You wanna go fast? Of course you do. What pilot doesn’t want to go fast? Lightning Fast Now, ultralight pilots (me, for instance) will go on enthusiastically about the beauty of flying slowly, of drifting leisurely over the landscape at a “human speed” that allows enough time to enjoy the expanse of an aerial view of your surroundings. Open cockpit flying adds to the joy facilitated by low airspeeds. Yet the allure of going fast is great, zipping over the countryside. I get that and when contemplating a cross country trip of any real distance, fast cannot be too fast. In addition to a higher TAS, we all yearn for a tailwind that will raise our speed by another 20 mph. Arion Aircraft boss Nick Otterback also feels that desire to fly fast. Along with his since-retired but longtime business partner Pete Krotje, Nick created the dashing, sleek and smooth Lightning, first offered as a kit and a compliant Light-Sport Aircraft.
* My definition of these terms is that a "seaplane" has a boat hull where a "floatplane" is straight or amphibious floats added to a landline. The terms are not used as official designations. Home page sunset view over Seamax LSA seaplane by Randee Laskewitz
Seaplane flying is a specialty within aviation but it is one that has steady appeal and develops passionate aviators. I prefer to modify that “gear-up landing” line to… “There are pilots who love seaplane flying and there are those will love it.” Be forewarned: Once you touch your seaplane* or floatplane* to the water, it may forever change you. If you think I’m being too dramatic, you probably haven’t flown off the water. Great, so it’s magical to see the countryside from a few hundred feet up. Even better, enjoy flying low across the clear, blue, warm waters of the Bahamas. Examine the shoreline of a big lake in a way you’d never do in a landplane. Compared to airports, seaplane pilots have many times more lakes or rivers able to handle a landing. All are fair game in an emergency and many U.S. waterways will permit normal water operations. Are you convinced yet?
Videoman Dave and I never left Paradise City’s exhibits in our first day of video interviews. Yet we found several airplanes worth reviewing that fit comfortably into the affordable aviation space this website reports. Hawk Ultra — Despite some speculative rumors, all is well with the dual CGS Hawk project involving two-seat Hawk specialist and primary components fabricator Terry Short paired with the father and son team of Bob and LB Santom handling the single place Hawk 103, Hawk Ultra and Hawk Plus. Hawks developed a strong following in the U.S. and several countries with more than 2,000 flying. As the design emerged in 1983, it was only single place. Once Part 103 aircraft were growing and need for a two-seat trainer became apparent, the Hawk Arrow series debuted in several variations. With one or two seats, Hawks won a place in the hearts of many aviators and that continues unabated to this day.
Revo, Rev, Revolt, and _____?One is a new weight shift trike from the most deluxe maker of such rigs, Evolution Trikes. This Tampa Bay-area, Florida company based at Zephyr Hills airport has been a fountain of development since its start. How long has that been? Ten years as it turns out, and to celebrate, they're bringing their latest. Way back when, I wrote this full-length pilot report about Larry Mednick's first offering at Sun 'n Fun 2011, only a couple years after their original model was conceived. In my article I was exceptionally pleased with the trike's development. I wasn't the only one. Judges awarded Revo the Grand Champion Light Sport Aircraft at the 2011 Sun 'n Fun airshow. Since that colorful splash, the company has introduced their Rev (single place Part 103-capable), Revolt (two place ruggedized model) and now coming is RevX. The lone, fuzzy, distorted image that appears to have been captured by a plane paparazzi may give Evolution fans the smallest of hints (and others almost nothing) so you'll have to come to Sun 'n Fun to see for yourself. Of course, I'll report more fully here.
Now Streaming Your WayThe other fresh entry at Sun 'n Fun 2019 is one almost no Americans have seen and not to many Europeans. I saw it at Aero as did a few other Yanks, but to 99% of interested aviators, here's one out of the blue sky yonder. Welcome to Stream, a carbon fiber, low wing, tandem seating, retractable gear lightplane. Stream is clearly part of the TL family but is completely different than the preceding two models — that Americans already know. Sting has been their lead example through four iterations of the sleek low wing design: Sting-S2-S3-S4. Years ago Sting was offered with retractable gear but then came Light-Sport Aircraft rules so fixed gear became the norm. Later came the similarly built but high wing, yoke-controlled Sirius. Now, Stream… TL Ultralight has been active in the LSA world for many years and was first represented by SportairUSA. At Sun 'n Fun 2019 three very different models of Czech Republic manufacturer, TL Ultralight are on display near (and in) the LSA Mall. A big difference: the large TL display was mounted by newer representative, TL Aircraft USA, run by Michal Margolien. The U.S. based company, with roots in the origin country of Czech Republic, is displaying a Sting, a turbo Sting, the company's high wing Sirius, and Stream. The example was built as it must be for the American market as an Experimental Amateur Built model. A husband and wife team just return from a month in Czech Republic where they fulfilled all requirements for FAA approval. It is their airplane on display.
Starting Tomorrow (TU-4/2/19)Come see the new Evolution, the new Stream and who knows what else at Sun 'n Fun 2019! You can visit a whole flock of Light-Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot kits, and the engines that power them in the LAMA LSA Mall. Catch the free Rotax XPress and see for yourself.
What’s new at Sun ‘n Fun 2019? Again, as I’ve observed for previous airshows, it appears impossible for all exhibitors to be ready by gates-open tomorrow, Tuesday April 2nd, 2019. As usual, it will somehow, magically come together and most attendees will be none the wiser. Early arrivers know the truth of which I speak. I have knowledge ahead of the fact and I promised not to leak the announcements. Sun ‘n Fun visitors can check out these new machines for themselves. I am aware of two new aircraft and they could hardly be more different. Revo, Rev, Revolt, and _____? One is a new weight shift trike from the most deluxe maker of such rigs, Evolution Trikes. This Tampa Bay-area, Florida company based at Zephyr Hills airport has been a fountain of development since its start. How long has that been? Ten years as it turns out, and to celebrate, they’re bringing their latest.
