The fourteenth running of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is history and if this is how the rest of the year goes, I predict a stronger year for LSA sales. Vendors were smiling by the end of the show and a good many customers are now anticipating a shiny new aircraft in their hangar. Based on my unscientific survey of vendors, I would estimate at least 15 aircraft sales and possibly more as I did not query every vendor. Of course, airshow promises don’t always materialize but regardless of the precise number, it was amply clear that Sebring — and similar focused-venue shows that confine themselves to LSA, light kits, and ultralight — still offer their magic in putting customers and sellers together. Several vendors told airport executive Mike Willingham about having “pages” of solid leads. Even non-LSA exhibitors such as Cirrus reported to him that they found good prospects at the show.
Phone: (812) 384-4972Bloomfield, IN 47424 - USA
Mark Your Calendar… Videos: November 1st — Show: 2nd-3rd-4thAccording to a local newspaper, "More than 6,000 people are expected on the DeLand Municipal Airport Thursday, November 2 through Saturday, the 4th, to inspect more than 100 aircraft." The reporter went on to say that DeLand expects to "top the 1,000 flight operations recorded last year." Hours all three days are 9 AM to 5 PM. General admission for adults costs $20 each day, or $40 for a three-day pass. Lower prices are available for youth aged 11-17 and kids under 10 get in free. The entrance and free parking for DeLand Showcase are off Industrial Way on the northwest side of the airport. Here's the posting schedule for the gusher of videos you can watch. All these aircraft are expected at DeLand.
- Nov. 1, 2017 5 a.m. Tecnam Astore — Tecnam's low wing update that celebrated the 65th anniversary of this leading Light-Sport Aircraft producer from Italy. Tecnam is likely the world's leading producer of these aircraft and Astore is one of their newest. https://youtu.be/oTaWXgnZHUs
- Nov. 1, 2017 6 a.m. Zenith Aircraft — The 25-year-old kit company's CH 750 Cruzer is the speedier version of their ever-popular CH-701 and CH-750 models sometimes referred to as the Sky Jeep. It may not be shapeliest light aircraft but it can get out of the shortest airstrips. https://youtu.be/ioPY_PnMbMw
- Nov. 1, 2017 7 a.m. Aeroprakt A22 — From Ukraine comes one of the great bargains in light aviation with prices well below $100,000. The aircraft is also obvious for its major use of clear panels that assure wonderful visibility. Take the yoke and see for yourself. https://youtu.be/3qhbxWFdCFA
- Nov. 1, 2017 8 a.m. Aerotrek A220 A240 — The steady-Eddie of the LSA segment may be Aerotrek run by the ever-affable Rob Rollison. Through up years and down, Rob sells Aerotrek tricycles or taildraggers on a sane, predictable schedule that buyers appear to prefer. https://youtu.be/7ISH7ZqM4-Y
- Nov. 1, 2017 9 a.m. AutoGyro USA — One class of aircraft buys more Rotax 9-series engine than any other and by a good margin. That class is gyroplanes and AutoGyro is the largest producer. Now, Andy Wall is bringing the brand to America with a fresh, new look. https://youtu.be/2EUgcO5e5jg
- Nov. 1, 2017 10 a.m. Beringer Wheels and Brakes — Everyone likes get up and go but at the end of a flight you have to get down and stop. Beringer has leading expertise in abundance and offers beautiful, versatile systems to help you roll and brake smoothly. https://youtu.be/E7nVrcl2kz8
- Nov. 1, 2017 11 a.m. Ekolot Topaz — If Topaz has not caught your eye yet, you are in for a visual treat. Ekolot's smooth composite Topaz is as nicely appointed as they come and flies pleasantly to boot. Here's one that deserves your attention. https://youtu.be/c5tzmyiUgDE
- Nov. 1, 2017 12 p.m. Evektor Harmony — Harmony follows Evektor's SportStar, which will always enjoy the distinction as the very first Light-Sport Aircraft to win FAA acceptance. Harmony takes the highly evolved SportStar to a whole new altitude as one of the sector's best engineered aircraft. https://youtu.be/WtptDzfjx5o
