A few years ago, I visited Continental Motors in Mobile Alabama on the Gulf coast of the southern U.S. state. Here’s what I wrote about that tour. The factory was a World War II-vintage facility. I saw many new CNC machines and they were humming with activity. I also saw acres of the earlier generation of engine-manufacturing equipment. Nearly all of this hardware was idle even as it occupied large amounts of space. Times have changed. Continental changed, too, but the old tooling still rested in position Now, that is changing. Last year the company announced their new “green field” construction project, one of the largest in the state. It was clear that …well, let’s hear how the company describes it. “This Is a New Dawn” “We’re proud to introduce you to the new name and brand identity of a company that has been a major leader in the world of aviation for over 110 years.” said Continental.
Continental Motors Group's Titan Engine Powers Top CubThe availability of the Top Cub as a kit aircraft, powered by a Titan kit engine, marks the opening of the experimental market in China. Top Cub Aircraft and Continental are the first companies to offer a complete aircraft in kit form, after the Chinese CAAC agreed to allow experimental building in China. Wolfgang Qian, CEO of Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp, said “The combination of the Titan IO-360 engine with our airframe offers the best power to weight ratio that we could hope. The strategic partnership with Continental Motors Group allows us to offer a highly reliable engine to our customers and to provide them with industry leading technical support. We are convinced that the experimental market will expand rapidly in China."
Continental Motors, part of China’s Avic International Holding, announced recently that they have entered a strategic partnership with Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp to be the engine provider for the Top Cub, which the company said is the first kit aircraft built in China, for the Chinese market. The experimental Top Cub is based on the Part 23 certified Top Cub CC18-180, originally designed by CubCrafters and acquired by Top Cub Aircraft Inc., a subsidiary company of Liaoning, in 2015. Continental Motors Group’s Titan Engine Powers Top Cub The availability of the Top Cub as a kit aircraft, powered by a Titan kit engine, marks the opening of the experimental market in China. Top Cub Aircraft and Continental are the first companies to offer a complete aircraft in kit form, after the Chinese CAAC agreed to allow experimental building in China. Wolfgang Qian, CEO of Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp, said “The combination of the Titan IO-360 engine with our airframe offers the best power to weight ratio that we could hope.
Who Is Succeeding?In one day, we did not speak to every vendor and we did not get to the inside booths yet. However, those we did approach for news and updates provided feedback that was significantly on the positive side. Here is a partial recap (again cautioning that this is not inclusive): Icon Aircraft's production engine appears to be firing on all cylinders, according to Tampa Regional Sales Director Scott Rodenbeck. We heard about delivery numbers growing from five aircraft a month to 10 a month and a forecast for 15 shipments in December. These numbers will show up on our market share report based on N-number registrations. Increased production has reduced the delivery wait to only seven or eight months, down from literally years back when the California company was taking deposits left and right but not yet manufacturing. Bristell USA is having a banner year that should end close to 20 units sold for the deluxe and superbly equipped Bristell LSA, reported company leader Lou Mancuso and right hand man, John Rathmell. Beside delivering strong sales for Czech producer, Milan Bristela, Lou's growing enterprise is also establishing a flight academy at the Sebring airport to offer younger pilots a lower cost path to careers as pilots. We will have video on this development. Duc Hélices is another company choosing Sebring for their operation, reported Michael Dederian, the company's main face at airshows — after a few seasons nearly all producers know him. The popular French prop maker is opening a subsidiary in early 2019 to better serve U.S. customers. They plan to celebrate the American enterprise at the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo on January 25th. Van's Aircraft made a big change this year. After bringing in ready-to-fly manufacturing to the world's largest manufacturer of aircraft kits — the immensely popular RV line — Van's is backed up for nearly a year, reported Atlanta-based, Vic Syracuse. That wait may come down as the company ramps up its new in-house production, but it's clear RV-12 is a success story. We recorded an interview with Vic about the new model, now known as RV-12iS. Yes, it uses the Rotax engine but that's not all the changes in the renewed model. Paul Mather of M-Squared Aircraft is opening new doors. He continues to build his M-Squared models as he has for many years but now the longtime veteran of light aircraft manufacturing has diversified to provide builder assistance to owners wanting a Zenith CH-750 Cruzer powered by the Continental Motors O-200D engine. After a slow start activity has picked up and Paul is pleased with the aircraft he's added to his stable. We plan a Video Pilot Report using the model seen at DeLand Chip Erwin of Aeromarine-LSA also reported growing sales for his well-priced, fast-assembling Merlin PSA (Personal Sport Aircraft). Besides sales to customers, he is using the single place aircraft for some government duties and these activities are keeping the Florida businessman on the move, literally, and from a business evaluation. We shot a video with Jay Kurtz of South Lakeland Airport (which many Sun 'n Fun attendees know very well). After building 40 (yes, 40!) aircraft, his most recent project has been the Quick-Build Merlin. After just a single day, I'm excited to see what happens in two more days of the DeLand Showcase 2018. Look for another report tomorrow.