What's New for SeaMax?SeaMax is now offering the fuel-injected Rotax 912iS as an engine option. The first such was sent to Norway — where SeaMax has long had a solid base of enthusiasts — and the company reports customers from the USA are ordering this version. The first SeaMax with the 912iS arrives in America this coming May. Get more 912iS info. The Brazilian company, with operations in Daytona Beach, Florida, launched a refreshed website recently. Web surfers can find prices for all versions on the site, download a brochure, and find a redesigned support area with all technical publications to download plus a troubleshooting area. For its 2019 lineup, SeaMax engineers have redesigned the cockpit. The company is offering three standard panels at different price points (see all of them):
- Performance — All analog; keeping the plane light-weight
- Exclusive — Combining the Garmin G3X 10.6-inch Touchscreen and analog instruments, making a hybrid panel, bringing versatility and great for training
- Exclusive Dual — Two Garmin G3X 10.6-inch touchscreens plus a G5
Most Americans know the childhood story about the “Little Engine that Could,” a tale of determination, working against long odds and succeeding despite them. I think that relates to SeaMax. Visually, SeaMax looks small, low, and compact compared to some LSA seaplanes. Taking nothing away from the others, SeaMax appears ready to fill a need for something sportier, speedier. Despite its small size, SeaMax delivers comfort and capability. Learn more in my flight evaluation video below, but at Sun ‘n Fun 2019 starting in just a few days, SeaMax will be present with their staff to address more inquiries. Perhaps even more important, SeaMax Aircraft will have a airplane in the LSA Mall that will give demonstration flights to interested buyers. The flying will be done by Russ Miley with whom I flew for the Video Pilot Report (see below). I found him a wonderful instructor — I had asked him to treat me as a student.
This Just In!Follow the Sling TSi LIVE tomorrow, Sunday March 31st, 2019, as the new model flies this route: KTOA – KLAL (Coast to Coast) • Torrance, California to Lakeland, Florida, a distance of 1,900 nautical miles Intended Departure: Sunday at 4 AM Pacific • Landing Florida before 7 PM Eastern in a flight forecast to take "under 12 hours" at a predicted speed of 160 knots (184 mph), at altitude. You can track the flight on FlightRadar24. Why would the boys from The Airplane Factory USA make such a long flight non-stop? Their purpose is "to demonstrate the altitude, true airspeed, and endurance/economy of the Sling TSi." They call out a normal cruise will be at 155 KTAS at 9,500 feet burning eight gallons an hour using the Rotax 915iS. The turbocharged FADEC engine will allow the airplane to climb as high as 20,000 feet. Sling TSi has standard tanks of 45 gallons capacity or optional long-range wing tip tanks that add an additional 22 gallons plus an internal portable tanks of 20 gallons for a grand total of 87 gallons on board. Visit The Airplane Factory USA at Sun 'n Fun and see Sling TSi — you can also arrange a demo flight — at their Sun 'n Fun exhibit spaces N-082 and N-089. Until you can see it in all its aluminum glory, here is a short video to whet your appetite. Also, added since this post went live is a longer-length review of Sling TSi. Click this link to read the report in General Aviation News. https://youtu.be/JVH2Gt0BNEU
This Just In! Follow the Sling TSi LIVE tomorrow, Sunday March 31st, 2019, as the new model flies this route: KTOA – KLAL (Coast to Coast) • Torrance, California to Lakeland, Florida, a distance of 1,900 nautical miles Intended Departure: Sunday at 4 AM Pacific • Landing Florida before 7 PM Eastern in a flight forecast to take “under 12 hours” at a predicted speed of 160 knots (184 mph), at altitude. You can track the flight on FlightRadar24. Why would the boys from The Airplane Factory USA make such a long flight non-stop? Their purpose is “to demonstrate the altitude, true airspeed, and endurance/economy of the Sling TSi.” They call out a normal cruise will be at 155 KTAS at 9,500 feet burning eight gallons an hour using the Rotax 915iS. The turbocharged FADEC engine will allow the airplane to climb as high as 20,000 feet.
Three-In-a-Row SeaterNew Gen-3 model airframes will have the option of incorporating a third seat located behind the second seat and a 220-pound gross weight increase from the current 1,680-pound max gross weight to 1,900 pounds. “The new jump seat will be quickly removable to convert between cargo and and third passenger,” added Phil. The third seat can be installed in either an open-cockpit AirCam or one with the full enclosure canopy. The canopy — developed some years after AirCam first emerged — was designed from the start to accommodate the third seat. “Numerous improvements have been incorporated in the new Gen-3 model airframes to accommodate the optional gross weight increase and jump seat,” said Lockwood. “The landing gear has been strengthened to accommodate greater landing and take off weights. Landing gear modifications include new stronger gear legs, a beefed-up fuselage gearbox and upgraded Beringer wheels and brakes.” Phil Lockwood also reported AirCam’s aft section of the fuselage and tail spring have also been strengthened to accommodate the higher loads. The new fuselage incorporates a new set of foot wells to improve comfort and safety when utilizing the jump seat. These new foot wells also increase the volume of the cargo bay when not using the third seat. “You’ll also find harness attachment hard points that are built into the new fuselage for the third seat passenger,” Lockwood said. The Sebring, Florida company noted that some float-equipped AirCams have already been operating at higher gross weights, up to 2,000 pounds, based on the capacity of the amphibious landing gear and increased lift provided by the floats at high angles of attack. The Gen-3 model airframe benefits are designed to allow for increased gross weights for land planes only.
