Our fastest-with-the-mostest partner tracks the health and performance of the light aircraft industry and is once again punctual. Datastician Steve Beste has proven his capabilities to collect the registration data quickly, accurately, and with an insider’s viewpoint. Steve is a trike pilot, so he is “one of us.” In his former life he was a database expert in the tech field explaining his great facility with these systems. Here we are reporting facts for the period of April, May, and June 2020. Given the spectacular upheaval around the world, I’m happy to see the recreational aircraft industry holding its own fairly well. Reporting for the companies making larger, heavier aircraft, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association also reported sales are down. I cannot imagine anyone is surprised. If I was reporting numbers for the restaurant, bar, hotel, airline, theater, sports, or concert industries it would be an ugly bloodbath. This report is far less glum and beaten-down than those enterprises.
Magni USA LLC
Phone: 314-540-0367Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670 - USA
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.
Welcoming Steve Beste"I'm a retired computer guy and trike pilot who loves databases," Steve told me. He used his special set of skills to download FAA's aircraft registration database to compile statistics on gyroplane registrations, focused on the new European-style gyroplanes. As you can see, AutoGyro is the clear market leader at 52% with 163 aircraft of 312 gyroplanes registered with FAA. The German builder is trailed by Magni in the #2 slot at 18% with 56 registrations. A new American manufacturer, SilverLight Aviation, has quickly tied Spanish producer ELA for third at 8% with 26 aircraft registered for each. After that it trails off more quickly as Steve's chart shows. More details about other brands will be chronicled in an article to follow. For 2018 through July 23rd, Magni shows its strength by slightly beating AutoGyro U.S. registrations. As always, note that confirmed sales and registrations may not match precisely. In addition, much more of 2018 remains. In slightly more than half a year, gyroplanes registered 58 aircraft putting them on track to exceed 100 for the year. To offer perspective, this figure is approaching half as many as SLSA fixed wing registrations in recent full years. So far this year, Magni has 15 registrations to AutoGyro's 14 for 26% and 24% shares totaling half of total U.S. gyroplane registrations. SilverLight has registered 8 aircraft in 2018 for a 14% yearly share of 2018 to date. A less well recognized U.S. producer, Tango, is having a respectable year, with 9 registrations accounting for 16% in 2018 so far. Tango is trailed by ELA with 6 registrations (10%), Australia's Titanium and Italy's Brako tied at 3 for 5% each. One interesting point: only Tango and Brako offer a single place gyroplane; all others are two place machines.
Much More Data to Follow!Steve Beste and I have been discussing him providing database research to allow this website to continue providing LSA Market Share Info. Many visitors have written to ask; indeed, we are way behind on this effort. The delay is ending. After Steve gets time to study the previous work and methods, he has proposed some wonderful improvements. About the special skills he can offer, Steve wrote, "I'm a retired computer guy and trike pilot who loves databases." Well, that certainly sounds perfect to me. "I'm also the president of Flying Club 1, which was the original USUA Chapter 1," Steve added. "Regarding the FAA database, I'd very much like to reach beyond just [fixed wing] airplanes, partly because I'm a trike pilot, myself. I think that's entirely possible." Given this background, his obvious enthusiasm for this work, and the keen interest of many in light aviation, I am exceedingly pleased to welcome Steve to this website. "[However, FAA's] data is not clean," Steve observed. I am well aware of this problem. Uncertainty about data accuracy of "alternative" LSA is why we have reported fixed wing Special LSA, only offering guesses for weight shift trikes, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, motorgliders, and more. However, we hope that will now change and our market share reporting will be more inclusive. Hurray! Problems in FAA's database is not caused by incompetent clerks. Agency personnel must sort through inconsistently-reported aircraft. If, as Steve pointed out in one example, the registered name of the aircraft is slightly different, it won't show up on a casual investigation. He added, "There's no end of that kind of thing …just so we know the limitations on this exercise. But with that understanding, I love this kind of thing, I have the skills to do it, and would be honored to support your good work for the sport." All such reporting will be available on the home page when fresh and catalogued on its own space found by this link. Wonderful, simply wonderful! Please welcome Steve Beste as a new contributor to ByDanJohnson.com!
UPDATE September 26, 2018 — In the article above, I inadvertently suggested SilverLight and their American Ranger gyroplane was the first or only U.S. producer of such aircraft. That is not what I intended but some readers viewed it that way. Allow me to bring your attention to two other producers.