Day One of the third running of DeLand Showcase is complete. As Videoman Dave and I scoured the show grounds looking for good stories, we spoke to a few vendors reporting that 2018 has been a good year. Our video news gathering exercise brought a pleasant discovery. Many companies are reporting a solid year of sales. The light aviation industry is composed of many small companies. None are corporations the size of Cessna or Cirrus so they don’t require hundreds of unit sales to break even. A U.S. importer delivering 20 aircraft can experience a good year from sales and other services they offer. When several companies report noteworthy sales success it suggests the market is healthy and customers are buying airplanes they want to enjoy. In parallel, the used LSA market also appears active and a virtuous circle begins to take form. The show itself enjoyed the great organization we have come to expect from director Jana Filip.
Starting CleanAccording to Bellesheim, "Ranger R7 is a clean-sheet design. Ken Krueger, our chief design engineer, comes to us from many years at Van's where he worked on the RV-12. He consulted with our owner John Torode on coming up with an airplane that had big flight control surfaces, a giant cantilever wing, and bigger than normal vertical stabilizer." She clarified, "Ranger is not based on any of Van's aircraft." The team picked the name Vashon Aircraft because "we wanted to give it a Pacific Northwest rugged, utilitarian 'jeep' feel," said Bellesheim. "You can go out in nature, get dirty, and get back in the airplane without worrying about messing the airplane up. We live among national parks so the name Ranger comes from [these] parks. We chose R7 because it sounds modern and cool." The design goal appears to be a rugged outdoor-action airplane but with sophiciated avionics, a natural if unlikely pairing resulting from the close relationship to Dynon Avionics. Aiding the rough-and-ready approach are easy-loading doors that open 180 degrees; seats that fold down 90 degrees to facilitate camping and large cabin volume capable of holding such gear. "Another thing that we wanted to accomplish with the airplane was to make very rugged landing gear," said Bellesheim. The main landing gear is a fiberglass leaf. It's very similar to what Jim Bede did on the Grumman American airplanes. A key goal was holding down the price. Owner and CEO John Torode expressed, "I firmly believe cost is the biggest inhibitor of aviation today and our goal was to build an airplane under $100,000 that was very capable [with features] today's customers really want: autopilot, glass cockpit, radio navigation capabilities." Torode further clarified, “I started Dynon to bring affordable, advanced technology to the aviation community, yet there still remains a need to innovate beyond the panel to bring affordable flight to more people. With Vashon Aircraft, I hope to empower the next generation of pilots with the tools they need to take to the skies.” Vashon manufactures about 90% of its own parts, the company suggested. "We invested heavily in the manufacturing side so that we could build parts as efficiently and effectively as possible," said Bellesheim. "This allows us to control the cost." Vashon claims to be one of the first companies to form pre-painted metal. "We purchase sheets of stock aluminum that have been painted and then form them into parts using a modern turret punch, laser, and hydropress technology. Because of that we have taken a whole step out of the airplane building process by eliminating the need to paint after assembly," reported Bellesheim. "We also spent a lot of time developing painted rivets so that they match the airplane." For power, Vashon chose Continental's O200-D 100-horsepower engine swinging a Catto composite fixed pitch propeller. Ranger R7 was designed, engineered, and tested, and will be manufactured at the Vashon Aircraft factory headquarters near Seattle, Washington. The new model will be assembled at Paine Field "…just down the taxiway from the Boeing wide body plant." As Ranger has been kept a secret, only select people have flown it. "The handling qualities are very smooth and forgiving," said Scott Taylor, Vashon's General Manager. "[It's] easy to fly [and has] very little friction in the control system. Stalls are benign and predictable." With a castering nosewheel, steering is by differential braking. Dual toe brakes are supplied and pilot height is accommodated with adjustable rudder pedals. Ranger’s cabin is 46.7 inches wide.