Higher Power — More Is GoodAirplanes are somewhat like sound equipment. If you get a more powerful amplifier you may need new speakers and that may require other better equipment. On an airplane if you increase capability, you may need more power, which means better engine mounts and so forth. Being Rotax experts known across the country, Lockwood's enterprise was ready to step up the potency of their twin engines. They've long offered the more powerful turbocharged Rotax 914. Most AirCams, however, work wonderfully well with a pair of the 100-horsepower Rotax 912ULS or 912iS engines. Even more could be better, you might agree. To provide the additional single engine performance needed for the higher gross weights of AirCam Gen 3 Lockwood Aircraft is offering a new, upgraded 115-horsepower Rotax 912 power package using a “big-bore kit” involving new cylinders and heavier pistons. “Customers opting for the standard 100-horsepower 912 engines will be limited to the original 1,680-pound maximum gross weight,” Lockwood clarified. “The additional 15 horsepower per engine is achieved though an increase in displacement with no increase in weight.” Customers may purchase or retrofit either a carbureted 912 ULS or fuel injected 912iS engine package to provide 115-horsepower upgrades for either engine model. Buyers or owners can opt to install the 115-horsepower package at a later date. What may be exciting for current owners of a 912ULS or iS on another airplane is that this engine upgrade is something you can achieve retroactively. The cost is about $6,000, Phil indicated, but for that money you get a substantial performance boost. If interested, contact Lockwood Supply to see if they can help you in your aircraft. Wait a couple weeks, though. As this is written, Sun 'n Fun 2019 is about to start and it will be most hands on deck at the event leaving a smaller staff at home in Sebring. Give them time to return and check out the new, powerful, non-turbo 912 with 115-horsepower. Get more details, some AirCam development history, and more in the following video: https://youtu.be/ur3Gl0COTGo
Let me admit right up front: I am a big fan of AirCam. I have flown several different examples. I have done a flight report in one with boss Phil Lockwood. I even earned my Multi-Engine Rating in one. For a longtime open-cockpit ultralight pilot like me, AirCam may be the ultimate expression of a fun aircraft in which you can do things you shouldn’t even consider in most other airplanes. So, when Phil told me about Lockwood Aircraft‘s new Gen-3 (third generation) AirCam, I was more than a little interested. Here’s the skinny. “Beginning with the opening day of Sun ‘n Fun 2019 we will be debuting major upgrades to the AirCam airframe and powerplant packages,” Phil noted. All AirCam kits incorporating the new changes will be designated as “Gen-3” models. Three-In-a-Row Seater New Gen-3 model airframes will have the option of incorporating a third seat located behind the second seat and a 220-pound gross weight increase from the current 1,680-pound max gross weight to 1,900 pounds.
"This Is a New Dawn""We’re proud to introduce you to the new name and brand identity of a company that has been a major leader in the world of aviation for over 110 years." said Continental. "With this new dawn comes a new name and brand identity for a major leader in the world of aviation. Introducing Continental Aerospace Technologies," stated their press release. However, they're busy doing much more than rebadging the company with a new, modern look. Their video below helps tell a fuller story. The new company name and graphic "clarifies Continental Aerospace's industry sector and the refreshed logo amplifies the theme by evoking flight, motion, and looking to the future." "Join us as we write the next chapter of a story that already spans over a century," continued Continental, "where our reputation for exceptional service and engine solutions is combined with new ambitions, new innovations and new foundations upon which Continental Aerospace Technologies™ can establish a new era in general aviation." Continental has a strong relationship with the city and region around Mobile, as noted in this article. Officials report the Alabama company is evolving rapidly, adding more products to their portfolio incuding gasoline and Jet-A fuel engines. "While we continue to innovate and bring new technologies to the market, we are also working to enhance our service, support and manufacturing," said Christopher Kuehn, vice president of sales, marketing, and customer support. Continental has a strong relationship with the city and region around Mobile, as noted in this article. Continental has been a leader in general aviation throughout its 115-year history. It began with radial engines in 1905. Over the ensuing years, Continental's "firsts" include bringing fuel injection, turbocharging, FADEC, and Jet-A piston engines into the general aviation market. The company's video, featuring President and CEO Rhett Ross and many employees reveals the global nature and footprint of this stalwart of aviation. In it, you see their brand-new factory under construction. https://youtu.be/Adm8yZsymhI
A few years ago, I visited Continental Motors in Mobile Alabama on the Gulf coast of the southern U.S. state. Here’s what I wrote about that tour. The factory was a World War II-vintage facility. I saw many new CNC machines and they were humming with activity. I also saw acres of the earlier generation of engine-manufacturing equipment. Nearly all of this hardware was idle even as it occupied large amounts of space. Times have changed. Continental changed, too, but the old tooling still rested in position Now, that is changing. Last year the company announced their new “green field” construction project, one of the largest in the state. It was clear that …well, let’s hear how the company describes it. “This Is a New Dawn” “We’re proud to introduce you to the new name and brand identity of a company that has been a major leader in the world of aviation for over 110 years.” said Continental.
LSA and Sport Pilot Kits
- US Sport Planes — will feature not one, but two of their speedy high wing composite models powered by Jabiru
- Aeromarine LSA — entries including Merlin and Zigolo; both will be available with electrical propulsion
- Bristell USA — the sleek, luxurious low wing from BRM Aero enjoyed a strong year of sales in 2018
- Fly High — this newer company will display a surprise entry from TL Ultralights, maker of smooth carbon fiber LSA
- SWT Aviation — presenting the super-popular CarbonCub that has risen toward the top of the sales charts
- Dreams Come True — offering a closer look at the deluxe Evektor Harmony with a special price on the one displayed
- Pipistrel — see a long-winged, long-gliding Sinus and learn about the entire line available such as Virus SW
- Viking Aircraft Engines — see a Rans S-12 with the Viking 90 installed; their planes are always eye-catching
- Florida LSA — examine a CTsw (the "hot-rod" version of this popular model) and check out a good price point
- Sport Aero Services — representing a very clean Breezer, another attractively priced LSA available for immediate delivery
Light Aircraft EnginesRotax — maker of the new 915iS plus many other 9-series models widely used in LSA and Sport Pilot kits Continental Motors — the builder of the 180-horsepower Titan engines that have taken LSA and SP kit by storm Jabiru — maker of thousands of engines used around the world; see one of their several popular models. Viking Aircraft Engines — based on Honda's advanced components, Viking has a range of engines available at excellent prices AeroMomentum — based on Suzuki latest automobile engines, AeroMomentum offers wonderful value
Need a Free Ride?If you visit the core area of Sun 'n Fun, you know it is a fair walk to Paradise City. Yet it is a great draw as many see that Sun 'n Fun's "alternate airport" in Paradise City represents something of an airshow-within-an airshow. As with AirVenture, Sun 'n Fun is a sprawling affair and it takes a while to hoof it from one location to another. Thanks to Rotax Aircraft Engines, LAMA is again pleased to offer a free ride on one of two 6-seater golf carts. Operated by volunteers from Paradise City, you can catch a ride from the foot court area of Sun 'n Fun's main area to the Rotax exhibit at the main entry gate for the show and from that point to the LSA Mall. These golf cart shuttles run back and forth all day at no cost to rider. Look for the golf carts with the Rotax logo prominently displayed and stick your thumb out for a ride. I hope you are coming to Sun 'n Fun 2019. If you cannot, check back here for news as I find it.