- Nov. 1, 2017 1 p.m. Flight Design CTLS — For nearly every year Light-Sport Aircraft have been for sale, Flight Design's CT-series has lead the sales rankings and for good reason. It's fast, roomy, clean and smooth, and superbly equipped. At DeLand 2017, come meet the new group managing this venerable brand. https://youtu.be/wPpd6nuZ7YE
- Nov. 1, 2017 2 p.m. Groppo Trail — A lot of handsome airplanes originate in Italy, known for its stylish invention. Groppo's Trail is more the rough-and-ready version able to take on less improved airstrips. Now it's available in tricycle gear or taildragger form. https://youtu.be/6qZKtIkF0vQ
- Nov. 1, 2017 3 p.m. Just Aircraft SuperSTOL — Just Aircraft was already well known for their popular Highlander but when designer Troy Woodland sharply upped the ante with SuperSTOL, eyes at airshows everywhere turned to watch this outstanding performer. Seeing is believing. https://youtu.be/bQFoznvOO_k
- Nov. 1, 2017 4 p.m. KitFox Light Sport Aircraft — One the industry's most familiar shapes is that of Kitfox, whose several models bear the original appearance even as the current company continues to refine and improve their models. Their airshow models are always superlatively finished. https://youtu.be/Gs2FUw0UsAg
- Nov. 1, 2017 5 p.m. SuperPetrel LS — This is one you tend not to forget as it is a very rare biplane seaplane. While it may have a unique look, it works as well on water as any light seaplane model I have flown. The Brazilian company has a base in Florida, not far from DeLand. https://youtu.be/Si2hkU_CwE8
- Nov. 1, 2017 6 p.m. Pipistrel Alpha — This Slovenian company is known for their smooth, slender (and long) winged models made entirely of composite structures. Alpha is their most affordable model and you should look it over carefully. https://youtu.be/litphoYQLOc
- Nov. 1, 2017 7 p.m. Powrachute Powered Parachute — Powered parachutes offer one of the best viewing platforms in all of light aviation. They are also easy to fly and have the lowest hourly requirement to get a Sport Pilot license. Powrachute is the biggest supplier and their models warrant careful examination. https://youtu.be/Rg42_i3EcEU
- Nov. 1, 2017 8 p.m. Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey — We enjoy several great LSA seaplanes but only one boasts a long track record with a large fleet and that is Searey. Made in kit form only for years, you can now buy one ready-to-fly. Searey is made near DeLand in Tavares, Florida ...right on a lake, of course. https://youtu.be/7O7t1nJGPxo
- Nov. 1, 2017 9 p.m. REV Part 103 Legal Ultralight Trike — Among trikes available, the most deluxe and finished model is Revo from Evolution Trikes. However, this Florida company also made the fabulous Part 103 Rev for those on a budget or just look for solo fun in a well-made trike. https://youtu.be/oMK8myarZ94
- Nov. 1, 2017 10 p.m. RV-12 light sport — From the world's largest producer of kit aircraft, Van's Aircraft can now offer a fully built Special LSA RV-12 version through a collaboration with longtime kit-building partner, Synergy Air. Most RV-12s have been sold as kits, at which Van's is deeply experienced. https://youtu.be/PwX8FbTWdNc
- Nov. 1, 2017 11 p.m. Sling Light Sport Aircraft — The Airplane Factory-USA represents the Sling models, including the two seat LSA model and a four seat Sling 4 model that is built as a kit. Both fly wonderfully and have proven themselves uniquely by flying around the world, multiple times. https://youtu.be/3W0xzh0F7yo
- Nov. 1, 2017 12 p.m. SportCruiser — Known to the general aviation crowd as the PiperSport (thanks to a brand they know well), SportCruiser was before and has been since Piper's involvement a good seller under its original name. https://youtu.be/QcjW_X2v9Y0
Live! Soon! Go!Catch all these videos anywhere you like, but even better, make plans now to attend DeLand Showcase 2017. The weather has cooled from summer heat but it should still be in the high '70s, low '80s so it should be a great time to look at airplanes and other gear. As you enjoy all these free videos, I encourage you to visit Videoman Dave's YouTube channel and click here to support the work. You can see most of these videos featuring Dan Johnson right here.