Ranger R7 SpecificationsVashon released dimensions on the airplane: Wingspan — 29 feet 6 inches; Wing Area — 135.6 square feet; Empty Weight — 875 pounds; Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds; Useful Load — 445 pounds; Fuel capacity — 28.1 gallons Performance Data: Takeoff distance — 315 feet; Landing Distance — 475 feet; Rate of Climb — 1,035 feet per minute; Top speed at gross weight — 119 knots; Cruise Speed at gross weight, 2750 RPM, 7,500 feet density altitude — 117 knots; Range at gross weight — 430 nautical miles. Significant Speeds: Stall with Full Flaps at gross weight — 41 knots; Normal Operating Range (green arc) — 45-103 knots; Maneuvering — 90 knots; Never exceed — 131 knots; Best angle of Climb — 60 knots; Best Rate of Climb — 75 knots
Pricing and TermsPricing for the "Yellowstone" base model is $99,500. Ranger comes with complete Dynon SkyView HDX-equipped panel including two-axis autopilot, 2020-compliant ADS-B Out, and ADS-B Traffic and Weather. For a full list of what is included, visit Vashon's website. The prototype Ranger has "canvas slate gray upholstery, light gray floor and sidewalls, a gray instrument panel, and gray center console. At higher price points, you can add other colors and accents. As they move into producing additional aircraft, "the colors for interior will be either gray or black or a combination of both." In progressive upgrades, you can get more goodies in their "Glacier" package for $107,500; or their "Redwood" upgrade for $114,500, or the "Appalachian" for $129,500, a variant described as their "flight school model." "We won’t take deposits," said Vashon. "We won’t take your money until we have an airplane for you." Learn more about Vashon Aircraft and the Ranger R7 and see some video clips of the new bird in flight. The official launch and public unveiling will be at AirVenture Oshkosh 2018.
From Washington State arrives a fresh, new airplane created from scratch to enter the Special LSA space. You don’t know the company but you may know the people, at least indirectly. Welcome to Vashon and their new Ranger R7! Ranger R7 is an all-metal, two-place, high-wing, single engine airplane equipped with tricycle landing gear and castering nose wheel. The company says Ranger has been in development for five years and has been flying for more than two. Vashon Aircraft was founded by John Torode, and the Ranger R7 was designed by Pacific Northwest aeronautical engineer, Ken Krueger. Does the name Torode sound familiar? It should. This is the man behind Dynon Avionics. Other key players are General Manager Scott Taylor and Marketing Manager Amy Bellesheim. Starting Clean According to Bellesheim, “Ranger R7 is a clean-sheet design. Ken Krueger, our chief design engineer, comes to us from many years at Van’s where he worked on the RV-12.
