AirSports Expo attracts a large crowd and many vendors. On the first day in Ontario, California, you could see this was going to be the largest AirSports Expo yet. In the shadow still lingering from September 11, many wondered and worried about participation and attendance, but the concern was baseless. A flurry of activity in the last few weeks before the show brought so many requests for exhibit space that the already designed floor plan had to be scrapped and redrawn. More than 2200 pilots and other visitors saw the exhibits of 65 vendors. While still small next to Sun ’n Fun or AirVenture Oshkosh, this was a good turnout. The range of vendors included many aircraft suppliers and all manner of accessories and informational products. Gathering of Eagles AirSports Expo represents the combined efforts of the Soaring Society of America (SSA), the U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA), and the U.S. Hang Gliding Association (USHGA).
The ultralight motorglider evolution continues in Europe. Ultralight motorgliders are as rare as hen’s teeth in the U.S., but Europe is blessed with several choices that nicely complement high-end, high-priced full-size motorgliders. While America has the lovely Esprit from Aero Dovron, our soaring friends across the Atlantic continue to lead this specialized market. Full-size (higher-weight) motorgliders start at more than $100,000 and can surpass $200,000. Those who can afford them are surely thrilled with such beautiful machines, but most of us can’t spend that kind of money regardless of their superb performance. However, at $20-$30,000 ready-to-fly, a clean self-launching soaring aircraft is more affordable. Like their larger siblings, these efficient designs can also cruise under power respectably well, giving them broader appeal than pure gliders. Noins’ Excel One of the newest of the breed is the Excel from France’s Noins Aeronautiques Alpaero. Based in beautiful Tallard in the French Alps, Noins is revered by French soaring pilots.
An American finds success building aircraft overseas. This is not a story about a Czech company. It’s about an American company in the Czech Republic, a distinction that makes this story different. For months we have been hearing and reading about sport pilot and light- sport aircraft (LSA). The FAA’s new rule is creating plenty of excitement for some very good reasons. That excitement is not confined to the U.S. Overseas manufacturers are eyeing the new rule as a way to enter the U.S. market. One of those in the best position to take advantage of the new rule is Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW). An American In Prague Chip Erwin hails from Wisconsin. Today, he is an American who owns a company in the Czech Republic. His CZAW has become one of that country’s largest aircraft producers. He accomplished all of this during the single decade when the Czech Republic regained its independence.
Copperstate celebrates its 30th anniversary at a promising new venue. That’s the dustiest place on Earth!” the pilot said upon returning from Phoenix Regional Airport in late 2001. John Kemmeries, a Phoenix-based ultralight entrepreneur, had sent the pilot to check out the proposed site for the Copperstate regional fly-in. The pilot’s reconnaissance report suggested a dry and dirty venue for the Arizona fly-in, but he had no way of knowing the event organizer’s vision. As I approached the area in BRS’s Cessna 172 Hawk XP for the 2002 fly-in, I found myself searching vainly for an airstrip among the desert’s uniform brown color. As the GPS led me along, I suddenly saw a large swatch of green dotted with colored tents. My uncertainty vanished; the site stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Welcome to the new, improved Copperstate as created by thousands of volunteer man-hours and the support of a local land owner.
This French light-airplane show Tops Anything in the U.S. The name of the French venue is a bit awkward for Americans, though it rolls off the French tongue fluidly. Blois—pronounced Blwah—is a superb airshow that should grab the interest of every light-airplane enthusiast. Light Airplanes Everywhere! I’ve been to Sun ’n Fun for more than 25 years and to Oshkosh nearly as many. I spend a lot of time in the ultralight area of each, and they’re big events, no question. But both take a second seat to Blois. Yes, believe it or not, the event 185 kilometers south of Paris last August is the largest of the ultralight airshows I’ve seen. With 90 exhibitors and more than 500 aircraft, most of which were flown to the event, Blois beats even Paradise City at the Lakeland, Florida, Sun ’n Fun fly-in. I’ve known of this 22-year-old show since the ’80s but attended for the first time last summer.
