Summer is here and we are beginning to anticipate the first airshows of the year (since Copperstate, that is). In a bit over three months — with the virus panic behind us, we hope — here comes the Midwest LSA Expo in September and DeLand Showcase in November. Until these shows start we have plenty to share with you plus a growing library of 3-minute videos on the ByDanJohnson YouTube channel. Plus, you can find nearly 1,000 LSA and Sport Pilot kit videos featuring Dan on Videoman Dave’s “The Ultralight Flyer” YouTube channel + view hundreds of our best videos archived here in a searchable format. Thanks for your visit. We genuinely appreciate those of you who have become members!
Virtually Yours…The team at Garmin has cooked up an online version of a regular occurrence at their AirVenture display where they deliver seminars and offer experts to help explain or debug your gear. In the age of digital, two points must be made. One, these new gizmos can do everything but make you lunch. Compared to the analog instrumentation of days gone by — all those rows of round steam gauges we used to navigate or fly IFR — pilots have so much more information available to them today. That’s good. Two, these new gizmos can do so much, it can be overwhelming. Oh, eventually we get used to the many new features. Then we come to think we can’t live without them. Yet if you don’t use them all the time, you may need a tune-up. When digital avionics are new, most of us need a helping hand to learn the ropes. Whatever you may need or desire, Garmin has a plan. (For the record, Dynon has done similar efforts — they call it a "virtual booth visit" — to augment their airshow outreach; good for both companies.)
Like Going to KOSHOn July 8th 2020, Garmin announced they were kicking off a new virtual AirVenture Oshkosh. “[We have] a comprehensive line-up of virtual AirVenture Oshkosh events,” the Kansas company said. “Beginning Monday, July 20 through Saturday, July 25 — the days when the live show would have occurred — Garmin will host a series of free educational webinars and product demonstrations, and feature unique opportunities that will bring the Garmin exhibit experience direct to its customers.” Customers can view a detailed list of events, dates and times. “While we are very disappointed AirVenture Oshkosh will not physically take place as expected this year, we are thrilled to bring eager attendees, loyal customers and friends as much of the Garmin experience to you virtually, and in the best way possible given the times,” said Carl Wolf, vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “Our team has put together a terrific agenda of events for the week, so please join us for as much of it as you can. We look forward to seeing you again in person in 2021!”
Garmin serves aviation markets from jets to helicopters to kit-built aircraft to LSA to ultralights. I have selected from the wide curriculum to highlight sessions I believe may be of interest to readers of this website.Training webinars will also be available throughout the week and are led by Garmin’s aviation training department. They will feature a general operational overview of Garmin products. Customers can attend any of the following webinar or training topics throughout the week.
Garmin “University” Selected Items for Sport Pilots
- Latest portables: aera series, inReach, more
- Cost effective autopilot upgrades
- Garmin Pilot flight planning: Getting started & pro tips
- Solutions for experimental aircraft
- Sporty’s and Garmin Present: Preflight weather with Garmin Pilot
- Garmin Pilot: Cross-country planning
- G3X Pilot Academy: Introduction
- G3X Pilot Academy: Autopilot
Garmin is going to Oshkosh 2020! No, wait, that can’t be. Oshkosh is going to Garmin! Nope, that’s not right, either. Ah, how about Garmin simulating being in Wisconsin, in effect, bringing a virtual AirVenture airshow right into your home. Now we’re talkin’! Actually, this is rather cool. I don’t know about you, but when I go to Oshkosh, I race around from display to display getting the latest news. Because hundreds of airplanes and engines are located outside, that’s where I’m focused. Getting inside the buildings to visit hundreds more displays generally happens only for specific news. Almost never do I get to explore avionics or flight planning software. That’s all changed for what would be Oshkosh 2020. Virtually Yours… The team at Garmin has cooked up an online version of a regular occurrence at their AirVenture display where they deliver seminars and offer experts to help explain or debug your gear.
ScaleBirds is not your run-of-the-mill kit aircraft company. In truth, all kit builders are amazing to me.People who labor for years to design an aircraft, craft methods for making the constituent parts, assemble it all, work out bugs in construction, fly the aircraft, then smooth any rough edges of its flight qualities, start producing kit components — and the manual it will take for a non-expert to build the kit (perhaps the hardest task) — and finally, start the effort of telling people about the airplane, market it, sell it — and the big one — try to turn a profit for doing all the preceding. Any way you cut it, birthing a new design is an immense project. Sam Watrous, his son Scott, and their merry band of (mostly volunteer) ScaleBirders are not merely doing all the above. They are emulating vintage American military designs in reduced scale and trying to get the details right so the kit versions look as much as possible like the originals. Then, with each weekend wrapped up, the team goes back to their day jobs. I don't know about you but I'm exhausted just thinking about doing all that …in my spare time. Sheesh!
LiteFighters"Our goal with LiteFighters," Sam identified, "is to make a sweet little fighter replica based on our modular concept that can be built quickly, keeps tools to a minimum, and uses low-cost components to keep the overall aircraft affordable. Pull-rivet construction throughout makes assembly a snap. The truss frame makes it easy for anyone to layout and build an accurate frame." By the way, ScaleBirds LiteFighters have large cockpit dimensions ("same as an RV-8") that are designed to fit real-sized aviators. "These [are] very fun machines; speedy, and capable of mild aerobatics," Sam said. LiteFighters offer the kind of flying a weekend warrior wants to do. "LiteFighter aerodynamics are driven by requirements," Sam explained, giving as examples: "low stall speed with gentle stall characteristics, high climb rate, great speed for the power, excellent maneuverability, and fun scale-sized airframe." When Sam mentions "modular," he means that ScaleBirds designs are based on a structural core airframe with skins being "hung" on the outside primarily for aesthetic and aerodynamic purposes. Modular construction "allows us to develop the core components and structure once, and offer many models of warbird that fit the same frame." For a builder, this method allows a quick and simple build of an airframe that is square and true. "The bulk of the aircraft can be built and assembled before closing it off with the skins," Sam noted. He reported that this type of construction was popular leading up to World War II. It worked then, he feels, and it works today. Landing gear will be fixed for all LiteFighters to keep the designs light, reliable, affordable, and to comply with Light-Sport parameters allowing someone with a Sport Pilot certificate or exercising those privileges to fly their aircraft. "Retractable gear will likely be available for some models as an option," Sam added.
Curtiss P-36 HawkSince coming up with the ScaleBirds name and concept in 2011, the first project is one we examine in the videos below is a 55%-scale version of the P-36 Hawk. Scott Watrous explained some of the history of this design in the second video below. ScaleBirds is comprised of a small team from southeastern Connecticut. "Our experience is in art, design, engineering, robotics, manufacturing, and of course, aircraft," Sam observed. "We have been using all of our skills and developing new ones in order to deliver something new to the world of flying." These replicas are single seat sport planes, designed to be economical and fun. "We have also done design work, and built parts for, a larger two-seat aircraft: a 63%-scale F6F Hellcat," Sam reported. "It will be completed as the first example of what we call the SportFighters series."
Round Vernor PowerIn 2016 ScaleBirds came to agreement with Verner Motors in the Czech Republic to act as a U.S. dealer and maintenance source for their expanding line of light aircraft radial engines. Vernor engines preserve that old-time look but are actually new designs of recent construction. Engines are available through ScaleBirds with 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-cylinders and from 42 to 158 horsepower. Prices start below $10,000 and the line is generally competitive with new engine prices from other companies. Notably the five-cylinder, four-stroke Scarlett will work for many lighter kit designs. It outputs 83 horsepower (78 continuous) and can operate on either 93-octane mogas or 100LL avgas. Because it also offers strong torque — 218 foot-pounds at 1900 rpm — the Scarlett 5 can easily swing a 78-inch prop which gives it great climb power. The ScaleBirds team report they offer full-service maintenance and overhauls for the Vernon engines. "We went to the Czech Republic and were trained in the operation and maintenance for these powerplants," Sam clarified. The five-cylinerVerner Scarlett 5S is a modern radial aviation powerplant. "With specs and performance that put it right next to other 80-horsepower engines, the Scarlett 5S is still lighter than the other direct-drive engine options and without the cost and complexity of the higher-revving redrive engines of similar output," Sam said. While the design team likes the round Vernors for some applications, "LiteFighters are designed for a variety of available aircraft engines from 65 to 140 horsepower. The in-line fighters like the P40 will be based on the Viking 130, AeroMomentum, and Rotax 912UL, while radial powered models will be geared towards the Verner 5Si or 7U engines," Sam explained. "This will not preclude other popular options such as Continental, VW, Jabiru, and various two-stroke options, the D-motor, as well as other auto conversions such as the Suzuki G engines with redrives." Video watching is great while America remains sheltered at home. Here is a trio of ScaleBirds videos — two about the P-36 Hawk in recent and earlier states of development plus lots of talk about radial Verner engines, which ScaleBirds imports. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!
ScaleBirds is not your run-of-the-mill kit aircraft company. In truth, all kit builders are amazing to me. People who labor for years to design an aircraft, craft methods for making the constituent parts, assemble it all, work out bugs in construction, fly the aircraft, then smooth any rough edges of its flight qualities, start producing kit components — and the manual it will take for a non-expert to build the kit (perhaps the hardest task) — and finally, start the effort of telling people about the airplane, market it, sell it — and the big one — try to turn a profit for doing all the preceding. Any way you cut it, birthing a new design is an immense project. Sam Watrous, his son Scott, and their merry band of (mostly volunteer) ScaleBirders are not merely doing all the above. They are emulating vintage American military designs in reduced scale and trying to get the details right so the kit versions look as much as possible like the originals.
