It’s big. It’s bold. It’s beautiful. It’s loaded with snazzy custom features. And it’s gonna be powerful. You might think those words don’t apply to many Light-Sport Aircraft. Certainly, “big” is not a word most pilots associate with LSA. A number are actually rather compact, though with standardized rules, aircraft parameters don’t differ as much as some might think. Wave is different …at least in one particular way. The newest LSA seaplane in development in the Southern Hemisphere has something special. What is it? Vickers recently announced winning a weight increase exemption for their deluxe Wave. As other producers wait to read FAA’s coming regulation regarding aircraft size, Wave can begin leveraging their higher gross weight to increase capability and power. Principal Paul Vickers stated, “After many months we can finally announce that Vickers Aircraft has received our FAA weight exemption for the Wave™ LSA. This will allow a MTOW of 1,850 pounds (839 kilograms), so we can incorporate additional safety features that will set the Wave apart and help us achieve our long-term goal of moving aviation forward.” He added, “Some of these safety features include water maneuvering thruster, CrossOver Landing gear, increased horsepower, and the required fuel capacity to ensure the Wave is operated safely and can perform its mission.” Paul continued, “We have designed the Wave for this increased MTOW and have incorporated the required additional structure.” He feels this sets up Wave to smoothly transition into the LSA rule changes that are on the horizon, new definitions that will include adjustments regarding the weight of Light-Sport Aircraft.
Gone Colt Flying!As I usually do, I asked Quirin to treat our flight as if it was you — yes, YOU! — in the cockpit. I told her to demonstrate for me what she would do for any prospective customer. You want to do this; I was fortunate enough to do it for you. The idea is that since you could not go aloft in Colt I wanted to do what you'd have done had you been at Midwest LSA Expo (which I hope you will be next year; it is simply perfect for demonstration flights… the best of any airshow we attend). Through many years of experience, I have learned to start these Video Pilot Reports by asking the factory pilot to show me exactly what they'd show you if you were the one sitting in my seat. Karin did that, so we ran through taxiing, basic takeoff and climb to altitude, followed by maneuvers. We did cruise speed evaluations, slow flight, and stalls. After she showed me what Colt could do, I requested the controls and I performed my usual evaluation starting with some dutch rolls, a non-aerobatic exercise I use to learn the handling characteristics. If I can do reasonably coordinated dutch rolls pretty quickly, as I did in Colt, that tells me this is a well-handling flying machine. Unlike most LSA, Colt uses a yoke rather than conventional or side stick. I'm a joystick lover but I acknowledge most pilots trained in the last few decades may be more comfortable with a yoke. Some prefer it so much they will tell you an airplane is easer to handle with a yoke. I think it's a personal preference but if you prefer a yoke, Texas Aircraft's Colt is one that may please you. Colt is an all-aluminum construction, meaning any repair work needed after a purchase can be done by a great many mechanics anywhere in the world. It is powered by the Rotax 912 ULS carbureted, 100 horsepower engine. Texas Aircraft chose a three-blade Sterna prop. You may not be familiar with this Asian brand but it appears very well made. Dynon provided the avionics and auto pilot. We rotated at 50 knots after a takeoff roll of 400-500 feet, common for many Light-Sport Aircraft. Remember that this is a prototype Colt. The number two model is currently going through the process of gaining Special LSA approval and a third, conforming example is under construction in the company's home base in Hondo, Texas. Prototypes are usually somewhat heavier than final production examples and N105TX was no exception. In standard production models, I would expect takeoff roll to be marginally shorter and the climb to more robust than the 700-800 feet per minute we averaged on a day slightly warmer than standard atmospheric conditions. Colt's aluminum skin — fuselage, wings, tail, and control surfaces — is supported by a welded chromoly steel safety cell. The construction techniques have been proven by designer Caio Jordão's model from a different company called Conquest 180. Jordão's work has resulted in more than 300 planes that have amassed 150,000 flight hours. His son Diego assists him. In final form, Colt will offer cruise at about 110 knots though we saw less at lower altitudes and without final optimization of prop and engine, plus the added prototype weight. Stalls occurred at very slow speeds — high 30 knots to low 40 knots indicated air speeds — and were all very well behaved. In all maneuvering that I did, Colt felt very solid and secure. It should be a great aircraft choice for those who want that classic Cessna experience in a Light-Sport Aircraft.
Speed Specs for Colt 100
- Never Exceed — 134 knots / 154 mph
- Max Speed at Max Continuous Power — 120 knots / 138 mph
- Max Speed in Turbulent Conditions — 105 knots / 120 mph
- Maneuvering Speed — 90 knots / 103 mph
- Best Angle of Climb Speed — 60 knots / 69 mph
- Stall Speed, Flaps Retracted — 44 knots / 50 mph
- Stall Speed, Flaps for Landing — 38 knots / 44 mph
* What does it take to edit a Video Pilot Report?Let's start by considering we mounted six cameras that ran for an hour each, two hand held cameras used to shoot 45 minutes more, plus a series of still shots. Then add the audio track from multiple cameras. First task: watch and log every minute of every video — that's around nine hours merely to observe what you have available to use in assembling the video. Are you exhausted yet? You haven't even begun editing. Then scour the Internet for more useful footage and review a thumb drive the company provided. You have now spent about two full workdays and you still haven't even started editing. Pulling it all together will consume more days …all for a single video. That's probably more than you wanted to know but hopefully you get the idea that these popular Video Pilot Reports represent a lot of work. Please be patient while Videoman Dave does his job.
While you wait on the formal VPR, here's a mini-video to whet your appetite: https://youtu.be/vJa-9NOLA6s
You know you have a great job when… you get to fly a brand new Light-Sport Aircraft on a bright, beautiful, blue sky day at a Sport Pilot-friendly airport. The job: writing this story and making a video. The task: Go fly (duh!). The airport: Mt. Vernon (KMVN), the award-winning Illinois facility that hosts the Midwest LSA Expo lead by the most customer-attentive airport manager one can imagine. What’s not to love? The specific task in this case: Fly the Texas Aircraft Manufacturing Colt 100, now in the final stages of gaining its Special Airworthiness certificate as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. See our earlier article. The day could not have been more lovely and the air has never been smoother. The only thing I needed to make the experience a complete success was pleasant cabin mate as we went aloft to check out the Colt.
CT SuperSportIf SuperSport looks familiar to you, it should. It's based on the CTSW but joins several elements of the newer CTLS. In Europe, Flight Design has continued to deliver a lighter model from the CT series to conform to the microlight or European ultralight parameters. SuperSport is something fresh as it takes a CTSW fuselage and grafts on the CTLS wing; adapts construction from the CTLS gear while still doing it with a single piece, like CTSW; employs tail structure from the newer model; and drafts the Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine. Even that list doesn't cover all the upgrades. Flight Design describes CT SuperSport as, "the new high performance version of the Flight Design CT, one of the most popular and innovative light aircraft in the world. The Super comes equipped with a single 10-inch Dynon D1000 EFIS/MFD with Synthetic Vision, Dynon comm and transponder, ADS-B Out, and ballistic parachute system." CT SuperSport can be delivered with a 710 pound empty weight that puts it well below many Light-Sport Aircraft and more than 100 pounds lighter than the longer CTLS. "This weight reduction was accomplished by using simplified avionics and equipment plus some lighter parts from the European version of the CT," said Flight Design. CT SuperSport has the same spacious and wide interior of the CT series but it returns to the "mushroom" instrument panel that does not extend all the way to the cockpit exterior. Seeming to rise out of the floor, you know, like a mushroom, the panel produces a feeling of much greater visibility, especially forward. Re-entering the CTSW cabin reminded me of the helicopter-like vision afforded by the cockpit design. This came in handy while I flew with the father and son team named Tom Gutmann …both of them. One is "Senior" and one is "Junior," though if you've met them you know "junior" is quite a misnomer. Both fellows are big, strapping Americans. Yet Tom Jr. and I fit in CT SuperSport with several inches between us and without pushing up against the door to make that claim. CT SuperSport is some 13 inches shorter than CTLS, Tom Jr. noted and it does not have the hat rack or aft cabin windows of CTLS. CT SuperSport also uses an electric trim for pitch only while CTLS has pitch, aileron, and rudder trim by wheels. The new, lighter CT model is what I'd agree to call a performance model. It runs close to the top end of the permitted speed range, can fly around 1,000 statute miles, climbs 1,000 feet per minute, yet sips fuel at rates of four gallons per hour, even less if you retard the throttle slightly. It is a lively handling aircraft that still exhibits mild stall characteristics proven by our performing a full regimen of approach and departure stalls plus accelerated stalls in each direction. Base price of CT SuperSport is: $135,000, some $40,000 less than the flagship CTLS. "Options include night flight equipment and autopilot with Level button," said Flight Design. Father and son Gutmanns run Airtime Aviation — with the wonderfully short "FlyCT.com" web address. Airtime is perhaps the largest non-manufacturer seller of aircraft in light aviation worldwide. Their enterprise has delivered more aircraft than many manufacturers have ever made (greater than 200) yet they remain loyal to — and highly knowledgeable about — Flight Design aircraft. They've been active since the beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft. Learn more from the Video Pilot Report that will follow; be patient, these productions involve many days of editing.
I hoped to post a mini-video from the photo mission in the CTSS and CTLS. Alas, I ran out of time and energy. Plus, I think I have enough cool footage that I wanted to do it right. I'll get it up on the ByDanJohnson YouTube channel as soon as possible but the nearby still photos show what a lovely day it was for flying. You have two more days of MWLSA. If you are within a reasonable flight or drive, come on out and see the marvelous things Chris Collins has done with the Mt. Vernon airport. This fellow may qualify for the airport manager of the decade award. He's already won the trophy in my mind. Tomorrow, we tackle the InnovAviation FX1 for a Video Pilot Report …and we're just getting started!