Sport Copter & Rotor Flight DynamicsBased in Oregon, Sport Copter is a long established, second-generation family business started in 1958. Chuck Vanek was one of the early pioneers of gyroplane design and development beginning his work in 1957. Chuck's son Jim Vanek took over the business and revamped the Vancraft designs. He said his "award-winning, world’s-first, two-place gyroplane took the prestigious Charles Lindbergh award at the Oshkosh airshow in 1985." The company also reports his Sport Copter II design was voted as one of the Top Ten Best Designs at AirVenture in 2011. An airshow performer, Jim said he wrote the parameters and guidelines for gyroplane looping for the FAA in 1998 after performing the world’s first loop in a conventional gyroplane, in 1997. The company's website reports, "He is the only gyro pilot in the world that holds an International Council of Air Shows card for gyroplane looping and rolling." Don't even think about trying this yourself, however. Rotor Flight Dynamics, founded and run by Ernie Boyette, produces a two place and single variations of their Dominator line. Sold as kit aircraft, the two-place model can be powered by Hirth four-cylinder engines, Subaru/AutoFlight EA-81, or the 115-horsepower Rotax 914 Turbo. The company said, "We offer 22 thru 28 foot rotor blades of our own design with a lift capability from ultralight thru 1,200 pounds gross weight." They added, "We are the only manufacturer that test flies all blade sets prior to shipping." For export, Rotor Flight will fully build their aircraft but in the USA, FAA will only permit them to deliver kits, the same as all gyroplane producers. As with all the modern gyroplanes, Rotor Flight uses a substantial tailplane. "The Dominator [series of one and two-place machines] incorporate the Tall Tail design for stability." Asked how their product differs, the company's website states, "What makes the Dominator so unique is its high profile design. It sits up very high off the ground."
Updated September 26, 2018 — This article has been updated to include more producers. See at bottom. —DJ Over many years, you have found LSA market share information on this website. Many have found this of interest …from businesses learning more about their market; to customers doing careful investigation before paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new aircraft; to government fulfilling its task of regulating industry; to insurance companies assessing risk of providing their product; and many other actors in the blockbuster movie that is light, recreational aviation. I will have more to say about the broader LSA market share reports below but now I want to present the best information I have seen for Light-Sport Aircraft Gyroplanes. …uh, except for one problem. No such aircraft category exists, SLSA gyroplanes, that is. FAA has denied fully-built Special LSA status to rotary winged aircraft such as gyroplanes.
More Video Pilot ReportsAlthough weather all around Mt. Vernon foiled the arrival of several paid vendors, the airport itself has been flyable nearly all of both days so far. Saturday, the 8th is the third and concluding day. Vendors in attendance logged steady demo flights to prospective customers. I've written that Midwest LSA Expo is our very best location to do Video Pilot Reports (VPRs) and the same applies to getting a demo flight before you complete an order for a new aircraft. The show and Mt. Vernon airport are extremely good at providing this opportunity. I'll present reports ASAP but time is precious, so I'll just say now that we've now logged four VPRs. On opening day we did the Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen and Rans Aircraft's S-21 Outbound. Today, we captured the AeroEast Discovery 600 and a 914-powered Magni M-16 Gyroplane. Tomorrow, we hope to repeat. It takes a few hours to mount all the cameras, do a series of recorded landings and fly-bys, go evaluate the aircraft for an hour or so, and then record a video recap of the flight and the aircraft. Getting two of these done is an honest day's work. (…then the editing starts — many more hours). At dinner tonight we discussed the 10th year of Midwest LSA Expo with airport manager and Expo leader, Chris Collins. While he's frustrated about the weather east and west Mt. Vernon and those who could not fly in because of it, those that did display gave a steady stream of demo flights and we captured video we hope you will like. I'm calling it a winner. Keep watching Videoman Dave's You Tube channel as these VPRs are uploaded for your viewing entertainment and education.
More Images of the SW21 Jet DedicationAirport manager Chris Collins forwarded more photos of the ceremony dedicating the SW21 Jet to the Mt. Vernon airport. Of the one with Jon Hansen reverently touching the main support for the aircraft he donated to the airport, Chris said, "I love this shot!"
Mayor SpeaksIn the second Mt. Vernon Mayor John Lewis makes a few remarks while brothers Jon and Ron Hansen wear their trademark broad smiles. In the lower image, Chris identified all the parties that helped make this unusual light aircraft display possible.
Display CrewStanding left to right are: Fabricators Addison and Brad Sharp, Airport Board Vice Chairman Mike Ancona, Airport Administrative Assistant Sheila Jolly-Scrivner, Ron Hansen, Jon Hansen, Airport Board Treasurer Eddie Lee, Airport Board Chairman Gary Chesney, City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel, Assistant City Manager Nathan McKenna, and Mayor John Lewis. Chris Collins is seated in front.