Broad View of MarketAs Steve notes from his study of the current data, "Overall, registrations are down 11% year-to-date from what they were at this time a year ago." Total registrations declined rom 387 to 344 aircraft of all types. This still speaks to a year with around 700 aircraft registered. However, Steve further observed, "The decrease is all in ready-to-fly aircraft. Kit registrations have actually increased a bit." He continued, "This data is consistent with a [statement] that says that people [may be] buying fewer new aircraft this year, but kit builders are continuing to work on their projects. Indeed, they're completing slightly more projects than they were last year." Considering recent events, he added, "This is just what you'd expect for a time of economic downturn and quarantines." Looking at the big picture for overall numbers, when comparing the first half of 2020 to the first half of 2019, we see total registrations are down by 11%, almost identical to GAMA's first quarter 2020 figures. Piston GA aircraft deliveries were down 11.7%; their second quarter info should be out before long and we can wonder if they will take a harder turn south. However, an interesting aspect to the story is that kit-built light aircraft registrations are up for 2020, from 207 last year to 217, both representing 6-month totals, an increase of 4.8%. Please remember that registrations — especially for kit-built aircraft — represents completions of kits not sales of kits. The two are displaced by 1-3 years or more of work to take a kit from assembly to flight. The suffering comes as Light-Sport Aircraft kits and fully built models were down from 180 in last year's first half compared to 127 this year, a reduction of 29%.
Most Notable: IconOne well-known company heads our list of most-changed …and unfortunately, not for the best. You guessed it: Icon Aircraft and their handsome, if troubled, A5 LSA seaplane. After two relatively steady years of registering around 50 aircraft a year, enough to rise near the top of the fully-built Special LSA segment, Icon's 2020 registrations plummeted from 46 in 2019 to 6 so far in 2020. Do please remember that these numbers are for the first half of 2020, a very difficult time, and with any luck, the last half of this weird year may improve. As if Icon was not facing strong headwinds, it just got more turbulent as Aero News-Net reported. Original founder and visionary, Kirk Hawkins — described by the company as being "on sabbatical leave" — is suing the Chinese company that is the primary stockholder of the California builder with extensive operations in Mexico. The last Chief Operating Officer has resigned and been replaced by another but the company is struggling to right the ship. Their aircraft is the most expensive, by far, in the LSA industry. They have two large facilities and more than 300 personnel on the payroll (although two thirds are in Mexico where wages are surely much lower than in California). That much overhead and payroll cannot be sustained with a dozen aircraft a year so Icon's new leader certainly has his work cut out for him. As Steve discovered, "Icon registrations have dropped off a cliff, from 44 in 2019 to six so far in 2020." No question this is the biggest change in light aviation prompting Steve to ask, "What is going on there?"
Good News Leaders
Gyroplanes Go "Inside"Combing the database thoroughly, Steve added a closing thought: "Looking elsewhere, I see that among gyroplanes, the enclosed side-by-side models are [now] favored over the tandem and open models, that is, AutoGyro's Cavalon is their top model, as is the M-24 Orion for Magni. Thanks a million to Steve Beste and his efforts to keep us all informed. Please go visit Tableau Public for much more information, which you can shape and change at will — see the blue boxes at the left of your screen, especially the bottom two that may be most helpful, plus the tabs across the top.
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.
Oshkosh ReduxSometimes called "Disneyland for Airplanes," if you like things that fly — whatever form they take — you can probably find it at Oshkosh. Like a kid in a candy store, everywhere you look offers sweet temptations. Oshkosh is so sprawling you can't see it all but this post along with the video below tries to capture objects of interest to readers of this website and viewers of Dave's "The Ultralight Flyer" YouTube Channel. In a nearby photo you'll see Dave's new rig that gets the two of us around Oshkosh in head-turning style while transporting Dave's heavy stash of camera gear. In the photo, my usual riding position is occupied by Midwest LSA Expo producer, Chris Collins. AirVenture draws immense crowds — on the busiest day, the headcount may exceed a quarter million people milling around every aircraft, inside display, or outdoor food court. That makes impossible a goal of keeping every one of them six feet apart. By comparison, Midwest LSA Expo has been social distancing for more than a decade. This show allows plenty of room to keep your separation but you can still examine aircraft and have plenty of time to talk to those representing it. Join us in Mt. Vernon, Illinois this coming September 10-11-12, 2020.
Last Year OuttakesNormally I stick so closely to aircraft and engines — because that's what interests readers most — that I must leave out a number of other points of interest. Here I'll catch a few of them… Magnificent Magni — Magni Gyrocopters, the second-largest-selling gyroplane line (after AutoGyro), has been doing an admirable job of putting out news during the lockdown. No one can go to shows or gather in groups, so the Italian producer has created newsy emails. The gyro giant has been celebrating James Ketchell's around the world gyroplane flight in 2019, announcing their addition of Rotax's powerful 915iS engine, winning Spanish certification, and helping to uncover elephant poachers in Africa. More than 1,200 Magni gyroplanes have been sold, mostly in Europe but models are flying all over the world. The company's side-by-side, fully-enclosed Orion M24 model is shown nearby. ePower Zigolo — Although it seems a long-delayed project, the electric propulsion of Aeromarine LSA's Part 103-capable Zigolo continues in development. At Oshkosh, the Florida enterprise showed their Zigolo electric prototype with externally mounted battery pods that can be jettisoned in the event of problems. The super light aircraft — with a gasoline engine, it easily qualifies for Part 103 — is well described by our associate Dave Unwin in this pilot report. Any delay in Aeromarine LSA getting to larger production of an eZigolo is, in fact, normal. Note how enormously well-funded companies like Kitty Hawk or Airbus have abandoned electric propulsion as they wait on the batteries of the future. With vastly less cash, developer Chip Erwin continues to make intriguing progress in his lightest-of-all aircraft. See-Thru Lazair —Is this iconic Canadian design coming back, or not? At present, the good news is that Gene Yarbrough, proprietor of Lazair Nouveau is making parts again for the long-out-of-production light aircraft. Learn more about this popular design and Gene's enterprise but a glance at the nearby photo shows how distinct this aircraft is compared to any flying machine. Lazair was even more eye-catching back in a time dominated by Quicksilvers and CGS Hawks but even today, its clear coverings, inverted-V tail, and twin engines set this fascinating aircraft apart from most others. Nearly everything about Lazair was different, but the image shows the central structure clearly and it is easy to imagine how unique this looked when all other ultralight vehicles were so basic… and draggy. Lazair's smoothness and attention to lower drag made it work well on two tiny engines. Power was originally supplied by two modified Pioneer Chainsaw engines of approximately 5.5 horsepower each though these were later replaced by two, single-cylinder, 9.5-horsepower Rotax engines. FAA Meets with Industry — FAA has kept a tradition dating back to the beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft in 2004 — the new regulation was announced at Oshkosh that year and became official on September 1st with the first aircraft accepted by FAA at Sun 'n Fun 2005. In the Heritage Museum located near the entrance to AirVenture, FAA leadership gathers with airplane manufacturers and other interested parties to review the coming regulation widely known as MOSAIC. The Small Airplane Directorate's Terry Chasteen (seen speaking at top left in the nearby photo) also provide his annual safety briefing to those in attendance. In 2019, the yearly conclave was attended by some of the top executives in FAA. The occasion provides a rare chance for industry to have a conversation with rule writers. Talking to Reporters — For years, Americans and many others have been hearing plenty about Big Media; comments are not particularly positive. However, in aviation, media players (like yours truly) are more understanding and may portray industry's efforts in a more upbeat way. Facts and details about interesting new aircraft, are the focus of most aviation writers and videographers. In one impromtu image seen nearby, Flight Design USA's Tom Peghiny is interviewed on camera by reporters from Aero-News Network behind the media tent at EAA's AirVenture media headquarters. In many places at Oshkosh, you may notice variations on this kind of reporting. Videoman Dave and I are happy to be among those working to create content readers and viewers enjoy. The value of companies running into reporters at events like EAA AirVenture Oshkosh shows why these events are so important. With that in mind, we hope all events can return to normal for 2021. Here's our race-around tour of AirVenture 2019.
It’s almost July and any active pilot knows what that means: Oshkosh! Except not this year. ☹️ I interrupt the ongoing battle with Covid-19 to take you on a nostalgic tour of Oshkosh-19. View this excursion by video below. Hey, when you can’t go to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2020, why not simulate from the safety and comfort of your home or backyard? Just like Netflix urges you — “Watch It Again!” This brief virtual tour of aircraft and people from AirVenture last year may have you wishing you were starting to pack your bags for the big show this year …sigh!… Oshkosh Redux Sometimes called “Disneyland for Airplanes,” if you like things that fly — whatever form they take — you can probably find it at Oshkosh. Like a kid in a candy store, everywhere you look offers sweet temptations. Oshkosh is so sprawling you can’t see it all but this post along with the video below tries to capture objects of interest to readers of this website and viewers of Dave’s “The Ultralight Flyer” YouTube Channel.
Now, More Powerful"Rotax 915iS is recommended for customers starting from high altitudes like in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico," said Silverlight, "or if the customer is looking for the ultimate performance anywhere." Read my comparison of 915iS to 912iS. Company leader, Abid Farooqui, notes that Rotax's newest powerplant requires use of an EFIS (Electronic Flight Information System, or digital screen avionics) for engine monitoring that can interface with 915's electronic engine monitoring. Analog gauges are not an option with use of this engine. The lowest cost and simplest EFIS is MGL Extreme, Abid advised. The 141-horsepower engine is fully ASTM compliant. Silverlight said the engine package "includes engine, air filter, intercooler, intercooler custom piping, oil lines, oil radiator, remote oil tank, fuse box, ECU, coolant radiator, engine mounts, exhaust system with turbo, engine mounting hardware, fuel system components, standard composite propeller." Yet reading that list does not speak to the effort of designing the engine installation for AR-1 I will link to a video with much more detail but as one example, Rotax's powerful engine has a turbocharger. Those air boosters make air hotter so an intercooler is needed. The trouble with these components is they have to be securely mounted and a gyroplane like AR-1 is slim, so Abid did not want a big intercooler sticking out and upsetting the lines and low drag of his design. As the video below shows, he went to considerable effort to clean up the 915 installation. To learn all about the many actions Abid took to install Rotax 915s into his aircraft, see GyroGerald's video here; this goes into good detail with lots of close-up images. (Good job, Gerald!)