What a great day to start off the Midwest LSA Expo! (And what a contrast to the hurricane just stared down by my Florida neighbors!) The 2019 running of this event about an hour east of St. Louis kicks off its second decade. On Day One, Videoman Dave and I did our Video Pilot Report routine on three Light-Sport Aircraft: Flight Design‘s CT SuperSport, Sportair USA‘s Shock Ultra, and Texas Aircraft’s Colt. All three are quite different, each was delightful in its own way. Doing three of these VPRs took the entire day …and that’s before the big job of editing begins. CT SuperSport If SuperSport looks familiar to you, it should. It’s based on the CTSW but joins several elements of the newer CTLS. In Europe, Flight Design has continued to deliver a lighter model from the CT series to conform to the microlight or European ultralight parameters.
The Rev' Line from EvolutionFirst came Revo. Like Tesla, they put out their strongest product first. Then came the little Rev that can make Part 103 if you don't choose all the options Evolution can deliver. After Rev came Revolt, another two seater. It uses the trademarked attributes and hardware that made Revo famous but is a simpler construction that costs less. Finally comes RevX. Larry said about Rev that it is a delightful trike that he has thoroughly enjoyed since it was released four years ago. However, it is a calm weather flyer. I see nothing wrong with that but the lightweight airframe of Rev means it is somewhat more vulnerable should conditions pick up strength. Enter RevX. Larry said three attributes distinguish the newest in his "Rev" line. RevX still folds in six minutes flat and, yes, Evolution has video to prove it (plus see our video below). That system was developed with Rev but when Larry says it folds up he also means it can be transported this way. Rev and RevX both fold quickly while still supporting the structure completely. Most trikes fold up (although few do so as fast) but once folded the wings are not perfectly supported by structure that was purpose-designed to do so. RevX also brings full suspension to the Rev-type design. This was not reasonable on Rev as it tried to stay within the tight constraints of Part 103's 254-pound empty weight (before emergency parachutes or floats, for which extra pounds are allowed). Third, RevX shares with Rev the wide-open visibility of having no structural forward strut. Many trike observers think that forward strut is no visual impediment, but they may not have flown a fully-open trike like Rev or RevX. Evolution designed their structure so that the forward strut was not necessary and double value is achieved when the forward strut need not be removed to facilitate fold-down.
Higher Wing LoadingRevX tips the scales at 410 pounds as seen in the video below. Now, that's for an accessory-loaded trike including an airframe parachute but that empty weight is well past the Part 103 limit so you must build and register your RevX kit aircraft and you must have a Sport Pilot license or better to fly it. For those that may not realize, a Part 103 ultralight vehicle (specifically not called an an "aircraft" to avoid normal FAA requirements) does not require a pilot certificate, N-numbers, or any sort of medical plus it can be delivered ready-to-fly. However, in exchange for some building effort RevX buyers will get a quite capable trike with impressive performance. "Another big change is that the wing on RevX is 25% smaller than on Rev. The RevX wing is 12.0 square meters (129 square feet) with a 28 foot span, where Rev's Part 103 wing is 15 square meters (161 square feet) with a 31.5 foot span," clarified Larry. The higher wing loading makes for crisp handling but more windspeed capability than the more lightly loaded Rev. A smaller but still single-surface wing is paired with the much more potent Rotax 582 engine with 65-horsepower. "Climb rate is 1,200 feet per minutes," beamed Larry. "I tell pilots about to fly RevX that they should start moving the bar forward immediately because acceleration is so fast that RevX will be ready to fly very soon after you advance the throttle." This appears to make RevX well suited to shorter field operations though such things should still be carefully evaluated. "The single surface RevX wing has a limited speed range," Larry explained. "Pilots will see stall at 28 mph, normal cruise at 45 mph and the wing maxes out at 58 mph," he noted but the handling of a single surface wing is superior. As you'll see in the video, not only is Larry a gifted trike pilot but the machine seems willing to allow handling to delight most trike pilots.
Here's our video interview with developer Larry Mednick shot at Sun 'n Fun 2019 when RevX was introduced… https://youtu.be/G8TnXCJH05c
Evolution Trikes celebrated their 10th anniversary at Sun ‘n Fun 2019. That show and this company have enjoyed a long relationship, one meaningful enough that the two principals, Larry Mednick and Amy Saunders, exchanged their wedding vows at Sun ‘n Fun 2018 with show boss John “Lites” Leenhouts conducting the ceremony. Now, that’s commitment (to each other and to the big spring airshow). Larry Mednick is a happily married man now but he remains a restless designer, always striving for a new variation on the exquisite theme he started with Revo ten years ago. Since the ultra-deluxe Revo was introduced a decade back it has set a new benchmark for being the best-equipped, most-customized construction, with carefully-designed wings. The weight shift market enjoys several quality brands (though we did lose P&M earlier this year) and some are more affordable but none more sophisticated then Revo. However, that level of engineering and manufacturing costs money and all the many Revo features and appointments add to its expense.
Sky Arrow Ready for TakeoffFor years, Sky Arrow was ably represented in the USA by Hansen Air Group, lead by LSA enthusiast, retired airline captain, and general good guy, Jon Hansen. Regretfully, Jon passed away earlier this year. Thanks to his work with more good folks at Able Flight, Sky Arrow has firmly established itself as an ideal trainer for persons who have lost the use of their legs. Able Flight, in concert with Purdue University and others, has provided scholarships to people needing a hand-controlled airplane. Their successes have been significant and the organization lead by Charles Stites continues strongly in this field. One reason why Able Flight, Purdue, and Hansen Air Group promoted Sky Arrow is great flight characteristics. I flew with Jon Hansen in the East and with a former partner in the Western U.S. My quick reaction was that Sky Arrow is a terrific flying aircraft, full of good qualities and exhibiting no bad habits. No wonder Sky Arrow was able to win Part 23 approval for Sky Arrow. This achievement is unusual because — at least until the rewritten Part 23 becomes law — the process that put tens of thousands of GA airplanes in the air has been breathtakingly expensive. Cirrus claimed the effort took tens of millions of dollars after the design work was completed. That's too expensive for LSA builders. If you think some LSA are too costly now, let me try assure you that they would have far higher prices if they had to meet Part 23. Yet, here we have Sky Arrow, with full Part 23 approval accepted by FAA.
Very Capable AircraftOne of the hoped-for attributes of the new LSA regulation is a potential for "aerial work" or "commercial use." Presently LSA are restricted, not only to 1,320 pounds of gross weight, but to flight instruction, rental, and towing as accepted "comp/hire" activities FAA permits for a Special LSA. As most of the industry waits for FAA to complete their work, Sky Arrow USA has some luxury of time to plant their seeds. Helping seeds grow is something Sky Arrow USA is presently focused on like a laser beam. Agricultural use of Sky Arrow is a present goal for U.S-built models. "We have completed paperwork for a production certificate," said Marco Cavazzoni, Chairman of Sky Arrow USA. "Next we'll build a conforming aircraft and validate our build process and our facility." He is serious about manufacturing in America, but this is not the stretch it has been for other would-be U.S. builders. Magnaghi Aeronautica is a "minority partner" of Sky Arrow USA, Marco clarified. Since the Italian manufacturer is a shareholder, the U.S. operation is in control of the design, a key requirement for FAA to consider a U.S. operation to be the official manufacturer of a design. This is essential as it allows them to make changes as needed to quickly address market desires. "For the LSA market, we are nearly ready. We are creating a sales team and seeking distributors for all the Americas from the north of Canada to the tip of South America." At the same time, their Part 23 aircraft focus is on "precision agriculture," Marco noted. This employs a system where sophisticated sensors, cameras, and technology aids the pilot to spray crops with great exactness. "Our technology can direct the spray system where to spread, where not to spray, and it can log places where the farmer needs to inspect more carefully." The big difference here is that Sky Arrow may get in the business years ahead of other LSA players because Magnaghi already has Part 23 approval so they can perform commercial operations years before a manufacturer wanting to do so with a Light-Sport Aircraft model. "Also, because our airframe is tested to a 2x factor of safety, where most aircraft meet a 1.5x factor, we can carry the loads and do the work with greater assurance," Marco explained. "We basically have a Part 23 aircraft operating at LSA weights and speeds. We offer a sturdy aircraft that can deliver the goods while also providing a stable, secure platform to do the imaging that is a big part of precision agricultural work." While the working capability of Sky Arrow should help the company grow their business, it is the sheer joy of flight that will attract buyers to Sky Arrow. Watch for U.S. rep Marco Cavazzoni at airshows in 2020 and take a flight when you can. You may not smile as broadly as Able Flight's scholarship winners, but I'm betting you will love the experience. Examine the aircraft more fully and come along for a flight in the subject aircraft in this short video… https://youtu.be/UQ_PklduEvw
One of our most popular articles of 2019 involves FAA’s plans for refreshed regulation. To save you a click or tap, my best guess is that we will see an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) in 2021. Though it could possibly be sooner, it’s still many months in the future. Sky Arrow producer Magnaghi Aeronautica of Italy will be ready before the regulation is ready. That’s because the builder of this handsome composite aircraft already has a very rare approval: Part 23. Part 23 is also going through a major rewrite so some companies planning to enter this space are continuing their development work while they wait the final version of the regulation. The current Part 23 has been used to approve every Cessna, Piper, and Cirrus for decades. Similarly, LSA producers are digesting the news about sweeping changes that have potential to greatly improve the LSA market.