With 200-foot-tall trees and mountain peaks topped with snow throughout the year, Washington is a scenic place for an airshow. Despite a drought that caused the grass to crunch underfoot, light aviation looked alive and well at the EAA’s Arlington gathering for 2003. Local Boys Make Good One main attraction was the much-anticipated RV-10 four-place aircraft that drew big crowds. But a Washington-area group also revealed their efforts of past months. Sport Flight Aviation displayed in the ultralight area with the first of 50 kits in progress. Two completed Talons—the last of the old design—stood alongside a new Typhoon. The new closely resembles the old. Company owners Todd Thompson and Ron Osborne took pride in showing me extensive CAD-generated drawings printed after a lengthy effort to document the popular northwest design. Each of the men operates a non-aviation business. They teamed up to resuscitate a company left leaderless after the death of its founder, Roger Bitton.
Light aircraft abound at Friedrichshafen’s air fair. Once Oshkosh AirVenture has ended, you may be interested to hear of another gathering that challenges the Wisconsin affair for supremacy when it comes to light aviation. No, I’m not referring to Sun ’n Fun. Inside the vast and numerous indoor halls of Aero 2001 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the largest aircraft on display was a Cessna 206. But most were smaller, what the European Community calls ultralights, and the choices were as wide and diverse as the great halls that exhibited them. An Air Fair, Indeed When Germans speak English to Americans, they call their airshows “fairs.” Indeed, this July event was as large as some state fairs and resulted in near sensory overload for several U.S. airshow veterans who attended with me. Aero, which alternates years like many European airshows, has been hosted by the southern German town of Friedrichshafen for the last decade.
An American in Ukraine: We develop a taste for the local sport airplane product. The September 2000 KITPLANES® cover featured Howard Levy’s report on Aeroprakt airplane kits about to be imported into the U.S. Recently, I visited the factory and flew the airplanes. Here’s what I found. We’re Not in Kansas In a land far away, people with a strange language are doing something good for pilots in America. They’re building some fine aircraft and coincidentally helping Yankees discover their distant land. The country is Ukraine, the city is Kiev, and the company is Aeroprakt. Don’t feel bad if remnants of the old Iron Curtain blocked your view. I had the same impression until I traveled to the ancient country for a look. Before we get to the airplanes, though, let me give you a brief tour of the country, the city and the company. Then you’ll get my impression of the aircraft.
Like any of the Olympic sports, a world-class hang gliding championship brings together pilots so good that the rest of us can only imagine performing as well. Two hang gliding contests clustered right after Sun ’n Fun draw the best of the best, and 2001 was a banner year for top talent. This year the Wallaby Open and a contest at nearby Quest Air switched positions with the Quest meet coming first this year. The highest-ranking world pilots flew both week-long competitions. Cross-Country Tasks Some power pilots believe that hang glider pilots jump from mountains and slide into the valley. That may have been true 25 years ago, but today, meet organizers routinely call for racing flights from 50 to well over 100 miles. In daily events called tasks, competing pilots are out on the course trying to make goal. As many as 100 gliders are pursuing the destination as furiously as the lift will allow.
AND LEARNING THE HISTORY OF FAR PART 103 Not long after takeoff, the airline captain’s deep voice transmitted the following: “Ah… Los Angeles Center, I see hang gliders not far off my wing. They aren’t in our airspace, but I’m surprised to see these guys up here.” Thus began the impetus to create Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 103. Of course, the rule had no name at the outset, but one FAA official saw the future. Honoring the foresight of this man, EAA recently inducted W. Michael “Mike” Sacrey into the EAA Ultralight Hall of Fame during ceremonies on November 2, 2001, at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Mike holds an airline transport pilot (ATP) rating with numerous sign-offs for a variety of jets and multiengine seaplanes. He’s also flown at least a dozen different ultralights. A certificated flight instructor for both airplanes (CFI) and instruments (CFII), Mike has logged more than 8,000 hours of flight time.
