The Marana Regional Airport, in Marana Arizona was the site of the first annual U.S. Flight Expo May 3–6, 2017. The west coast of the U.S. appears to lack major aviation events of the sort commonly seen in the easter U.S. This is especially odd considering the large number of pilots and aircraft in western states! (Some have observed how western populations are spread over a much larger area, which possibly accounts for this disparity. —DJ) One of the most successful annual aviation events not sponsored by a member organization is the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring Florida, which will celebrate its 14th year in 2018! Others have followed (Midwest LSA Expo &DeLand) but these sector-specific shows are still concentrated in the east. So it was about time for another western event other than Copperstate, which will celebrate its 45th year in 2017. Using the template that original director Robert Woods used to make Sebring such a success, Greg Hobbs — one of the leading organizers of the U.S.
Some people, myself included, love soaring flight. As the following article from Dave Unwin explains, to use his words, “Soaring flight exercises a fascination that is both difficult to explain and hard to resist, sometimes called ‘three-dimensional sailing.’ Flying a heavier-than-air machine for several hours and hundreds of miles by using the atmosphere as the fuel possesses an undeniable attraction.” As he further explained in a longer article, the downside is getting airborne for soaring flight. Various alternatives have been explored. Some were reasonable; others were too marginal to be enjoyed. In the following piece Dave tells about a new aircraft that might solve this problem, one that can fit England’s innovative SSDR 300 (kilogram) category. —DJ Article UPDATE 6/17/15 — ProAirsport announced, “We have now released a priority price of 39,950 British pounds (about $63,000). More details can be found on our website.” This is an excellent value for a motorglider.
For many of us, the principal reason we fly is for fun. Not to go anywhere but up, or for no other reason than that the sky is always waiting, but never impatient. Unfortunately this very pure idea became subverted along the way, as the Cubs and Champs of our forefathers were replaced by the efficient but banal 150 and PA28. As the fun diminished the costs rose in proportion. One of the original ideas behind the whole LSA concept was affordability, but with some aircraft now priced up to $200,000 that particular principle seems to have been forgotten [though more modestly priced LSA do remain available]. Consequently, when Chip Erwin of Aeromarine LSA told me at the 2014 Sebring LSA Expo that he was bringing a new aircraft to market that required minimal assembly yet cost only $16,000 including the motor and a parachute rescue system you can bet I was interested.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pilot not in possession of a good fortune will be in want of a VW-powered aircraft.” Well, I’m not entirely sure Jane Austen would’ve put it quite like that but one thing is irrefutable: If you want to fly an affordable aeroplane then it may well have a Beetle engine! And, here’s a very interesting factoid: the most produced aero-engine ever is probably Lycoming’s O-360, with around 250,000 made. However, Volkswagen made more than 21 million Beetle engines! An interesting facet about lightweight taildraggers such as the D9 is that they have to be ‘flown’ all the time, even on the ground. Consequently even while taxiing I’m very aware of the wind, because even with differential braking turning out of wind can be a bit tricky. Of course, such simple machines have very simple checks, and while running through my generic SEP checks (which take the form of an unwritten ‘flow check’ around the cockpit), I often get the feeling (and particularly if I’ve flown something a bit more complex the day before) that I’ve forgotten something.
After my post about ups and downs with government and recreational aviation, it’s wise to keep perspective on the sheer joy that flying can deliver. Here’s Brit’ Dave Unwin’s take… Why fly? I was thinking this just the other day while wading through three piles of unpleasant-looking paperwork. One pile contained reminders regarding renewal of my medical, BFR and BGA BI ratings, another had info on my VP-1’s Permit renewal and insurance while the third, and largest, held news which I planned to refer to while writing ny monthly magazine column called “Push to Talk.” The news was all pretty grim — airfields closing and fuel prices rising, EASA, airspace grabs, the outrageous proposals for the Olympics, Mode S, ad nauseum. Bored (and slightly depressed) I did the only sensible thing — I went flying. It was a beautiful evening and my demeanor was improving exponentially as I approached the airstrip.
Our roving British journalist, the always-entertaining Dave Unwin, reports on the UK’s LAA Rally event, giving ByDanJohnson.com readers a taste of light aviation in England. After an even grimmer British summer than usual — we’ve just experienced the “wettest drought” since records began; a dry spring followed by flooding rains — the weather Gods smiled benignly on the 2012 LAA Rally. The Rally is basically the UK’s version of Oshkosh (albeit several orders of magnitude smaller) and is run by the Light Aircraft Association, formerly the PFA or Popular Flying Association, which is the Limey equivalent of the EAA. The event has been staged at several different airfields over the years, and is currently held at Sywell in Northamptonshire. Despite the parlous state of the economy, this year’s Rally had a real buzz, and it wasn’t just all the two-stroke engines. In spite of EASA’s best efforts it would seem that the lighter side of UK aviation continues to thrive.
Aero 2012 is history and here’s the wrap up view from our roving reporter. —DJ |||| Despite the precarious state of the global economy and contrary to the expectations of many industry observers, I judge 2012 Aero was a success. Held in the picturesque town of Friedrichshafen on the shores of Lake Constance (Bodensee) in Germany it was traditionally a biennial show until 2010, when the organisers took the bold decision to make it an annual event. Having attended every Aero since 2001 I was curious to see how both exhibitors and attendees viewed this major change to the show’s format. [Most European airshows are scheduled alternate years. —DJ] Aero has now been an annual event for a couple of years. I concluded that it is probably is a show too far and that many exhibitors would prefer it to revert to a biennial event. As with many airshows, the cost to exhibit is a significant part of the marketing budget for many companies.