Thoroughly Modern Ultralight; Now a SLSAWe knew the FX1 from its ancestral JetFox series culminating in the JetFox 97, well… in 1997. See more of its history and background in this article. Here's an earlier report as FX1 completed development. The older JetFox models were more clearly ultralights. These were European ultralights, which are somewhere between a Part 103 ultralight vehicle and LSA of today. The design always caught my eye and I very much enjoyed flying the late '90s model. However, I did not enjoy worming my way into the cockpit around tubing structure and throwing a leg over the stick. You needed to be something of a contortionist to enter and I did not do so very gracefully. Times change. Along came modern LSA in all manner of aircraft and along came carbon fiber, digital instrumentation, crashworthy designs, and modern engines like Rotax's 912iS. Longtime JetFox/FX1 designer Alfredo di Cesare made incremental changes to the JetFox series but he kept aware of the changing design of light aircraft and moved forward with an entirely fresh creation. Virtually every part of InnovAviation's FX1 is new compared to JetFox 97. What FX1 retains is a similar shape and configuration. If that shape looks familiar to you, it should. In the JetFox 97 days — see this full-length pilot report of the 1990s design in an article written before SP/LSA was announced — the Italian aircraft significantly resembled the Flightstar series, which had evolved from designs by prolific Swiss designer, Hans Gygax.
FX1, the SLSAAlfredo and his team took the advice of Videoman Dave and me to take FX1 to Mt. Vernon, Illinois after Oshkosh. We assured him he and his airplane would be taken care of in the professional and enthusiastic manner of airport manager, Chris Collins. Chris created the Midwest LSA Expo (coming up on September 5-6-7, 2019), an event entering its second decade. We tell all aircraft producers they should go as this event is the No. 1 place for Dave and I to do Video Pilot Reports. These video productions are too demanding and time consuming to attempt at events like Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh but, thanks to Chris, we can do whatever it takes to make our popular VPRs at his airport. You should attend. It's laid back but that means you can get all the time you want with the aircraft representative. Alfredo and Team InnovAviation did much more than bring their airplane. Read what Chris had to report… "The InnovAviation FX1 made its inaugural flight in the United States at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport! "The long path to the air started with the aircraft on static display at Airventure Oshkosh last week, a late-night arrival at KMVN on Monday, nearly 40 straight hours of assembly and testing, and the inspection and sign off by the Federal Aviation Administration on August 1st. "At the controls were southern California-based reps for the aircraft, Pete Schutte and Deon Lombard. In the post-flight photograph are (from left to right) Deon Lombard, AeroPilot USA; Paolo Silvestrini, InnovAviation Chief Engineer; Pete Schutte, AeroPilot Chief Pilot; Alfredo Di Cesare, CEO InnovAviation (and the aircraft’s designer), and Umberto Di Cesare, InnovAviation Chief Operations Officer. "The aircraft and assembly team hails from Corropoli, Italy. The aircraft is sure to be a hit at the Midwest LSA Expo in early September. It was great hosting Alfredo, Umberto, and Paolo over the last three days. Thank you Deon and Pete for allowing KMVN this honor."
You're Invited to MWLSA!I've already bought my ticket and will be on hand all three days of the Midwest LSA Expo. I hope you can make it, as well. MWLSA is located about an hour's drive east of St. Louis. The airport is all LSA, Sport Pilot kits, and ultralights for the show days. You can visit with about 40 aircraft vendors (weather permitting and it usually is good) and you can take a demo flight in mere minutes. The airport has forums, air conditioned inside displays, food, regular bathrooms, and a ramp full of fun airplanes. The town has plenty of restaurants and hotels, all reasonably priced. What's not to love? Here's a short video image about FX1 at Oshkosh and Mt. Vernon. Enjoy!
* Lots of people get this wrong. We've been conditioned by many years of FAA "certifying" airplanes, like Cessna, Cirrus, Piper and so forth. However, Special LSA are not "certified." They are "accepted" by FAA after proving in very detailed form that the design meets ASTM standards and the company uses standard "best practices" in the manufacture of the aircraft.
If you are an ultralight enthusiast (as I certainly am!), then you are probably celebrating with me as FX1 joins the Special LSA fleet — which it does as Number 150 on our popular SLSA List. Here’s a secret: the SLSA List is one of the most-visited features on ByDanJohnson.com. Those who frequent that page know they can find all the Special LSA that have been accepted by FAA with links to the manufacturer, their importer if appropriate, contact info and all our content about any of the long list of aircraft. We are nearly at the 15-year anniversary since FAA released the regulation for what is now known as Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft; the rule came out in early September 2004. It was grandly previewed at Airventure Oshkosh that summer. The first approvals — Evektor‘s SportStar and Flight Design‘s CT2K — were granted in April of 2005 at the Sun ‘n Fun event.
Rotax Meets a Need with 915iSTrue to form as you might expect, Rotax followed through on a question I asked 15 months back. As reported in this review of the 915iS and 912iS the company’s top man strongly hinted at a fixed pitch version of this engine. Thomas Uhr has since moved up higher in the organization but at a journalist event last year, he answered a questions about fixed pitch on the 915 engine. He did not then answer directly but said, "Every engine Rotax has produced has been able to use a fixed pitch prop. Take from that statement what you will." Sure enough, the new powerful engine from the Austrian company will be available for used with fixed or ground adjustable prop by fall of this year. Good on Rotax and the well-spoken Mr. Uhr. Some countries allow constant speed or in-flight adjustable props but not the USA. FAA specified no in-flight adjustment in the current regulation. We believe this will change with the new reg (recent report) but that could be some years in the future. Until then, only fixed pitch can be used on American Light-Sport Aircraft. Rotax is enjoying good success with the 915iS fuel injected, turbocharged, intercooler power plant. More than 400 engines are now flying on aircraft and the number of airframe producers using the new engine continues to grow. More about Rotax success. The 915iS is also an important engine for the larger, up to four seat, aircraft to come in the LSA world as well as on kit-built aircraft and some models preparing for approval under the new version of Part 23 certification (that will use industry consensus standards modeled significantly after the LSA set of standards).
High from Low (wings, that is)Two leading companies exclusively using low wings will be introducing high wing models in the near future. One is a trade secret for now, but another was announced at Oshkosh. What's interesting here is that both companies have exclusively made low wing models in various configuration. Neither has made a high wing. One of these is also planning the new, powerful Rotax 915iS engine (though both producers are using that power plant in one of the low wing models. For more on the entry from South Africa's The Airplane Factory Sling TSi High Wing, see the video below. What's interesting is that this entry offer more seats and more capabilities. For the immediate future, Sling TSi High Wing will have to be kit built but as you read here, FAA will allow four seaters as basic Light-Sport Aircraft. Once again, TAF founder Mike Blythe is ahead of the game. He was the first producer I personally observed getting excited about what he could do with the 141-horsepower Rotax 915iS. Barely a couple years after I saw his mind working, he not only built the low wing Sling TSi but the new model promptly flew around the world, literally. I expect to see a plan for the high wing TSi to also make the globe-girdling flight.
LAMA’s Dual AwardFor only the second time, the association awarded two persons their highest honor, the Presidents Award for Outstanding Individual. A few years ago, a rare tie produced a dual award. This year, voting for the 28th year of the LAMA award, resulted in another dual award. Hundreds of members of the business community for light aircraft offered nominations. The person with the most such wins; it's a very simple system to recognize hardworking, creative people who helped move light aviation forward. One of this years winners was Kerry Ritcher. With his father, Wayne, Kerry founded three aviation companies. He started manufacturing aircraft in 1977 and his enterprises have produced a total of more than 3,000 aircraft, continuing to the present. His best known design is the SeaRey from Progressive Aerodyne based in Tavares, Florida. A Private Pilot with over 12,000 hours, Kerry has designed a dozen varied aircraft including Hi-Nuski; Cobra; King Cobra; Sea Wolf; Carrera; Carrera 180; Buccaneer SX; Catalina; Colibri; SeaRey; Stingray; and, SeaRey LSX/LS. The latter are in active production by the company he founded. The second awardee is also a LAMA board of directors member. Scott Severen started flying hang gliders in 1973 and has since been active in several aviation enterprises. He also assisted many organizations supporting light aviation including the U.S. Ultralight Association; the Airpark Owners and Operators Association; the EAA Ultralight & Light-Sport Aircraft Council, and the LAMA board. In 2004, Scott joined IndUS Aviation, and was instrumental in the effort to be the first American designed aircraft to earn SLSA certification. Severen presently owns and operates US Sport Planes, involved in LSA sales, brokerage, factory authorized maintenance and major structural repairs in Denton, Texas. In 2018, he took over as the North American representative for the Jabiru line of Light-Sport Aircraft. Scott is a private pilot and has accumulated over 2,000 hours in numerous types of aircraft.
Part 103 Success StoryMore than one fixed wing producer of conforming Part 103 aircraft expressed strong, continuing interest in these lightest flyers. Kolb and U-fly-It are both so busy building their 103 models that they are not focused on two seaters. Aerolite does not have a two-seat model and no plans for one. Kolb has the Mark III but the action is in their Part 103 models, said Kolb boss, Bryan Melborn. The good news continues… The arrival of Badland's Part 103 entry F-series in five variations adds to such popular choices as Kolb's Firefly, U-Fly-It's Aerolite 103, Just's True 103 (still in development), models from Team Aircraft and Fisher Flying Products. This listing of Part 103 prospects is not meant to be exhaustive and leaves out players like Evolution's Rev trike or Infinity's Challenger 103 powered parachute plus others. The point being, Part 103 appears not only to be surviving but thriving! Oshkosh even had an entrepreneur that has organized to provide support to Canada's Lazair. Watch for a video on this interesting development and see the nearby image if you are not familiar with this once-popular ultralight aircraft. Especially while most LSA run well into six figures, Part 103 pilots enjoy the greatest freedom in aviation. The simple rule has been unchanged since 1982 and allows flight in an ultralight vechile without a pilot certificate, N-numbers, or aviation medical. A producer can sell you a ready to fly model without getting FAA approval. As with LSA, ultralights overcame early issues to become solid members of the aviation fleet. Other countries have similar regulations.