My video partner must be working around the clock as he prepared a blizzard of videos for release starting November 1st. As you see in the list below, 20 videos will soon be available. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Besides giving you info on various aircraft to see at the event, we hope to encourage you to attend DeLand #2. Videos are great and in them we try to ask the questions you would ask and to show you things you’d look for if you attended. Good as videos are, nothing substitutes for you being present to ask and look yourself. I hope you can. Videoman Dave and I will be on-site all three days of the event. We will likely be a blur in motion dashing from one fetching aircraft vendor to another to gather more article material and video interviews. We also hope to record more Video Pilot Reports, as we did last year.
Aerotrek has steadily risen from an unknown brand to the #9 position in the all-time-fleet market share. The brand is one of only ten that have registered more than 100 aircraft in the United States. Excellent prices help but that’s not the whole story. You hear about some of the top brands all the time but Aerotrek is a hare-and-tortoise story where steady progress wins over flashier marketing and wow features. At the heart of this success is Rob Rollison, arguably one of the most experienced men in the LSA space. Pilots Like ’em Big — It seems pilots love an ever-bigger engine. …or ever-bigger digital screens. …or ever-bigger cockpits. Indeed, pilots may like all those things bigger but tires go right along with the big thing. If “tundra” tires are good, then “Alaska” tires are better, and even bigger Alaska tires are just right. …apparently.
The Marana Regional Airport, in Marana Arizona was the site of the first annual U.S. Flight Expo May 3–6, 2017. The west coast of the U.S. appears to lack major aviation events of the sort commonly seen in the easter U.S. This is especially odd considering the large number of pilots and aircraft in western states! (Some have observed how western populations are spread over a much larger area, which possibly accounts for this disparity. —DJ) One of the most successful annual aviation events not sponsored by a member organization is the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring Florida, which will celebrate its 14th year in 2018! Others have followed (Midwest LSA Expo &DeLand) but these sector-specific shows are still concentrated in the east. So it was about time for another western event other than Copperstate, which will celebrate its 45th year in 2017. Using the template that original director Robert Woods used to make Sebring such a success, Greg Hobbs — one of the leading organizers of the U.S.
Aerotrek supplies a popular and well-priced everything but, you know, having a nice airplane isn't enough. Why not have a traveling hangar and home to go with your great Light-Sport Aircraft? With the money you save buying Aerotrek (half as much as some high-end LSA), you'll have money left over for other great toys, like a custom trailer. Your savings might not also cover the motorhome in this video, but watching may motivate you to work harder to acquire such a nice rig. Come have a look.
Aerotrek supplies a popular and well-priced everything but, you know, having a nice airplane isn’t enough. Why not have a traveling hangar and home to go with your great Light-Sport Aircraft? With the money you save buying Aerotrek (half as much as some high-end LSA), you’ll have money left over for other great toys, like a custom trailer. Your savings might not also cover the motorhome in this video, but watching may motivate you to work harder to acquire such a nice rig. Come have a look.
Aerotrek and their dual models -- the A220 taildragger and the A240 trigear -- have been an impressive performer in the market share race, steadily moving up our chart. At Sebring 2013, we spoke with U.S. importer Rob Rollison about how these handsome, very well priced Special Light-Sport Aircraft can work in a flight school environment. Having acquired more than 1,500 hours in a training environment, Rob said the Aerotrek still looks and flies great and some European models have more than 4,000 hours. Hear more in this video.
Aerotrek and their dual models — the A220 taildragger and the A240 trigear — have been an impressive performer in the market share race, steadily moving up our chart. At Sebring 2013, we spoke with U.S. importer Rob Rollison about how these handsome, very well priced Special Light-Sport Aircraft can work in a flight school environment. Having acquired more than 1,500 hours in a training environment, Rob said the Aerotrek still looks and flies great and some European models have more than 4,000 hours. Hear more in this video.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 -- One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Aerotrek A240. We'll also consider the A220, the taildragger. Both these two Light-Sport Aircraft are selling well and no wonder. They have an excellent price (around $80,000 in 2012) yet they are made very well with quality evident with a close inspection. Join us for a few details.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 — One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Aerotrek A240. We’ll also consider the A220, the taildragger. Both these two Light-Sport Aircraft are selling well and no wonder. They have an excellent price (around $80,000 in 2012) yet they are made very well with quality evident with a close inspection. Join us for a few details.
