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
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SPLOGs between September and October, 2011 in chronological order.
Not Your Average Backyard Flyer
By Dan Johnson, September 3, 2011
"Flying Farmer" Gene Smith goes aloft at AirVenture 2011 in the tricycle gear Backyard Flyer UL, a Part 103 aircraft with four stroke power. photo courtesy Valley Engineering
One of my joys at AirVenture 2011 was visiting a seemingly revitalized Ultralight Area. Though a shadow of its former self in the 1980 heydays, new life seemed to be springing up, whether through electric powered aircraft or affordable Part 103 fixed wing designs. *** Proving the naysayers wrong (again!) were at least two intriguing Part 103 airplanes you can buy and fly today for less than $20,000. That's well the under the average price of a new automobile for a ready-to-fly aircraft with desirable features, not a stripped-down machine that no one really wants. I wrote about Terry Raber's lovely little Aerolite 103. A day after looking over his work, UltralightNews and I shot a video review of the Valley Engineering Backyard Flyer. Once again, I had my eyes opened.
Backyard Flyer UL is available in taildragger or nosewheel versions and can even have doors (with lighter tires). Individual foot brakes are included. Check specs here. photo courtesy Valley Engineering
*** If you've ever visited AirVenture's Ultralight Area, odds are you saw a pilot known as the "Flying Farmer" doing circuits of the Ultralight Area pattern. Seemingly a different (though vaguely similar) aircraft would do pattern flights each year accented by a throaty, guttural four-stroke sound that did not mimic the ubiquitous Rotax or the smooth Jabiru, or even the also-distinctive-sounding HKS. Powering the Flying Farmer's aircraft was a Generac generator motor converted to airplane use. It pulled aloft a welded aluminum structure under a semi covered, or semi enclosed, aircraft that also didn't imitate any other airframe you saw. They all looked to fly energetically.
Backyard Flyer UL performs well on its 40-hp (33-hp continuous) Generac Big-Twin engine. photo courtesy Valley Engineering
*** I refer to Gene Smith (the "Farmer") and his Valley Engineering airplane designs. All feature Culver Props as well because that's the most famous brand in the Valley Engineering family. *** Now Gene's son, Larry Smith, is the front man for their newest-yet Backyard Flyer, a legitimately Part 103 aircraft that looks as solid as much heavier aircraft — "251 pounds even with tricycle gear," said Larry. Welded aluminum permits larger diameter tube-frame construction that has a reassuring beefiness to it.
A trailer to fit the Backyard Flyer UL with its wing swung back 90 degrees is available for $7,000. photo courtesy Valley Engineering
*** Perhaps the most unusual feature of this not-like-the-others airplane is the swing wing. Four bolts allow movement on a "turntable" so the one-piece wing pivots 90 degrees to sit over the tail and protrude beyond the nose. The "swing wing" requires a 30-foot trailer but would truly be useful in a crowded hangar as it measures only 83 inches wide. Aileron disconnects took a couple minutes; the whole process didn't consume five minutes. *** Backyard Flyer UL pricing could not be better: "$19,500 open cabin ready-to-fly; $20,000 enclosed." That includes a four-stroke electric-start engine plus ballistic airframe parachute. *** Soft-spoken and straightforward, Larry Smith's easy-going nature belies an active organization that apparently never sits still. (They're also investigating electric power and hybrid, but that's a story for another article.) Prop, engine, two seater, or Part 103 single seater, even the trailer... all come from Valley Engineering. Nearly a self-sufficient airplane producer, Valley sticks tightly to its goal of highly affordable airplanes for anyone who wants to fly.

Electric Whirlybird Flies!
By James Lawrence, September 6, 2011
Anyone still in doubt that we're in the midst of the birth of electric flight need look no further than this story, just posted today on the online tech zine Gizmag.
Historic hovering flight lasted 2 minutes 10 seconds. All photos courtesy Gizmag
Pascal Chretien, an enterprising electrical/aerospace engineer and chopper pilot, made the world's first fully electric helicopter flight in the prototype he designed and built almost entirely by himself... in just 12 months! Hang glider and ultralight trike pilots will delight in hearing a weight shift control system is involved. *** For me, the big story here is once again we see that innovation lives, not just in megabuck corporate and government R&D departments but in the garages of individual megabrains as it always has and we can expect always will.
Weight shift control!
Chretien, in making his 2 minute, 10 second test eggbeater flight, threw whipped eggs in Sikorsky's face since that aviation giant's well-funded electric project, in development for some time now, has yet to fly. *** Gizmag quotes Chretien as he acknowledged the risks of his flight: "In case of crash I stand good chances to end up in kebab form."
Detail: power controller and battery pack (upper left)
Pascal, from case of your success, we pops cork of champagne pour vous! *** The article goes on to rightly point out that the electric chopper concept faces a huge hurdle when compared to winged electric aircraft because the latter doesn't need to constantly run at higher power drain settings like helicopters do. *** Practical electric helicopters will only come to pass when batterytechnologies advance to a much higher power-to-weight storage capacity (i.e., higher energy density) than we have now, precisely because choppers do require high power for hovering, takeoff and for descent, unlike airplanes. *** Winged birds use max power for takeoff or high speed cruising, but can lope along at significantly reduced level flight power, enabling longer duration flights. That's why we've seen so many motorglider-style electrics; once airborne, their highly efficient wings make possible extended flight times without much power burn. *** Still, that takes nothing away from Pascal Chretien's achievement, (funded by the French car racing company Solution F ), which is nothing short of magnificent. His super-light, super-simple chopper serves notice that electric flight as a whole is gaining global momentum across a broad range of projects. *** And once again we get a lesson in an ancient truth: the soul of invention is alive and well and knows no boundaries. *** Update later on 9/6/11 — Jim Lawrence is right about electric power coming steadily to aviation and it has its best near-term promise with the lightest end of aviation. Watch for my update on AirVenture 2011 electric ultralights and for a whole new section of focused entirely on electric power (the new section may arrive later in 2011). —DJ