Coolest Rig Seen At OshkoshIf you’re a good, red-blooded American pilot, I don’t see how you could not love this setup. Your luxurious motor home towing your Corvette and your Aerotrek A240 in a custom-built trailer that you can handle by yourself. I hope I didn’t drool on it as I looked it over. Built for recreation, this highly-customized trailer is towed behind the owner’s motorhome. It can hold his Aerotrek A240, requiring the tricycle gear model so as to fit the owners Corvette underneath. A clever system of ramps and winches allows him to load the aircraft and the car with no assistance. Both sides also open up to make it easier to stow the airplane ramps once the aircraft is secured and to allow proper tie-down of the Corvette. As a former Corvette owner, a former motorhome owner, and a lover of the Aerotrek aircraft, this setup looked to be about as close to aviation heaven as mere mortals can get. So, this apparatus gets my award for the Coolest Rig seen at the show.
Watch here as The Airplane Factory founder, Mike Blythe introduces the Sling TSi High Wing…https://youtu.be/I9I7_ZBUDC4
* The number 642,000 introduces different counting methods. I understand this number to mean the number of people passing through the gates, however, one person entering for several days is counted each day. Taken to task a few years ago, Sun 'n Fun now reportedly counts discreet individuals so the Florida show seems to have smaller numbers. Oshkosh is clearly a good deal larger but not as much as their reported numbers make it appear. Either counting method can be defended but this is comparing apples to oranges. And whatever the numbers, our glimpses of Oshkosh while zipping around doing videos and gathering story material strongly suggested great attendance in 2019.
The weeklong celebration of flight known around the planet as “Oshkosh” is now history. Although EAA was challenged by inclement weather before the show and as it opened, the weather gods smiled on the event and provided a wonderful week with all the action you can imagine. EAA announced attendance numbers identifying solid growth over last year, to 642,000 attendees*. That’s a ways from the 800,000 back a couple decades but is solid growth from recent years. Especially as EAA had to work hard to overcome weather issues before the event, the organization is to be commended for handling a huge number of details with professionalism. The week of Oshkosh brought outstanding weather and only brief periods of rain. Those of us from hot states enjoyed the mild temperatures and beautiful cloud-dappled blue skies (photos). So, after getting back in the saddle after an intense week, here are a few stories of interest.
M24 OrionItalian company Magni Gyro calls their M24 Orion model an "enclosed side-by-side two-seat factory built gyroplane." Currently in the USA, all models of Magni gyroplanes must be built as kits but until the new regulation arrives, dealers in the USA are prepared to assist this relatively modest effort. Orion is structurally based on a "chrome-alloy aeronautical 4130 steel that is TIG welded," said Magni. The fully enclosed model has a carbon fiber fuselage, undercarriage, wheel pants, and rudder. Integral fuel tank manufactured in epoxy resin reinforced with fiberglass hold 21.5 gallons, a fuel capacity that allows flights of up to four hours at a cruise speed of 75 to 95 mph. In this article you can read about a flight from Texas to Cuba by a pair of Magni gyros, proving the range capability of these flying machines. Power on M24 Orion comes from a turbo Rotax 914 providing 115 horsepower from the four cylinder, four stroke, water-cooled engine fitted with a mechanical rotor blade pre-rotator. Orion's three-blade carbon fibre propeller can be optimized by ground adjustable pitch. Magnin goes beyond some gyro producers — the company makes its own 28-foot diameter, two-bladed rotor from composite materials. Orion's instrument panel is equipped with rotor revolution counter, altimeter, air-speed indicator, vertical compass, a digital engine monitoring system, and fuel level gauge. Additional, optional instrumentation can be added as desired. For controls, Orion offers full dual joystick and pedals for each occupant. Standard equipment includes electric trim. M24 Orion is attractive and roomy inside. For carriage, Orion is equipped with three easily-accessed baggage compartments. Its cabin heating system combined with full enclosure allows M24 to remain comfortable even on cold winter days. From either seat the view is enormous, a key benefit of gyroplanes without nearby wing structure to block your view. Orion would definitely be more comfortable for long flights or in chilly weather but the open cockpit M16 Trainer or M22 Voyager models deliver an even more expansive view. Combined with a gyroplane's unique handling and performance, these machines make wonderful viewing platforms.
Magni's "Plus" SeriesIn the last year, Magni Gyro introduced use of the new Rotax 915iS turbocharged 141 horsepower, fuel injection-powered engine. Models with the most powerful Rotax yet are designated by the suffix, "Plus." "An innovative and avant-garde choice," Magni said, "[915iS] brings to the whole range a considerable increase in cruising and climbing performance, with fuel consumption comparable to the Rotax 914." One of Magni's American customers, identified only as M.B., wrote the company to say, “As the proud owner of the first Magni M16 Plus in the USA, I can tell you the performance is like none other. Takeoff, climb and speed performance exceeded my expectations. This gyroplane has incredible power reserve, more than enough for every aspect of flight. Takeoffs are breathtaking, cruise is smooth and landings are gentle. The Magni M16 Plus is an incredible flying machine!” One final comment of worthy note: In late 2016, the Magni Gyro factory in Besnate, Italy produced the company’s 1,000th gyroplane. See lots of video experiences in Magni gyros at this link. — Come along for a flight as we perform a Video Pilot Report in an M16 Magni gyroplane with representative and expert gyro pilot, Greg Gremminger. You will clearly see a series of interesting in-flight maneuvers. https://youtu.be/dOcua9uyFfo
For more than 15 years one class of Light-Sport Aircraft has been held down in America even while it has been burgeoning in other parts of the world. The class is LSA gyroplanes, for a decade and half prevented from selling a fully-built model in the USA. How well is the category doing in other parts of the world? The answer draws on reports from dominant engine producer, Rotax Aircraft Engines, which has reported for years that the class of aircraft buying the most engines has been gyroplanes. Considering the many fixed wing designs also use that engine brand, Rotax’s statement carries tremendous weight. The story about why gyroplanes were denied the full privileges of Special LSA — and therefore have to be built as Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) kits in America — is a long, sad story …but it is one that appears to be ending, thank goodness! As described in this recent article about FAA’s plans for revised regulation of LSA (as well as other non-LSA segments), the leash around the neck of gyroplane producers is set for release.
Sunward Aurora Specifications (per factory):
- Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds
- Empty Weight — 750 pounds
- Useful Load — 570 pounds
- Payload (with full fuel) — 380 pounds
- Length — 22.6 feet
- Wing Span — 28 feet
- Never Exceed Speed — 146 knots
- Cruise Speed — 118 knots
- Stall Speed — 39 knots
- Maximum Climb Rate — 1,080 feet per minute
- Takeoff Distance — 590 feet
- Landing Distance — 590 feet
- Powerplant — Rotax 912 ULS (carbureted)
- Fuel Capacity — 31.7 gallons
- Range — 745 statute miles
Welcome to the newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft, entering our popular SLSA List at number 149. The newest is also unique among all 149 entries in one way. Sunward’s Aurora is the first entry from China. The company has been producing aircraft since 2013 and reported delivering 100 aircraft in that time, all in China, averaging about one a month. The U.S.-registered entry seen at Oshkosh (N871LS) is the first outside China. Here is link to the Aurora information. You need a specific link because Sunward is a conglomerate active in diverse fields, for example, large earth movers and excavators. The photo of their expansive facility tells a thousand words. This is not uncommon in China. Many of that country’s acquisitions of major American aviation companies were done by still larger enterprises in China. Mostly these are private businesses, not the more staid state companies. Assembled discreetly in Denton, Texas, Sunward quietly earned its Special Airworthiness Certificate — verified by examining the printed document kept in the aircraft — just in time for American Chief Pilot Patrick Keeling to take off and fly to Oshkosh.
It's Ultralight and It's AffordableBudget and household income vary widely as do people's decisions about how to use the funds they have. Some buy $175,000 superdeluxe Light-Sport Aircraft. Some look to save money with ultralights like Kolb's FireFly, U-Fly-It's Aerolite, CGS Hawk's Ultra, Air-Tech Quicksilvers, and M-Squared's Breese I. Some buyers simply like the freedom afforded by Part 103 operations. "Expect to spend anywhere between $11,700-$28,500 for a brand spanking new Badland kit," said Chris, the owner of Badland Aircraft. "You can expect to spend another $2,000-$4,500 for the firewall forward parts unless you have an engine laying around." However, as Chris puts it, "$35,000 will get you one of the baddest bush-style ultralights in existence." Referring to the F5 Fujita he asked, "Who wouldn’t love a full titanium airframe, 21-inch bush tires, 8-inches of suspension travel, a 60 horsepower ultralight that can take you anywhere you want to go? The deluxe model is not ready at this time, but Chris said they were moving with the project. "A ready to fly base model F-1 starts at $18,900 and runs to the top of the line F-5 built with full titanium welded cage, 58 horsepower yet still 100% Part 103 Ultralight legal," said Badland. "[This is] our dream machine, with every option to make you feel on top of the world; for $37,000 we’ve got you covered." "With the folding wings and the ability to park it in a 20 foot by 8.5 foot enclosed car trailer or a single car garage, you’ll appreciate the versatility." What I examined at Oshkosh 2019 looked good with many quality machined parts and an attention to detail you could see in several places. Badland may be new but Kitfox Lite is known and accepted. I think we'll be seeing more of Badland Aircraft.
One More ThingAre you not too sure about flying with an Italian Polini engine doing the heavy lifting? Knowing the concern some pilots have about two-stroke engines, Badland has a solution. Here's how they put it: "Stay tuned for more info on our very own 450-cc, 45-horsepower, four-stroke engine that weighs less than 65 pounds!" Indeed! If they meet that goal and if the engine proves reliable, that could be of great interest to the legions of pilots unsure about two-stroke powerplants on aircraft.
* Yes, I know I incorrectly (but deliberately) wrote "Ultralight Aircraft" in the title when it is technically "Ultralight Vehicle." ** Some are not aware as I discovered at Oshkosh 2019 but in early June James Weibe and his Belite Aircraft enterprise suffered a terrible loss. The factory was ravaged by a severe fire destroying aircraft, lots of inventory, tools, records, and more. This is why the company did not exhibit at AirVenture after many years in attendance. We wish Belite a full recovery from this disaster. The sale of the Kitfox Lite to Badland occurred before this fire and the deal is unaffected by the tragedy.