Continental Motors powerplants are manufactured in Mobile, Alabama, which is now also home to an assembly plant for Airbus airlines. That would seem pretty stiff competition for an award for manufacturing. You know this decades-old company for their popular 100-horsepower O-200 engine that remains a common powerplant for Special Light-Sport Aircraft. After their purchase of the 180-horsepower Titan engine line, we increasingly began to see their engines in the light aircraft space. An growing number of airframe developers have selected the Titan X-340 to power their models. So perhaps you’ll join me in applauding Continental Motors Group after the city’s Chamber of Commerce named Continental Motors as its “Manufacturer of the Year” for 2017. This annual award recognizes companies for their economic growth and commitment to the local community. “Continental has long been the cornerstone of our ever-growing aviation sector,” said Troy Wayman, the Chamber’s Vice-President of Economic Development, Mobile Chamber of Commerce.
In the world of Light-Sport Aircraft and light kits, Continental is perhaps best known today for the line of Titan engines the company acquired from ECi in 2015. Their Titan has taken the Light-Sport Aircraft and light kit-built aircraft sector by storm. A growing number of these flying machines are embracing the company's potent 180-horsepower engine. In every so equipped aircraft I've flown, that Titan powerplant gives a feel that must feel like a rocket-assisted military aircraft. Oorah!
Continental is a growing conglomerate these days. "We have significant operations on three continents, a global supply chain, highly experienced teams and outstanding Maintenance Repair Organization capabilities in Mattituck." They also own Southern Interiors; you can find all that and more on their new website.The professionally revised website is clear and clean but more importantly, it presents their expanding product and service line very well. Given such a wide range of activities and components as the present-day Continental Motors Group offers, improved website navigation and presentation is appreciated.
Here's Continental's upgraded website. Go have a look and see for yourself. I found a lot of information and it is all more accessible than in the past.
However, that's not the only goal Continental has been pursuing that you might find worthwhile.
Unless you've been off on a Mars colonization expedition, you must know about STEM education efforts. In case you were off-planet, STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal is to interest youth in these fields because the nation needs young people to fill roles in these disciplines and because it's good for those students. Jobs in these fields can be well paying, satisfying, and long lasting. In an age when kids live at home late into their 20s, better jobs should be broadly appreciated.Continental announced today that it joined the Mobile Airport Authority Foundation and member companies of the Mobile Aeroplex at their base at Brookley Field to contribute to a Mobile, Alabama STEM initiative that will sponsor 36 students to attend the National Flight Academy's six-day Deployment program on June 4, 2017.
National Flight Academy's adventure begins on a landlocked, virtual aircraft carrier, Ambition (CVT-11). Students live aboard for six days surrounded by advanced technology, flight simulators and virtual reality missions that ignite imagination and encourage learning.
After a group identifies participating children in 10th and 11th grades from Alabama, students will join other candidates from around the country in cruises of up to 126 individuals fully chaperoned by trained NFA educators to ensure they get the maximum benefit from this unique, fun and innovative learning environment. While aboard, they will participate in activities that demonstrate the practical use of STEM skills and also gain valuable leadership and teamwork experience.
"As one of the members of the [local] aviation business community and a long-term business in the community, Continental Motors is proud to join our fellow businesses to participate in demonstrating the value of STEM to our future workers," said Rhett Ross, President and CEO of Continental Motors.
Good for Continental! I imagine those kids will be thrilled by the opportunity.
Continental Motors is known worldwide for its aircraft engines. It is also a true global company with operations bases in Hong Kong, Alabama, and St. Egidien, Germany. Most readers are aware that the longtime Alabama company is owned by interests in Hong Kong but they remain very U.S.-centric, right down to the southern drawl of some employees. In the world of Light-Sport Aircraft and light kits, Continental is perhaps best known today for the line of Titan engines the company acquired from ECi in 2015. Their Titan has taken the Light-Sport Aircraft and light kit-built aircraft sector by storm. A growing number of these flying machines are embracing the company’s potent 180-horsepower engine. In every so equipped aircraft I’ve flown, that Titan powerplant gives a feel that must feel like a rocket-assisted military aircraft. Oorah! Continental is a growing conglomerate these days. “We have significant operations on three continents, a global supply chain, highly experienced teams and outstanding Maintenance Repair Organization capabilities in Mattituck.” They also own Southern Interiors; you can find all that and more on their new website.