Aero 2012 concluded and we present a final round of aircraft news to be followed by a wrap up view. All photos by Dave Unwin —DJ |||| LSA SUPPLIERS & ENGINES Garmin had a pretty big presence at the show. I spoke to Matt Harran who told me that the newest items Garmin had at Aero 2012 are improved VFR charting for the GPSMAP 795, which includes more specific data from Jeppesen, which can be uploaded onto the unit. *** Along with the usual two and four-strokes there were some diesels, a hybrid and a couple of rotaries at Aero 2012. More esoterically, there were also some small jets and turboprops, and several electric motors. ••• An Italian company, MW Fly, also had three versions of its B22 on show; the 95 horsepower 22D, 115 horsepower 22L and 130 horsepower 22R. These geared, liquid-cooled flat-fours feature electronic ignition and injection. ••• Although not the usual ByDanJohnson content, Diamond’s DA-52 VII deserves a mention because the new aircraft generated a great deal of interest.
We begin coverage of the Aero 2012 event, brought to you each day that Dave’s Internet connection permits. All photos by Dave Unwin —DJ |||| Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, Friedrichshafen Germany’s Aero show has grown in both size and popularity. Indeed, many feel it is easily the largest and most important general aviation show outside of North America. Unusually for most other GA shows, it also gives the style-conscious show-goer the unusual option of wearing Lederhosen. I must admit that as I read yet another doom-filled newspaper while waiting for my flight, I did wonder if perhaps this year’s event might be significantly smaller than it was in 2011. *** At first glance, I’d say that it was, although as I wandered around the display halls I was astonished at just how many new aircraft types were being displayed. I’ve always believed that recessions are often essentially “self-fulfilling” prophecies, generated mostly by negative coverage in the mass media.
As Aero 2012 moves toward a conclusion our wandering reporter updates you on several more attractive aircraft. All photos by Dave Unwin —DJ |||| Having already decided that the Cicare Spirit was pretty minimalist as far as helicopters go, you may imagine my surprise when I saw an even more minimalist machine! This was the Hungarian Hungarocopter, which took helicopter minimalism to an entirely new level! Powered by either a 136- or 165-horsepower Subaru, and with a gross weight of 992 pounds, it definitely looked like flying it would be a bit of a thrill! *** As usual the show featured a fair few curiosities, and my interest was piqued when I spotted a machine that looked very much like a Cessna, with “Skylane” on the tail. As it quite clearly wasn’t a Skylane (being nowhere near big enough) I investigated further and discovered that it was a new-ish German ultralight powered by an 80-horsepower Rotax.
Dave Unwin continues daily coverage of the Aero event… wandering through the gymnasium-sized exhibit halls of Aero. All photos by Dave Unwin —DJ |||| As I made my way through the cavernous exhibition halls I was amazed as always at how many new aircraft were showing. Aviation is a curious industry and — be it a desire to run an airline or design an aeroplane — it is obvious that logic often takes a backseat to emotion. The market is already saturated with neat little two-seat aircraft, and yet every year several more appear. *** Czech company TL Sport had a new three-blade, composite, electric constant-speed prop called the PowerMax on display, as well as its Sirius LSA on clean amphibious floats. TL also had a Rotax 912iS in a Sirius. In fact, just about every light sport type seemed to be fitted with the fuel injected engine from Rotax. *** Even some helicopters, such as the Cicare Spirit Tandem, were fitted with a Rotax.
In this retro installment, Dave Unwin reviews an 85% WWI fighter. Dave will soon start reporting from the German Aero show. —DJ |||| Watching the world drift by under a pair of sturdy, wire-braced wings is particularly special. Wind wails in the wires and the engine growls contentedly. Nearly one hundred years after the “Big War,” I flew a scale replica of one of the most famous fighters of that era: the iconic SE5a. *** Looking remarkably realistic from a distance, I drew nearer wondering if the similarities were only skin (fabric?) deep. Knowing the basic data of a full-scale SE, I was surprised when a quick calculation on the back of my kneeboard revealed my ship known as “Z” actually has a better power-to-weight ratio than a real SE5a! It also has a higher wing loading. *** Z is painted to resemble the personal aircraft of one of the war’s top-scoring aces, Major W.
Barely had we published the announcement of Dave Unwin as a new ByDanJohnson.com contributor but what two visitors wrote asking for a review of Dave’s affordable VP-1. We’re pleased to answer that request quickly. Enjoy…! |||| Far below the sun-splashed wings the autumn shadows are lengthening across the Lincolnshire Wolds. Sunset won’t be long, and I’ve still got around 40 nm to go. Thank goodness I’ve got a tailwind, for although the Evans VP-1 Volksplane is many things, one thing it isn’t… is fast! *** So, how does it fly? Well, with only 60 hp the acceleration is far from startling, and it is important to pick up the tail, particularly if the grass is long as the tailwheel is small. Fortunately the large stabilator becomes effective quickly, as does the rudder. No problem keeping her straight. However, VP-1 is hardly over-powered; you must “fly the wing.” You don’t quite have to coax it into the air, but you can’t bully it either.
After a whole week of low clouds and drizzly rain, the weather cleared as if a curtain was lifted across the stage of the sky. I had time for an evening flight before official sunset. Hurrying to the airfield I arrived just in time to see a giant rainbow downwind. I took this as a good omen. *** My Evans VP-1, G-BIFO (Biffo) is based close to my house and is always at the front of hangar, so just twenty minutes after I leave home we’re both standing outside, bathed in the evening sunlight. As we usually fly together at least twice every week Biffo looks at me almost accusingly, as if to say “Where’ve you been?” *** So far, I’ve been rushing, but as I slip the chocks in front of the wheels, I deliberately slow things down. I check the fuel and oil, do a careful preflight, and complete the time-honoured ritual of pumping the primer, setting the choke, sucking in and selecting the mags on.