Two New (Yet Familiar) LSA Return to America
By Dan Johnson, September 8, 2011
New NG 5 LSA from BRM Aero. photo courtesy BRM Aero
Here's a tale of two planes. One has been seen and sold in the U.S. (Lambada motorglider). The other has a fascinating history and should look familiar to you... quite familiar. It's now known as the NG 5 LSA and that probably rings no bell. However, NG 5 and the #2 ranked SportCruiser share a common history. NG 5 designer, Milan Bristela, once lead design work at Czech Aircraft Works, the first company to create and bring to market the SportCruiser. In 2010 that model took a yearlong debut as the PiperSport though once again U.S. Sport Aviation returns to their long support for and sales of SportCruiser, now produced by Czech Sport Aircraft.
Does it look familiar, perhaps a little like the SportCruiser or PiperSport? photo courtesy BRM Aero
*** Along the way, Milan departed and worked for a time with another company called Roko Aero; the aircraft was then called the NG 4. The newly formed BRM Aero company said, "[We] finished collaboration with Roko Aero and stopped production of their NG 4 aeroplanes." Now, Americans can welcome NG 5 LSA to be represented by Liberty Sport Aviation in Pennsylvania. *** Timing is close but Liberty's Barry Pruitt wrote, "The Milan Bristela design ... will be here the first week of September for the AOPA show!" Details are scant now, but if you can attend AOPA Summit 2011 in Hartford, Connecticut you can discover more. If you are unable to make the show, I hope to gather additional information from Summit. Barry Pruitt has long LSA experience with another all-metal low wing, Evektor. He worked for two of the importers and built many models flying in the U.S. today. ||||
Lambada was thought to be a goner, but it's back. photo courtesy Distar
Joe Kulbeth wrote, "I have recently become the new distributor of the Lambada and the Samba XXL." Urban Air's products were taken out of bankruptcy by another Czech company named Distar s.r.o., which has resumed the manufacture of these two aircraft and is now ready to take orders from buyers. Lambada had a decent early run but fell out the market when Urban Air went down. *** After Lambada disappeared, Jim Lee formed Phoenix Air USA to distribute a significantly revised, second-generation LSA motorglider of the same name: Phoenix. *** Kulbeth's partner Mike Tomazin acknowledged the challenges. "Not too long ago it was believed ... that the Lambada, manufactured by Urban Air s.r.o., was going to pass into LSA aviation history," he wrote. That proved incorrect.
Choices increase for LSA motorgliders. photo courtesy Distar
*** With a reported empty weight of 627 pounds Lambada has a useful load of 693 pounds for pilot, passenger, baggage and fuel. Tomazin reported the long-winged beauty is available with either 80-hp Rotax 912 UL or 80-hp Jabiru 2200. Aeronautical & Industrial Resources, abbreviated as AIRUSA, said it is the exclusive North American representative for Distar. Current Lambada pricing with an 80-hp 912 Rotax engine and basic instruments is $83,500 (not including shipping).

Legal Eagle — CTLS Eye in the Sky
By Dan Johnson, September 9, 2011
David Williams (R) accepts the keys to the new CTLE from Flight Design USA president, Tom Peghiny, while fellow pilot/officer Lt. Marsh Carter observes. photo courtesy Flight Design USA.
Light-Sport Aircraft can be working aircraft (think: flight instruction and rental, each potentially a commercial activity) but read about this new twist. *** Recently, Flight Design USA delivered a customized Light-Sport Aircraft to a sheriff's department in California. A CTLS fitted with police camera, radios, and custom controller was dubbed CTLE for "Law Enforcement." The specially equipped CTLS was completed at Flight Design USA headquarters. Near the end of August 2011, two police officers from Tulare County, California traveled to Connecticut and then flew the special LSA back across the country.
Flight testing of the CTLE was conducted near Airtime Aviation's operation in Tulsa Oklahoma. photo courtesy Roger Crow
*** Commonly police departments have used helicopters or larger general aviation aircraft for activities like surveillance work. Helicopters are especially expensive... to buy, to operate, and to maintain. Realizing this, Flight Design USA's big distributor, Airtime Aviation worked with Roger Crow of Echo Flight Resources on a second CTLE modified with a pod for the CTLS right wing. The team installed a Cloud Cap Technology TASE 200 gimbal camera unit. The CTLE's interior received an adjustable video display screen that folds to a stowed position in a side pocket and an  "iKey" keyboard is used to operate the on-board computer/processor and video recorder.
Echo Flight Resources installed special law enforcement equipment on the CTLS' right wing. photo courtesy Roger Crow
*** In initial flight testing "CTLE didn't even know there was a pod hanging on its wing. With a density altitude of over 4,000 feet (temperatures above 100 degrees) the indicated airspeed was reading 117 knots," observed Crow. *** The first CTLE was bought by California's Tulare County Sheriff Department Captain (and pilot) David Williams who noted that his department will be the first agency in the U.S. to put a Light-Sport Aircraft into full time service in support of patrol.
An adjustable video display screen can be folded to a stowed position and is operated via the "iKey" keyboard. photo courtesy Roger Crow
"The Flight Design CTLS can do much of what the department's existing plane, a 1973 Cessna Skymaster, can do with lower fuel and maintenance costs," said Williams. He reported that CTLS can slow down to about 50 mph, allowing it to circle and conduct aerial searches for suspects on the ground. "You can make the same sort of orbit as a helicopter without any problem," Williams concluded. *** Police cruisers can cost a sheriff's department $60,000 and typically those hard-driven cars are retired from service after only three years. "Even after adding high-tech surveillance equipment, a $250,000 Flight Design CTLE should serve more than 12 years," said Flight Design, making their CTLE "a worthy investment even compared to police automobiles, much less helicopters." *** Exploiting the advantages of the Sport Pilot certificate, Williams observed, "It is easier to train existing [police] personnel since the CTLE is a Light-Sport Aircraft." *** Following market leader Flight Design other LSA suppliers are also pursuing law enforcement sales of LSA.