Coming up in just over two weeks! — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. I hope your plans include going. Plenty of aircraft are available and taking a demo flight is no easier anywhere. I will look for you on site! More info: Midwest LSA Expo.Engines have changed a lot over the life of Light-Sport Aircraft. FAA's new regulation became effective in September 2004. A hard working industry has brought 140 Special LSA models to market ...in less than 12 years, one per month for every month (on average) since the rule emerged.
Engines have been similarly prolific.
In the beginning, Rotax's 65-horsepower two-stroke 582 was a often selected to power the lighter aircraft of the pre-LSA period. The 9-series engines had gained acceptance much earlier but as LSA got bigger and heavier, their success gave a tremendous push to the popular Austrian engine and it dominates to this day. The 100-horsepower 912 ULS and iS models are used on around 75% of all LSA-like aircraft worldwide. The larger 915 model to arrive in 2017 will surely continue the Austrian company's success story.
However, while Rotax is the biggest player, many others have found acceptance.I envision three categories of light aircraft engines: Alternative, Mainline, and Emerging. In the Alternative category, we have a variety of two-stroke engines and very small four-strokes. Early on, Rotax owned this category, too, with their 277, 377, 447, and 503 two-stroke engines, the latter of which was particularly well regarded. All have since been discontinued though many are available on the used market. Hirth remains active with a whole line of two-stroke engines.
If we include engines for powered paragliders and very light trikes, some wonderful small powerplant are available: Bailey — I came to enjoy this tiny, fuel-efficient, moderately-quiet four-stroke engine; see article — plus Simonini, Polini, Vittorazi, and others (article) lift the very lightest of powered aircraft.
Delving still deeper into alternative engines brings us to electric, solar electric, and hybrid electric. Then we have diesel. I have examined and reported on more than I care to mention here but the fact is, choices are ample.
Nonetheless the Mainline category has the most recognized brands: Rotax's 9-series is flanked by Jabiru's 2200 and 3300 models, Continental's popular O-200, the LSA-specific Lycoming O-233, plus others like UL Power and D-Motor are reportedly working on ASTM compliance but meanwhile are used to power homebuilt and other aircraft in growing numbers. For kit builders, auto conversions from companies like Viking and Aero Momentum among others can save money while offering impressive hardware built from recognized brands such as Honda and Suzuki.Now coming to the Emerging category, we have models like the Titan with its whopping 180 horsepower. Photos with this article show several adaptations and I expect more. As well, Rotax's 135-horsepower will find a market for more power.
As reported earlier, Continental acquired ECi, originator of the X-340 Titan. For a time, they functioned as sibling but separate companies. Now, the Alabama powerhouse is consolidating.
On August 17, 2016 Continental Motors Group (CMG) announced that it "will consolidate all manufacturing operations into its advanced manufacturing centers located Alabama and Germany." This change is sweeping. "The manufacture of CMG's line of FAA approved parts for Lycoming engines, as well as the full line of Titan Experimental and Certified engines that are currently produced in CMG's San Antonio, Texas facility will be transferred as a result of this consolidation."
CMG said it has "invested significantly in advanced manufacturing equipment, processes and people while implementing manufacturing techniques and lean tools based on the Toyota Production System." Because CMG and ECi used similar processes to make similar parts and assemblies, relocating the products currently produced in San Antonio makes sense, the company explained."Continental Motors has grown significantly in the past three years in both products and facilities as we strive to become the leader in propulsion for small aircraft," said CEO Rhett Ross. "However, as we have seen our business grow in the number of products, customers and operating sites, it has become apparent that changes are needed to make us more responsive to the needs of our customers.