Specifications — American Ranger AR-1 (with 3 Engine Options)
- Empty Weight — 646 pounds (912ULS/912iS), 665 pounds (914UL), 697 pounds (915iS)
- Gross Weight — 1,200 / 1,232 / 1,260 pounds
- Useful Load — 554 / 567 / 563 pounds
- Payload (full fuel) — 452 / 465 / 461 pounds
- Minimum Speed (a substitute for Stall Speed) — 25 mph
- Max straight and level speed (Vh) — 105 mph / 110 mph / 120 mph
- Never Exceed Speed — 120 mph
- Takeoff Roll (calm, turf, prerotated) — 450 feet / 350 feet / 200 feet
- Takeoff Distance (50 foot obstacle) — 1200 feet / 980 feet / 750 feet
- Landing Roll — 0 to 30 feet, with proper technique
- Landing (50 foot obstacle) — 500 feet
- Rate of Climb (sea level) — 725 fpm / 850 fpm / 1300 fpm
- Fuel — 17 gallons
- Fuel Burn at Cruise — 4 to 6 gph
- Rotor Diameter 28 feet 3 inches (larger rotor of 28 ft. 10 in. available for high altitude)
- Height — 9 feet
- Width (not cockpit width) — 76.5 inches,
- Length — 17.7 feet
- Folding Mast Option — 6.1 feet (when folded)
https://youtu.be/W7APuLNjJdw Here's a fuller description of flying a gyroplane — suitable for pilots without experience in these aircraft.
You can call modern gyroplanes “wanna-be” helicopters if you want but that might miss a few important points. First, a gyroplane can be flown by a Sport Pilot. Other than Part 103 ultralight version, a helicopter requires a higher certificate and that means a medical, at least BasicMed. LAMA believes gyroplanes will be included in FAA’s revised LSA regulation from what is known at this time. That means they’ll be available ready-to-fly and prices are so much less than conventional helicopters that it’s not even comparable. Comparing the most deluxe fully-built gyroplane to even a used helicopter is a world apart. Finally, maintenance of a gyroplane is dramatically less than any helicopter. Despite those differences, gyroplanes enjoy some of the same performance capabilities of a helicopter — other than vertical launch. Gyroplanes also work unusually well in wind conditions that might ground most other aircraft. No wonder gyroplanes have enjoyed a huge run in space-tight European countries and have been growing steadily in the USA.
New-To-Be LSA SeaplaneGiven the sweeping effects of the coronavirus lockdown, Aero Adventure has experienced some delay getting FAA to come make their evaluation of the company's Special Light-Sport Aircraft entry. Hopefully, boss Alex Rolinski will succeed in getting this done soon but it is presently out of his hands. He asks FAA regularly but permission has not yet been granted for inspectors to visit Aero Adventure. While Alex and team previously hoped to debut the new model at Sun 'n Fun 2020 for its once-delayed date in early May (now 2021; see here), they may now be ready in time for the DeLand Showcase scheduled for November 12-13-14, 2020. That would make a special opportunity as Aero Adventure is based at DeLand (along with another well-known producer, U-Fly-It, manufacturer of the Aerolite 103 located right next door to Aero Adventure). For years, Aero Adventure has made kit seaplanes and these can be highly affordable. You don't often hear "high affordable" and "seaplane" in the same sentence but this company has the right formula. Check this article from 2015; prices change but know that Aero Adventure offers genuine value. In addition, Aventura models have been flying for many years. Hundreds have launched into the sky from land or water. The brand was first known as the Buccaneer and evolved through several different owners to become Aventura. However, among the various entrepreneurs, none has been more active and vigorous than the group Alex Rolinski has assembled While Aero Adventure worked on the SLSA model, a Florida dealer, Wahlstrom Aviation has bolstered customer support by helping kit builders at their Florida panhandle location.
Very Special Light-Sport AircraftDespite their best plans, no one saw the coronavirus panic coming, so Aventura SLSA remains "to-be" until FAA permits on-site inspector visits to perform the evaluation they elect for a new entry. Paperwork could be examined in an FAA office but a visit to the manufacturing facility is likely for any new entry. Meanwhile, in my visit at the end of March 2020, I reviewed several items of the long work list required to achieve Special LSA status and it appears to me that Aero Adventure has nearly finished all work. They hired outside talent to assist them in assuring they fully meet the ASTM standards FAA requires before accepting a new model into the fleet. They've also completed the numerous manuals required before they can declare their compliance to standards. Building the case for FAA acceptance has absorbed a lot of time and money, but Alex and crew have worked the rest of the effort, too. A major decision was made about representation of the enhanced line. Bristell USA importer, Lou Mancuso, will represent the Aventura SLSA 912. He has already dipped his toe into the water (literally …ask him about it at an airshow) by offering the S-17 version of Aventura but he is stoked about the potential for the fully-built seaplane with a modest price. Aventura SLSA 912 will be north of $100,000 but significantly less than all other Special LSA seaplanes and far, far less than Icon's A5. Lou has carefully built a solid reputation in the Light-Sport Aircraft world (see here about Bristell and here about his training academy). Adding Aventura SLSA to the Bristell models he sells adds no conflict as the two flying machines have very different mission profiles. Unless some other entry manages to arrive sooner, the fully-built Aventura will be #153 in our popular SLSA List. Plan to attend DeLand Showcase 2020 and ask Alex or Lou all the questions you want.
Current Specifications for Aventura 912*:
- Top Speed — 105 mph
- Cruise Speed — 75 mph
- Range — 300 Stature Miles
- Stall Speed — 47 mph
- Rate of Climb — 1,000 fpm
- Takeoff Distance, Land — 250 feet
- Takeoff Distance, Water — 350 feet
- Fuel Capacity — 23 gallons
- Empty Weight — 840 pounds
- Gross Weight — 1,430 pounds
- Useful Load — 590 pounds
- Payload (with full fuel) — 452 pounds
- Height — 7 feet
- Length — 23 feet
- Wing Span — 30 feet 8 inches
- Wing Area — 161.7 square feet
- Landing Gear — All three wheels retract
If you pay any attention to LSA seaplanes, you should already know about Aventura. Certainly, pilots seeking a recreational waterbird that won’t ruin their budget likely already know the company, Aero Adventure. This Florida producer has seaplane kit aircraft that can get airborne for less than $60,000. Yes, you read that right and that figure includes everything needed although you may elect added-cost options such as glass avionics or a specialized paint job. While some models of LSA seaplanes appeal to the wealthy class at prices approaching $400,000, Aero Adventure makes …seaplanes for the rest of us. Two years ago, Aero Adventure was focused on their S-17 model featuring the 117-horsepower AeroMomentum engine. You could buy a factory-built version of this on a very limited basis as the company periodically put their airshow model up for sale as a used aircraft. For 2020, however, the DeLand, Florida company is throwing the door open much more widely.
Cub Wonderment"Following a year-long public market survey," CubCrafters announced, "[we have] officially decided to [start efforts to] certify and offer a nosewheel option for our flagship Part 23 certified aircraft, the CC-19 XCub." This is not an Light-Sport Aircraft entry, however, the model remains easily within the coverage area this website pursues.
Going Both Ways“XCub is easily convertible between nosewheel and tailwheel," CubCrafters said, "so you really get two airplanes in one: a tricycle-gear aircraft, and a traditional big-tire tailwheel Cub. Both are very capable STOL aircraft designed for backcountry missions.” CubCrafters boasts "an extremely robust trailing-link nosewheel assembly and large tundra tires as an option for the mains." The company said the traditional tail-dragging XCub can handle "primitive landing strips" plus most off-airport operations. Likewise landing loads on the nosewheel are transmitted to the airframe by a heavy duty truss and can accommodate unimproved landing surfaces. Regarding retrofit, the nosewheel assembly "is a bolt-on effort that can be removed should the owner want to convert the airplane to a tailwheel configuration." XCub's tricycle gear option is available now on experimental XCubs through the company’s Builder Assist program Following the company's also-Part 23 Cub, the nosedragger has been badged as “NX Cub” for aircraft delivered from the factory in nosewheel configuration. CubCrafters expects to achieve FAA Part 23 certification for NX Cub in early 2021.
What on Earth is the world coming to…?! A Cub with a nose wheel? Has the aviation world gone mad? No, of course not. Admittedly, though, a nosedragger is certainly not what most pilots think when they envision a Cub. Leading manufacturer CubCrafters has explored many corners of the Cub world, filling niche after niche in fulfilling resilient demand for this popular airplane design. (Note that I keep calling this aircraft a “Cub,” instead of “Cubalike” because the Washington company actually owns that name after acquiring it from Piper some time back.) Cub Wonderment “Following a year-long public market survey,” CubCrafters announced, “[we have] officially decided to [start efforts to] certify and offer a nosewheel option for our flagship Part 23 certified aircraft, the CC-19 XCub.” This is not an Light-Sport Aircraft entry, however, the model remains easily within the coverage area this website pursues. “Putting a nosewheel on a modern Cub type aircraft certainly surprised some people,” noted CubCrafters’ VP of Sales & Marketing, Brad Damm.
