to continue the impressive performance of the Savannah models. With flaps at maximum and the slats deployed, Rampage stalls at a reported 34 mph yet once the wing is streamlined, she'll cruise at 116 mph. Takeoff occurs in only 131 feet says Skykits. Rampage is priced about $118,000 as shown in the photos.

Two Lovely Low Wings -- Gobosh 700 & 800
By Dan Johnson, March 6, 2008
If you're in Florida next weekend (Mar. 15 & 16), see the Gobosh -- and many other LSA -- at the Florida Aviation Expo with its LSA Mall attraction. Otherwise, join the faithful at Sun 'n Fun 2008, where Gobosh and 19 other LSA will fill a new LSA Mall just inside the main entrance. Read my 700S pilot report.
Out of the blue in 2007. Now, they have two in 2008...SLSA models, that is. Gobosh is the interestingly named company (it's a tech industry thing) that burst on the AirVenture Oshkosh scene with the Gobosh 700S, a rebadged upgrade of the Aero AT-3 from Poland. Just six months later at the Sebring LSA Expo 2008, Gobosh introduced the super sleek 800XP from the Czech Republic's Aveko, builder of the speedy retractable VL-3 on which 800XP is based. Relying on their experience with the Symphony and other business ventures partners Dave Graham and Tim Baldwin (inset photo, left) are rapidly expanding their presence in light-sport aviation. *** Their two planes are an interesting contrast. Gobosh promotes the metal 700S as a "luxury sport aircraft," though it seems well aimed at flight schools. The composite 800XP is the high performance model, "which had to be slowed down for LSA rules," said Dave. While 700S has a 27.3-foot span 800XP has 31.5 feet. An empty 700S tips the scales at 820 pounds while 800XP is 60 pounds lighter, at 760 pounds. A day VFR "Sport" version of the 700S can be had for $107,000 while the better equipped 800XP starts at $123,700 (all prices subject to change).

Ultralights Seek SLSA Approval; May Sell ELSA Kits
By Dan Johnson, March 10, 2008
Three years into Light-Sport Aircraft and after the expiration of the Ultralight Trainer exemption, three ultralight producers say they're working on SLSA certification. At top the Indy Aircraft T-Bird I and II; bottom left is a bare-frame CGS Hawk (Nick modeling); at right M-Squared owner Paul Mather stands by his Sport 1000.
Taking a kit aircraft company to full ASTM approval is a very big decision for small companies. Simply assuring you have documents to support a declaration is, by itself, a major task. Then comes a decision about fully building or going the Experimental LSA kit route. A company must first fully build and certify at least one Special LSA, but once done, they can elect to provide a kit only...or to factory build and supply kits. Small shops could fully build 20-30 SLSA and supply additional ELSA kits and parts to make a healthy business. *** We may finally see such entries. Recently I wrote an updated pilot report on the T-Bird I from Indy Aircraft. Boss Bret Kivell said Indy is working on approval. As an ELSA, the single seater could be HKS (four-stroke) powered, which would make it one sweet sport aircraft. Likewise development is underway at Paul Mather's M-Squared Aircraft where his Sport 1000 could gain SLSA approval later this year. Finally, one of Chuck Slusarczyk's CGS Hawk family may become certified. All three principals have the knowledge and experience they need; the aircraft have long, successful track records; and each could sell at modest prices. All three are Made in the USA.

Prototype Skycatcher Flies; CEO Pelton Feted
By Dan Johnson, March 12, 2008
Cessna CEO (and LAMA board member) Jack Pelton was named winner of the 2008 Aviation Week Laurel for Business and General Aviation. Notably, the international magazine referred to Cessna's LSA when making the award, "Jack Pelton has pushed Cessna to develop, refine, and deliver aircraft across its full line [including] the Skycatcher trainer..."
A Russian business aviation website released early news of Cessna making their first Skycatcher flight in Wichita, Kansas. LSA news spans the globe...when it's about Cessna. *** Jets.RU correspondent Paul Richfield wrote, "Cessna's 162 Skycatcher prototype flew for the first time on March 8 with test pilot Dale Bleakney at the controls. The one-hour mission included flight maneuvers to assess the stability and controllability of the new design." Big deal, you say? We have 75 approved SLSA models; they all took a first flight and you heard about few, if any, such flights. True, but none of them was Cessna. Even if the aircraft may appear unremarkable to you, LSA market entry by the $5 billion a year aircraft manufacturer is remarkable. *** The prototype Skycatcher is the first of three airframes to be built in Wichita, Cessna said. Next will be their "first production model," while a third is slated to be an engineering test article to meet ASTM standards. All Skycatcher engineering and test work will be done in Wichita. *** An intriguing part of the news was that "a final decision on powerplant selection is pending." UPDATE -- Cessna Director of Corporate Communications, Doug Oliver, read this post and clarified their meaning, "Our recent release on the first flight of the Skycatcher prototype may have been a bit misleading when it said we continue to evaluate the Continental engine. We mean only that we continue to gather data. We have selected the Continental engine for the Skycatcher...and we remain committed to Continental."