The FAA’s new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) has been released. With a 90- day comment period underway, the proposed pilot certificate and aircraft categories are on the minds of all light-aircraft producers and anyone who flies for fun. The flying machines that will fit under the proposed new aircraft categories will be called light-sport aircraft, and in this article we’ll take a look at what’s currently available|and what the future may hold. “The FAA’s new rule is destined to globalize the light aviation industry.” The promise is great for Americans. When the new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft NPRM changes are finalized and implemented, we will enter a new era in light aviation. People who have wanted a light aircraft to fly for fun but who didn’t have the time or skill to build it will be able to buy a ready-to-fly airplane. And, they’ll be able to learn to fly in less time and at less expense than the cost of acquiring a private pilot certificate.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — The Wallaby Open started the season with a bang. While wet spring weather brought challenges, four valid rounds left Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuk as the winner of the flex-wing class, beating Italian Manfred Ruhmer and Yankee Paris Williams in a field of 72 pilots. Mike Barber (6th), Chris Arai (10th), Jim Lee (17th), and Curt Warren (18th) were among Americans in the top 20 finishers. For rigid wings now grouped in Class 5, Alex Ploner held his title taking first over fellow Italian Christian Ciech. Top Yankees were Bruce Barmakian, Davis Straub, Campbell Bowen, and Heiner Biesel in 4th through 7th respectively. This class saw ATOS dominating with 63% of the field, Ghostbusters at 13% and five other models in the field of 24 Class 5 rigids. Brian Porter again won in Class 2 rigid wings flying his Swift, though he competed only against Brit’ Robin Hamilton in another Swift.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — The big Florida aerotow meets are now history. Oleg Bondarchuk performed well taking his Aeros Combat 2 to the top of both meets, an impressive accomplishment when flying against Manfred Ruhmer and a large field of talented pilots. Yankee Paris Williams and his Icaro MR700WRE has also confirmed his position at the top of Team USA, adding a fine Second Place to his Third Place finish at Wallaby the week prior. Other great finishes by Americans included Glen Volk in 3rd on his Litespeed and Curt Warren in 5th also on a Litespeed. *** In fact, Moyes had itself a terrific representation at Quest. The Australian manufacturer mustered an even greater field at Quest (35% of flex wings) after holding the top position at Wallaby with 29%. Competition has always been a strong suit for Moyes and it seems to have a firm grip on that mantle as the 2002 season starts out.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — My opening segment should start, “Once upon a time, there was Escape Pod, Pod Racer, and Porky Pod…” You’d probably be baffled (though perhaps intrigued). I’m referring to the Pod series from former Seagull hang glider boss, Mike Riggs. I’ve unabashedly promoted this project since it came from my challenge for a true “soaring trike.” Pods are sleek fuselages to house pilots attached to hang glider wings. Their goal is to offer more comfort, low drag and light weight, and a rigid attachment to the glider. You fly seated/supine — and have a full enclosure. Think of a powered ultralight trike except one with all the draggy bits pulled inside. Escape Pod and Pod Racer (and surely Porky Pod, too, when it’s ready) will feature fully retractable tri-gear, in-flight C/G adjustment, and a molded clear plastic canopy that fits smoothly to a composite body. A positive aspect is the rigid connection to glider, such that you can never fall into the wing, possibly preventing broken gliders after a tumble or tuck.
Trikes: they’re enjoyed around the world by thousands of pilots A what? Not sure what a “trike” is, are you? Don’t feel bad. Although these machines may represent the largest production of aircraft in the world, many pilots have overlooked their appeal. A trike is an aircraft made of two principle parts: a wing that resembles a hang glider (but is more stoutly built) and a carriage. The latter element is comprised of an engine, landing gear, seat and instrumentation. Within certain bounds, the wings and carriage can be mixed and matched. They may sound strange, but they are enjoyed around the world by thousands of pilots. In fact, among European light aviation enthusiasts, about one in every two flies a trike. Just a toy? Not! In case you think that such a contraption must be only for young sport enthusiasts that don’t have enough money for a “real” airplane, think again.