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?
Then Arrived FX1FX1 is Alfredo’s latest and best design. "It features a totally new airframe that incorporates numerous improvements and refinements using state-of-the-art methods and materials," said InnovAviation. "FX1 is a high-performance sport plane that reflects Alfredo's great sense of style, his attention to detail, and his high standards for airworthiness and safety." Sitting in FX1 at Oshkosh, it is immediately clear this is not the JetFox97. The older model was much more challenging to enter as you had to contort your body to wriggle around structure. Once in it was comfortable but the all-new FX1 is far easier partly thanks to those shapely curved doors. FX1 is a welded steel structure with a carbon fiber skin. During an Oshkosh video interview we learned the carbon fiber skin can be completely removed in about one and half hours when, for example, you may need to do a very thorough inspection. Some aircraft that evolved from similar design can have rather awkward engine mounts, commonly with exposed engines. While I see nothing wrong with that — and they are certainly easy to inspect and maintain — Alfredo's has smoothly encased the fuel injected Rotax 912iS in… you guessed it, more carbon fiber. Wings and control surfaces are riveted aluminum, which can be repaired as needed by airplane mechanics almost anywhere in the world. A luggage compartment aft of the cockpit has access doors on each side and the space is open side to side giving ample area for items you wish to transport to your destination. For things you might want in flight, a space behind the occupant's heads is available. Seats are comfortable and the cockpit measures a broad 49 inches wide (almost 10 inches more than a Cessna 172). In the side-by-side seats, FX1 features handsome side sticks on the outside of each seat. A single throttle is center mounted. All controls are within an easy reach. Visibility is enormous, with occupants surrounded by perhaps 300 degrees of clear acrylic. The Rotax engine above and in front of the cockpit is almost out of sight and only very marginally impedes your vision, less so than most engines on the nose of an aircraft. "FX1 delivers ease of flying, comfort, safety, ruggedness, durability, attractive styling and exceptional performance across the board," boasted the company. For more, check our report after Aero 2018 last year, which also has our video interview from that show. In the USA, FX1 is represented by Fly Light Sport CA, with operations in Fullerton California and Fort Pierce, Florida.
InnovAviation FX1 Specifications
- Cabin width — 49 inches
- Wing Span 27 feet 7 inches
- Wing Area — 122.7 square feet
- Empty Weight — 728 pounds
- Max Takeoff Weight — 1,320 pounds
- Useful Load — 592 pounds
- Payload (full fuel) — 407 pounds
- Baggage Allowance — 77 pounds
- Fuel Capacity — 30.9 gallons
- Maximum Continuous Speed — 136 mph / 120 knots
- Cruise Speed (75% power) — 124 mph / 108 knots
- Stall Speed (flaps down — 40 mph / 35 knots
- Never Exceed Speed — 150 mph / 130 knots
- Range — 645 nautical miles
- Endurance at Cruise — 5.5 hours
After impressing European pilots at the big German show called Aero Friedrichshafen, producer InnovAviation brought their sleek and sexy FX1 for Americans to see at Oshkosh 2019. For American representation, the Italian producer will be teaming up with Deon Lombard, who also represents the AeroPilot L600 from a Czech manufacturer. I can’t imagine how anyone can look at Alfredo Di Cesare‘s creation and not react with admiration. Italian companies are known for dashing and innovative lines (think: Ferrari or any number of auto companies or LSA giant, Tecnam). Design talent is definitely not lacking from Italian products; FX1 should be an object of national pride. The FX1 is an evolved fourth-generation aircraft following the JetFox 97 from the 1990s. Designed by Alfredo Di Cesare, a noted aircraft designer with over 35 years of experience in the sport-plane industry, FX1 is clearly related to the earlier model but it is so different in many ways that it is unfair to compare them directly.
(Re)Introducing RV5Truthfully, Van's Aircraft Vice President and Chief Engineer Rian Johnson is only displaying a personal project. RV-5 was never offered for sale and won't be now. Yet the light aircraft enthusiast in me noticed it right away. Probably like most other attendees I wondered, "What is that? "Of course, we want people to focus on our current popular kits such as RV-8, -10, and -12," quickly added, "but I thought Oshkosh visitors might enjoy seeing a bit of Van's history." RV-5 dates way back to 1975 when it was built by Dick VanGrunsven and EAA 105 chapter members to evaluate several design concepts. Among the goals of the group, Rian explained, were light weight and fuel efficiency. RV-5 was never intended for production. RV-5's wings swing back over the flat aft fuselage for easier transport or more space-efficient storage. No control linkages need be disconnected thanks to a clever center-mounted mixer that stays in place when folding the wings. "Some years back, I was up in a loft storage area looking for something and uncovered a dusty airframe. When I asked Dick about it, he asked, 'Do you want it?' Be careful what you ask for," Rian noted although he did eventually tackle the restoration project marrying the airframe of RV-5 to the canopy of RV-2. The single seat design is small. A very lean Rian said he weighs 138 pounds and RV-5 is even somewhat snug for him so this is not an aircraft for pilots who tip the scales beyond FAA's 170-pound reference weight. That hardly matters, however, as this is not an active project for anyone but Rian. Needing only 40 horsepower to perform enthusiastically RV-5 is powered by a Rotax 447. Carrying 10 gallons of fuel, burning three gallons an hour at a 90-mph economy cruise, RV-5 has a range nearly 300 miles.
RV-5 Specifications (provided by Van's Aircraft):
- Empty Weight — 312 pounds
- Gross Weight — 577 pounds
- Length — 16 feet 7.5 inches
- Cockpit Width — 19 inches
- Wing Span — 20 feet
- Wing Area — 75 square feet
- Top Speed — 120-125 mph
- Cruise at 75% Power — 100+ mph
- Stall "Dirty" — 41 mph
- Takeoff Distance — 175 feet
- Landing Distance — 300 feet
- Climb Rate — 1,200+ fpm
Cruising the grounds at Oshkosh, looking for aircraft to report, I looked around the all-new Homebuilt Area. This group has long occupied a fairly spacious grassy area in a good location south of the Warbirds Area, said to be Oshkosh’s biggest draw. However, for 2019 EAA relocated the area bringing vendors closer to the densest customer traffic, which may encourage more attendees to examine their aircraft. Several exhibitors I spoke to seemed content with the new location. The new area had the usual collection of vendors, many of which qualify as Sport Pilot kits that can be flown with the certificate that needs no aviation medical. Quarters looked rather tight compared to past years, with airplanes somewhat shoehorned into the allocated space. Like all changes — and EAA has made a huge number of them in the fifty years the event has been held in Oshkosh — visitors and vendors will adapt quickly enough and soon we’ll forget the old “North 40” where homebuilt kits once displayed.
Vashon Ranger FAQsThe success of Ranger R7 begged the answer to some questions submitted to the company by Kent Misegades of Seven Lakes, North Carolina. Kent posed the questions to Ken Krueger, chief engineer of the Ranger R7, to get the following answers. Krueger formed his own company called Sky Designs after leaving Van's Aircraft. Kent's questions are shown in colored text.
- Number sold and delivered since AV18. We've delivered 14 airplanes since AV 18 and we have a sizeable backlog of customers who've put down deposits.
- Estimated production numbers in 2019, if this is something you wish to divulge. We've produced 12 aircraft so far in 2019 and are working to get the production rate to 4 aircraft per month.
- Where are the delivered airplanes based, in a general sense. How are they being used? Most aircraft are personally owned and used for sport flying although our very first customer airplane went to a flight school at our home airport near Seattle. Our customers are spread across the USA, we've delivered airplanes to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Ohio. We also have one airplane in Canada.
- Interest among flight schools to replace C150/C152? As already mentioned, our first delivery was to a flight school, but, yes, lots of interest from other flight schools and flying clubs.
- Is the R7 only for those interested in Sport Pilot/LSA? Emphatically, no. One of our design goals was to have an airplane that appeals to many different segments of the market. Ranger's cabin is large and comfortable, everyone who's flown in the airplane has praised it's flying qualities, and I think we've done a nice job of integration with Dynon avionics. Plus our price point is quite competitive.
- What have you learned since AV18? With the increasing number of customer airplanes flying, we're gaining a better understanding of what customers want and the environment they are operating their airplanes in. Also we're learning that it takes effort to efficiently build the airplanes while maintaining consistent quality.
- What new topics are you focused on at AV19? Product awareness, we are here to let folks know about the Ranger and Vashon Aircraft. As the aircraft itself is maturing, that allows time for us to develop necessary accessories like tow-bars, windscreen/cabin covers, and the like.
- What has changed in the specifications / pricing / offers since AV18, ie obvious from your web site and literature? Nothing, pricing and options remain the same as last year.
- Anecdotes from customers/operators and how you have addressed requests/problems (the true indicator of excellence). We've had a couple of ground handling mishaps with customer airplanes which resulted in bent metal. It was gratifying to go through the process of assessing the damage, deciding which parts would need replacement, and seeing the repair process move so quickly. With our pre-painted metal and since all the parts are manufactured on CNC machines, the speed and accuracy with which repairs can be made is pretty amazing.
- Where can a person get a demo flight? Here at AirVenture 2019, simply swing by our display and ask as we will be offering demo flights in our company aircraft. Otherwise, just call Vashon and talk to Kurt Robertson or Kelsey Hickman.
More FAQs See Vashon at Oshkosh 2019
- How are purchased aircraft delivered to the customer? Do they receive any introductory flight or light maintenance training? Customers can either travel to Paine Field, near Seattle, to pick-up their new airplane or we can deliver it. In any case, included with each airplane is up to ten hours of transition training with one of our CFI's.