High Priced Light-Sport Aircraft; What's Going On?
By Dan Johnson, March 15, 2008
Recently the euro hit 1.56 to the dollar. Watch for LSA prices to increase...again. Above the CTLS are three premium brands: (L-R) Sting S3, Remos G-3, and SkyLeader 500. Below are three bargain SLSA: X-Air LS, Sport Hornet, and EuroFox.
Lots of folks are wondering about, or complaining about, the seemingly high prices of Light-Sport Aircraft. Recently a prior editor-in-chief of EAA publications, Scott Spangler, wrote a blog on JetWhine. Scott focused on expensive avionics as one reason LSA cost so much. While a factual observation, I believe the price increase is more complex. *** First, LSA suppliers install equipment like autopilots because buyers ask for them. A large chunk of all LSA are sold to "retiring" GA pilots used to such equipment in their Cessna or Bonanza. Simpler LSA are available; most suppliers have one. But customers are buying the loaded-panel jobs. *** Let's look closer at those rising prices. Five years ago, in the pre-dawn of SP/LSA, a CT was selling for $60,000. Today it's $125,000. By far the largest piece of that doubling is the euro's soaring value compared to the dollar. Were the currencies at parity, that $125,000 would be $80,000. By the way, suppliers earn not one cent of profit from that extra $45,000! The "real" (non currency exchange) increase from $60,000 five years ago -- about $20,000 -- is generated by two factors. Most obvious are the avionics and other accessories. A $125,000 CTLS comes standard with dual glass screens, a sophisticated GPS, radio, transponder, a $5,000 emergency airframe parachute, and more. The second factor is the time value of money -- another 18% or $10,000. So an $80,000 price (if the euro equaled the dollar as it did in 2002) is not much higher than the $60,000 of 2003. *** Despite those price hikes, here in 2008 you can choose the ready-to-fly X-Air LS for $46,000, the Sport Hornet for $49,000, the EuroFox for $69,000, or the SportCruiser for $79,000. Even simpler aircraft may be coming in the $40-45,000 range. Those low numbers barely exceed the component cost of kit aircraft. *** Regardless of the preceding discussion higher prices remain a fact of life. You still have to shell out $125,000 for a CTLS (you can finance this for a bit more than $800 a month) though you get a lot of airplane for the money. If buyers truly want cheaper, simpler aircraft, they ARE available.

Florida Aviation Expo Hosts Major LSA Mall
By Dan Johnson, March 17, 2008
Each participant in the Sun 'n Fun LSA Mall will also have a paid exhibit space. Each aircraft will have a sign in front of it telling visitors where that space is -- as well as identifying the make and model of the LSA. Come see them all April 8-13 in Lakeland, Florida!
The LSA Mall concept is developing with good success. Last weekend this was proved at a regional airshow by the presence of 23 Light-Sport Aircraft filling a designated area. Coincidentally, LSA outnumbered all other airplane types. *** The Florida Aviation Expo near Punta Gorda at the Charlotte County Airport (PGD) was organized by EAA Chapter 565 led by Carlos Gray. The number of aircraft grew significantly from 2007. As with other smaller venues, the crowds weren't as big as Sun 'n Fun or AirVenture but the interest was highly focused. *** Next...coming up in only three weeks, the LSA Mall at Sun 'n Fun will be hosted by LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. In a terrific location -- immediately inside the main entry gate -- the Sun 'n Fun LSA Mall will feature 20 of the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft from all over the country. I estimate that 80-90% of all Sun 'n Fun attendees will walk right through this LSA Mall making it one of the best presentations yet for Light-Sport Aircraft. *** A large LAMA tent will house other displays of interest and personnel will be available to help you find any exhibitor on the grounds. Welcome to all...

Renewed Breezer II SLSA Ready for Delivery
By Dan Johnson, March 20, 2008
Come see the new Breezer II in the Sun 'n Fun LSA Mall Hosted by LAMA. While you're checking out this renewed German-designed and -built SLSA, you can have a look at 19 other top-selling airplanes including six not seen at Sun 'n Fun before: Sting S3, Lambada, Gobosh G700S, Patriot, CTLS, and Paradise P-1.
They are lining up, literally, at Sportsplanes.com's Plant City, Florida airport (PCM) assembly station. Michael Zidziunas -- everyone calls him "Mike Z" -- assembled three of the new Breezer II SLSA and arranged for DAR inspection. Mike Z is a well-known flight instructor and licensed mechanic working in the LSA arena. *** Last fall, at the AOPA Expo, Josh Foss of Sportsplanes.com unveiled the new Breezer II. The all-metal low wing was introduced more than a year earlier but disputes over the design rights and manufacturing put a halt to shipments. Since then, German designer Ralf Magnussen found a new investor, Dirk Ketelsen, a builder of windmills for electric power generation. They established a new 17,000 square foot plant near Husum, Germany (west of Hamburg at the North Sea coastline) where Josh reports they can build more than 100 aircraft a year. *** The Breezer II features a larger baggage compartment, an enlarged instrument panel, and heavy duty toe brakes replacing the handbrake in the earlier model. Sportsplanes.com said Breezer II "can be upgraded for night IFR, if flown by a private pilot or commercial pilot." My experience with the Breezer I suggested the cross country cruiser could also do training duty thanks to very predictable handling.