Updated: 7 December 2001 If you like hang gliding… then you have come to the right page. Currently, the Website has several Dennis Pagen pilot reports of the most popular hang gliders. (Thanks to Dennis for working me to bring you his fine reports.) I also have posted the last few Product Lines columns from Hang Gliding magazine. This column has run every month for the last 22 years and therefore represents a significant historical record for the sport of hang gliding. I will add the newest versions each month and will go back and add the older ones on a steady basis. Powered Hang Gliding & Soaring Those hang glider pilots willing to add engines to the equation will find some pilot reports on light trikes. These are machines I have flown that can deliver soaring flight to hang gliding enthusiasts. Some are better than others. well, that may be why you visited this site — to see the differences.
ST ST. PAUL, MINN. — Since last month’s column, I’ve been to the USHGA board of directors meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, the large group of directors spent many hours — all unpaid, volunteer work and they pay most of their expenses to do so! If you want more details, ask your regional director or read articles elsewhere in this magazine. ••• However, my focus at these meetings is as chair of the Publications Committee. Often, this committee’s work is obscure but this time, the committee recommended and the full board blessed an idea that will affect everyone in Yooshga, including both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. The committee recommended and the board approved a plan to combine our two magazines into one. • Now, before I go off and make someone angry, let me stress that you will see articles in both magazines surrounding this change AND members will be given a chance to provide their thoughts.
Dockweiler Beach renews hang gliding memories. Most KITPLANES readers probably don’t think of hang glider pilots as old folks. Indeed, it remains a younger man’s flying sport due to the athletic nature of the launch and landing. (At least that’s true if you don’t count the 30-40% of all launches that are done via aerotowing behind a specially built ultralight.) Nonetheless, this event at a famed California beach site was dubbed the Geezer Fly-In by many who celebrated in good humor at the landmark where so many first got their feet off the ground under a hang glider. Many of those present qualify as fifty somethings. “Nearly 400 pilots attended,” says Michael Riggs, himself a figurehead in the early days of hang gliding. Riggs started Seagull Aircraft, which became highly successful selling thousands of his distinctive hang gliders with the smoothly curved leading edges. He also described the event this way: “There wasn’t a dry eye all day.” Of the hundreds who gathered, many had not seen each another in the last 20 years.
What’s in a name? A Texas-based event, last summer’s World Record Encampment, predicted accurately its own success; two top hang glider pilots set world records for distance flying and broke another record that stood for nearly a decade. On July 19, Dave Sharp flew his A.I.R. ATOS rigid wing hang glider for an astounding 311 miles (501 kilometers), narrowly beating the long-held record of 308 miles set by another leading competitor, Larry Tudor. Tudor first broke the magical 300-mile barrier by flying 303 miles in July, 1990. He repeated this achievement, flying 308 miles several years later, but nearly a decade passed with no other pilots exceeding 300 miles. That unique status was shattered thanks to participants at the World Record Encampment 2000. Sharp flew more than 9 hours to earn his world record. The one that people will remember is the 311-mile flight of straight distance, but along the way he also set a record for a flight to a declared goal of 203 miles.
Sport aviators host their own traveling event. Boat and RV shows are in full swing during the winter months when use of these toys is low. It proves to be a popular time for sportsmen to look at gear for the upcoming season. Flying should be no different. Yet most of the major aviation trade events are held in conjunction with airshows. Needing good weather, these gatherings are clustered throughout the late spring, summer and early fall. If successful, they get established in one location that requires everyone to travel to them. Traveling Airshow If we are to attract new people into aviation, maybe we need to go to where they are rather than demanding that they come to us. Attracting the general public is worthy, but such a traveling event can also motivate local pilots. The truth is, popular as airshows are, most pilots don’t get to them. Attending more than one or two airshows a year is time-consuming and expensive.