This year celebrates 15 years of Light-Sport Aircraft and its companion pilot certificate, Sport Pilot. This year also celebrates the 12th year of LAMA providing the LSA Mall. What a fascinating ride it has been! For 2019, LAMA will again host its special location at the big spring celebration of flight that is Sun ‘n Fun. LAMA is able to mount this attraction thanks to longstanding support from Sun ‘n Fun management and many industry players. The purpose of the LSA Mall is twofold: (1) present aircraft to visitors in a convenient, enjoyable setting, and (2) showcase the light aircraft industry in one location. The LSA Mall is not limited to Special Light-Sport Aircraft but features Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft and ultralights plus specialty light aircraft that may be of interest to pilots. For 2019, the LSA Mall will add a few previously-owned LSA, as this part of the light aircraft market is developing.
In his opening remarks Grande said, “Thank you very much for being a part of this special, historic moment. It is our honor to have all of you with us. Today, we are here to celebrate the first important step of this company and we are so very proud to present our new facility to you.”
“Soon we will be launching our new Light-Sport Aircraft into the world market, and we invite all of you to join us at EAA Oshkosh AirVenture in July 2019 for that official introduction,” Grande said.
Company partner Carlos Barros cut a ceremonial red ribbon officially inaugurating the new building. “The best words I can say are gratitude and thankfulness for the warm reception we have received from everyone here in Hondo,” he said.
“We cannot thank the people of Hondo enough for the loving welcome we have received since coming here,” Barros said. “The leadership and people of Hondo have made this possible. We are proudly genuine sons and daughters of Hondo. We are confident that we will make Hondo deeply proud of us.”
“We are a company with a clear vision and very consistent energy. Our mission is to always keep our values and our solid principles of honesty, integrity, service, love and respect,” Grande stated. “May God give us the reason and humanity to guide us according to His will, so we can really make a difference in this world.”
In addition to Hondo city officials including the mayor, Lyndsey Dennis represented Texas Governor Gregg Abbott’s Office of Economic Development and presented a certificate signed by the Governor congratulating the Texas Aircraft Manufacturing team with their accomplishment.Founding Texas Aircraft Manufacturing in 2017 Grande, Barros, aircraft designer Caio Jordão and their team blended new equipment with modern technologies and materials to produce this new-generation light aircraft, hoping to encourage pilots to achieve their dream of aircraft ownership. Their new Colt 100 Light-Sport Aircraft will be fully fabricated and assembled at the Hondo airport where many former U.S. military aircraft technicians are available. The Hondo airport was a military field for many years and offers an experienced talent pool plus qualified suppliers in the area. Powered by a Rotax 912 swinging a Sterno composite prop, Colt is an all-metal, tricycle gear design based on a previous-generation aircraft that Caio Jordão created at Indústria Paulista de Aeronáutica. While Colt is a fresh take on the configuration, the design brings a successful history to the LSA sector. Because Colt 100 is just entering its flight test regimen and is completing the ASTM compliance testing and documentation, Texas Aircraft did not release any data about the aircraft. In the meantime our video walk-around will show you more. Here's an exclusive first-ever look at the Texas Aircraft Colt 100: https://youtu.be/EtIb2kr3W1M
In late February, Texas Aircraft invited me to an unveiling ceremony. As it’s always wonderful to witness the arrival of a new aircraft and sense the excitement and enthusiasm of its developers, I jumped at the opportunity. Now that they’ve taken off the wraps, I am pleased to offer readers a first close look at the Colt 100. Known as Texas Aircraft Manufacturing, the company hosted an event to inaugurate its new development and production facility at South Texas Regional Airport in Hondo, Texas. Our hosts were Texas Aircraft Manufacturing CEO Matheus Grande and company partners Caio Jordão, Diego Jordão, Carlos Barros and Samantha Almeida. In his opening remarks Grande said, “Thank you very much for being a part of this special, historic moment. It is our honor to have all of you with us. Today, we are here to celebrate the first important step of this company and we are so very proud to present our new facility to you.” “Soon we will be launching our new Light-Sport Aircraft into the world market, and we invite all of you to join us at EAA Oshkosh AirVenture in July 2019 for that official introduction,” Grande said.
World War II HistoryAs the second great war progressed, Germany sought more advantage as fanatical government leaders pursued their ambitions. The war was dragging on and they needed better war equipment. In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) load over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) at 1,000 kilometers per hour (620 mph) — the so-called "3×1000 project." Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters. At the time, no aircraft could meet these goals. Junkers turbojet engines could provide the required speed but had excessive fuel consumption. Walter and Reimer Horten concluded that a low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals. By reducing drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met. They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber. The Government Air Ministry approved the Horten proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30-mm cannons because they felt the aircraft would also be useful as a fighter as its estimated top speed was significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft. In short, flying wings are lean and make efficient use of the weight of their structure. That sounds like worthy qualifications for a Light-Sport Aircraft or Sport Pilot kit.
Near Future Announcement
Something old. Something new. Hang glider pilots I know are very familiar with Horten designs, a form of validation for modern hang gliders …flying wings, aircraft with no tail or fuselage structures. Yet many pilots don’t know Horton and have only a sketchy understand of flying wing stability. World War II History As the second great war progressed, Germany sought more advantage as fanatical government leaders pursued their ambitions. The war was dragging on and they needed better war equipment. In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) load over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) at 1,000 kilometers per hour (620 mph) — the so-called “3×1000 project.” Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters. At the time, no aircraft could meet these goals. Junkers turbojet engines could provide the required speed but had excessive fuel consumption.