All-Metal UltraCruiser"The UltraCruiser was designed as the first all-metal ultralight in 1998," reported Hummel Aviation. "First flights were in 2000. First plan sales were in 2001. Intended for first-time builders as well as first-time pilots, the UltraCruiser is an easy to build and even easier to fly aircraft." (You can see my full-length pilot report — links below — to see I generally agreed with these statements.) The design can be built from plans up to and including a full kit, according to the Ohio producer. "The kit includes predrilled, laser-cut components. All parts are formed, prebent, or welded. Wheels, tires, brakes, harness, and even the seat cushion is included. Wing Spar is preassembled" said Hummel. "The kit is very complete. Everything is included to complete the aircraft less the engine, prop, spinner, and instruments." Its wings can be detached for storage. Built carefully, UltraCruiser can qualify as a Part 103-compliant all-metal ultralight aircraft ('er "vehicle"). UltraCruiser is very docile and easy to fly. With a 6.5-foot-wide track and low center of gravity, ground handling is straightforward. Because this is a taildragger, that's important to many tricycle-gear-trained pilots. If you are still unsure of your taildragger skills, a tricycle-gear option is shown on plans but UltraCruiser will then be too heavy to qualify for Part 103. The same goes for a fully enclosed canopy. The all-metal aircraft displayed surprisingly strong performance on a 37-horsepower engine. You have other choices but when a half-VW engine powers the UltraCruiser, it can produce 28 to 37 horsepower. Even the higher powered version burns burns a mere two gallons per hour, which makes it one of the most fuel-efficient engines you can install on an ultralight. Though half-VWs lack the same power-to-weight ratio of two-strokes engines, four-stroke powerplants are valued by many pilots. UltraCruiser is built using full-size parts shown on plans. A complete set of plans contains 26 24-inch by 36-inch CAD-drawn pages pages with full size templates for bulkheads and wing ribs. "A 30-page step-by-step manual is very complete with all materials listed. Only simple shop tools are required," clarified Hummel. Maybe you've never heard of or seen an UltraCruiser? If such is the case, you have a wonderful viewing option this year on a date that will hopefully occur after all the corona virus panic has passed.
A Gathering of 'Cruisers"Hummel Gathering 2020 will be held October 10th," announced Hummel. "Last year it was so hot, we thought we would try a fall event. The date also coincides with WUFI (World Ultralight Fly-In) 2020 for those ultralight guys looking for a destination. Everyone is welcome." (Here are three article about WUFI.) The gathering is an informal event, Hummel said. It is intended for people with an interest in ultralights, homebuilts, VW engines, and to anyone wishing to learn more about Hummel Aviation and Hummel Engines. "We expect a good turnout this year assuming we are out of lockdown," said Hummel. "We always have coffee and donuts for the early guys. Lunch will be served at noon or so. We usually have a few demo flights, weather permitting, and an informal Q&A for an hour or so after lunch." "This should be a great gathering as we celebrate 40 years of the Hummelbird, 20 years of the UltraCruiser, and 15 years of the H5. We will also have a little cake to celebrate Morry Hummel’s induction into the EAA Ultralight Hall of Fame as well as what would have been his birthday." Hummel Aviation is active on Facebook and their website is up-to-date. Here's my full-length pilot report from the 1990s. Some of this may be dated, but most of it is still useful. Be warned; it's a longer read than modern posts. If that is not enough reading, here is another pilot report, this one appearing in an EAA magazine. Following is an interview with a Hummel owner.
In April, lots of readers were clearly pleased with the “Vintage Ultralights” series. Thanks to our cooperation with Videoman Dave and his popular YouTube channel, we were able to present ten well-proven aircraft that could be purchased for well under $10,000 …assuming you could find one that met your needs and passed a careful inspection. Bargains may not be the easiest aircraft to find and buy yet the effort can pay off with a flying machine allowed by your budget and which can bring a smile to your face. That seems worth the search. However, our 10-aircraft review was not exhaustive. Even more choices are available! Some very modestly priced aircraft — Legal Eagle is one of several (yes, several!) possibilities — are available as a new aircraft purchases for a fairly small amount of money. Another is Hummel Aviation’s UltraCruiser (see lots of links below).
Siren or Risen Whatever the Name; It's FastOne of my most popular videos (with well over a half million views and hundreds of comments) is an interview I did with Alberto Porto, developer of Risen. It was 2015 and he had just introduced his speedster He said it would set records and it turns out he knew what he was saying. When I read Blackwing's statements about eclipsing an older record, I wondered at the name Siren, the previous record holder. I wondered if it was a misspelling of Risen, but no, it was not. Risen is the retractable gear model. Siren is a fixed wing example (nearby photos). Porto commercial director Stéphan D’haene wrote, "The [Blackwing people] were flying at FL100 (10,000 feet MSL). We were flying sea level. That makes a huge difference," he exclaimed! "We are in discussion with FAI for clarification of the rules," Stéphan continued, "as different countries make different interpretations, apparently." He refers to FAI's practice of designating a national group to oversee and verify record claims before sending to the international headquarters. I noted the inexact match of record attempts. SEA/Porto's record attempts were flown at a low altitude under FAI rules that "have evidently been reinterpreted," Stéphan speculated. Any flexibility in how FAI reads the data is hard for me to accept given how rigid they used to be. In addition, he noted Siren was limited to 1,042 pounds (472.5 kilograms, a European microlight standard). Stall was less than 35 knots and Porto's fixed gear design had some 40% less horsepower available. Those points add up to a significant difference. "For the Risen 914T — introduced in 2016 — our brochure stated 75% cruise at 355 kilometers per hour (192 knots)," Stéphan noted. "At full power the aircraft will exceed 200 knots at FL100." "Altitude is a key contributing factor to a record based on ground speed," observed Porto Aircraft, expressing a point most pilots will recognize. "We all know, that speed varies with altitude." Stéphan said, "[This means] the two record flights (Blackwing more recently and Risen a few years back) were not done in comparable conditions. For that reason, they should not be compared." He explained that FAI previously stuck to a consistent approach that allowed records to be compared using a correction factor. Speaking for company boss Alberto Porto, Stéphan believes Risen 914 Turbo would fly 10 kilometers per hour (5.4 knots) faster than the Blackwing powered by the more powerful 915iS. He also reported, "Alberto did not go all the way during that run. He left some room to do future records." "It’s very simple. If we extrapolate the performance of the Risen 914T using the FAI correction factor, Risen 914T would be 392 kilometers per hour and [thereby] faster than Blackwing," Stéphan stated. "We didn’t even mention the 22.5% more power" that Blackwing's 915 has over Risen's 914. In the previous benchmark, the retractable, turbocharged Risen claimed a straight-line record — but the story continues. "Things are even more confusing for the [second record for a] 50-kilometer closed-circuit course," said Stéphan. "In every record we attempt, our motivation is to show that our marketing brochure is very accurate without inflated numbers. Because nobody could believe the performance of the fixed-gear Siren with [100 horsepower] 912ULS, we decided to set a new record. The result was an astonishing 288 kilometers per hour (corrected for ISA). We could fly the Risen 914T and set a much faster record, because of retractable gear and an extra 15 horsepower of the Rotax 914." "We [did not believe another company would attempt to break a] record set by our fixed-gear Siren model," expressed Stéphan. "Why? Because [any speed] increase would be marginal, not much to brag about. All manufacturers in Europe understood that very well. There was [little] to win in beating this record and [until recently] everybody steered clear of the 50 kilometer closed circuit." "Not so for the Swedish," Stéphan believed. "…they found a solution but facts are still facts." The Blackwing 915 performance on the 50 kilometer course corrected to normal FAI calculation is 302 kilometers per our versus 288 for the fixed-gear Siren. That’s 14 kilometers per hour (7.6 knots) faster for a retractable gear design with 41% more power and higher cost. Just imagine a fixed-gear Siren with that same Rotax 915iS?"
Closing ThoughtsStéphan observed that I had written (in my second article about Blackwing's achievement), "This ain’t over yet…" I suspect it is still not over but here we have an example of how records work to stimulate new innovation. While the exchange of official FAI record bragging rights from Blackwing and Porto make for interesting reading, the truth is both have accomplished a lot — speeds beyond 200 miles an hour on fairly small engines. Such a figure speaks to airframe efficiency, clever engineering, and determination. Aviation can use all of that it can get. Bravo to both companies!
In our strongest month ever, April 2020, our biggest story was about the Swedish Blackwing “Speed Monster.” Pilots almost universally admire a beautiful and fast aircraft. Blackwing won hearts …and perhaps some orders for the Scanadanavian manufacturer. Blackwing edged out Risen with its record flight, prompting a representative of Porto Aviation Group to provide a deeper perspective. Many years ago as an active hang glider pilot, I found the records-keeping body, FAI, to be very strict and formal in how it administered world record claims. Siren or Risen Whatever the Name; It’s Fast One of my most popular videos (with well over a half million views and hundreds of comments) is an interview I did with Alberto Porto, developer of Risen. It was 2015 and he had just introduced his speedster He said it would set records and it turns out he knew what he was saying.