The Great LSA Tour Continues Down Texas Way
By Dan Johnson, September 12, 2011
SportairUSA will bring the iCub (above) and two TL Ultralight models, Sting and Sirius. photo courtesy SportairUSA
At the recently concluded Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, SportairUSA boss Bill Canino and American Legend rep' Dave Graham confirmed the continuation of a successful series called the LSA Tour. This traveling show-after-the-show concept set in motion a plan to follow airshows with a tour of several LSA manufacturers or importers. The idea is that many interested aviators cannot make the airshows for various reasons. So, as exhibitors head home they schedule a series of stops that may bring the show to your home field.
U.S. Sport Aircraft will host one event at their Dallas-area location and will present the SportCruiser.
*** The start of the LSA Tour followed the Sebring show in January 2011 with a series of stops in Florida. Then after the Sun 'n Fun show, a group of vendors went to Georgia and North Carolina. Another series happened in Colorado. Now they'll be invading Texas, specifically the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, an expansive aviation concentration of 50 airports within the 30 nm traffic area surrounding DFW, according to Graham. Over October 14-15-16, the LSA Tour will visit these metroplex airfields: Addison (KADS) with aircraft on display from 2:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Friday, October 14th (to accommodate pilots after their work hours); Denton (KDTO) from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 15th — with the LSA Tour organizers predicting "a probable visit by Craig Fuller, president of AOPA; and, Dallas Executive airport (KRBD) from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, October 16th.
US Aviation at Denton Texas represents both the Tecnam line and the Remos GX pictured here.
*** At all events, LSA Tour organizers enlist local support, sometimes making a donation to the local organization. At Addison, "Refreshments will be provided," said participating host U. S. Sport Aircraft, the local sponsor. *** In the Dallas-Fort Worth series of stops companies are expected to show as many as a dozen Light-Sport Aircraft including (and subject to change): • TL Sting S4, • TL Sirius, • Zlin iCub, • CSA Sport Cruiser, • Remos GX, • Flight Design CTLS, • Legend Cub, • JabiruUS J-230, • Arion Lightning, • Rans S-7LS and S-19 Ventera, • CubCrafters Carbon Cub, plus selected • Tecnam models.
With the largest selection of LSA models, Tecnam will be represented in the Texas LSA Tour.
These represent most of the best-selling Light-Sport Aircraft in America. When gathered in one group at popular airports, these displays make it very easy for interested aviators to see the best of the breed. |||| LSA Tour contact info... for Addison is Patrick Arnzen (of U.S. Sport Aircraft) 972-735-9099 or 859-496-5777 or email Patrick... for Denton, contact Scott Severen (of US Aviation) 469-585-0680 or email Scott... for Dallas Exec, contact Lana Furra (of the Dallas City Hall) 214-670-7612 or email Lana.

October Shows Aim to Strongly Support LSA Sector
By Dan Johnson, September 14, 2011
Just when you thought the airshow season was over, well... except for AOPA's Summit starting in 10 days, here are four events in October, every one with substantial or exclusive Light-Sport Aircraft attention. |||| First up is LoPresti-Powered LSA fun at the Sebastian, Florida airport where the "speed merchants" are based. Before the event starts Phil Lockwood will give a maintenance training class on October 6th and 7th with service training following the event on 10th and 11th. Contact Lockwood Repair for preregistration info. *** The main fly in begins on October 8th with breakfast starting at 9 AM. Speakers are planned for the morning hours and at noon music starts with the Latin Festival that runs until 9-ish. At around 3 PM LoPresti promises three different bands with the headliner starting at 6 PM. *** Skydiving demos run all day. Also featured will be a LSA spot landing competition and flour bombing. Visitors can also try fishing or kayaking and golfers get special pricing for Sunday. Several events will be off-airport.
*** Check at LoPresti for hotel rooms. Shuttle service is available from the airport to nearby hotels. |||| Next up is the Fifth Annual National CT Fly-in scheduled for Page, Arizona over October 13-16, 2011. "This is the world's largest CT Fly-In. We take up the entire FBO ramp and then overflow to another ramp," stated organizer Roger Lee. Participating CT owners fly Grand Canyon, Lake Powell (which has more coastline than California!), Monument Valley, Bryce & Zion National parks and other attractions in the area. People come from Germany, Canada and from all over the USA in their CTs. "After the mornings fly outs we have day tours and question & answer sessions," added Lee. "
Festival is being reintroduced to Americans at Copperstate. photo courtesy Aerostar
All transportation is provided free, we have an entire restaurant to ourselves and we not only fly out each morning to breakfast at the above mentioned scenic spots, but we have ground-based day tours that include Antelope Canyon and Glenn Canyon dam." For more info call Roger Lee at 520-574-1080. |||| In the third weekend of the month is Arizona's Copperstate Fly-In over October 20-21-22, 2011 in Casa Grande. This year's event, which has run since 1973, has a renewed focus on LSA, thanks to VP Steve Bass. "We had just over 7,000 paid attendees through the gate in 2010 compared to 5,600 in 2009, so we are growing," reported Bass. Steve has a further goal of creating a standalone LSA Expo as are held elsewhere around the country. Exhibit space is still available for LSA vendors eager to gain access to west coast light aviation enthusiasts.
"It's a sight to see that many CTs all lined up," said organizer Roger Lee.
*** One aircraft to look for is the reintroduced Festival 40S-GC (glass cockpit version). |||| Finally, at the end of the month is the Southeast Aviation Show on October 29th, sponsored by the South Carolina Aviation Association (SCAA). Designed after the Northwest Aviation Conference, the event at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) will include aviation products, a static aircraft display, and educational sessions. The event is open to the public and costs $5. *** "For 28 years, the Northwest area of the United States has had an aviation conference and trade show that attracts more than 10,000 people," said show official Eric Ramsdell.
"The SCAA wants to provide a show for aviation enthusiasts in our region." KGMU is the busiest general aviation airport in South Carolina and is a self-sufficient entity with financial strength that doesn't rely on local taxpayers for funding. The airport is home to more than 25 aviation related businesses.

A Pair of New SLSA Arrive Before AOPA Summit 2011
By Dan Johnson, September 21, 2011
New Bristell Fastback from BRM Aero. photos by Barry Pruitt courtesy Liberty Sport Aviation
Just in time for this year's AOPA Summit, welcome to a pair of Special Light-Sport Aircraft, numbers 121 and 122: the first, the formerly named NG 5 LSA, rebadged as the Bristell Fastback by importer Liberty Sport Aviation of Pennsylvania; and the second being the fourth approval for Pipistrel, specifically for their Sinus motorglider (previous Pipistrel approvals included the Virus, Virus SW, and Taurus). *** NG 5 LSA was not previously offered in the U.S. though it was sold in Europe as the NG 4 from Roko Aero. When Roko closed its doors production stopped for the NG 4. It became NG 5 as the company reformed into BRM Aero. Changes occur in any industry but Bristell Fastback designer, Milan Bristela, is a steady hand on the joystick known for his foundational work on the SportCruiser (for a year known as the PiperSport) that is presently ranked #2 in U.S. registrations. The Bristell is certainly similar to the SportCruiser/PiperSport though not identical as a close examination at AOPA Summit 2011 will show.
Pipistrel's latest approval is for their Sinus motorglider. Shown at bottom is the Sinus with tundra tires. photos courtesy Pipistrel
|||| Pipistrel is one of those ambitious companies that seems to create new models with ease. Their line is extensive including a weight shift trike, a sailplane (Apis), a self-launched side-by-side motorglider (Taurus), the twin Virus models, plus, now, the Sinus. I first flew the latter as it entered the USA as an Experimental-Exhibition aircraft. Certification rules differ for genuine motorgliders and the company's U.S. representatives first traveled down that path before achieving no less than four SLSA approvals in the last three months. Pipistrel is only bested by Tecnam's five SLSA approvals and is matched only by Jabiru US and ICP/Skykits (which itself is going to new ownership... we commonly see changes in this most dynamic sector of aviation). A regular at air shows, Pipistrel is not on the exhibitor list for AOPA Summit perhaps as they are competing in the NASA Green Challenge, which is scheduled to begin immediately as Summit 2011 ends. Update 9/21/11 PM — See Pipistrel USA's blog postings about the NASA Green Flight Challenge 2011.
GAMA and LAMA members will meet again at AOPA's Summit.
|||| Among many other activities at AOPA Summit 2011, GAMA and LAMA will hold the second of a series of strategy meetings with delegates from both LSA and general aviation companies. As LSA further integrate into the broader fleet of aircraft, the general aviation industry is anticipating a rewrite of Part 23 certification rules. While helping LSA to develop and grow into a solid sector of aviation, the "experiment" of industry consensus standards certification offers guidance about how to simplify rules. Put another way, the LSA industry has much to learn but also has fresh experience to offer. *** Kudos to GAMA's staff for their foresight in helping to bring the two groups together. The combined group plans to meet about four times per year at major airshows.