“You just saved my life!” It’s not often anyone, even a medical doctor, hears those words. Back in the ’90s I was sometimes on the receiving end of a call when a pilot phoned BRS to report a “save,” a sparing of a life by the use of a parachute. It is a humbling experience to have someone exclaim that you (and your fellow workers) are the reason they are alive. A few days ago, it happened again, for the 400th time. BRS Aerospace documented the 400th and 401st lives saved, a worthy milestone in aviation safety. “This milestone and all of the lives saved are a testament to Boris Popov, who conceived the idea and whose vision for the company he founded overcame initial resistance to the very idea of aircraft parachutes from some naysayers,” said BRS President and Director, Enrique Dillon. “The concept’s legacy are the pilots and passengers who survived to continue to live fruitful lives and the thousands of families who have enjoyed added peace of mind when their loved ones fly.” The system is designed to be a last resort for pilots and passengers when all other attempts to recover the airplane in case of emergency or pilot incapacitation have failed.
Able Flight Teams Up with Sun 'n Fun & ACERecently, Charles was able to announce a new agreement with the well-known airshow event and its education arm. "Our new training partnership with Sun 'n Fun Inc's Aerospace Center For Excellence (ACE) provides an outstanding opportunity to build upon our successful relationships with Purdue University and The Ohio State University," noted Charles. "Able Flight can now send flight training scholarship winners to three training locations. Florida delivers an ability to train almost year round," observed Stites, adding, "Able Flight student pilots will benefit from the expertise of dedicated aviation professionals who have built a unique program." Sun 'n Fun was pleased to lend support. "Aerospace Center for Excellence, the educational component of Sun 'n Fun, Inc., is excited to announce its partnership with Able Flight, a unique organization that shares a similar belief that learning to fly is a life changing experience," said Ed Young, Executive Director of ACE. "The partnership with Able Flight is a perfect marriage. Our mission at ACE is to engage, educate and accelerate the next generation of aerospace professionals. Able Flight's success educating individuals with disabilities in flight training is unparalleled. We have the opportunity to truly change lives by combining our core competencies." The partnership is supported by Zenith Aircraft, which is providing ACE with a Zenith 750 kit that will be modified with adapted hand controls for use by Able Flight student pilots. The plan is to build the airplane in the Buehler Restoration Center on the ACE campus during Sun 'n Fun with the help of the Lakeland Aeroclub, the youth flying club on the ACE campus. Young said. "We are planning to name the aircraft the Spirit of Lakeland."
Tribute to a Friend"It is safe to say that Able Flight would never have existed without the influence of Jon Hansen, wrote Charles. "After a career as a Navy carrier pilot and then airline captain, Jon was instrumental in getting the FAA to approve the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category and Sport Pilot certificate. That made it possible for Able Flight to offer scholarships and training to people with physical disabilities." "Just as importantly," Charles continued, "Jon imported the first LSA with adapted hand controls and that prompted the creation of Able Flight. He was a generous supporter and friend who believed in our mission from the beginning, and his legacy lives on in every Able Flight pilot." Jon's help to Able Flight was not his only support. He was also a great benefactor of Light-Sport Aircraft in general, to LAMA as an organization representing LSA, and to efforts on behalf of the LSA industry such as the LSA Mall at Sun 'n Fun. It is also safe to say these organizations would be less well off without Jon's interest along with that of his sons, Mike and Mitch, and his brother, Ron. Jon passed away on February 15th at the age of 83. Aviation lost a good man after many productive years. Rest in peace, old friend. Jon and Ron, twin brothers like Jon's sons Mike and Mitch, last year made another donation, this one to Mt. Vernon Airport, home of the Midwest LSA Expo where Jon was a regular participant. See the "jet on a stick" story here. Learn more about Jon Hansen, SkyArrow, and Able Flight in this video from 2012. https://youtu.be/FshVSkNB0hY
Light-Sport Aircraft have accomplished much in the 15 years this new class of aircraft have existed: • Lower purchase cost — with choices spread over a wide variety of aircraft. • Lower operational cost and ability to use auto gas, available everywhere on Earth. • Pilots no longer required to achieve an aviation medical. …and much more. Light-Sport Aircraft may have enabled more than you know …literally enabled. One significant way has been to offer the dream of flight to those who have lost some abilities. One organization has been in the vanguard of this positive development thanks to its capable, persistent, and motivated leader, Charles Stites. That entity is Able Flight, a worthy group that has attracted many friends and supporters (among them your humble reporter). Able Flight Teams Up with Sun ‘n Fun & ACE Recently, Charles was able to announce a new agreement with the well-known airshow event and its education arm.
Merlin to Mule Canada to Florida to ArizonaMerlin is a Canadian design introduced in 1990 by John Burch, a Canadian ultralight instructor. In other words it was built for flight instruction in Canada, where landings on unimproved runways would (wisely) be part of regular training. "Merlin was one tough little aeroplane," said Dave Loveman. "John Burch was a Canadian ultralight instructor and needed a better aircraft for his flight school. The 42 inch wide cabin is quite comfortable for even the largest of pilots." Mule is a bit wider at 46 inches. After Burch's Canadian operation, Merlin was for a period offered by AeroComp on Florida's Atlantic coast, at the Merritt Island airport. Now Gair-Planes is offering the kit from Arizona, all part of the interesting migration of designs that prove their worth. As with Merlin, Mule is built around a welded 4130 chromoly steel fuselage and tail structure, all fabric covered. Wings use aluminum D Cell construction, with styrofoam ribs. The result was tested by the Canadian creator to +4 and –2 Gs. Mule is a taildragger, in a tractor configuration, with side by side seating. Controls are standard stick and rudder with a center Y-stick. "We are not the fastest airplane out there," observed Garrett, "but we believe that we are one of the best for low and slow backcountry flying." Powered by a Rotax 912, climb rate is 1,000 feet per minute off the runway, said Garrett. He's using the 912 but the airframe can work with engines from the 65-horsepower Rotax 582 up to 120 horsepower. Cruise is 85 mph, Garrett said, with slow stall below 30 mph. Mule earns its STOL designation by taking off or landing solo in 150 feet. With an airframe kit price of $18,700, adding an engine for a similar amount, plus paint and basic avionics, you should be able to get a Mule airborne for less than $50,000. "Building time is about 400 hours," said Garrett, though agreeing that this can depend on builder experience and how detailed the builder wants to go.