Build Your DreamAided mightily by the real boss, Greg’s longtime spouse Crystal, the pair have created a idyllic setting to build your own aircraft. Located about 30 miles northwest from Tucson or a hour and a half south of Phoenix, Arizona, Greg and Crystal built with their own hands a large hangar with all the space and all the amenities needed to get your airplane kit put together. Yours and several other projects all at once. While you work at the project in time periods that work for you, the experience will be a eat-sleep-breath kit building from Day One. As Greg notes, entertainment and restaurants are a few miles away at the closest and people come to the Build Center not to go out for dinner or a movie but to build airplanes. So, build airplanes they do. They'll work with you 12 hours a day if you want, but "it's whatever the customer wants to do," clarified Greg. If eight hours maxes you out (probably understandable at first, anyway), you can collapse on one of the lounge's comfy chairs and recharge your batteries. I was told by several builders that Crystal puts out a good food spread and generally these two make you feel at home, even providing bedrooms so you can stay on the job as long as your schedule allows. "Most spend time, return home, and come back to finish the task," explained Greg. Building a Lightning — Greg observed, "All the primary fiberglass assemblies are preformed and fully fabricated including fuselage halves already bonded together with bulkheads installed; wings are substantially finished with fuel tanks installed; and all flight controls are installed." The kit also includes cowls, the prop spinner, cockpit canopy frame, seats, and baggage floors. Welded structures, such as the motor mount, spar box assembly, gear leg sockets, and various brackets, are finished and epoxy painted at the factory making them ready to install. Lightning's landing gear is machined from 7075T6 aluminum and ready to fit. An airplane like Lightning "goes together pretty fast," said Greg, continuing to say that the process takes only about three weeks. If you try this at home, plan on more time, other builders told me. The help the Build Center gives is invaluable plus it's more social than many projects. The Experimental Aircraft Build Center Arizona also helps builders create the Flying Legends Tucano and the ICP Savannah. The Build Center is 10 miles west of Marana's municipal airport, which itself is 20 miles northwest of Tucson, Arizona or about 100 miles south of Phoenix. This is baking hot country but Greg and Crystal's facility will keep you comfortable. Find out more by visiting Experimental Aircraft Build Center Arizona. As you will see and learn, you need bring nothing but your enthusiasm. Greg and Crystal — along with partner Jack Norris — will provide everything. You get a sleeping room. Crystal prepares meals and several builders told me this may be the highlight of the whole experience. The Build Center provides all the tools, jigs, and work tables you need. Let's get to work!
Let me be honest. I’ve built one aircraft in my life. It was a Quicksilver MX series, a design that can be assembled by first timer with reasonable skills in only 80 hours or so. A lot depends on your skills and interest, your basic mechanical aptitude, the space you have to work, your tools, and how much time you can put into a project. Quicksilver is a super-simple kit. What if you desire something more complex? I deeply admire those who have built some of the most beautiful aircraft I’ve ever seen. As many a manufacturer has told me, even kit manufacturers — “A homebuilder can do an even better job than we can at the factory because they can spend all the time needed to get every detail exactly right. We have a business to run and even though we’re very good at what we do, we cannot justify the hours a homebuilder may invest.” Sounds right to me… even considering how many superlative factory-built kits I’ve seen.
Ultra ShockIf a name has "ultra" in it, the name implies the most of what you should want, right? Wrong! In this case, as famous architect Mies van der Rohe noted, "Less is More." It seems all the talk is about Rotax's 915iS or Titan's X340, or most recently Continental's CD-170. All these engines share at least two things: (1) They are awesomely powerful, and (2) they might bust your budget. Not so many years ago, a 65-horse Rotax 582 (still available) was a potent engine. Then came the 9-series and everyone got spoiled on 100 horsepower. That engine ruled the LSA world — literally, all around the globe — for more than a decade since Light-Sport Aircraft burst upon the aviation scene. Nonetheless, somehow 100 horsepower began not to seem enough. I blame CubCrafters who began pushing 180 horsepower but the Jabiru 3300 (120 hp), the UL Power engines, and the Viking 130 (horsepower) also helped push the envelop. Finally, a mere 100 horsepower didn't seem so much anymore. However, as power went up, so did prices. The 915, 340 and 170 mentioned above carry significantly higher price tags, and honestly, not all light aircraft need that much power. Plus, bigger engines are heavier so some of the added power is used to lift the extra engine weight. Zlin develop Pasquale Russo and U.S. importer Bill Canino think the familiar and proven Rotax 914 Turbo offered a "best of both worlds" proposition. For 2020, Zlin introduced the Norden concepts. Read our earlier article about it and see the video below for about Shock Ultra.
Coming To Be"The natural evolution … of our Shock Cub, an aircraft created in 2016, developed our vision about an ideal bushflying aircraft," Pasquale told me at Aero Friedrichshafen. "Adventure yet with maximum safety (a protective cockpit cell and ideal aerodynamics of high performance at low speeds) represents the key." Minimizing empty weight is critical for some buyers and led Pascale and Bill to seek a lighter version of the Shock Outback that is powered by the potent Titan X340. "We asked ourselves how much weight it would be possible to save, while maintaining the excellent performance of the Shock Outback," explained Pasquale. "It was clear to us that some of the fundamental Shock features — a wing with slats on demand, landing gear equipped with long-stroke shock absorbers, deep Fowler flaps (nearby image) — should be integral parts of our project." Through a general weight saving campaign involving the whole airframe, Zlin engineers managed to reach a demonstrated minimum empty weight of around 650 pounds when minimally equipped. This is far less than most other "Cubalikes." "This required a long, meticulous revision and optimization of the whole airframe," said Pasquale, including fuselage, empennage, landing gear, nose cowl, fuselage skin, the cockpit interior, brakes and control surfaces. It became a reconfigured airplane from spinner to tailwheel. Careful weight reduction dropped the weight while keep their "hyper STOL" wing performance that can sustain speeds of barely more than 30 mph. "This is more typical for a powered paraglider than for a robust three-axis aircraft while maintaining interesting cruise speeds" Pasquale observed. U.S. representative Bill Canino offered this list of worthy features for Shock Ultra: short takeoffs, quick climbout, short landings, tame landings, authoritative control, minimal touchdown rebound, safe slow flight, low stall speed, spin resistance, responsive controls, plus simple, strong construction that can be repaired by almost any qualified mechanic without special training. How much? While everyone's budget is different (and changes), the Rotax Shock series offers choices and one of them may meet your needs:
- $117,125 with Rotax 912 (100 horsepower)
- $132,895 with Rotax 914 (115 horsepower)
- $146,345 with Rotax 915 (141 horsepower)
- Prices subject to change — contact Sportair USA for the latest info
In the last couple months as we’ve all been struggling under the lockdowns happening across the country (and around the world), some of our best-read articles have been about going fast using the most powerful engines. What pilot doesn’t want more power? Or speed? The trouble with more power allowing more speed is that old auto racing line: “Speed costs money! How fast do you want to go?” How about a not-so-expensive option? U.S. importer Sportair USA has you covered. Ultra Shock If a name has “ultra” in it, the name implies the most of what you should want, right? Wrong! In this case, as famous architect Mies van der Rohe noted, “Less is More.” It seems all the talk is about Rotax‘s 915iS or Titan’s X340, or most recently Continental‘s CD-170. All these engines share at least two things: (1) They are awesomely powerful, and (2) they might bust your budget.
New from ContinentalAs the newest edition to their CD-100 engine series, Continental’s CD-170 engine "continues the tradition of innovation for the Jet-A fueled family," stated the Alabama-based manufacturer. "Our technologically-advanced, 170-horsepower engine, turbocharged, four-cylinder, in-line engine … has a low operating cost." Continental promoted their Jet-A piston powered engines as they launched the CD-170 as an alternate power plant for the four-seat, conventionally-certified Tecnam P2010. "By offering Jet-A engines, customers gain distinctive advantages on their aircraft," explained Continental. "A Jet-A diesel-cycle engine … always operates in the lean condition, eliminating the extra fuel burn during rich-of-peak takeoff conditions." Continental's CD-100 Jet-A engine series is automotive-based, liquid-cooled, and turbocharged. "They are another example of our commitment to the advancement of general aviation technology," stated the company. "This durable engine includes a technologically advanced fuel system design that [adds] an additional level of redundancy, providing aviators additional peace of mind," boasted Continental Aerospace Technologies. The newest CD-170 joins the series as a family of liquid-cooled, turbocharged, four-cylinder, fuel-injected, compression-ignition, four-stroke, geared, right (clockwise) rotating aircraft engine with FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) dual channel engine controls," said Continental. That's quite a phrase but the words clearly describe how this is different than the company's other piston engines.
Technically Speaking…Continental's CD-170 is a four-cylinder, in-line diesel-cycle engine with dual overhead cams, uses four valves per cylinder, common rail-direct injection, and liquid cooling with wet sump oil system and reduction gears. This is a configuration many Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot kit aircraft owners already know and trust. "This fresh Jet-A-fueled 170 horsepower engine offers the ease of flying a single lever control coupled with electronic engine monitoring and redundancy safety features," noted Continental. The CD-170 may be the newest design and highest horsepower engine in the CD-100 series family but the CD-100 family is a proven platform with more than 6,000 engines delivered and over 7.1 million flight hours in service. Listing several key differentiators from others in the series, Continental said, "The CD-170 engine has a lower compression ratio that allows for higher fueling and more power." Continental expects to receive EASA approval by the end of May 2020. P2010 represents "a modern aircraft for fleet schools and individual aviators,” said Paolo Pascale, Tecnam's CEO. “By incorporating Continental’s Jet-A engine, the P2010 TDI is the ideal aircraft, combining a modern, sleek, 'green' design with consistent, robust power.” “Continental is proud to be Tecnam’s newest aircraft partner, bringing innovative aircraft to aviators around the world,” said Robert Stoppek, President & CEO of Continental Aerospace Technologies. On March 30, 2020, Continental announced that Stoppek was named CEO and President. Prior to joining Continental, he was formerly CEO for Waukesha Engine, part of the former GE Distributed Power business. He is currently pursuing flight instruction in helicopters, a spokesperson said. Continental Aerospace is owned by AVIC International Holding company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange (HKEX: 232.HK).