Aerotrek is the new name for a pair of Special Light-Sport Aircraft, the tricycle gear A240 and the taildragger A220. These reasonably priced aircraft (mid-$60,000 range) offer a good cruise in a lightweight, quick handling aircraft. The wings fold easily so you can make a trailer your hangar.
Why? Simple. The airplanes don't need to change.*
Aerotrek's planes are very well built, fly predictably and efficiently, handle nicely and perform near the top of the category at modest operation cost. They are simpler, not fancy carbon fiber, but rely on trusted construction methods using familiar materials. As important as any quality, Aerotreks are modestly priced, affordable to many budgets.
Not breaking new ground means getting familiar ways down pat, honing the building skills and techniques to a fine degree. Aeropro in Europe can execute the aircraft in a repeatably professional manner. All this may not be as sexy as a flashy new design but once aloft, being able to depend on your flying machine is worth a lot.
One more thing. Always updating a product can add to the cost of production which has to raise the selling price.
Company owner Rob Rollison is a calm businessman who moves steadily toward his goals. Deep-voiced and intimately aware of his product Rob presents authoritatively with a broad smile. He has earned the trust of many airplane owners and has built a loyal following, people who have come to really like the Aerotrek aircraft and doing business with the importer.Rob got into LSA early. He was the Flight Design CT dealer before the LSA rule was released. He has represented several brands and types over his years in business. These learning experiences brought him to Aeropro more than 13 years ago and he remains very happy with the supplier. Through the upheaval of the recession in 2008 and subsequent roller coaster ride, Aerotrek maintained a largely steady business while other company got in trouble.
At AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, Aerotrek exhibited nine airplanes on the field, challenging any other brand for most aircraft in their exhibit. You could see A220 taildraggers, A240 tricycle gear models in a number of bright colors and fitted with different landing gear from hard surface and wheel-panted tires to large tundra tires. As Aerotrek is distributor-direct-to-customer operation, the importer was aided in their Oshkosh display by owners of the aircraft available for visitors to review.
Aerotrek models come well equipped while offering a few options to allow you to personalize. All have folding wings, a task that can be done in 10 minutes ("easily") by a single person. A folded wing still supports itself through the clever design by Dean Wilson, the original creator of a good number of airplanes that look very similar. No wonder. Dean was a brilliant, efficient designer and this planform works very well. Why change what works?
* Aeropro has made numerous refinements over the years while sticking with a basic design that works well as is.
Media people (like me) flock to airshows looking for the new stories, new airplanes, new avionics, new company developments… whatever is new. Journalists pursue what’s new because they believe that’s what their customers readers want to read (or perhaps because it interests them as a writer). Nevertheless, sometimes the story is what’s not new. Aerotrek, importer of the A240 and A220 has not made major changes to the aircraft. Why? Simple. The airplanes don’t need to change.* Aerotrek’s planes are very well built, fly predictably and efficiently, handle nicely and perform near the top of the category at modest operation cost. They are simpler, not fancy carbon fiber, but rely on trusted construction methods using familiar materials. As important as any quality, Aerotreks are modestly priced, affordable to many budgets. Not breaking new ground means getting familiar ways down pat, honing the building skills and techniques to a fine degree.
When this website went live a few months before the Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft rule was announced at Oshkosh 2004, it began life as an archive of several hundred pilot reports I had written for a number of print magazines in aviation. That launch seems a long time ago … it has been eleven and a half years. (Development started only a few years after the World Wide Web emerged and ByDanJohnson.com went live in April 2004.) One year after going live, I began to add news via a blog, which I called “Splog,” for Sport Pilot web log. Videos started in 2008 and by 2015, news and video have become the primary content items. You might be surprised to hear ByDanJohnson.com predates YouTube, which began when three former PayPal employees created a video-sharing website. The Internet domain name YouTube.com was activated on February 14, 2005 and the website went public in November of that same year.