Mule Is Not All…Gair-Planes appears to be a new active player in the kit aircraft game and it won't be just a one-horse show. Another very interesting design is coming together pretty quickly, it appears. Check Garrett's YouTube channel to get a glimpse of his next 62%-replica project, already well along. No moss is gathering on this fellow. Learn even more, directly from the manufacturer, in our video shot at Copperstate 2019. https://youtu.be/uGciv5WRdn0
“We are Arizona’s newest aircraft manufacturer,” said Garrett Komm when we finally located him and his bright blue and silver aircraft. A fan of this particular flying machine had approached me at Copperstate and said, “You gotta go see this airplane. Tell him Russell sent you!” (Thanks, Russell!) After wrapping up a couple other video interviews, Videoman Dave and I left the main exhibit area to seek out Russell’s discovery. As we came upon it, parked among other transients to the light aircraft area at Copperstate, we both found it vaguely familiar. Well, it was vague for me. Dave was sure right away. That’s because Gair-Planes‘ Mule started life as the Merlin from Canada and Dave was associated with the project for a time. Garrett had also worked with the Canadian designer so they compared notes for a few minutes. I’d flown one of these for an hour or so many years ago.
First, Simulate — Then, Go AloftChinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do. Sitting at their computer or using a mobile smartphone or tablet is commonplace. They know this activity and it may provide a bridge to people going aloft in an actual airplane like CTLS. Imagine if you had never, ever seen a small plane of any kind. Would you rush to fly it? It's hard for Americans to envision this situation as we have small airplanes everywhere and airports in nearly every town in the nation. AeroJones may truly be on to something developing their full-motion simulator. “At the Zhuhai Airshow 2018, our AeroJones 6-axis of motion CTLS simulator was shown for the first time to the public,” said Michael Chou, who handles marketing for the company. He reported that reception to the new simulator was very enthusiastic. “Our flying CTLS also received lots attention in the show,” said Chou. “The market is growing for Chinese general aviation. We visited with many prospective customers from flight clubs and flight schools that expressed interest in the AeroJones CTLS.” “The cabin scale of the full-motion simulator is 1:1 of the flying CTLS,” added Mr. Chou, meaning that the simulator is an exact size copy of the actual LSA. “Our simulator is equipped with two SkyView digital instrument panels designed by Dynon Avionics in the USA. The simulator has dual control sticks and rudders so an instructor can help a student learn the procedures and perform maneuvers. For the general public, it is a great device for entertainment.” “AeroJones Aviation owner Jones Chen was pleased with the response to our aircraft and especially for our unique full-motion simulator,” said Mr. Hsieh Chi-Tai, General Aviation Development Vice President for AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. AeroJones is deep into planning for their new aircraft factory in Zhenjiang, China — where, presumably, they will also build the simulator. With the new facility, all manufacturing steps will be easier, less costly, and much more efficient, which will contribute to better values for customers buying the CTLS. Flight schools or other buyers of the modern and sophisticated CTLS will be able to fly to Dalu General Airport to see the factory and take demonstrations flights to confirm their purchase. At the time the new factory was announced, Mr. Jones Chen said, “We are very pleased about the relationship with leaders of Zhenjiang. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."
Who Is AeroJones?Please let me clarify for readers who may recall seeing the AeroJones brand at American airshows. For a time, it did appear the Taiwan-based company would sell into the USA. However, that plan changed and today, the primary markets for AeroJones Aviation include China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Because Flight Design general aviation, the original developer of the CT-series, does not currently market a full-motion flight simulator, this particular product may find its way into western nations. Beyond their aircraft factory in Xiamen, China and the new one to come in Zhenjiang — not far from the well-known megacity of Shanghai — AeroJones also operates a flying field, flight school, and maintenance center at an airfield in Taiwan.
At a major show in China called Zhuhai visitors saw something: a new 6-axis LSA flight simulator. The developer is AeroJones Aviation, the CTLS manufacturer for the Asia-Pacific region. The company exhibited their simulator to a warm reception. General aviation is beginning to develop in China lead by airport construction at hundreds of the country’s huge cities. As I’ve written before, I have no doubt the airports will be built, but actual flying at most of them — by Light-Sport Aircraft or other recreational aircraft — seems somewhere off in the future. China has a massive job ahead. Chinese business people have proven very capable of building many things, but developing a culture of the citizenry flying in light aircraft still has quite a distance to go. However, AeroJones new simulator may help the country take a huge stride forward. First, Simulate — Then, Go Aloft Chinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do.
On Day 3 of Copperstate at the Buckeye Air Fair, crowds were again strong and the skies gradually cleared for another day of flying in the smoothest air I’ve felt in some time. What made this extra special was a chance to go aloft in the Flying Legend Tucano Replica, a scaled down version of a well-known Brazilian military aircraft. Indeed, the fighter-like shape and paint job of Tucano beckoned convincingly and I went aloft with Flying Legend USA representative, Giovanni Matichecchia …yeah, I told him I’d just call him Giovanni. He grinned and said his last name was tough even for Italians. This capable 27-year-old pilot is off to the airlines one day but is doing a fine job of demonstration flying Tucano for media types like me and potential buyers of this eye-catching machine. Flying Legend’s Tucano is a scale replica of well-regarded original.
