Everybody loves the P-51 Mustang and not just pilots, but seemingly anyone who likes airplanes. However, affording one or being qualified to fly one limits any interactive fun with a Mustang to a very limited number of people. Titan Aircraft owner John Williams was another Mustang lover but he did something about it, creating the T-51, a very realistic kit that many can afford. We spoke at length with John about his favorite creation. We think you might enjoy it as well.
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The Tornado is one of a line of small-looking, hot-handling, tandem-seated light aircraft including one model that can still meet Part 103 for ultralight vehicles. Short spans of an all-metal wing and a racy fighter-aircraft look to the cabin area add to the appeal of the four Tornado models. We speak with developer and longtime company boss John Williams who tells about construction and much more.
In the last year, the Titan company scored a huge media success by having its Tornado appear on the popular TV show Northern Exposure. On the show, pilot character, Maggie, builds and flies the Tornado and the entire episode deals with the aircraft intimately. Titan boss John Williams was hired to provide technical consultation and the show gave a welcome boost to ultralight aviation.
How they chose this airplane over another is no mystery to anyone who’s flown the dashing design. The Tornado is available in a single and two seat model, each of which flies beautifully. One glance confirms an image of speed and snappy handling but these qualities don’t come with a penalty. Both aircraft can also slow down well, and exhibit forgiving takeoff and landing characteristics.
Appearances are important and the Titan aircraft excel in this area. In addition to strikingly raked lines, the planes are built from materials that suggest a long life.
The Tornado is one the most exhilarating ultralights I’ve flown. As I approached the short span aircraft, I didn’t expect to be so delighted with its flying qualities.
The Tornado has great lines. It looks like it might fly fast, handle briskly, and cope with bumps well. These impressions turn out to be correct when you fly the plane. However, flight reveals some secrets as well.
A clean design, cantilevered wings, full enclosure, with slick aluminum surfaces contribute to good slow flight qualities. The wing obviously works harder that its short span suggests. The Tornado will fly slowly when you deploy the large flaps and the speed range is admirably wide.
The plane will also land at surprisingly slow speeds. Handling is not only good at high speeds, it remains crisp at stall. Stalls themselves are mild affairs with no evil tendencies; under full power, I simply couldn’t generate a stall.
Just Aircraft turns heads everywhere when they first introduced the SuperSTOL (STOL stands for short takeoff and landing). With a 100-horsepower Rotax 912, the aircraft was an awesome performer. Yet they saw even more potential. After installing a 180 horsepower, six cylinder UL Power 520i, they tackled installing the similarly potent motor from Continental, the Titan X-340. When Just Aircraft engineer Tory Woodland planned the installation, he realized they’d have to extend the fuselage to assure the right weight balance and control. They added two feet to the length but the climb rate is an astonishing 3,000 feet per minute. Hear more on this video.
In about one week, it all ends. Before then, DeLand Showcase 2019 is set to begin! As this is the last airshow of the year, it’s also fair to say the season ends when DeLand show concludes. This year is the fourth annual event.
Since the Sebring show bid a final farewell last spring, DeLand will be the last light aircraft show until Arizona’s Copperstate/Buckeye Air Fair in February, followed two months later by Sun ‘n Fun. If you live in the eastern half of the USA, DeLand and Sun ‘n Fun are separated by five months. Yikes! You can learn more about Copperstate/Buckeye in this video with the Vice Mayor.
Next week on November 14-15-16, welcome to sunny, warm Florida.
Come to DeLand
I hope many of you who frequent this website will be heading to DeLand for the event starting next Thursday.
Once we had Avid Flyer. It begat Kitfox, which begat many models before returning to the starting point by creating a Part 103 ultralight vehicle* called Kitfox Lite …what else? At that time Kitfox was owned by its principal, Dan Denney.
A good marketer Denney’s Kitfox once employed a whole staff of sales people following up on loads of leads that the then-new design was generating. Even now, decades later, Kitfox, doing business as Fox Air, is building one of the most successful kit-plane designs in aviation history. (For the facts and market position of Kitfox visit our Tableau Public page of LSA and SP kit statistics.)
While the Dan Denney version of Kitfox Inc., addressed strong demand, they also began working to widen the market they served. Kitfox had found success as a two seater in various configurations but did a market exist for a single seater?
Most pilots love a fast-looking aircraft that looks as good on the ramp as it does in the air? Sure, gnarly backwoods airplanes on huge tires and tall gear struts have huge appeal, and float-equipped aircraft and seaplanes also draw strong interest. Yet aviation’s leading draw may be speed …more is better, right?
If that’s an accurate assessment, then let the drooling begin over this beautifully contoured flying machine that can race 135 to 185 miles an hour for a fairly modest investment. I’m writing about Lightning from Arion Aircraft, available as either a Light-Sport Aircraft or an Experimental Amateur Built version. That these handsome aircraft are also 100% designed and manufactured in the USA may be sweet icing on the cake for many readers.
LS-1 is a true Light-Sport Aircraft that meets all the parameters and survived a detailed FAA audit a few years ago. In the field owners I’ve spoken to love Lightning and its speedy ways.
Could 2020 bring a new description of aircraft under the LSA banner? Could this include greater capabilities and opportunities? Could you get the airplane you want for less? When?! Yes, yes, and yes …but probably not as soon as you want. The regulation may not emerge in 2020 but whatever the announcement date, what could be coming and how will it affect you?
We still have more to report from Sun ‘n Fun and Aero 2019 — and we will! — but numerous conversations at each event have pointed to another topic of keen interest to many: “What’s coming and when?”
Manufacturers of aircraft are among the most interested to hear more, but so are individual pilots and all the organizations and other enterprises that serve the recreational aircraft market. In this article, let’s take a closer look. (More articles will follow.)
EAA has adeptly branded their good work to some of these ends as MOSAIC, or Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates.
Jetting straight from Sun ‘n Fun, we were able to arrive at Aero Friedrichshafen by noon on opening day. A quick swing around the most light-aircraft-filled halls (the “B” halls) brought some fresh surprises. Following are a few designs that caught my eye on an initial pass.
The profusion of light aircraft we don’t see in the USA — some of which will never reach the market — is one of the main reasons Aero Friedrichshafen is my favorite show in Europe. This mostly indoor fair (as Europeans call such shows) always has many ideas of interest.
Zlin Ultra with Rotax 915iS — Never one to rest Pascale Russo reintroduced his Ultra Shock from last Aero with the more powerful Rotax 915iS. Ultra Shock plays on the term “ultralight,” which means something different in Europe than in the USA (it is a reference to light aircraft quite similar to Light-Sport Aircraft).