CMG will coordinate with its Master Distributor, Aviall, to complete this move without interrupting the availability of the high quality, factory produced parts and engines within the Titan Product Family.
Continental wished to recognize the valuable contributions made by ECi employees in San Antonio. CMG promised to help those employees transition to new roles within the Continental family or to find new opportunities within the San Antonio business community. Customers or airframe manufacturers with questions may direct them to marketing boss Emmanuel Davidson.
Coming up in just over two weeks! — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. I hope your plans include going. Plenty of aircraft are available and taking a demo flight is no easier anywhere. I will look for you on site! More info: Midwest LSA Expo. Engines have changed a lot over the life of Light-Sport Aircraft. FAA’s new regulation became effective in September 2004. A hard working industry has brought 140 Special LSA models to market …in less than 12 years, one per month for every month (on average) since the rule emerged. Engines have been similarly prolific. In the beginning, Rotax‘s 65-horsepower two-stroke 582 was a often selected to power the lighter aircraft of the pre-LSA period. The 9-series engines had gained acceptance much earlier but as LSA got bigger and heavier, their success gave a tremendous push to the popular Austrian engine and it dominates to this day.
So, here's three aircraft you haven't seen before AirVenture 2016 plus a revised project involving an increasingly popular engine. I'll start off with a famous guy checking out a famous engine to propel one of my favorite airplanes. We begin our quick review with Lockwood Aircraft's AirCam.
Of course, you know his face. When I once heard Harrison Ford speak, he said modestly (paraphrased), "I earn a living making faces." I never thought of acting in such simple terms, but I accept such skills are part of the job. He's made faces successfully enough in many movies to be able to afford several fun airplanes and now he's getting into an AirCam. Developer/manufacturer Phil Lockwood said, "We were keeping a low profile to preserve [Harrison's] privacy but the cat is out of the bag now." As an AirCam fan myself, I predict Ford's facial repertoire will frequently include a broad smile.The newest and perhaps most unexpected aircraft at the show was SkyCruiser offered in the USA by U.S. Sport Aircraft based in Texas. This U.S importer has long represented Czech Sport Aircraft's SportCruiser, which has ranked up high on our market share report for years. Literature for the new model makes no mention of CSA, instead referring to Czech 4 Sky. Nevertheless, U.S. Sport Aircraft boss, Patrick Arnzen indicated he would bring in the new model from CSA.
In this article I am covering aircraft that seem to be pushing the envelope but a sign of maturity in the LSA segment shows developments in all directions. One of those is a return to simpler, easy-to-fly aircraft. Looking somewhat like another very successful design, Aerotrek's A220, SkyCruiser represents a model from about one decade back. When the LSA regulation first created aviation's newest segment the typical customer was often someone seeking a carbon fiber speedster with autopilot, a full glass panel, and all manner of bells and whistles. Many developers stepped up to fill that demand and simpler (less costly) designs were left behind. Now, they're back!
SkyCruiser, as seen on U.S. Sport Aircraft's Oshkosh space, is powered by a Rotax BRP 912 ULS, and tops out at 1,232 pound gross (88 pounds less than allowed as a SLSA). At a fairly modest 723 pounds empty, the taildragger still offers a 509 pound useful load or a payload of full fuel (17.6 gallons) and two 200-pound occupants with minimal baggage. Stall is listed at a slow 34 knots and maximum cruise is 86 knots. SkyCruiser appears to come well equipped with the latest from Dynon and more.Perhaps it is because of the success of CubCrafters, but the rush remains on for companies developing vintage-style aircraft with big engines. While Rotax continues to power the majority of light aircraft around the world using their ubiquitous 9-series engines, some builders want more. For slower airframes Cubalikes — to use a phrase coined by Bill Canino of Sportair USA, which also offers a muscular model in this same space — adding a massively powerful engine delivers supershort takeoffs and thrilling climb rates.