The sixth annual Midwest LSA Expo just concluded. These LSA-only events offer a more intimate setting where you can speak at length with an aircraft or other product representative. They don’t offer the dense traffic of the big shows but the valued trade off is that nearly everyone who shows is interested. People came from as far as California and I witnessed many demo flights. The Mt. Vernon airport is as good as it gets for this purpose with easy access to big broad runways and plenty of open airspace. Lead by energetic Chris Collins, a team of volunteers made it work again. When the event isn’t swallowing all their time these folks have a little fun. Don’t worry about the nearby picture; TSA and Homeland Security can calm down. This was a planned promotional venture on the side of a great new restaurant called Rare, a chop house.
Not long ago, I posted about Kitfox tending to business and expressing regret that they chose to stay home in Idaho versus making the trip to the Sebring LSA Expo 2014. Team Kitfox was not the only one, however. In addition, AeroSport didn’t bring their BushCat, nor did Aerotrek bring their A220 or A240, nor did Quicksilver show with their SLSA candidate, Sport 2S, or their joint venture Electric Motor Glider (a very cool project from the west coast about which I will do a further update in the future). The reasons for these no-shows were varied but the good news is that they’ll be at Sun ‘n Fun. Oh, and one more thing about all four aircraft mentioned below: each of them offers a purchase value that defies the current mindset about the cost of modern LSA. BushCat by SkyReach is one of those SLSA that easily answers the lament, “These LSA have become too expensive.” Too many pilots say this without considering their other choices.
You may have missed it. If so, this article provides another look at a LSA provider that I consider something of a “sleeper” … and if you do not know that term, it’s meant to be positive yet refer in this case to a company that does its thing well if somewhat quietly. I am writing about Aerotrek Aircraft and its two models, the taildragging A220 and the trigeared A240. These airplanes may look familiar — itself a good thing as they are based on a very well proven original design — yet they have seen steady updating and improvement that makes a distinct airplane as we head into 2014. Proprietor Rob Rollison has shown a very steady hand at the tiller and recently updated his company’s news. “Sales of our Aeropro planes continue to be good — sold out until late-August 2014,” wrote Rob. “We will show 10 planes delivered in calendar year 2013.” However, his company also sold one to Mexico, so that one will not show up on our third quarter 2013 market share report to be published next week. Two more Aerotreks are aboard an ocean freighter so will be counted as 2014 deliveries. Another pair are reported complete but will not be shipped until after the new year. This suggests Aerotrek will continue a steady climb up from 2013.
Our annual review of LSA Market Share brings our updated fleet chart and a second chart showing prior-year registrations. While sales of new SLSA remains below par, the market appears to be experiencing spotty but regular recovery from earlier low points. The first half the year foretold a better recovery but the last half of the year stalled somewhat. Regardless, based on traffic to this website, LSA interest is higher than ever. For January 2013, ByDanJohnson.com set all-time records in Unique Visitors and all other measuring criteria Thank you for your support! 2012 Market Share report — Nearby, we present our standard market share numbers. Our original chart remains consistent, illustrating the “installed base,” or “fleet size.” Because we know many of you seek recent-year information we are repeating the Calendar Year chart that debuted last year. For the second year in a row Cessna lead in 2012 with an impressive 94 registrations though this is down 30% from 134 in 2011.
Our roving British journalist, the always-entertaining Dave Unwin, reports on the UK’s LAA Rally event, giving ByDanJohnson.com readers a taste of light aviation in England. After an even grimmer British summer than usual — we’ve just experienced the “wettest drought” since records began; a dry spring followed by flooding rains — the weather Gods smiled benignly on the 2012 LAA Rally. The Rally is basically the UK’s version of Oshkosh (albeit several orders of magnitude smaller) and is run by the Light Aircraft Association, formerly the PFA or Popular Flying Association, which is the Limey equivalent of the EAA. The event has been staged at several different airfields over the years, and is currently held at Sywell in Northamptonshire. Despite the parlous state of the economy, this year’s Rally had a real buzz, and it wasn’t just all the two-stroke engines. In spite of EASA’s best efforts it would seem that the lighter side of UK aviation continues to thrive.