Three If By Sea
By James Lawrence, September 23, 2011
Some bright minds at LISA Airplanes, a French company, had a great idea to take the hydrofoil concept and apply it to an LSA seaplane. I’d often wondered why hydrofoils haven’t been done before, it’s such a great concept.
AKOYA artist's rendering...but the airplane is flying. Photos courtesy LISA
Anyway, the airplane is the AKOYA. The technology for the entire package is patented and called Multi-Access, not the most sizzling name but what the hey, look at how cool those little moustache water wings look sticking out from the hull! *** Now get this: the company claims AKOYA operates as easily from land as from water...or snow! First, to those water wings sticking out: they’re called Seafoils, a trademarked name, which adds a little more marketing sizzle to this steak. *** They’re connected to a retractable gear that can be rigged with wheels or skis, I guess, and also to motor-driven, pivoting wings! There's also a chute onboard. Very neat. *** LISA Airplanes _ AKOYA premiere from LISA Airplanes on Vimeo. *** The airplane is spec’d out at 18.5 gallons yet can fly 680 miles at 110 knots! No restrictions to local pond hopping for this seabird. *** Gérald Ducoin, a test pilot who flew the plane, praises the revolutionary Seafoils which “offer both fast lift-off and stability. They also considerably simplify landing manevers and taking off from water.”
Spacey interior...maybe AKOYA and ICON's A5 can go on a date. 
With a 100 hp Rotax, the company claims a 650 foot take/landing distance. *** The company is clearnly not worried about it’s high price: €300,000! That's Euros, cousins, not greenbacks. *** I hasten to add that LISA will throw in pilot training for all three modes of landing, “personalization” of the airplane, and three years of maintenance and full-time customer assistance. *** The more this LSA phenomenon grows, the more interesting it gets.
Skis...wheels...water...what's not to like?
AKOYA is in flight test mode in France and announces it expects to get LSA certification by mid-2012. 

Lockwood Rotax and Bristell at AOPA Summit 2011
By Dan Johnson, September 25, 2011
Phil Lockwood (R) visits with a customer at AOPA Summit 2011.
At AOPA summit I spent time in the Lockwood Aviation booth giving me a chance to speak with a few RV-12 builders. *** Van's has reportedly sold approximately 600 RV-12 Light-Sport Aircraft, of which 150 may be flying, making RV-12 by far the most successful Experimental LSA. RV-12 would among rank high among all Light-Sport Aircraft were we able to include ELSA in the SLSA List (...we cannot, for several reasons). In a sign that proprietor and industry leader Phil Lockwood sees good potential in RV-12 service work he displays the leading ELSA on his latest Lockwood Aircraft Supply catalog. Van's did not exhibit at Summit 2011.
Van's Aircraft's RV-12 LSA made the cover of Lockwood's new catalog.
*** I found it equally interesting to hear much improved reception to the Rotax line compared to earlier AOPA Expos or Summits. Perhaps it's the 2,000-hour overhaul time. Maybe it's the 40,000 9-series engines Rotax has installed on aircraft. Possibly more widely available Rotax service as seen on our FIRM List. Regardless, it seems likely Lockwood Repair services — and those provided by other Rotax centers — should enjoy good maintenance business for many years. |||| At the airport, visitors were greeted by a Cessna Skycatcher, which the big company positioned as the first aircraft inside the gate. Among LSA purveyors, Remos, Flight Design, Jabiru U.S., Arion Lightning, and CubCrafters had displays, as did Terrafugia though the latter was in the convention hall regularly folding its wings in and out.
BRM Aero's Bristell debuted at AOPA's Airportfest 2011, attracting steady crowds.
*** At Airportfest, Liberty Sport Aviation's Bristell was a hit, making its U.S. debut. People liked the 51-inch-wide cockpit, " wide as the Cirrus SR22," said rep' Barry Pruitt, who also stated that a 6-foot-8-inch father and son duo sat, and comfortably fit, under the bubble canopy with headroom to spare. Many were impressed with the smooth curves on the all-metal SLSA. Prices start about $125,000. |||| On Saturday, EAA and AOPA made a joint announcement that they will petition FAA next year to drop the third class medical for certain GA aircraft, limiting such privilege to one passenger and no more than 180 horsepower in day VFR. Read more from EAA. Though EAA and AOPA say doing away with the medical is supported by experience from Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft, the message was received warily by LSA sellers even as AOPA members gave loud approval at the morning session. Because many LSA are sold to pilots concerned about their medical, some felt the surprise announcement could chill sales that are already slow. However, other experts didn't perceive the negative and most pilots are aware the number of medically-related accidents is vanishingly small, plus generally, removing any barriers to more flying activity is a net gain. Yet even EAA and AOPA officials agreed the chance for victory is uncertain on this sixth try to go to a driver's license medical and approval may take two to five years, if ever. With disparate reactions to the announcement, only time will show how this new initiative might benefit aviation growth and activity. Regardless, it is fascinating to see the onetime rival member organizations harnessing their considerable horsepower in a combined effort.