- What sort of manuals come with the aircraft? The Pilot's Operating Handbook, Flight Training Supplement, Maintenance Manual, plus manuals for the engine, prop, and other equipment on the airplane.
- What has the reliability record been so far? Good overall. No major airframe or powerplant issues.
- Where is your exhibit located and who will a person meet there? Vashon is in the Main Aircraft Display area, booths 17 & 18. Vashon (and Dynon) CEO John Torode, General Manager Scott Taylor (each pictured nearby), Marketing Specialist Kelsey Hickman, Marketing Manager Kurt Robertson, and Chief Engineer Ken Krueger can all be found there.
- At what other public events can one see an R7 this year? We will be at the Arlington, Washington fly-in in August. With more airplanes being delivered each month, folks will start seeing Rangers dropping-into airports for fly-in events and/or fuel stops.
- What are the sales/support/service channels for the R7? Right now, all this is handled through our main office in Woodinville, Washington.
- Any plans for a kit version? Tailwheel version? Float version? Other powerplant? No current plans to offer a kit version, or tailwheel version of the Ranger. As for powerplants, we will be staying with the Continental O-200-D for the time being. We are, however, pretty excited that our prototype airplane, N219VA, has been mated to a set of Edo 1320 floats and is now flying off Lake Washington. The airplane was designed from the beginning to a floatplane and, as such, it looks great both on the water and in the air.
- What is the 'sweet spot' / advantages of the R7 compared to the competition? Affordability both in terms of purchase price as well as operational costs, integration of modern avionics, and the well proven direct-drive, air-cooled engine.
- Are any customer-owned R7s coming to AV19? Yes, we're expecting a couple of customers to fly in with their airplanes. N133VR, one of the customer airplanes seen last year is here again on display.
- What positive surprised have you experienced since AV18, beyond sales. For instance positive comments from customers who had not expected.One customer has commented to us that he has to budget at least a half-hour to fill-up his airplane. This is because wherever he stops, folks come out to look at his Ranger and ask questions.
- How well is the vinyl wrap holding up? Can a customer get any design he wants? (We don't have mountains down here in the South.) The wraps are holding up well to environmental conditions such as sun, heat, cold, moisture, and bug splats. Vinyl has been in use on cars for many years now, so it is very much a known quantity in terms of durability. It isn't a whole lot different than paint, however, in that you still need to be careful when installing/removing the cowling to avoid causing damage. As for custom designs, yes, customers can get anything they want. There have been a few custom-wrap airplanes delivered and it was fun to see people getting creative with their design.
- Anything else readers should know? We will be giving a forum at AirVenture 2019 — Friday July 26th from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm at Forum Stage 5. There will be time at the end of the presentation for questions and answers. I hope to see everyone there!
Sometimes a new Light-Sport Aircraft producer bursts on the scene in dramatic ways. Think of Terrafugia and their folding wing flying car or Icon and its sexy A5 LSA seaplane. Others enter from different positions of strength. One of the newest of these is Vashon Aircraft with their Ranger R7 (here’s our earlier reporting on Ranger). While organized as completely separate companies, Vashon shares common ownership through the name John Torode, the founder of Dynon Avionics. The two businesses work hard to stay separate but it’s clear one success might help the other just as John’s earlier success in the tech industry lead to Dynon being formed. When you check the Tableau Public tally of market share information — you can select to show only Light-Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot kit aircraft, or modern gyroplanes, or any combination, but the link defaults to all aircraft.
LSA Is a Success StoryFor 15 years Light-Sport Aircraft and their producers have proven themselves, LAMA argued. FAA concurred; the agency has often referred to the safety record as "acceptable," reasonably high praise from regulators. “A lot of [the rule change] is based on the [generally positive] experience with LSA,” FAA noted. They also said the revised regulation will be “less prescriptive, more performance-based.” This is seen as a deregulatory effort by the agency. Regarding the much-anticipated max weight increase, FAA refers to a "Power Index." This term means a formula-based method to replace maximum takeoff weight in the definition of a LSA, involving wing area, horsepower, and takeoff weight. FAA is also looking at up to four seats, “for personal use and for flight training.” Airspeeds — referring to maximum horizontal and never-to-exceed speeds (Vh and Vne) — may be higher than in the current rule, but will still be limited. Neither will FAA be prescriptive about (that is, tightly defining) powerplants. The 2004 version of the LSA rule prohibited electric motors because rule writers wanted to discourage turbine power and therefore specified reciprocating engines, which knocked out electric. FAA will now consider both electric and hybrid. Yet FAA was clear, “Movement of people for hire (such as the multicopter air taxis proposed by numerous companies) is not part of this.” FAA is also reviewing what type of mechanics (LSR-M or A&P) can do what kind of work on specific systems of aircraft (examples: in-flight adjustable prop or electric propulsion systems).
When Will the New Rule Emerge?One of the most-asked questions is when will this rule be announced, meaning when will an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) be published for public comment. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 includes a deadline of 2023 for implementing a key mandate that suggests the longest it should take. Once an NPRM is published, a comment period follows to hear from the public after which FAA needs time to address the concerns raised during that comment period. After closure of that comment period, the FAA has 16 months to publish the Final Rule. Throughout the LAMA/FAA teleconference some ideas were repeated by FAA personnel…
- “The former (current) regulation “was unnecessarily restrictive.“
- FAA wants the revised regulation to “allow the industry to do more.”
Update on LAMA's Specific RequestsOver the last few years LAMA made several specific requests: aerial work or commercial use of LSA; fully built gyroplanes (only kits have been permitted); single lever control for in-flight adjustable props; and electric propulsion. LAMA also supported the idea of increased weight. Each of these was explained via a detailed white paper submitted to the agency followed by more discussions with FAA executive management over several meetings in Washington DC. “All of these requests are on the table,” FAA acknowledged in the June teleconference. Of course, this does not mean all are certain to be included, but they represent a “huge opportunity [for industry and for pilots].” Gyroplanes — Special LSA (fully-built) gyroplanes are part of what is being considered for the new regulation but this remains a work in process. LAMA presented new arguments, assembled safety data that FAA requested, and kept up the pressure resulting in its inclusion in the proposed new regulation. Weight Increase — Yes, weight will increase. The often-mentioned "3,600-pound gross weight" number is irrelevant, however, because FAA will use the power index as mentioned above. Under this more performance-based approach, LSA manufacturers would have more flexibility in making trade-offs among these parameters to meet a new power index limit. That new limit is intended to allow for up to a safe, robust, four-seat airplane. “All this is seen [within the agency] as relieving on industry; enabling, not tightening the screws,” said FAA. Aerial Work / Commercial Use — The topic of for-hire work in LSA involves another group — Flight Standards Service. Most of the proposed changes originated with Aircraft Certification Services office. “The Flight Standards people are considering [aerial work],” said FAA. This important topic has been a priority for LAMA because it could become a vital activity to keep manufacturers healthy by expanding their capabilities and the markets they can serve. Pilots could also gain as this would provide more compensated flying jobs and business opportunities. Electric Propulsion — Not only is electric fully on the table, but hybrid power involving both gasoline and electric is envisioned as well (though ASTM standards for hybrid have yet to be composed). Notably, the discussion did not involve batteries. Single Lever Control (in-flight adjustable prop) — The concept for Single Lever Control (SLC) is that the prop adjusts automatically based on information supplied by instruments and the engine such that the system “knows” what prop pitch might be optimal. A pilot puts the throttle where needed (full forward for takeoff) and the prop adjusts. At altitude, the system also knows this and can adjust to a cruise setting. While SLC is more complex and currently more costly, LAMA believes continued development will lower costs. However, SLC does not raise the workload of the pilot, thereby staying with the “simple, safe, and easy-to-fly” mantra. LAMA is "very pleased with the FAA’s open attitude and willingness to consider important changes that industry and the flying community seek."
Many have asked about progress on FAA’s proposed rewrite of the Light-Sport Aircraft regulations. Following a lengthy teleconference at the end of June 2019, LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, provided another update. The update to industry covered a lot of ground but here we’ve tried to make it a quicker read. Two key points: First, FAA is in the early stages of this rulemaking; at least minor changes are certain. FAA itself does not know all the specific details of the proposed rule at this time. Secondly, the steps reported here come from actual rule writers but their effort has support from top FAA leadership. Driven by a Congressional mandate we know this will go forward. LSA Is a Success Story For 15 years Light-Sport Aircraft and their producers have proven themselves, LAMA argued. FAA concurred; the agency has often referred to the safety record as “acceptable,” reasonably high praise from regulators.
Epic Ultralight FlightAt age nine, visiting with Dad, Henry asked, "Could I fly [into Oshkosh]?" That question alone puts Henry in a class of his own. Most kids that age are playing with dinosaur toys, not asking about flying into the world's busiest airport. So, in 2019 commenced a major cross country flight of some 720 miles from Warrenton, Virginia to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This took a whole series of short legs because any true Part 103 ultralight may only carry five gallons of gas, or something over an hour of flight with a reserve. A map shows a path over the Appalachian mountains and midwestern farm land. With average flight segments of 45 minutes, lots of landing were involved. "We used a methodical process," remembered William. "I didn't want my son to be hurt and aviation can be merciless." William and Henry started with a powered paraglider when the lad was only 10 years old. He soloed at 11 after bringing in an expert from Florida to assure he really had the right stuff. Dad William is an experienced GA pilot but knew little of PPGs. At Henry's age 13, the Scotts ordered an Aerolite. This followed many flights in a Cessna 150 with his father, where he learned all the basics of flight while someone was ready to assist when (and if) needed. However, at his youthful age and unable to obtain a Private Pilot certificate, Henry could not solo the C-150. "We chose the Aerolite 103 because it looked like an airplane," explained William. "It was confidence inspiring. It had airplane features I was familiar with, such as flaps." Yet, he humorously added, "It's an anodized aluminum chair." For readers that may not know, Part 103 is a very special regulation dating to 1982. The entire rule can be printed on the front and back of a single piece of paper making it aviation's most charming rule, in my opinion. No pilot certificate is required. No aircraft registration is required. No medical of any kind is needed. Plus, a Part 103 aircraft can be delivered fully ready to fly.