We’ve been getting requests for market share information and I am happy to provide an update, thanks to my European associate Jan Fridrich who does the hard work of sifting through FAA’s database. I remind you that his efforts are not merely tallying whatever FAA publishes. In fairness, Jan has to evaluate many pieces of information and judge accuracy of the entries. This isn’t because FAA’s registrars are bumbling fools that cannot enter data accurately. The challenges come from sheer number of brands (90) and models (127) over a mere seven years… unprecedented in aviation history. To that add the variations of Experimental Amateur Built (EAB), Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA), Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft kits (ELSA) and converted two-place ultralights to LSA status. Then factor in that some standard category or homebuilt aircraft meet the LSA parameters of weight and speed and such so some people consider them “LSA,” when in fact they mean they can be flown by some possessing a Sport Pilot certificate.
Aerotrek may be one of those “sleepers.” You know, the kind of company that does well, has few problems, and doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to be successful. Aerotrek’s tri-gear and taildragger models look great, fly well, and are priced so reasonably that sales are remarkably steady. The company ranks #12 in fleet size and came in fifth for 2011 registrations. The numbers aren’t big but they could be bigger, said importer and longtime light aviation specialist Rob Rollison. *** Rob noted their last year registration was “way below what it should have been, but [the manufacturer] Aeropro wasn’t able to ramp-up production quickly enough to keep up with increased demand for our planes starting in late 2010.” He continued, “They also had production delays during 2011 as they worked to get UK certification but this was quite worthwhile, resulting in a few nice improvements to our planes.” *** I can add that I know something about British certification and it is one of the most demanding systems in the world.
After a tough winter in most parts of the USA, spring evidently arrived early with 80-degree temperatures as far north as Minnesota… all before Sun ‘n Fun. More good news: After its coldest winter since the early 1980s Florida is extremely pleasant now, warm with low humidity. *** Indications are the economy continues bearing down on Light-Sport aviation. Confronted with cautious customers, some aircraft producers have tightened their costs and are offering sharply lower prices in time for Sun ‘n Fun. *** Flight Design announced its CTLS Lite, which makes two impressive accomplishments. By slightly trimming the equipment list and making other adjustments, the market leader was able to slice $20,000 off the price, coming in at $119,800. They also cut a most impressive 50 pounds from the empty weight. *** Jabiru USA offers two models discounted for a short time. Taking $11,000 off the price of their J-170 brings the base to $85,900.
As the challenging year for aircraft sales grinds on, Light-Sport Aircraft continue to hold their own. In tough times, when cash is tight, small enterprises may fare better than large companies. Their low expense structures, modestly compensated managers and employees, and lean manufacturing — as allowed by industry-standards certification — become strengths. *** But we see another quality. The half-million-plus general aviation pilots are more accepting of LSA today than three years ago. Organizations like AOPA are more fully embracing LSA, because their members are calling to ask questions. (Watch for a surprise LSA announcement at AOPA’s Aviation Summit in about a month!) GA pilots make up most buyers of LSA and those aviators now recognize the brands and have begun to acquire faith in companies certifying themselves (though many are still reserving judgement). *** Through August, a full month after AirVenture, the LSA fleet has grown to just under 1,700 fully-built aircraft not including ELSA kits or alternative aircraft like trikes and powered parachutes, nor any converted ultralights.
With one month to go (and it’s hard to imagine a big December), we have figures to report for this most extraordinary year. We’re all (painfully) aware of the economic predicament, but how has this impacted light-sport aviation? Here’s my observations. *** In 11 months, the industry has increased fleet size by 35% to 1,510 fixed wing airplanes from 1,118 on January 1st. Annualizing the numbers, all airplane LSA should register 427 airplanes, which equates to about 35 aircraft per month, which means sales were about 20% off the monthly pace recorded since early 2006. *** Flight Design held its top spot and again delivered the most, but just barely. Remos has been the rising star of 2008 with a 147% increase over their total on January 1st. Tecnam became only the third company to pass 100 units registered. Other solid gains were logged by Czech Aircraft Works (up 69% in the year); Jabiru (up 53%); FPNA (up 55%, though from a lower number, which makes larger percentage gains easier); Aeropro (up 52%).