REMOS GXeLite: Super Diet?
By James Lawrence, September 26, 2011
Sign of the times: cut costs wherever possible. And kudos to those LSA makers who can cut weight too! *** Remos Aircraft has a lower-priced, dramatically lighter version of its flagship GX that bears closer scrutiny. *** It’s called GXeLite, and lists at $133,924.
All photos courtesy Remos Aircraft
The model is targeted at pilots, clubs and flights schools that don’t feel the need for all the latest high-tech glass and embellishments. Typically, “loaded” models like the GX and new GXNXT models price out at well over the wallet-flattening $150K mark. *** The eLite is dramatically lighter in empty weight too: just 638 lbs. (My recent flight report on the NXT listed that model’s empty weight at 718, or 90 lbs. heavier!). That would allow full tanks as well as some truly hefty passengers too, since the useful load is 682 lbs.! *** The main steps taken to lighten the load on the eLite include reinstating the composite landing gear, using carbon fiber instead of metal wing struts, new carbon fiber seats and a new instrument panel, which is lighter as well as lower. *** All of this adds up to good news for people interested in Remos. I’ve found the GX in general to be among the easiest, most enjoyable all-around airplanes I’ve ever flown. It has a wonderfully harmonious control balance, light, solid control feel, well-behaved takeoff and landing characteristics, and is simply a joy to fly.
This Remos panel chart also shows a Flymap moving map.
The eLite also offers a ballistic parachute safety system as an option rather than standard equipment, along with that lower-profile panel which enhances forward visibility. *** The panel still mounts a good rack of gadgets, starting off with Dynon's workhorse D-180 EFIS/EMS panel and Becker’s Com AR6201 transceiver and BXP6401 transponder. Power comes from the proven 80 hp Rotax 912. *** Even though the lower-cost electrical system eliminates interior lighting needed for night flight (something day VFR-restricted Sport Pilots don't deal with anyway), the eLite still has anti-collision, position and landing lights. *** An interior storage area has been removed and there is now only one coat of paint, to help with the load-lightening engineering. *** But think about that Remos diet plan: they took an already-light weight LSA airplane and managed to trim more than 11% more! *** Owners can still opt for all the Remos options the more robust models have, but I’d like to compare this lighter version to the heavier GX to see if there’s an appreciable difference in crosswinds and turbulence. 

Green Flight Challenge Down to Final Three!
By James Lawrence, September 28, 2011

Updates 10/4/11 and 10/5/11 — Congratulations to Pipistrel for their unprecedented third win at a NASA Challenge. Picking up a cool $1.35 million, the company won with their unorthodox dual Taurus G2 fuselages joined by a larger, centrally-mounted electric engine. The custom-configured, four-seat aircraft achieved an amazing 403 passenger miles per gallon of fuel (or its equivalent). After this string of wins, Pipistrel has firmly placed itself in the lead position among highly efficient light aircraft and those powered with electric motors. *** NASA claims the prize purse was the biggest ever awarded for an aviation competition. In second-place a much smaller but still hefty check for $120,000 went to the German eGenius team, NASA announced. *** Read more from our friends at AvWeb and at Flying online. In addition, Aero-News offers a video with more on the potential of electric power (scroll to or search for "The Green Flight Challenge"). —DJ

The CAFE Green Flight Challenge is at last underway — it was originally planned for mid-July — and as of the end of today's flying, just three of the original 13 entrants are still qualified to keep going for the $1.65 million prize money. *** The event, centered in Santa Rosa, California (between Los Angeles and San Francisco), is sponsored by Google and is seeking to advance public awareness and the technologies of electric and high-efficiency flight. Electric-driven aircraft have garnered most of the advance press, though most of the electric entrants have either been eliminated or couldn't get their aircraft ready in time.
The eGenius all-electric CAFE Green Flight Challenge competitor. photo courtesy Eric Raymond
It's a pretty simple task: fly 200 miles averaging 100 mph or greater... with one teeny tiny hitch: fuel burn or fuel equivalent use (electric or electric/hybrid) can only be one gallon of fuel. That's right: one (1) gallon. Put another way, that's 200 mpg. Daunting, to say the least. *** Every task day there are different challenges to test the full mettle of each aircraft and pilot, such as a strictly economy run, a maximum decibel test, then the final speed/economy run on the last day. *** One entry, the Eco-Eagle, in the works for 2 years from Embry-Riddle Aviation University, was just disqualified because the race rules specify a two-place airplane must fly with two people, not just a pilot and an equivalent copilot weight in the other seat. But Embry-Riddle's rules specify only one ERAU participant can fly in a competition event. The Eco-Eagle also did not have a fully functioning airframe parachute system, although one was aboard, and that violated another CAFE requirement. *** The officials, with full consent of the other competitors, will allow the aircraft to fly in the race as a demonstration aircraft, and although it's not eligible for an award, it will be interesting to see how it fares against the others. *** Gotta say, somebody didn't do their homework. Those poor kids at Embry Riddle worked for two years and nobody figured out they wouldn't be legal because of a basic rule: flying with all seats filled? Hard to figure that one, but kudos to the team and the competitors for encouraging the ERAU team to be part of the event: they've certainly earned it. The aircraft was performing very well in practice runs according to varied reports from the field. *** In a bit of a surprise, old friend Jim Lee in the Rotax-powered Phoenix USA is one of the three remaining competitors (along with Pipistrel's Taurus G4 and Germany's e-Genius)! Jim's a master at squeezing every last bit of performance out of whatever he flies (as I've written before, he held the distance hang glider record for years back in the '80s and is an accomplished sailplane pilot). And he really loves nibbling the thermal potential in his elegant, high tech Phoenix motorglider, for which he's also the U.S. distributor. *** Ah, my misspent youth: if only I could afford one... or a Pipistrel Vinus or Sinus... or Eric Raymond's Sunseeker... alright kid, snap out of it. *** I don't know yet what happened to the electric version, the PhoEnix, other than it couldn't be made ready for race date in time or perhaps wasn't performing up to expectations. *** Many people are reporting that it's the electric version that's flying, but Jim's comments in the video below would seem to put the kibosh on that. Too bad PhoEnix is out, it was a promising entry... but also kind of cool that a gas-powered motorglider is even in the finals. Good hunting Jimbo! *** Having the stock 100 hp Rotax-powered Phoenix in the final running should be a great PR boost too for what is already the sweetheart motorglider of the LSA genre. Motorgliders are gaining more attention from pilots who want more than point A to point B flying on their plates. *** One of the other two remaining entrants is the Pipistrel Taurus G4 (this link goes to Pipistrel's Michael Coates's gallery of GFC photos, worthy of a look). The G4 is in essence a purpose-built joining of two Taurus G2 electric motorglider fuselages onto a larger wing with an electric powered motor-only pod at wing center — a wild jump of ingenuity because being able to carry four passengers, two in each pod, (which CAFE rules require them to do) does qualify the aircraft to carry the equivalent of four gallons of gasoline in electric power storage capacity — one gallon per person is the rule, for 200 miles at 100 mph. The G4 may turn out to be a winning strategy, if the economy is there.
eGenius, designed by Univ. of Stuttgart engineeers. photo courtesy Airbus
The final entrant is e-Genius, built by University of Stuttgart aeronautical engineers and students and a formidable entry in its own right. *** Today's event required all entrants to meet the noise level ceiling of 78 dBA during full-power takeoff, as measured from 250 feet away. All three (four counting the non prize- qualified Eco-Eagle) met the challenge.