- Certified Fuels — Diesel, Jet-A1
- Displacement — 122 cubic inches
- Power — 168 horsepower
- Max. Continuous Power — 153 horsepower at 2,250 RPM
- Power Best Economy — 97 horsepower at 1,925 RPM
- Maximum Propeller Speed — 2300 rpm
- Bore x Stroke — 3.268 x 3.622 inches
- Compression ratio — 15.5:1
- Height — 25.03 inches
- Width — 30.63 inches
- Length — 32.12 inches
- Dry Weight — 343.9 pounds
Although airframes may present the look and offer the performance that stimulates an aircraft purchase, engines have long driven development of new airframes. One example is how jet engines completely transformed the design of airliners. Around the world outside the U.S., aviation fuels like 100LL are not widely available. Rotax has done well in many countries as its engines can operate on — in fact, experts say they run cleaner on — premium auto gas that is available in nearly every country. Likewise, because of the presence of airliners in every country, and for other technical reasons, fuels such as Jet-A are available in most locations. An airframe producer can make more sales to more countries if fuel is readily available. LSA and kit-built owners may also want to visit Continental’s Titan engine website. The Jet-A series also includes the CD-135 engine with 135 horsepower that could meet many Light-Sport Aircraft needs.
Short Answer: Aircraft Insurance Market FluctuatesThanks to rapid increases in technology over the last decade, insurance became ever-more competitive. "Ten years ago a quote for a Cessna 172 may have taken a day or two to receive all available quotes back," said AIR agent, Commercial Pilot, and CFI, Victoria Neuville. "Today most carriers can provide their quote within minutes!" "With quoting becoming almost automated for many aircraft, insurance underwriters found themselves having to find new ways to stay competitive," she added. "This meant broader policies, more flexible training requirements, and of course, a lower rate." These changes lead insurance companies to what is called a “soft market.” Pilots and aviation business owners often benefited from flexible underwriting and record low premiums. "For the last decade, insurance premiums have been at an all-time low due to carrier competition," confirmed Gregg. "Aviation underwriters were all competing for the same group of business and the way to win the account was to provide the lowest rate," he reported. "With these lower rates, however, the aviation industry didn’t experience any fewer losses, especially with the countless natural disasters experienced recently." (Nearby photos reflect this concern.) As with any business, Gregg explained, "rates had to increase in accordance with the outgoing costs." Additionally, Victoria indicated major changes are normally seen every two to five years. "After enjoying low rates for nearly ten years, the aircraft insurance market is once again hardening due to poor loss ratios," she observed. "Stricter training requirements are being implemented to increase aviation safety." "Senior pilots have been greatly impacted in this hardening market," Victoria continued, "specifically those in retractable gear and multi-engine aircraft. If a single engine piston fixed tricycle-gear aircraft can fit your aircraft needs, this will often result in a better rate and insurability on your aircraft insurance." Her advice seems nearly written to boost the LSA industry.
What Kind of Losses Are Driving Rates?While this website exclusively focuses on the light aircraft industry, insurance for all aircraft segments play a role in establishing rates. Compared to automobiles, for example, aviation is a small market. It may be worthwhile to look at what drives loss ratios higher. According to AOPA writer Richard McSpadden, the four most common causes of non-catastrophic incidents that increases rates are:
- The most costly problem in general aviation aircraft is gear-up landings and gear collapses. This currently does not include any LSA other than amphibious seaplanes.
- Next is loss of directional control on the ground, including ground loops. McSpadden stated, "Although taildraggers are a strong contributor to overall insurance payouts in this category, the issue is not exclusive to taildraggers. [Pilots] lose control on the ground in nosewheel airplanes at a surprising rate."
- Hard landings came in third in the list of non-catastrophic accidents. Notably, flight into terrain and in-flight breakups are expensive but are so infrequent that they do not affect rates as significantly.
- Ranking fourth in overall cost to insurers, but first in number of incidents, is prop strikes. Most pilots are aware that props are expensive and a prop strike means a costly examination by an aviation mechanic.
After a number of years with relatively modest rates for aircraft insurance — at least for the more easily insured aircraft and operations — rates have increased, even for experienced pilots with good records. What’s Up!? To learn more, we reached out to one of the most Light-Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot kit aircraft-friendly insurance agencies, AIR, a fun abbreviation for Aviation Insurance Resources. My primary contact at AIR is Gregg Ellsworth, who was given an award in 2018 for being at every Midwest LSA Expo. He’s also a regular at most airshows and many sport pilots have come to know this man. Short Answer: Aircraft Insurance Market Fluctuates Thanks to rapid increases in technology over the last decade, insurance became ever-more competitive. “Ten years ago a quote for a Cessna 172 may have taken a day or two to receive all available quotes back,” said AIR agent, Commercial Pilot, and CFI, Victoria Neuville.
Financing — The American WayWhile cars are much less expensive thanks to their high volume production, the average price of a new car is about $38,000 these days. A superbly-equipped Colt goes for $167,000. To make their aircraft affordable to more pilots, Texas Aircraft Manufacturing said it has arranged "a new financing program for its Colt-S and Colt-SL Special LSA." Fly-Away Financing is the result of a partnership between Texas Aircraft and Hondo, Texas-based Community National Bank. According to the company, "Prospective aircraft buyers can now access an online form to calculate their down payment, loan terms and total monthly payments." Contact Texas Aircraft for details. “Imagine owning a brand-new, fully-equipped Colt-SL for about the same cost as a much older, less advanced, pre-owned aircraft,” says Texas Aircraft CEO Matheus Grande. “Our Fly-Away Financing offer doesn’t just make it affordable; Community National Bank has streamlined the loan approval process to make it as easy as possible.” I have written about Colt and you can see the article or a video (below) to learn more. Since it arrived on the scene in 2017 Texas Aircraft has been based at South Texas Regional Airport (HDO) in Hondo, Texas. With its 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS engine, Dynon SkyView HDX EFIS instrument combined with Dynon autopilot, whole-airframe emergency parachute, and deluxe leather interior, Colt is priced at $167,000. Before you say you can buy a house for that sum (you cannot in most places), remember all aircraft — not just Light-Sport and not only Texas Aircraft's offering — are basically hand-built airplanes carefully produced in low volumes. These are not robotically-built automobiles rolling off the line by the hundreds of thousands per year. Ford builds more F-150 pickup trucks every year than all the airplanes that exist in the entire world by far (about 900,000 units in 2019 alone — and for an average price approaching half of the Texas Colt's list price). In addition, while government agencies monitor what auto companies do, they don't perform detailed audits and demand regular maintenance on anything remotely like what airplane manufacturers must endure. Given that sizable difference, it stands to reason airplane costs will be much higher. "With the variety of special Fly-Away Financing rates we can offer," said Texas Aircraft, "pilots can own a brand-new Colt-SL equipped with touchscreen avionics, digital autopilot, airframe parachute, leather upholstery, and custom paint for under $1,200 per month." (See detail and specifications below.) The first Colt delivery went to Florida and is shown in Florida Gators team colors. Let's crush some numbers. An average-priced new car will run $500-600 a month, depending on credit worthiness and other factors. That will be for a six or seven year loan. Colt will cost about twice as much per month and for about twice as long, but the retail price is more than four times higher, so it's not unreasonable to say the two data sets compare well. Most people who finance are primarily concerned about the monthly payment and how they can manage that figure along with the other living expenses. Yet another factor looms large in this consideration. Light-Sport Aircraft, now on the market for more than 15 years, have proven to have reasonably good resale value. It is pointless to state percentage here as this would vary for each airplane and situation but a new LSA like Colt is very likely to have 50% of its value or more when it is fully paid off. You cannot say that about your car and this valuation difference is significant. The bottom line: Financing a Colt or other LSA can be very approachable and may fit your budget. Best of all, you get the full "New is nice" treatment and you can be the first to fly your brand new Colt.
Colt Equipment & Detail
- Maximum Speed at Sea Level: 119 KIAS
- Cruise Speed at 75% power: 105 KIAS
- Semi-cantilever, high-wing design
- All aviation-grade aluminum airframe with all solid metal rivets
- Wide cabin with welded Chromoly passenger safety cell
- Four-point passenger safety harnesses
- Airframe ballistic parachute system
- Dynon 10” SkyView HDX touchscreen display with Synthetic Vision with 3D graphics
- Dynon Mode-S Transponder with ADS-B Out/In and TIS traffic
- Dynon WAAS enabled GPS Receiver
- Dynon digital autopilot with Level Button
- Dynon Electronic Engine Monitoring System
- Wholly manufactured in Texas
- Purchase price: $167,500
- 5.75% interest rate
- 15% down payment
- 15-year term payment of $1,182.30 per month
- 15-year term subject to approval
This website stresses affordable aviation and that sometimes generates questions or complaints about the cost of modern Light-Sport Aircraft. All but a few pilots have to watch a budget and figure how they can acquire an aircraft of interest. I can think of three worthy methods to fly what you want: 1️⃣ Buy a used LSA, either Special or Experimental — many great choices are available and a growing number of professional sellers can help you connect to an especially good used model and then provide back-up after the sale. 2️⃣ Shared purchase or expenses — where you help an aircraft-owning friend with his cost of ownership in return for access (this is what I do). 3️⃣ Kit-built Sport Pilot certificate-eligible aircraft — especially if you are handy and have space, but even if you are inexperienced or don’t want to invest the time, many kits demand less hours and lots of them have Quick-Build options that sharply reduce the hours you must expend.
Long-Winged KR-010 ElfA brief glance at Elf tells you it does not look like most American Part 103 aircraft, which are commonly tube-and-rag-type configurations thought necessary to stay within the tight weight constraints of Part 103. Yet in Poland, like many European countries, sailplane building is a substantial industry so skilled engineers and technicians are plentiful to create and build with composites. This long, slender, cantilevered wings draws me in like a bees to honey. If it does the same for you, this is one sleek choice. Surprisingly, it won't cost an arm and leg. In fact, the kit KR-010 is base priced at $39,000 plus a shipping fee(2). Elf is quite complete for this price tag but you can bid it up into the $40,000s by adding an airframe parachute and com radio. As Kris describes the single seater: "KR-01A Elf is a full composite single seat SLSA that operates like a motorglider. It uses Parabeam® vinyl-ester resins composite material resulting in an amazing empty weight of 264 pounds, to qualify for the German 120-KG Class." "Elf was designed by Jerzy Krawcyk of Ekolot by utilizing the early work of Slovenian-American Alex Strojnikun," explained Kris. "Elf features removable cantilever wings, cockpit under bubble canopy with tricycle fixed landing gear. The power-plant is a two-stroke engine with aft-folding composite propeller blades and can be equipped with ballistic parachute." The producer of Elf and the also-very-handsome Topaz plus another model named Junior comes from PPHU Ekolot, a Polish manufacturer based in the city of Krosno. Formed in 1995 by director Henryk Slowik, a successful Polish business man, the chief designer is Jerzy Krawczyk, an aeronautical engineer who graduated from Warsaw Polytechnics – Aircraft Design and has 35 years of experience in designing aircraft. Headquartered in DeKalb, Illinois, Kris operates NIU Group doing business as Ekolot America, the distributor and importer for Ekolot.