Flying The Airplane Factory Sling TSiA year ago, I got to fly the 915 in Wels, Austria at a Rotax journalist event after Aero Friedrichshafen. In two quickly linked flights, they let me compare 915 to 912iS. That was most helpful but I did not know either airframe well so it was challenging to compare performance with my earlier experiences. Now, I have a better picture. At Copperstate a couple years ago I flew Sling 4 with Rotax's 914 Turbo. I was very impressed, feeling it flew as well as the Sling LSA. Dare I admit I actually liked the four seater's flight qualities better than the LSA? Like Sling 4, Sling TSi is not a Light-Sport Aircraft. It cannot be flown with the Sport Pilot certificate. Several reasons explain why, even though the new model closely resembles the Sling LSA. First, it's a four seater. Secondly, it has much higher power. That's allowed but the Rotax 915 engine currently requires a constant speed prop not permitted under LSA regulations — though perhaps in a couple years. The Turbo Intercooled 915iS energized the Sling 4 airframe much more than the 914. The difference was clear. Acceleration was fast, we rolled less than 500 feet and climbed quickly from the start and kept going. Jean d'Assonville and I flew perhaps 300 pounds under gross but CPS Rotax specialist Bryan Toepfer said it did well when loaded to the limit on a flight he experienced. Thirdly, Sling TSi is too fast and too heavy to be a LSA. Here's something important… this is not Sling 4. Oh, it appears so similar that I would not have known without closer inspection. Instead, Sling TSi is a nearly brand-new aircraft from nose to tail, literally. The distinctive Sling nose cowl has also changed subtly, better accommodating the 915 and its new hardware. Aft of the engine compartment, Sling TSi uses dimpled flush rivets on the front portion of the fuselage and on the leading edge of the wings. This clearly works to pick up the speed of Sling TSi without raising its stall speed. The wing itself is a fresh new airfoil and wingspan is about 16 inches shorter on each side. The tailplane has counterbalanced surfaces to reduce chances of flutter given Sling TSi's speedier ways. Aloft we saw 128 knots at modest cruise power and 3,500 feet MSL. Coming out to the show Jean and Wayne reported seeing better than 160 knots TAS and 180 knots GPS groundspeed, thanks to a tailwind. Fuel burn was a bit over six gallons an hour. Climb out of Buckeye (1,000 foot field elevation on a cool day) averaged 1,000 fpm and we saw 1,500-1,800 fpm on successive climbs from a touch and go. Stalls in all configurations were very mild, even with full stick aft and no quick effort of recovery. At full power, Sling TSi would not stall and only wobbled the nose to signal the pilot — well, that and a clearly audible stall warning plus a very steep deck angle. Handling was very responsive but steady with a light touch even in steeply banked 720 turns. My efforts at dutch rolling produced acceptable results either fast or slow. The landing was straightforward. Sling TSi manages energy very well — an LSA-like feel, it had — making roundout and touchdown quite easy. Visibility is good, a very good thing at a busy Buckeye Municipal (KBXK) when numerous airplanes entered the pattern to pay a visit. In all, Sling TSi is a commendable achievement, a further refinement of the original Sling LSA introduced in 2009. In that decade, Sling has delivered more than 500 aircraft, Jean indicated. We recorded a full Video Pilot Report with cameras on and in the airplane. When it's done in editing, this will provide much more detail and very few complaints about The Airplane Factory's Sling TSi. Well done, Mike Blyth and team, well done indeed! Find more factory info on Sling TSi here and catch a video glimpse below. https://youtu.be/JVH2Gt0BNEU
I have to admit my pleasant surprise. This tie-up of Copperstate and Buckeye Air Fair might be exactly what is needed to generate a major show in the Southwestern USA. Let me be fair. Other West Coast aviation events have interesting qualities but none has ever risen to the level of AirVenture Oshkosh or Sun ‘n Fun. Those two dominate general aviation events. Both are “back East.” With big pilot and aircraft populations in California, Arizona, and Washington, why have we no major shows in the West? No one I’ve asked can explain the riddle but could Copperstate Buckeye Air Fair be the right combination? Only time will tell yet on Saturday, crowds were as thick as Oshkosh, albeit in a much smaller area. City planners offered an airshow and lots for attendees to look at plus the Copperstate trade show alongside the Buckeye Air Fair gave the public close access to pilots operating all manner of light aircraft.
Wild Sky GoatIn many years of reporting on light aircraft, I have flown a lot of weight shift control trikes. I love flying trikes. I've flown simple ones, super-deluxe ones, tough ones, and ones that weren't so tough. Most I enjoyed. Yet I've never seen one built so sturdily as Wild Sky Aircraft's Goat. This is one beefy, big-boy trike. This flying machine also escaped my ever-searching radar scan for new Special Light-Sport Aircraft approvals. Having just added it to our list since arriving in Arizona, Goat clocks in at #148 on our popular SLSA List. "Denny Reed, owner of Wild Sky Aircraft, is an amazing engineer who for years looked for a really heavy-duty adventure aircraft," said Sid Lloyd of Kestrel Aviation Services. "Finally he gave up and decided to build the ultimate adventure platform himself. With over 8,000 hours of instructor time in trikes, he knew exactly what he wanted." Sid sells aircraft from Flight Design and Aeroprakt plus Wild Sky and runs the builder-assist center for Goat kit assembly at his operation near Sedona, Arizona. While Wild Sky has SLSA approval and can fully build, Denny said he prefers his customer build their own kit. "Talk about heavy-duty, this is simply the roughest, toughest Weight Shift Control (WSC) trike in the world," said Sid. After my own close look at Goat, I cannot dispute his description. "Our impact testing exceeded 6 feet high at maximum gross weight in several configurations & trajectories," explained Denny. ASTM requires that a trike be dropped in various ways including nosewheel first …but from 16 inches, not six feet. I've seen these kinds of tests; they are very demanding of an airframe. "Finally," Denny added, "we focused on short take off & landing (STOL) with emphasis on being easy to setup & transport coupled with “easy-to-fly.” "Goat is one of a kind, said Denny. "It doesn’t need special care. It is not fragile. It just needs good fuel, your respect, and a little love once in a while. If anybody can build something better, we’d like to be your first customers. Until then, we’re looking to build our team of true adventurers. We hope to share what we’ve learned & hope to learn from you too." "After all, aviation is not about the planes, it’s about what you do with them." Who can argue with Reed's logic? Here's a quick (2-minute) teaser video about Goat: https://youtu.be/zBwU02qt2xQ
The Copperstate airshow is on in Arizona! Put on by a new combination of Copperstate leadership in cooperation with the town of Buckeye Arizona — which has been hosting its own Buckeye Air Fair — the new event is off and running in its new time slot of early February. For most of its 46-year-long life Copperstate has been in October. Showing the city’s support, both Buckeye’s Mayor and Vice Mayor were present at opening evening ceremonies. Some 20,000 people are expected. Videoman Dave and I are on-site and working. We’ve already captured a few new interviews for you. On Day 1, one aircraft in particular caught our eyes. Wild Sky Goat In many years of reporting on light aircraft, I have flown a lot of weight shift control trikes. I love flying trikes. I’ve flown simple ones, super-deluxe ones, tough ones, and ones that weren’t so tough.