LSA's Perfect Storm... Can Good News Follow?
By Dan Johnson, October 6, 2011
At Summit 2011, EAA and AOPA jointly announced they will pursue driver's license medical privileges for pilots wishing to operate GA airplanes with less than 180 horsepower with only two persons on board in day VFR. Combined with ongoing events in the LSA industry it seemed a "perfect storm" was brewing. *** The Storm includes: three years of sluggish sales ('09, '10, and '11); FAA's intensified auditing of companies and the agency's virtual shut down of Criquet's Storch*; and, the threat of reduced sales following the EAA/AOPA announcement. Any new regulation about driver's licenses medical is at least a year or two away and perhaps as many as five years — it may never be approved despite a mighty push by two large membership organizations combining their clout. Indeed, five previous tries failed. Nonetheless, many LSA sellers expect sales to slow further as some pilots elect to keep their medical until the proposed rule may become law.
Criquet Aviation's Storch was grounded in America after FAA found insufficient compliance with ASTM standards and FAA regulations. photo courtesy Criquet Aviation
*** Good news? No matter the threat of a perfect storm, good news always seems to bubble to the surface. Companies organized specifically to build SLSA may be less challenged by the Storm. I think of Icon and its solid fundraising even in a difficult economy. I also think of Terrafugia and its niche LSA. Some current manufacturers are well equipped to meet all standards and regulations. They are also battle-hardened companies likely to survive the present economic downturn. In fact, just yesterday I heard from a trusted friend that a successful team is reorganizing to introduce a new SLSA (more on that when I'm at liberty).
Storch can still be built as a 51% kit (if FAA OK'd). Compare Storch prices. photo courtesy Criquet Aviation
*** Conversely, a company that originally organized to sell 51% kits or ultralights may not have all the structure needed to meet SLSA demands. The business models are distinctly different. *** More good news? LSA have much more to offer than simply being an aircraft that does not require an aviation medical. Buyers can examine more than 120 diverse choices of flying machine with excellent performance and handling, high-tech instrument panels, modern safety gear, large cabins, high useful loads, low operation costs, low noise, and more. In fuel efficiency alone — plus mogas options — Light-Sport Aircraft can still compete handily. *** A 1971 Cessna 172 that could perhaps be flown with a driver's license medical may cost less but it's, well... old, and probably worn. Supplies of those older GA aircraft won't last forever; don't forget the two-decade period when single engine models were barely produced. A new 172 costs more than twice the most expensive SLSA.
Criquet Aviation won initial FAA approval as SLSA #113. photo courtesy Criquet Aviation
*** While concerned, I'm not truly worried. My prediction is the LSA industry will survive its perfect storm.

*At the end of August 2011, FAA sent notice to all field offices nationwide with instructions not to issue any new SLSA airworthiness certificates for the Criquet Storch, effectively halting the business of Criquet Aviation USA and their importer/assembler, U-Fly-It. FAA did not ground the three Storch aircraft already flying in the USA but referred to "possible safety of flight issues" which could stop all flying of the American Storches. FAA has also conducted what they call "prototype audits" of CubCrafters and Tecnam including both the latter company's U.S. and Italian operations. In the future the agency plans to visit many more operations, in and outside the USA.

Green Flight Challenge A Teachable Moment
By James Lawrence, October 10, 2011
Posting from Istanbul, Turkey where I'm on vacation with my family, but just couldn't wait another day to talk a bit about what most everybody in aviation's been talking about these last several days: the CAFE Green Flight Challenge (GFC). *** History was made when the Pipistrel Taurus Electro G4 twin-fuselage electric-powered aircraft carried four adults, around 1000 lbs. of batteries, one electric motor with a bit prop, and a lot of engineering and piloting savvy to victory in the GFC. They earned themselves $1.35 million in the process. Huge and well-deserved congratulations to Pipistrel!
The winnah! Pipistrel's Taurus Electro G4. photo courtesy Pipistrel
But for my money, the deeper story is not just that they flew off with the biggest aviation dollar prize ever, or even that they accomplished the task of flying 200 miles on one battery charge while also averaging more than 100 mph for the entire flight, or that they did it while "burning" the equivalent of 1 gallon of gas per passenger, or four gallons total...but...that they accomplished all that yet consumed the equivalent of around 1/2 gallon of gas per passenger! *** Looked at another way, they took off with full "tanks", and landed with just a bit less than the electricity equivalent of half a tank of gas. *** And get this: The eGenius entry had similar economy numbers, though it used a very different design approach, using a conventional motorglider planform, albeit with a tail mounted motor to afford a larger, more efficient prop. Also, it flew with two, not four, people onboard. *** So here we have two teams with different aerodynamic approaches that both met the challenge, and met it easily. *** And as soon as they release numbers on the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Eco Eagle, I'll post them too, as the ERAU team also flew but as a demonstration flight — they were disqualified from competition for a couple technicalities. *** But here's the deal, restated from my last post: at least two, and possibly three of the entrants didn't just meet the task: they killed it! *** Here are the official numbers: e- Genius (which won the second place prize of $120,000 as well as the Lindbergh LEAP award of $10,000 for quietest aircraft) tallied 375.8 passenger miles per gallon. *** And the G-4? An astounding 403.5 passenger miles per gallon! *** That is nothing less than stunning. *** Electric flight is here.
Up to the Challenge: eGenius takes flight.  photo courtesy NASA
Yes, battery tech needs to keep advancing, and dramatically, to bring e-flight into the mainstream GA hangar. But the GFC proves that the page has been turned. From here on in, it's a race to market affordable, practical electric airplanes. *** As Eric Lindbergh, Lucky Lindy's grandson, said recently, the first company to make a viable electric trainer will usher in the new age. The G4 accomplished its victory on around $7 worth of electricity. Imagine the rental/training cost of an e-trainer being $125...or $135 "wet". Kinda funny. *** Dr. Calin Gologan, the Romanian designer of the PC Aero Elektra One, which won the LEAP award this year at Oshkosh, believes battery efficiency (expressed as energy density) will improve by 11% per year. In 9 years, that's double what we have today. Anybody want to bet it won't happen faster than that? *** Lest we forget, kudos and bravissimos to Pipistrel, the eGenius team, the Embry Riddle team which converted a Stemme motorglider, to Jim Lee, who entered the contest with a conventionally powered Phoenix motorglider (I'm looking forward to seeing his numbers too), and all the others who originally entered but couldn't quite make it to the starting line. *** They all have their place in history, and all mark the beginning days of a tide that will change aviation forever. *** Look for my just-submitted story on electric flight in the upcoming December issue of Plane & Pilot, which hits the stands in Nov. *** Meanwhile, check out this video of the event's highlights.