Tech Specs for KR-010 Elf:
- Wing Span — 35.2 feet
- Wing Area — 113 square feet
- Length — 17.9 feet
- Height — 6.8 feet
- Empty Weight (no parachute) — 264 pounds
- Gross Weight — 551 pounds
- Cruise Speed — 69 knots (79 mph) (3)
- Never-Exceed Speed — 80 knots (92 mph)
- Stall Speed — 29.7 knots (34 mph) (3)
- Climb Rate — approximately 750 feet per minute
- Takeoff Roll — 330 feet
- Landing Roll — 165 feet
- Powerplant — Polini Thor 200 HF (High Flow) producing 30 horsepower at 8,100 rpm
- Fuel Capacity — approximately 7 gallons
- Fuel Burn Rate — 1.05 gallons per hour
Note (1) — Elf won FAA acceptance as a Special LSA and is listed on the agency's website as well as our SLSA List. Note (2) — Elf is available in two wingspans. The "Self-launching motorglider" has 35 foot span. The "Airplane" version has 30.8 feet of span and is $4,000 less expensive. Note (3) — While this figure is slightly high for a U.S. Part 103, it might be changed via prop selection. Likewise stall is slightly high but Elf is available as a Special LSA.
Welcome to the newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft …except that it isn’t so new(1). Indeed, we’ve seen the Ekolot Elf for a few years in this country. Here’s what I wrote on its introduction in 2017. I was immediately drawn to Elf for two reason: One, I love soaring flight, which represents one of the most enjoyable challenges I’ve found in flying. “Hooking” a thermal and riding it thousands of feet upwards with the engine off or idling is not only magical; it’s also a good skill development exercise. Two, Elf was initially promoted as a Part 103, which I believe is aviation’s most charming — and certainly least-regulated — segment. Low prices, no pilot license required, no N-numbers, no medical of any kind …well, no wonder Part 103 aircraft are selling so well the last few years. In Germany they have the “120-Kilogram Class,” meaning airplanes that weight no more than 264 pounds (very similar to the U.S.
Really? IFR in a LSA?The elephant in the room with our title is the short ending …"Now for IFR." As soon as Seamax in the USA posted notice of this delivery on social media, LSA enthusiasts began to weigh in on the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) claim. I have omitted their names as I did not seek permission to use their comments. A friend in Minnesota wrote, "It is my understanding that a LSA cannot get certification to fly in actual IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions …which roughly means in the clouds) in the USA." A reply said, "That is incorrect." The reply to the first comment is correct in that FAA has not specifically disallowed IFR in Light-Sport Aircraft. But… An industry aircraft representative wrote, "An SLSA cannot fly in IMC legally. An ELSA can fly in IMC, with proper equipment. A few SLSA are allowed because the Pilot Operating Handbook allows it and earned "certification" back in the mid-2000s. Technically, a LSA isn't certified, so no, it won't ever be [considered] 'IFR certified.'" He is right in that LSA are not "certified." They are "accepted" by FAA as complying to the ASTM standards. Speaking of which… A longtime expert with years of experience working on ASTM committees wrote, "Please refer to F37 standards on SLSA. [F37 is the committee designation for ASTM people working on standards for Light-Sport Aircraft.] The aircraft can fly in IFR but not into IMC. This limitation allows for instrument training. FAA has no opinion on it as this is part of the standards that the OEM states in the 8130-15 document [the FAA form used by manufacturers to declare their aircraft complies with all ASTM standards]. If the person wants to build the aircraft, assuming it can be an Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft, they [must fly with] a Private Pilot [or higher] certificate with instrument rating and a correctly-equipped plane. Then it can be flown IFR with no restrictions." Another correct response, yet all these accurate comments still don't reveal the whole story. A further conundrum about IFR in LSA is that no express prohibition is stated in the regulations. The restriction comes from ASTM in a standard document that FAA subsequently accepted, giving it the weight of regulation. However, the ELSA option (as used by Bristell and others) appears a viable workaround, but will prevent any use of that aircraft for paid flight instruction, although nothing prevents Captain Lang from teaching his daughter or other persons in a not-for-hire arrangement. Also for the record, any suitably equipped Amateur-Built Experimental can fly IFR and IMC. Plus, as it turns out, even the Cessna 172 often flown in IFR and sometimes in IMC never went through any particular process to prove it in that environment. So… why not LSA? I have written a lot about IFR in Light-Sport Aircraft. If you want to know more on this subject follow this link to a series of articles. Finally, you can watch my short movie about Seamax or a longer review of Seamax produced and published by The Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel.
Captain Todd Lang Bio: Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Todd Lang is a combat veteran fighter pilot with 40 years of aviation experience. He has logged more than 11,000 flight hours including combat time over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch. He is a CFI, CFII, MEI and has been an instructor pilot in the F-16, OV-10, T-38 and the Boeing-727. Currently, he is an international Boeing-767 Captain for Delta Air Lines. He entered the Air Force in 1984 after earning an aviation management bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University where he was the Corps Commander of the Air Force ROTC Program. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Lang also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He was the Overall Top Gun of the 8th Fighter Wing, the 35th Fighter Squadron and the 309th Fighter Squadron. He was a finalist for the USAF Thunderbirds and accompanied the team on the “Thunder over the Pacific” tour. His combat-mission ready F-16 assignments included Homestead Air Force Base, Florida; Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Luke AFB, Arizona; and Tulsa Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma. He served as an OV-10 Forward Air Controller (Airborne) at Osan AB, Republic of Korea, and Wheeler AFB, Hawaii. During this time he also served as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (previously known as a Ground Forward Attack Controller) and Battalion Air Liaison Officer at Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea; Camp Casey, Republic of Korea and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster and the Aerial Achievement Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster. He retired from the Air Force as the commander of Detachment 1, 138th Operations Group at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In this position, he was the senior U.S. Air Force Representative at Fort Sill leading the cooperative efforts of Air Force Integration training to the U.S. Army’s Fires Center. He was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara Medal for his leadership at Fort Sill and won the Golden Quill Award for the article “JFO Sustainment: A Critical Requirement” published in the "Fires Journal, Joint Fires Today and Maneuver Support" magazine.
Special LSA seaplane maker, Seamax Aircraft, announced, “This week [we] delivered the first Seamax M-22 aircraft designed with IFR (Instrument Flying Rules) capability. The delivery was completed at DeLand Municipal Airport in Florida (home to the Deland Showcase).” “Following a recent certification process with extensive inspection of its new factory,” the company reported, “Seamax’s R&D team have worked to raise the bar bringing state-of-the-art technologies to the M-22. The company has heard customers’ requests and accepted the challenge to add new capabilities to the Seamax M-22.” One of those requests was from an experienced pilot seeking equipment to file for flight in the IFR system. The newest buyer is Todd Lang, a Captain for a major U.S. airline and a combat veteran fighter pilot with 40 years of aviation experience. With more than 11,000 hours logged and a logbook full of ratings including a CFII (Certified Flight Instructor Instrument) certificate, Lang is ready to enjoy his Seamax but he also wants to do instruction with it.
Now Available In America!Under former importer Pete Krotje, Jabiru grew to be one of our important LSA entries, with a fleet ranking of #7 in the USA and 118 models flying (more details on our Tableau Public website). Nothing will change that. Current importer US Sport Planes, under the direction of industry veteran, Scott Severen, reports doing well even in this challenging business environment. Scott's many years in this sector gives him insight others lack and he is using that knowledge to make a sea change for Jabiru aircraft in the USA. Now, you can buy a fully ready-to-fly, fully FAA-accepted Light-Sport Aircraft …or… you can order a kit and save tens of thousands. Even though Special LSA Jabirus enjoy relatively modest prices when compared to many rivals, those seeking a lower price point or looking for an activity many enjoy can try kit building — assembling your own aircraft, doing so your way, and ending with an intimate awareness of every bolt and rivet. If those choices aren't broad enough for your needs, Scott has a long history brokering previously-owned Jabirus and other LSA. Over many years of pursing this sector, he has become an expert on the best second-hand aircraft that may satisfy your interest.