Smartphone PresentationBecause a large number of you visit this website via your smartphone, you can now see images that fit your screen better (nearby image). Given a wide variety of phone sizes, screen resolutions, and browsers, not every phone will look like these images but the data is much more accessible via smartphone than it was when we launched late last fall. Of course, iPads and desktops or laptops with their larger screen real estate can see the data more comprehensively, but even on those larger devices or computers, the data now make more sense thanks to Steve's continuing effort to improve the look. The "This-Yr Ranking" screen may be one of the most viewed elements of the page because it reveals sales interest for the present year …when pilots might be preparing to hand over a deposit. Steve noted, "The current-year rank tables now show three years instead of just one. This will be important when the first 2019 data is presented. The rankings may then appeared skewed because they will display only one quarter of a year. Showing the extra years will give useful context." Hint: Turning your smartphone or tablet horizontally may reveal more information, depending on your device.
Kit-Built or SLSA?One last point: If your interest is limited to kit-built or fully-built Special LSA, you can adjust Tableau Public to show only those types by clicking in the "Cert Group" blue box (image). By default the lists show numbers for both types; click or tap to see only the ones you want. Note that this is somewhat different than "Certification," which offers more detailed ways to narrow the field solely to aircraft types that interest you. The effort Steve and I have made together (well, mostly him; I primarily gave feedback or specific knowledge of aircraft) attempts to give pilots, businessmen, and government more data about the sector of aviation we enjoy most. Any comments about how we can make this even more useful will receive careful attention.
At the recently concluded Sebring Sport Aviation Expo, I heard from a number of pilots and vendors about this website publishing fresh market share data. This clearly has value to anyone in the business but it also brings rewards for pilots trying carefully to choose a new aircraft. Having roamed widely around the Internet to check multiple references, I can confidently state that this information is available from no other source. Even though our information comes from FAA’s registration database, as our earlier articles about this renewed effort explained (here and here), the computer records needed some serious massaging to properly interpret a large number of make and model variations. Even a recently retired FAA official told me his former office has already begun using our Tableau Public presentation because the data is more user-friendly. Yet again, I am motivated to give Steve Beste an enormous “Thank you!” for his dedicated effort to take FAA’s data, make complete sense of it (no small task), and to then work with the folks at Tableau to make this information available to you.
Gone Flying …for You!Our VPRs have proven popular with some approaching a million views and several with hundreds of thousands of views. In my early days of writing aircraft reviews, I produced hundreds of such reports. Indeed those articles were the original foundation of this website. They date back into the 1980s and some even in the '70s. Yet, times change. After YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-hosting sites arrived, they drew huge viewership. YouTube is often said to be the #2 search engine on the Internet after Google. People love videos! Videoman Dave informed an inquiring group of pilots that his Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel now generates 1.8 million views a month (for all his 1,000+ videos, which include all the ones in which I perform). We joined the parade and now create VPRs, involving mounting up to eight Garmin Virb cameras as well as shooting from the ground, plus a stand-up review where I relate information immediately after flying the aircraft. Obvious, pilots enjoy these and we'll keep making more. Magnus Fusion — Magnus Aircraft USA is the manufacturer of a Hungarian design called Fusion 212. Designed in 2013 with first flight in 2015, and FAA acceptance as a Special LSA in 2017, Fusion is one of the newest aircraft in the SLSA List, in the #146 spot. The U.S. assembly site brings in carbon components from Hungary but the American operation is acknowledged by FAA as the official producer of the LSA version, according to boss Istvan Foldesi. This all-carbon-fiber design is a low wing side-by-side model with dashing performance featuring quick climb rates with the Rotax 912 ULS. Fusion cruises at 110-115 knots and exhibited very accommodating handling. Watch for many more details and get plenty of views when the video is released. SilverLight AR1 — To handle this VPR a bit differently, I asked pilot/instructor Greg Spicola to pretend I was a new gyroplane student. That's close to accurate as I have about four hours under my belt in a variety of gyroplanes. However, except for a few differences associated with a spinning wing, AR1, like all gyroplanes, can be flown essentially as a you'd operate a fixed wing LSA. "Power before pitch" was a mantra Greg drilled into me and that with a few other differences — such as operating the rotor pre-rotator and learning to brake the rotor disk before making abrupt turns on the ground — are easy enough to learn. It only takes a bit of "unlearning" so one's fixed wing habits don't result in the wrong actions by the pilot. These aircraft are special in many ways — the ability to descend vertically (although not land that way) and to make seriously tight turns about a point — that combine with massive visibility at affordable prices …all of which explain some of the growing popularity of these aircraft types. Again, look for many more details and views when the video emerges from the edit suite. As the show wound down, we did an interview with Executive Director Mike Willingham and Executive Assistant Bev Glarner. The longtime team are the key players behind the event these days but we also asked questions about the airport itself. Watch for that update when editing is complete, but please be patient as Videoman Dave is already working his way across the southern states en route to Copperstate 2019. This year, the long-running event has moved from from October to February. If you live in the southwest, come on out to the event and give a wave when you see us dashing about to record more great video interviews and VPRs for you.
The final day of the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo brought good flying conditions until mid-afternoon when light precipitation returned. The good start allowed us to record two Video Pilot Reports (VPR), one on the Magnus Aircraft all-carbon-fiber Fusion 212 and the other on the fully enclosed SilverLight Aviation American Ranger AR1 gyroplane. The videos will take some time to edit but I’ll provide a quick glimpse below. One surprise arrival was Aeromarine LSA‘s Mermaid. Remember this model? This Chip Erwin creation was really the forerunner of the modern LSA seaplane category. Before Mermaid, we had Progressive Aerodyne‘s Searey and Aero Adventure‘s Aventura. Both those models have been upgraded for the time of ASTM standards compliance but early in the new millennium it was accurate to call them “ultralight seaplanes” built of gusseted aluminum structures covered with sewn Dacron surfaces.