Is Flying for Fun Shrinking? Here's Another View.
By Dan Johnson, October 13, 2011
Our good friend, Mary Grady, posted an article on AVweb, one of our favorite aviation news sites; lots of good content available. Mary recently editorialized about electric aircraft and their potential appeal. Following the NASA Green Flight Challenge, her timing was as impeccable as her writing. I encourage you to go read the editorial, but what you'll find at least as entertaining as Mary's editorial are a great many reader comments; the topic clearly inspired aviators. *** That said, I had to write Mary* about one line and I want to share some of what I told her.
Titan's Tornado Experimental Amateur Built "fun" flyer. photo by Scott Wilcox of Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine
*** Mary wrote, "For people who fly for fun — presuming there are many of those left, it seems to be one of the fastest-shrinking segments of GA — electric airplanes are sure to appeal." *** In my communication to Mary, I asked about the source of the knowledge that flying for fun is shrinking. Is it really? Who says? On what information? I am keenly aware light aviation is suffering, via sales in particular as are all segments of aviation, but I am not aware that flying for fun is shrinking fast. Reminded of the impeachment-hearing logic of ex-President Bill Clinton, I'm inclined to ask, "What is the definition of "flying for fun?" As one answer to the question, let me recount a story.
Cessna's 172 Skyhawk. photo by Lonna Tucker courtesy of
*** Years ago when I visited the Cessna 172/182 Club Annual Convention, my travel mate and fellow ultralight pilot, Gregg Ellsworth, and I came away thinking, "These 172/182 pilot/owners are essentially ultralight pilot/owners." (In those days, we didn't yet have LSA.) We felt this way because we observed that their flight missions were remarkably similar. Asking simple questions we discovered these owners commonly flew one long trip per year (several states away) and a few regional trips (one or two states away). Mostly they flew local trips (in-state or within a couple hours). So far as we were concerned, these GA pilots used their aircraft in almost identical ways to ultralight owners. If ultralight pilots fly for fun, these these 172/182 pilots do so as well, even if someone might not consider their aircraft as "fun" flying machines. Our information came from 150 attendees at the event. Our methods weren't scientific but we had a decent sample of 172/182 pilots and nearly every one told a similar usage story.
Quicksilver's GT 500 ultralight that also was the first-ever Primary Category aircraft to be certified.
*** Now, I don't know how someone else might characterize such flying, but I'd say those 172/182 owners were "flying for fun." Such airplane trips are certainly not business or commercial flying. If accurate and if those surveyed truly represent fun flyers, then I can't imagine how the number of pilots flying for fun are shrinking any faster than the pilot population as a whole. Of course, I might be wrong and statistics can be manipulated to bolster an outcome. I simply don't see shrinkage among the fly-for-fun set that is my entire focus in aviation. If you fly for fun, maybe you better speak and be heard!

* Mary Grady's Reply — "You're right [about the 'shrinking' comment], it's just a statement of opinion based on casual chitchat and input we get from readers who say they have put off fun flying to save money. I'd be glad to be wrong on it. *** What also has given me the impression of less fun flying is the slump in ballooning, which is where I got my start in aviation. I guess my thinking is that business-related flying is easier to justify and maintain.

Hit or Myth? Flying with an All-Duct-Tape Covering
By Dan Johnson, October 21, 2011
For the simulated bear attack, Belite supplied this pretty bird. photo used by permission of Belite Aircraft
James Weibe is a different sort of airplane pioneer. He doesn't make an LSA. He bought the rights to the former Kitfox Lite and has gone through several iterations of changing and improving the airplane. This makes sense considering his background in the computer accessory field, where he learned the constant upgrade path so common in the tech industry.
Film crews work on the Belite. photo used by permission of Belite Aircraft
*** Belite's aircraft can meet Part 103 and other variations are Experimental Amateur Built. Evidently that wasn't enough work, so Belite also developed a line of superlight instruments. Just keeping up with this prolific fellow tires many folks. However, he also knows how to reach outside the aviation community. For example, on TV... mainstream TV. *** When I was a kid, I used to say, "Just scotch it." I mean that Scotch (brand) tape could fix anything, or so my young mind thought at the time. Apparently, duct tape is the new Scotch tape, at least for aviators trying to fix tears on a fabric-covered aircraft. But, Mythbusters TV show asked, "Can an airplane actually fly covered only in duct tape?" The answer is, yes, it can.
Entirely covered in duct tape! Kari Byron shows the claw she used to trash the original Belite covering. photo used by permission of Belite Aircraft
*** Mythbusters TV personalities Kari, Grant, and Tory patched up an airplane that had been mauled by a bear. Well, OK, not a real bear. It was Kari Byron using a mechanical claw. The show's storyline was invented from a true incident about two years ago when an Alaska pilot used duct tape to repair fuselage and tail damage to his Super Cub after it had been attacked by a bear. *** In genuine Hollywood fashion Mythbusters went the distance, not merely patching with duct tape, but covering an entire Belite with the silver sticky stuff carefully striping the Belite vertically and horizontally (photo... yes, that's all duct tape!). After a very short flight without a turn, they found no tape had come loose; the Duct Tape Belite had achieved flight.
Mythbuster's TV crew and James Weibe (tallest). photo used by permission of Belite Aircraft
*** James Wiebe flew the plane during filming in June. And therein lies the real story, in my opinion. Through his duct-tape-airplane suggestion, James put light aircraft on national television. Mythbusters reaches about two million Americans, many of them younger people, with a science-is-fun message. I think it's great James got his bird on the show... heck, as the star of the show. OK, the Belite and duct tape.