A New Focus on Kit-BuiltWelcome to kit-built Jabiru aircraft models, from the training-oriented J170 to the fast, large cruiser J230-D, and right up to and including the four-seat J430. Let's put the fresh offering in perspective. "It's an interesting year for Jabiru," Scott declared! During the Coronavirus panic, Jabiru Australia designed and began 3D printing face shields, collaborating with other businesses in Australia using 3D printers to increase production volumes. This has been well received as it has kept employment up plus fulfilled a need in the country. Here in America, Scott enthused, "In the U.S., 2020 started out flying high and fast! While activity slowed a little with the pandemic, even with the major aviation shows cancelling, the market is returning to a vibrant pace." "We are now offering all three kits," Scott noted. He referred to the J170-D two door; the 230-D three door, and 430-D four place aircraft. "The kits are suitable for home assembly or with builder assistance in Tennessee," Scott added. To learn more, visit the webpage for Jabiru kits in the USA; lots of details are presented. He continued, "We also continue to have numerous inquiries for previously-owned J250-SP, J230-SP and particularly for J230-D aircraft." Trying to be helpful and flexible during these unusual economic times, Scott elaborated, "If you have been thinking of upgrading to a newer plane, of course, I'd like to visit with you!" Yet he said, "If life has changed and you want or need to sell your Jabiru, I'll be happy to review our resources with you." "In short, we provide as much or as little help as you like," Scott clarified. "This can be from a 'one stop shop,' where we bring your Jabiru to our US Sport Planes facility in Texas, go through all the paperwork including service bulletins and inspections to reduce liabilities to you as a seller, handling the entire process in a 'No Fuss, No Muss' transaction. Or, we can simply discuss what items are most important for you to take care of before you sell." Learn more about all things Jabiru in the USA by calling (940-597-6860) or sending an email. I close with the following video review of the configuration and flight qualities of the J170 powered by the 80-horsepower 2200 Jabiru engine. If you are interested in the J230 series, try this video. For an owner's perspective, watch this video interview. both productions of Dave Loveman's The Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel.
Although Special LSA plus Experimental LSA run neck-and-neck with Sport Pilot eligible kit-built aircraft in U.S. aircraft registrations, America remains more kit-oriented than most other countries. Most western nations have kit programs of some kind but since their regulations have longer allowed fully-built aircraft, the European brands tend to slightly lead in SLSA deliveries while American producers thoroughly dominate kit-built aircraft sales. Two other reasons also account for this situation. A kit-built aircraft can lower the total cost of acquisition in trade for you investing your time. Many find those hours highly enjoyable and educational so kits may always be popular. In addition, a kit-built aircraft builder can do his or her own maintenance although a ELSA can qualify for this advantage as well. Now Available In America! Under former importer Pete Krotje, Jabiru grew to be one of our important LSA entries, with a fleet ranking of #7 in the USA and 118 models flying (more details on our Tableau Public website).
What Would Burt Do?Some interesting tidbits surfaced in this video interview. How many airplanes has Burt Rutan designed? Answer: 391. Now, that's impressive. I can't truly comprehend as I'm not a designer. However, I have flown a similar number of aircraft. That has taken me a whole career and what I did was go fly the aircraft. I wrote about nearly all of them and that consumed quite a few more hours but nothing remotely close to what it takes to design a complete aircraft. I'm doubly impressed. How many of those designs have built and test flown? Answer: 49. While that's a smaller number, it still means one in eight of the many Rutan designs went into the sky. These aren't all variations on a theme as most designers do. Not that I see anything wrong with building on your earlier designs but creating completely different aircraft every time is a monster amount of work. Sure, they all share some common Rutan (unorthodox) qualities but most designs were quite different from the others. How many Rutan designs hang in Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Museum? Answer: 5. Without researching, I'll hazard a guess Rutan may have no peers in that particular achievement. What does Rutan have to say about taking risk? Answer: "If you don't take risks, you're not gonna have breakthroughs. All the government space agencies and all their prime contractors had concluded that it was impossible to reuse rocket boosters. [Bezos and Musk] took enormous risks and tried anyway. They all crashed at first and kept crashing but, wow, they figured it out." Now, "reusable rocket boosters change the entire outlook." Is the existence of billionaires why we have a private space industry? Burt's answer: "[Billionaires are] why we have a lot of things. There's nothing wrong with folks making huge amounts of money. For example, wouldn't we have an oil industry if it wasn't for someone [Rockefeller] that got very rich [discovering how to drill for oil]. We'd be a third-world country in terms of energy if it were up to the government and the taxpayers voting to fund [such a discovery] with their taxes. I don't feel embarrassed that the first decade or two of space tourism is just something for billionaires to have as a toy, for their fun. That's all right; we'll figure out what their [toys] are for later.
Freedom and the FutureRutan goes on, "Our freedoms in this country are enormous compared to any other country. In what country could you, with your own money, fly your Tesla Roadster beyond Mars? Who would've thought that we'd ever see that? NASA wouldn't fund that. That couldn't be done in Russia. That was done because of freedom in America. It's all right for a guy to make tremendous profits. You know why? Look what they do with [the money]. They don't just create jobs. They create the future. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my straying from the straight-and-narrow of LSA, Sport Pilot kits, and ultralights for one post. Like many pilots, I am a great admirer of Rutan's numerous achievements and, being a space exploration fan, I simply couldn't pass up this story. With the next post, I promise to get back to light aviation as usual. Thanks for indulging me. 😎
Don’t hate me… I know this short article is not about Light-Sport Aircraft. Call it another break from the never-ending news about coronavirus. You can call the title “clickbait” if you want, but I’ve long had a strong interest in space flight and SpaceShipOne certainly was far lighter than any manned spacecraft NASA has launched. Still, even this light and relatively simple spacecraft is about as far from Part 103 ultralights as you can get. It’s the main man behind this space adventure that may be of greater interest to pilots of any certificate. I was initially captured by the video below. When I realized it was an interview with Burt Rutan, I was drawn to see what this tell-it-like-it-is fellow had to say. I’ll keep this short as it doesn’t relate to Light-Sport Aircraft, kit-build aircraft Sport Pilots may fly or ultralight aircraft. For you true believers — don’t worry.
Go Able Flight!Ten people from throughout the country have been selected as recipients of an Able Flight Scholarship for 2020. Eight will train at Able Flight’s program at Purdue University, one will earn a CFI certificate with his Career Training Scholarship, and one will become Able Flight’s first student to attend training late in 2020 at the Aerospace Center For Excellence in Lakeland, Florida. Able Flight's carefully-laid plans got upended along with the rest of society when the coronavirus panic hit. Now Able Flight wrote, "Just a few months ago Able Flight awarded ten new scholarships for training in 2020. Though all 'in-flight' training is on hold as of late April 2020, we are pleased to report that all students are currently in ground school training through an online course generously provided by Sporty's Pilot Shop." "In addition," Charles continued, "scholarship recipients will soon be taking part in a live online classroom ground school program led by our lead flight instructor at Purdue, Lucero Duran. This will allow the students to complete training for the FAA Knowledge Test and take the exam this summer as previously scheduled. We are exploring options to resume in-flight training at several locations as soon as safety and health conditions, and changes in governmental restrictions, allow.
And Now… This Year's Winners!Of the ten scholarship recipients, six use wheelchairs due to paralysis, one is deaf, one has a paralyzed arm, and two are amputees. Four are veterans; with one being wounded in combat and three becoming disabled due to injuries. The members of the Able Flight “Class of 2020” are as follows (numbered according to photo, not in any order of importance): Chris Murad (1) of Georgia. Chris recently graduated from Georgia Tech with an aerospace degree. He became paralyzed in 2016 when shot during a robbery as he was leaving work. Chris will train at Purdue University. Joshua Martin (2) of Texas. Joshua is a graduate of West Point who trained and served as a Special Operations helicopter pilot before losing his lower left leg due to a motor vehicle accident in 2018. With his scholarship, Joshua will return to flying by earning his fixed-wing pilot certificate. Joshua will train at Purdue University. Michael Price (3) of North Dakota. Michael is a graduate of Penn Foster University in Fargo, ND, and had his first flight as part of an introductory program in 1997. That same day he became paralyzed due to injuries from a car accident. Michael will train at Purdue University. Peyton Wolter (4) of Wisconsin. Peyton grew up active in a variety of outdoor sports and became paralyzed in late 2017 as a result of an injury sustained in a boating accident. Peyton will train at Purdue University. Sheila Zhi Xu (5) of Nevada. Sheila is a graduate of MIT and has been both a participant in the Fulbright Scholarship Program and an intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Shelia was born with profound hearing loss in both ears, and will train at Purdue University. Jason Daugherty (6) of Georgia. Jason was first exposed to flying in the fifth grade through a course taught by a teacher who was a licensed pilot. His plans to become a pilot were halted in 2003 when he became paralyzed due to a car accident. Jason will train at Purdue University. T’angelo Magee (7) of Pennsylvania. T’angelo is a veteran of the U.S. Army with multiple combat deployments who became paralyzed due to injuries from a motorcycle accident. In 2019, he participated in the Able Flight program at Purdue where he both soloed and passed his written exam before an illness forced him to cut short his training. T’angelo will train at Purdue University. Austin “Chance” Field (8) of Texas. Chance Field spent several summers working around planes at an FBO operated by his aunt and uncle before serving in the Navy. In 2006 he was paralyzed due to injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Austin will train at the Aerospace Center For Excellence in Lakeland, Florida. Steven Curry (9) of Virginia. Steven served in the U.S. Army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His plans to secure a Warrant Officer training slot to become a helicopter pilot ended when injuries from an IED required the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Steven with train at Aviation Adventures in Virginia. David Snypes, Jr. (10) of New York. David is a veteran of the U.S. Army having served from 2009 to 2016, including tours in Afghanistan. In 2016, he lost the use of his left arm due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. David will train at Purdue University. The preceding list is only for this year. Go here to see all the scholarship recipients. Our interview with Charles Stites appears below but Able Flight has many inspirational videos to watch.
American are very gracious with their donations to good causes. Charitable giving in the USA exceeded $400 billion in 2018 alone. Even during uncertain times as the world currently find itself, Americans still prove surprisingly generous. It makes me proud. I’ve joined in when it comes to Able Flight, having on several occasions given money to Able Flight. For a pilot, I cannot comprehend how a fellow aviator can ignore this worthy effort, lead by founder and main man Charles Stites. He has single-handedly generated funds from numerous donors, found Light-Sport Aircraft with hand controls, lead the effort to select wonderful scholarship winners, and donated so many of his own hours that I’ll bet he can’t even add them up …for sure, it’s a lot of time invested. You have many, many great organizations you can support but this one, for pilots anyway, should hit very close to home.