Typical Henry Scott Flight PlanFor most pilots, a 700-mile cross country would be a good voyage. Commonly, though, they would complete the trip with two or three stops. As you can see from the map and read below, Henry had to plan approaches and landings many times while dad and sister raced along in the ground chase vehicle. "We planned 10 days for the trek," William detailed. Each day involved multiple landings. "On one day, Henry flew seven legs." Commonly, legs were 45 minutes, making the trip a series of bite-sized experiences but also allowing close checking of weather allowing Team Scott to simply avoid most weather. Despite their close eye on Mother Nature, Henry got completely doused as he flew in rain at one point (he had no other problems). As you might expect at this point in the story, a wet Henry remained undaunted. "Typically he flew at about 1,000 feet AGL," said William. "The Appalachians were more challenging with up and down drafts. We prepared for this by going to Colorado in the Commander and taking a mountain flying course, learning about anabatic and katabatic (upslope and downslope) air movements." This prepared Henry to use lift when it was available and to learn the hazards of sinking air in such terrain. Each day involved about four hours of flying. Father and son planned 28 legs over seven days assuming some days lost due to weather. Each segment covered about 35 miles. "Forty miles is possible with a safety reserve, but we proceeded with caution." Even for those of us with a lifetime of flying in our logbooks, I'm not sure how you top the experience Henry is gaining as this is written. Good for Henry and good for dad and sis' for supporting their son and brother en route to aviation's summer celebration of flight! UPDATE: As I finished writing this article, William texted me, "He's on final for 36!" Hurray for the Scotts!
Happening right now as this is written …a young pilot, with impressive support from his father and sister, is flying to Oshkosh. Have you ever done it? I’ve frequently had the pleasure to fly into KOSH during the show. Every time, it’s been an eye opening experience, literally and figuratively. See this article describing one such experience. Now, imagine making such an epic arrival in an ultralight aircraft… ‘er vehicle, cruising at 40-50 mph. Of course, a Part 103 ultralight means flying solo, so you do your own head-swiveling to look for traffic. Your planning better be solid to make this a reasonable task. Go even further and imagine doing all this while you are 14 years old! Sound crazy? Yeah, it might seem that way but in an hour-long conversation with father William Scott, I came to admire the preparation for son Henry Scott‘s flight.
Now Read This…We have an "Unbeatable Warranty," declared Scott Severen, the representative for Jabiru in the USA under the business name US Sport Planes! What does he mean? "Jabiru Aircraft will be offering an increased warranty at Oshkosh 2019, lasting the duration of the show," Scott explained, revealing great confidence in this roomiest of Light-Sport Aircraft. "The warranty offered will be five years or 1,000 hours, whichever occurs first, for the airframe and the engine." Having followed light aircraft for many years, I have never heard a warranty for an aircraft that extends this long. Also, almost no other aircraft companies can offer a warranty on both airframe and engine, both manufactured by Jabiru in Australia. * By way of explanation, it seems with the in March 2017 launch of Jabiru’s new Gen 4 engine — a 6-cylinder, 120-horsepower, direct-drive, air-cooled powerplant — the down under producer of the composite high wing aircraft with a well-evolved engine, is seeing great results. See this article challenging Jabiru engines and the satisfactory resolution that followed. "They are claiming reduced maintenance for the engine due to the improved manufacturing configuration," clarified Scott. "This 30-year-old company has historically been quite conservative in their business approach, always operating on their own capital without incurring debt." Apparently Jabiru's history with the engine and airframe has the Australian manufacturer very comfortable extending this type of offer and support, overcoming the earlier news. "J230-D comes with a 10-inch Garmin G3X Touch display with synthetic vision; flight director; auto pilot; Garmin ADS-B in/out transponder providing weather and traffic on screen; intercom; leather interior; tinted windshield; wheel pants; 120 horsepower, 6-cylinder Jabiru engine; three human-sized doors, composite ground-adjustable prop… all standard for $149,900. "This is looking to be a great value at the show this year," said Scott." Find the Jabiru LSA at US Sport Planes' exhibit in the main aircraft area: booths 354 and 363 (just SE of Boeing Plaza). In case the J230-D price tag sounds beyond your budget, remember Jabiru has other choices. "The 4-cylinder J170 is priced at $129,900," observed Scott. The smaller J170 pares down on some of the options but still comes set up for night VFR. It's equipped with the 7-inch Garmin G3X Touch Display with synthetic vision, flight director, ADS-B in and out offering weather and traffic on screen. The lower cost model does not have auto pilot, comes with a wood prop and no wheel pants plus the interior uses cloth rather than leather. However, despite the lower price, "the Unbeatable Warranty applies to J170 as well," noted Scott. At 2018's DeLand Showcase, Scott and I went up for a flight to make a Video Pilot Report. Look for that at Dave Loveman's Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel but here is a short view of the Australian LSA. https://youtu.be/M_Mvms8uJpw * In this article, readers learned that Jabiru engines are represented and maintained in the USA by Arion Aircraft.
Price matters. While pilots enjoy a huge range in aircraft types, capabilities, descriptions, and price points, the fact remains that some aircraft will always be too expensive for some buyers. A smaller number tilt the other way, thinking a too-cheap aircraft might be, well… cheap, as in cheaply built. Airplane buying is as subjective as any other purchase. It has to work for you! If, for purchase consideration, you examine any of the LSA industry’s leaders, odds are the price of a new aircraft may require partners, financing, or a thicker wallet. However, one other factor enters into the decision: warranty. Really? Have you considered this when seeking a new airplane? Perhaps not, at least not the same way you consider a new auto warranty. The latter usually have a longer timeframe (especially in the last couple decades) yet warranty can be significant if a major problem arises. Now Read This… We have an “Unbeatable Warranty,” declared Scott Severen, the representative for Jabiru in the USA under the business name US Sport Planes!
Brazilian InvasionAmong nations that embrace non-commercial aviation, America leads the parade. Europe has a very large aviation community and like most non-U.S. regions, the concentration is on sport or recreational aircraft. America overwhelmingly dominates "general aviation" with about 80% of the world's GA fleet.* However, in sport or recreational aircraft, the USA represents around 20% of the world's aircraft population (chart link at bottom). Evidence of Brazil's prowess in creating aircraft that fit the LSA category include the excellent SeaMax LSA seaplane, Super Petrel LS, Pelican, the new Texas Aircraft Colt, Paradise P1, plus a handful of older designs. What's particularly amazing to some is that SeaMax, Super Petrel, Colt and now Hero have set up U.S. operations, most with aspirations of doing most or all manufacturing in America. André described his new entry to the LSA sweepstakes. Hero is "all 2024-T3 aluminum with cantilever wings and carbon fiber fairings. This model uses the fuel-injected Rotax 912iS engine with wheels and anti-skid brake system from Beringer and provides a Garmin panel." Hero uses unique yoke-mounted joystick somewhat reminiscent of Cessna's joystick in Skycatcher except better achieved. Hero's interior is large with its internal space "planned for world height standards without compromising the performance of the aircraft." He reports it has "great access to the interior with doors opening upwards." "I had many partners and sponsorships during development," André continued, "the largest being Dassault Systems SolidWorks with all software and engineering support, Bose Aviation, Akzo Nobel with extensive aerospace links, and others who supported the project." André acknowledged, "We are now in the flight test phase for ASTM compliance with ANAC Brazil (the country's version of FAA)."
- All aluminum 2024-T3 used for main spar
- Landing gear employs 7075-T6511 alloy
- Cantilevered (no struts) high wing design
- All rivets are flush mounted (AN426)
- All fairings are made of carbon fiber
- Rotax fuel-injected 912iS Sport engine
- Wheels and brakes supplied by Beringer
- Garmin's touchscreen G3X with dual screen panel with PA and G5 backup
- Bose A20 headphones
- Sensenich three-blade propeller
- Yoke-mounted joystick with HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick)
- Stall Speed, no flaps — 43 knots
- Top Speed — 120 knots
- Cruise Speed — 110 knots
- Takeoff Distance — 360 feet
- Landing Distance — 533 feet
- Climb Rate — 1,400 feet per minute
- Range — 730 nautical miles
- Wing Span — 34 feet 5 inches
- Length — 22 feet
- Empty Weight — 816 pounds
- Cabin Width — 43 inches
- Fuel Capacity — 26.4 gallons
From Brazil comes a new Hero, an aircraft most Americans have never seen. Outside of the South American country, few know of Hero in its two models. That’s about to change with this article. The cantilevered all-metal design has excellent ramp appeal, good specifications, and approval as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft is underway at this time, the developer said. He also added, is coming to the USA, to Florida, to be manufactured. The Brazilian invasion continues… For this article, I exchanged communications with André Godoy, Sector Aircraft‘s CEO and aircraft designer. He explained, “I have experience building LSA for other companies in Brazil but I am now working on my new design and company. His project is “Hero, a new high wing LSA.” Brazilian Invasion Among nations that embrace non-commercial aviation, America leads the parade. Europe has a very large aviation community and like most non-U.S. regions, the concentration is on sport or recreational aircraft.