Wiebe's blog noted that the Mythbusters show drove so many people to Belite's website immediately after it aired that their website crashed. Another proof that even in an age of mobile Internet devices, television still plays a major role in global culture and communication.

Doing What You Cannot Do in Most Aircraft
By Dan Johnson, October 23, 2011
Air-Cam N912LA looks (and is) completely airworthy after suffering major damage in the Tornado that hit Sun 'n Fun 2011. photos by Randee Laskewitz
My good friend and Air-Cam developer, Phil Lockwood, likes to hold fly-outs for his customers. More than 160 kits have been delivered and built; each fly-out has attracted several of these owners. Phil and his Lockwood Aircraft associate George Weber have invited me several times but I've had to miss earlier gatherings for owners of this iconic "twin engined ultralight" (it isn't really an ultralight but has its roots in that category). For once I got to attend. The destination was the beautiful Jekyll Island resort area of Georgia; it's near St. Simons Island, another popular vacation destination.
For most, like passenger and friend Pat Lehotsky, flying in an open cockpit airplane is extremely rare; a tiny fraction of the population will ever experience anything like this. photo by Randee Laskewitz
*** On a stunningly beautiful day, I was privileged to take my wife and two friends aloft for 30-minute tours of the Island. This was great fun for all. But what made it especially interesting is that I did this in N912LA, one of three Air-Cams badly trashed by the tornado at Sun 'n Fun 2011 (photo). In an effort typical of the hard-working staff at Lockwood Aircraft, this and two other Air-Cams were returned to flight after looking like a crumpled pile of tubing and fabric. *** The Air-Cam is neither ultralight nor Light-Sport Aircraft but it acts like either one in some ways. For touring an idyllic setting like Jekyll Island, Air-Cam allows what you would be unlikely to do in any other airplane with which I'm familiar. Air-Cam, in which I obtained my multi-engine rating, flies so well on a single engine that you can fly low over marsh lands or stray over the ocean in near-certain safety.
Fall at Jekyll Island was much better for Air-Cam N912LA than spring at Sun 'n Fun, where a Tornado turned the twin-engine aircraft into a pile of tubes and fabric.
I have successfully taken off (solo) in Air-Cam with one engine at idle thrust; this is something you never consider trying in other twin-engine aircraft. If you lose an engine in flight at almost any attitude or altitude you can barely discern you've lost an engine, far different from the workout most twin-engine aircraft will give you after an engine quits.
The Jekyll Island Club main buildings seen from Air-Cam. photo by Randee Laskewitz
*** Air-Cam is so confidence inspiring at 50-200 feet off the surface that such becomes the standard cruising altitude on site-seeing missions as we flew over Jekyll. We literally had to climb to cross bridges, to allow the safe altitude mandated by FAA while flying above people on the surface. We also climbed to enter pattern altitude... yes, climbed. These amazing flight capabilities are backed by Lockwood's legendary maintenance. I've known Phil for decades and if he says an airplane is right, I ask no more questions. His word is gospel in matters of maintenance. *** Not only was the flying experience wonderful, we discovered those Air-Cam'ers really know how to pick excellent destinations. We stayed in the Jekyll Island Club hotel, an early 1900s facility kept in marvelous repair. It was pricey but worth the money. Twice we dined at hotel restaurants for some of the tastiest food any of us has enjoyed.

FK Lightplanes Earns SLSA #123: FK12 Comet
By Dan Johnson, October 29, 2011
FK Lightplanes won SLSA approval #123 for their biplane FK12 Comet with multiple cockpit configurations. top photo courtesy FK Lightplanes; inset photo courtesy Hansen Air Group
As they've done numerous times, Hansen Air Group — a team of dedicated pilots, nearly all of whom fly or formerly flew airliners for their day job — has helped shepherd another Light-Sport Aircraft through the ASTM standards process to get a FAA airworthiness certificate. The Altanta area importer has done this with several aircraft including some Tecnam models, Sky Arrow, and Peregrine. In recent months, Hansen took over U.S. import duties for FK Lightplanes, which has facilities in Germany and Poland.
FK12 Comet is the first LSA biplane on the SLSA List. photo courtesy FK Lightplanes
*** Welcome to SLSA #123, the dashing FK12 Comet biplane. FK12 is the first-ever biplane to win SLSA approval, the second qualified LSA for FK Lightplanes, and the second LSA type to arrive in the USA for aerobatic flight (the first was the Snap from SportairUSA). FK12 made a first official U.S. appearance in the LSA Mall at AirVenture 2011 (as did Snap). Crowds frequently gathered around Comet, thoroughly stomping down the grass all around the airplane. Unveiled this summer with the Rotax 912, Hansen Air Group is working with Renegade Aircraft to install a Lycoming AIO-233. Rotax does not permit aerobatics with their engines — manufacturers have full authority over such use under LSA rules — but Lycoming does permit unusual-attitude flying. Given the Hansen team's high level of pilot skills, aerobatic flying is of great interest.
FK Lightplanes wowed crowds at Aero 2011 with this gorgeous cockpit treatment in the LeMans tradition. photos courtesy FK Lightplanes
*** Biplanes are often used for aerobatics as their short spans and high roll rates are useful for that sort of maneuvering. Hansen brothers Mike and Mitch report measuring FK12's roll rate at 1.07 seconds for a 60-to-60 roll reversal. (If you don't know these numbers, that's fast.) Comet's 22-foot span and four full-span flaperons account for the zippy handling. I can report from my own experience (my pilot report will soon appear in Light Sport and Ultralight Flying) that FK12 Comet may be blazing fast in roll but is a very docile cruiser, holding straight and level with minimal input. *** FK Lightplanes, headquartered in Speyer, Germany but with their own production facilities in Poland, is well regarded for its handsome designs. Also prolific, FK Lightplanes often shows distinction in the shapes and details of their airplanes.
FK9 ELA (for European Light Aircraft) is the latest in a long evolution for this popular design. photo courtesy FK Lightplanes
This year at Aero, the big show in southern Germany each April, FK Lightplanes captured visitors with their exquisite LeMans version of their low wing Polaris FK14 (the same model selected by Cirrus Design as their LSA entry, the SRS| which project, regretfully, was shelved.) Though more basic, the new FK9 ELA is a highly evolved folding wing monoplane available in taildragger, tricycle gear, and floats. Polaris/LeMans is also available as a taildragger or on tricycle gear. FK12 Comet is only available as a taildragger but with three cockpit configurations.

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

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.

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.

The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

Jabiru USA 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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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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