This article was updated with additional photos; see at bottom. Midwest LSA Expo held a special ceremony to honor two men in their donation of a beautiful LSA-like aircraft now permanently displayed on an striking pedestal near the airport entrance. Lots of airports have military aircraft mounted on pedestals. Even AirVenture, base of the homebuilders, has military fighters on raised displays — including the famous “jet-on-a-stick” near the show entrance. These displays honor a warbird heritage but those aircraft aren’t what most members fly. Enter Light-Sport Aircraft. While some have gotten deluxe far beyond the original concept — with prices to match — many affordable aircraft still make up the category of Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and ultralight aircraft. These aircraft are what “real” people fly. Midwest LSA Expo has now reached its 10th birthday, staying focused on showcasing this sector of aircraft. So, perhaps it is fitting that today they had a ceremony honoring a donation of a futuristic jet LSA design (technically “LSA-like”).
Rights of PassageAlthough governments have eased the permissions required, the task is still rather daunting. John enlisted the aid of AirRally.com, a Canadian company that handled the effort of assuring the right steps were taken. The group had a tight schedule. Their special visas required they fly over on May 19th with mandatory return on the 22nd. Those were the assigned travel days and weather could not be an excuse for delays. “We flew at 85 knots but fought a 30-knot headwind,” recalled John Craparo. The 100 nautical mile trip plus maneuvering for traffic would consume more than two hours and the majority of their fuel supply. Therefore obtaining fuel in Cuba was a must. “We wondered if 100LL fuel or any alternative was available as, unlike the fixed wing airplanes, we lacked sufficient fuel to make the round trip.” John and the gyro team discussed the task beforehand and elected to go. Yet they didn’t know about the headwind or the air traffic control experience when they made this decision. The straight line distance was only about 100 nautical miles but with ATC vectoring, it was closer to 130 nautical. “We were told we had to cross the ADIZ by 10 AM or turn around and go back,” John noted, adding another pressure point to the plan. Crossing that much water is a serious matter. They prepared. Each aircraft had two GPS units, dual radios. life vests, personal locators, Spot trackers, flare guns, and even a knife to attempt fending off any sharks or other predators. Gyroplanes are not designed to carry a lot of baggage, so after the safety gear, “we packed very light,” explained John. “We had two pairs of underwear, socks, and shorts. We planned to do laundry on the island.”
Arriving Over CubaOther than the headwind, the crossing was uneventful, but remember, the controllers had never handled a VFR flight so vectoring and being directed into clouds resulted. “We had five or 10 minutes of uncertainty with ATC after advising them we could not do IFR flight,” John clarified. Like controllers around the world, the Cubans spoke English but the pair of gyroplanes had to work things out in the air. John’s Magni got on the ground first and successfully, but after waiting anxiously, still had no word about the other M16 gyroplane. “They had been put in a holding pattern and were ignored for a time,” related John. It was only minutes but, given the situation, seemed like hours. After pleading their fuel predicament to Cuban controllers, they were finally given clearance to land. “When the second gyroplane shut down, 1.5 gallons — 15 to 20 minutes‘ worth — of fuel remained, exclaimed John! John recorded his time from engine start in Marathon, Florida to shutdown in Havana at 2.5 hours. To compare, with calm winds on the return to America, the flight was only 1.5 hours. These Rotax engines burn between four to six gallons per hour depending on the power setting, so two and half hours equates to 12-15 gallons used. With 19 total on board, a return flight was not possible. The second gyro, delayed longer by Cuban ATC, consumed more of their supply. Being safe on the ground is good but clearly the gyro team needed to negotiate some fuel and only Jet A was commonly supplied on the airport. After lengthy discussions — including the possibility of siphoning fuel from one or more of the GA airplanes who were not fuel challenged — a solution was found with help from the AirRally people. A fuel truck was procured and the gyroplanes were fueled with what was described as 100 octane fuel at a modest price. “All things considered it seemed a good value,” John said. Payment had to be in cash; credit cards are not used in Cuba. John and partners were prepared, thanks to their own study and advice from AirRally.com. “We ran the engines for a time after uploading the fuel,” John indicated, but the fuel turned out to be good and the flight home went without incident. The experience in Cuba was excellent and interesting, according to the flight of seven. Friendship 4 will no doubt replay the trip in their minds for years to come, especially the rather tense arrival. "Thanks to everyone who cheered us on," finished John.
This article has been modified since originally posted. —DJ These days you can go to Cuba. You can even fly to the island nation. Yet one thing no one has been doing… is flying VFR to Cuba. According to John Craparo, this was the first time in at least 60 years. They were also the first-ever gyroplanes to arrive in Havana. John was joined by his three gyro friends — Dayton Dabbs, Mike Baker, and Jonathan Prickett — in a pair of Magni Gyro tandem two seaters, both M16 models. The gyroplanes were accompanied by two SportCruiser LSA, a pair of Bonanzas, and a Cirrus SR20. For the faster, fixed wing aircraft the 100-mile crossing was not a major challenge. However, any water crossing where you fly out of sight of land in a single engine airplane will earn your rapt attention. It was a bigger deal yet to cross an expanse of ocean in open cockpit gyroplanes flying less than 100 miles an hour with 19 gallons of fuel on board.