East and West Coast Flight OpsBoth Sling Pilot Academy (SPA) and Sebring Flight Academy (SFA) are relatively recent starts but both already have students well trained enough that they can begin taking some of the chores of training the next batch, under controlled and highly supervised leadership, of course. This is serious stuff. These students could be piloting the airliner in which you are flying in just a few years. When students earn their credentials and are ready for more, SPA uses a pair of recently-acquired dual-Rotax-engine Tecnam Twins. SFA uses the well-proven Piper Seneca twin. Both places appear to be humming with activity! SPA has evolved from a modest, quiet flight school into a bustling operation. "We're just getting started," said SPA boss, Matt Litnaitzky. "Four new aircraft are on their way, we've added an additional hangar, as well as nearly quadrupling our staff. The first academy class is already airborne well on their way to a dream career." SPA said students are expected to complete their ratings in nine months and finish building their 1,500 hours in a year and a half. By utilizing efficient Rotax-powered aircraft with state-of-the art modern avionics, SPA students will be entering the airlines with glass cockpit experience at a fraction of the cost. Across the continent at Sebring Flight Academy, they are using Lou Mancuso's ingenious system of elevating their freshly-certificated students into flight training under the supervision of seasoned pros. As a former instructor myself, I can confirm a CFI learns every bit as much as each student he or she trains. SFA offers a full package of nearby lodging (they bought a house not far from SEF airport) and a work opportunity as ways to hold down the cost and concentrate the student's payment into actual training rather than lodging and transportation expense. Likewise, SPA has a whole web page dedicated to showing the savings they can offer. Both of these modern schools are very keenly aware that, as SPA reported, "The hot topic of every FBO around is 'a pilot shortage is upon us'..." Indeed, Boeing predicts over the next 20 years that North America alone will need 206,000 airline pilots. Globally that figures rises dramatically to some 800,000 pilots. Students getting into professional courses like those offered by SPA and SFA have very bright futures in my opinion. Airlines have great need, but so do corporate bizjet departments and military aviation divisions. China's military — even given its immense population — is increasing recruitment as they face upcoming shortages. Then, we have eVTOL air taxis in hot development and all manner of remote pilot positions. It's not just pilots either. Although it's a story worthy of another article, mechanics are predicted to have even higher job opportunities with pay scales increasing to entice trained workers. This is a great time to be a young person pursing aviation, better than I've seen in many decades of following aviation closely. It's wonderful to see Sling Pilot Academy and Sebring Flight Academy rewriting the old rules of how a flight school should be operated. I'm exceptionally proud of both enterprises. Current pilots can contact The Airplane Factory USA or Bristell USA to learn more about the aircraft they represent.
For years, I have been interviewing suppliers of Light-Sport Aircraft about how functional and durable their SLSA are for flight training. Contrary to what many think many SLSA actually make good trainers (see this recent article). Old timers might think you have to stick with Cessna or Piper to have an airframe built robustly enough to handle student flight training. Those who feel that way are behind the times. LSA are here and now in flight schools. This is a tale, not of two cities, but of two coasts, the Pacific and Atlantic yet the story is unfolding in several other locations, too. Based on multiple flight schools deep into using LSA (as portrayed in the linked article above), current LSA appear more than up to the job. That has been ongoing for some time. The new development that is popping up on the coasts and elsewhere in between are entirely new flight schools, ones organized completely around Light-Sport Aircraft as primary trainers.
Many Deserving PersonsI think we are very lucky aviators. Americans, Europeans, and aviators in many countries have literally hundreds of great Light-Sport Aircraft or Sport Pilot kits to choose between. The list is so extensive that making a choice of the one you can probably afford is challenging, enough so that we created PlaneFinder 2.0 to help airplane shoppers narrow the list. (It's fun; give it a try, no cost involved.) Many of the Award winners have been aircraft designers and/or manufacturers. Others who have won this award serve the light aircraft industry in other ways. For example… In 2018, LAMA honored Adam Morrison, the steady hand at the tiller of the ASTM committee that writes and updates the industry consensus standards that allow LSA to fly in America and other countries without having to go through terribly expensive Part 23 (Type Certificate) level approval. For his service to the light aircraft community, Adam Morrison was chosen after numerous nominations were received from hundreds of people. For several recent years, Adam Morrison has led the F37 Committee for ASTM in what is a challenging and rather thankless task but one essential to the approval of new LSA. Like nearly all who work on this committee, Adam volunteers his time. Adam successfully converted a childhood love for flying into a career focused on helping aircraft manufacturers prepare their designs for the market. Many of the leading companies have benefitted from his deep knowledge and expert guidance. His company, Streamline Designs, has been in operation for more than 20 years.
Presenting at OshkoshEvery year at the big summer celebration of flight called "Oshkosh," LAMA presents its newest recipient with a plaque to take home and engraves the winner's name on an obelisk that EAA generously displays on a permanent basis in the marvelous EAA Museum. If you never gone, you might want to put this on your bucket list; it's a fascinating and professionally-achieved display of recreational aviation and more. For this 28th year of this award, aviation professionals have been invited to submit a name for consideration. From all the nominations received, the one with the most votes wins. Very simple rules guide the vote. As LAMA founder, Larry Burke, told pros, "Select any individual you wish from the aviation community … someone you think has made significant contributions to the light aviation field." During or after AirVenture 2019, LAMA will announce the newest recipient of the organization's highest award.
- 2018: Adam Morrison (Streamline Design & ASTM)
- 2017: Sebastien Heintz (Zenith Aircraft)
- 2016: Professor Luigi Pascale (Tecnam)
- 2015: Jeremy Monnett (Sonex Aircraft); posthumous award
- 2014: Roy Beisswenger (Powered Sport Flying magazine and USUA) AND Laura Vaughn (Sun ‘n Fun convention director); first dual award given
- 2013: Bill Canino, (SportAir USA)
- 2012: Jan Fridrich (Chairman, LAMA Europe)
- 2011: Jack Pelton, (Cessna Aircraft)
- 2010: Tom Gunnarson (FAA Small Airplane Directorate)
- 2009: Mary Jones (Experimental Aircraft Association)
- 2008: Matthias Betsch (Flight Design, Germany)
- 2007: Eric Tucker (Rotax)
- 2006: Dan Johnson (ByDanJohnson.com)
- 2005: Earl Lawrence (EAA)
- 2004: Phil Lockwood (Lockwood Aviation Supply)
- 2003: Mike Loehle (Loehle Aircraft)
- 2002: Chuck Slusarczyk (CGS Aircraft)
- 2001: Chris Heintz (Zenair Aircraft)
- 2000: Darryl Murphy (Murphy Aircraft)
- 1999: Bob Gavinsky (Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft)
- 1998: Tom Peghiny (Flightstar Aircraft)
- 1997: Dennis Soder (Kolb Aircraft)
- 1996: Homer Kolb (Kolb Aircraft)
- 1995: Phil Reed (Skystar Aircraft)
- 1994: Lance Neibauer (Lancair Aircraft)
- 1993: Randy Schlitter (Rans Aircraft)
- 1992: Dick VanGrunsven (Van’s Aircraft)
Every year, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association asks industry professionals to nominate a deserving person to receive the LAMA President’s Award. Rest assured this has nothing to do with the POTUS spectacle about to begin. Instead this vote is for an individual that has made significant contributions to the light aviation field and is perhaps more relevant to your daily enjoymemt of the art of flying. Many Deserving Persons I think we are very lucky aviators. Americans, Europeans, and aviators in many countries have literally hundreds of great Light-Sport Aircraft or Sport Pilot kits to choose between. The list is so extensive that making a choice of the one you can probably afford is challenging, enough so that we created PlaneFinder 2.0 to help airplane shoppers narrow the list. (It’s fun; give it a try, no cost involved.) Many of the Award winners have been aircraft designers and/or manufacturers.
How Long to Build?At recent Oshkosh events, two "One-Week Wonders" were built using a kit from Zenith with power from Rotax or a Van's RV-12 with another Rotax 9-series engine. These were amazing efforts as this video describes, but Dennis and his Aerolite thinks they can do it quicker — far quicker. Plus, a deal awaits some lucky buyer. "We have a 'super offer' in conjunction with AirVenture in Oshkosh next month," announced Dennis in June 2019. "We will be assembling an Aerolite 103 during the show from a Quick Build Kit, and the aircraft is for sale (you can purchase it now, and pick it up at the end of the show or we can deliver it to you on the way back to Florida). If we have not sold it prior to the show, you can buy it at any time while it is being assembled)." Now — get this — a $3,000 Oshkosh discount applies! After he put this on his Facebook page, this "show" airplane will surely sell long before Oshkosh 2019 starts. Assembly will take place in the Workshop Tent — next to the Red Barn in the Ultralight Area, now known as the Fun Fly Zone — Tuesday through Saturday, during 9-11 AM and 2-4 PM. It will be completed and ready to taxi on Saturday afternoon. I'll do the calculation for you. In a mere 20 hours — during "banker's hours," some might say — an Aerolite 103 will go from kit to flyable aircraft. Bang! Compare that to the large gang of people who built the Zenith 750 or Van's RV-12 at Oshkosh (although they were amateurs, not experts). "The new owner can load it up on Saturday afternoon/evening," Dennis finished, "or we can deliver it to you. Delivery is free if you are someplace close to our route home (nominal delivery charge if you are not close to our route back to Florida)." The Oshkosh 2019 Super Wonder Aerolite 103 will be equipped with these options or upgrades:
- Hirth F33 engine
- Electric start
- Lightweight lithium battery
- Culver pProp
- EIS panel
- Hydraulic brakes
- 6-inch wheels and tires
Super affordability. Super Wonder. “Super?“ — surely, I exaggerate, right? Hmmm, I don’t think so. Let me explain. In an age where many Light-Sport Aircraft run $150,000, to well… possibly much more, “affordability” becomes something of a tortured word. What might seem affordable to a pilot that can buy a nearly one million dollar Cirrus SR22 is vastly different from what is affordable to most readers of this website. So, how affordable can Aerolite be to warrant my claiming “super affordability?” Rob Tuttle, following Aerolite on Facebook, posed a similar question, “How much minus delivery?” U-Fly-It owner Dennis Carley replied, “The normal price for this aircraft, assembled and ready to fly as it is equipped, is $21,680 without the parachute, $25,065 with the chute.” Airshows can bring even better prices but continue with this story for an even more unbelievable value. Consider this perspective. Automobile companies, building tens or hundreds of thousands of a single model, have an average U.S.