Rotax 503 Launch...then, Silence is Golden
By Dan Johnson, March 21, 2008
Once aloft and catching thermals, Dave (left seat) and I removed our headsets, listening only to a bit of air flow and the chirping of the variometer that tells you if you're in lift or sink. Sweet! With its center instrument panel, leg room is abundant. Taurus is flown with an Experimental--Air Race designation.
Some of you know the Pipistrel line. Americans have seen two of their models: the Sinus and Virus (yep, those awkward, even distasteful names...except representatives prefer to say SEEN-us and VEER-us). Fortunately Taurus is easier on the American tongue, thanks to Ford and its auto model by the same name. *** I discovered Taurus is also easy on the ears as I went for a two-hour soaring flight from Wallaby Ranch with my hang gliding friend, David Ledford. His side-by-side Taurus -- roomy for a soaring machine -- glides beyond 40:1 and manages a sink rate barely more than 100 fpm. Those numbers translate into plenty of soaring power as we proved on a day with modest convective lift. *** Taurus is a self-launched sailplane, rather than a motorglider like Urban Air's Lambada or Pipistrel's own Sinus. To get aloft, we were powered by a Rotax 503 two-stroke engine that fits neatly into a cavity aft of the cockpit. Taurus' main landing gear retracts into the belly and once you've gotten 3,000 feet or so above the surface, you shut down the engine, straighten the prop, and electrically hide the noisemaker under doors that shut tight. Then, ahhh...the silence starts.

2008 LSA Sales Reflect a Stalling U.S. Economy
By Dan Johnson, March 24, 2008
The ranking order changes again even while the top three hold their leadership positions. Note the gain of CubCrafters now brings the sum of little yellow taildraggers (with American Legend and Zlin's Savage) to an impressive 17.3% of all fixed wing registrations.
The U.S. economy is hardly crashing, but while slipping backwards in late 2007 and early 2008, it has been on a bumpy plateau. This unevenness causes trouble for many businesses. Even giant coffee seller, Starbucks, is rejiggering their business model to adjust for folks balking at $4 coffee while their stock portfolio lurches up and down. Light-Sport Aircraft sales also reflect that lack of consumer confidence. *** Figures for the first two months of 2008 show slightly more than 40 aircraft registrations per month. In 2007, the industry averaged 47 aircraft registrations per month. Of course, this 15% decrease also comes while many northern states have endured awful winter flying weather, partially explaining why sales are off the beat. Despite a cloudy overcast some bright spots emerge. *** CZAW's SportCruiser led the pack with more than 17% growth during January and February. AMD is close behind with 14% growth, and CubCrafters continues their climb with 7.5% growth. Newly ranked companies appearing on the list include Gobosh (G-700S) and U.S. producers Just Aircraft (Highlander) and Higher Class Aviation (Sport Hornet). Common in every industry, larger companies have difficulty maintaining high percentage growth as their overall numbers increase.

In 35 Years Wills Wing Built 22,000 Hang Gliders!
By Dan Johnson, March 30, 2008
A modern Wills Wing T2C ("C" for Carbon) is among the highest performing hang gliders, selling for $8,285 and weighing only 73 pounds. Many find hang gliding to be the purest form of flying that delivers a birdlike or Superman sensation, which pilots flying only powered, enclosed aircraft cannot truly imagine. More hang gliding information.
This year Wallaby Ranch proprietor Malcolm Jones conveniently scheduled the 11th annual Wills Wing Demo Days event about a week before Sun 'n Fun. In remarks Saturday night to a jammed-full tent, Wills Wing hang glider company president Rob Kells declared, "This is the largest gathering of hang glider pilots on the planet!" The large crowd was an active group, too. Rob also announced 676 tows had been made (launching hang gliders) during four-plus days of excellent flying conditions. *** Demo Days is a marketing concept where Wills Wing sends out an over-sized trailer loaded with new hang gliders, dozens of them in various models. Qualified enthusiasts from far and near demo flew them for free. California-based Wills Wing, one of the world's top producers, makes their biggest eastern outing at Wallaby. A fleet of tugs, southern hospitality, a safety-first attitude, and great winter weather makes Wallaby the choice location. Wills Wing management -- a team of four -- has been consistently at the helm for 30 of the company's 35 years. Those four have performed their jobs so well for so long that the brand has produced 22,000 aircraft, a benchmark very few aviation manufacturers have reached.
 
 

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.


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

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

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?

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

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.


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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport-eligible aircraft offering five models. The world's fastest-selling light twin, a four seat single engine model, and an 11-seat twin complete the range.

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.

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

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

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