One engine is clearly winning the high-power race. Originally developed by Lycoming part maker Engine Components International, or ECi, the Titan X-340 has become a powerplant of choice for those seeking 180-horsepower. Other companies like UL Power and Viking also have potent engine offerings but after Continental Motors bought ECi in 2015, the Mobile, Alabama company has parlayed their famous brand into several entries in the light kit and Light-Sport space. Now enter the Kitfox Titan
One very slick Titan installation appeared on a factory Kitfox brought to Oshkosh by owner John McBean. His team always does impressive detail and finish work and the Kitfox Titan seen nearby was a prime example. An airplane that works extremely well with Rotax (still offered, of course) should be nothing short of spectacular with the big Titan engine doing the pulling. I can't wait to fly this one!It may look familiar (indeed it has some common heritage) but Triton America's SkyTrek is a significantly different airplane than those it resembles. The airframe is smoother with more sweeping lines aft of the canopy. The structure is beefed up and able to handle a higher G loading. The nosewheel has been strengthened to last better in flight school use.
A main difference in this model from others with similar overall looks is that SkyTrek is fabricated in China. Its principle designer, Tom Hsueh, has long been established in the USA and has worked with some of the largest aviation companies. Although Tom says, "I have a Chinese face," he works from offices in Washington State. His may be a new name to most readers, but I have been talking with Tom for a couple years and believe he can become a player in the U.S. marketplace as well as in China. To Triton's and Tom's credit, he reported the Chinese CAAC has certified SkyTrek for sale in that country.
Not only a new manufacturer of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tom has bigger ambitions. In 2009, Triton America, which does business as Triton Aerospace, acquired all the design rights and hardware inventory for Adam Aircraft, a company that formerly built and certified a six-seat, twin engine, twin-boom, pressurized, all-carbon-composite FAR 23 aircraft."To wind up this brief look of new flying machines we come back to Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing, still run by founder Darryl Murphy and still based in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. It's been nearly a decade since we saw any new light planes from this once-prolific producer. Darryl said that when the Canadian dollar soared high compared to the U.S. dollar, it became impossible to sell to Americans, by far his company's largest market. So, he used his large facility and impressive forming machinery to make aviation and other parts for different manufacturers. He seemed pleased about the return to building kits; welcome back, Darryl!
While showing his new Radical, Darryl indicated he's been hearing from potential customers that they'd like a Special LSA Rebel and he reports work is proceeding on that in parallel. Meanwhile he introduced a new model that goes hand-in-glove with the new batch of higher powered, higher gross weight aircraft taking several companies beyond the Light-Sport space. This may be one artifact of the EAA/AOPA push to eliminate the third class medical. Darryl acknowledged Rebel is a good foundation for the Radical, however, the new model is essentially a brand new design. "With more payload, more wing area, and capable of using engines up to 220 horsepower, [Radical] will incorporate many of the best features of the Rebel, Elite, Maverick and Super Rebel," he said.
Looking around Oshkosh, I found ultralight, light kit aircraft, and Light-Sport Aircraft all looking healthier than many seem to think. In addition, the arrival of the 180-horsepower Titan and even larger engines combined with higher gross weight/high payload designs seem created to appeal to those who no longer need a medical. The new program won't be effective for a year and still has hoops through which a pilot must jump, but it does open the door to new designs. Light aircraft engineers and manufacturers seem up to the task and customers appeared intrigued by their new offerings.
I'll have more from Oshkosh after catching up with other work, but I found the light sector very alive and doing quite well, with or without a third class medical.
In a show as vast at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh, it is presumptuous to attempt covering everything of interest. What follows are some new aircraft I found in the categories I cover on this website. Other projects were certainly worthy of special note but with the goal of a fast dash through the latest and greatest, I’m keeping this one fairly lean. I’ll cover other developments in subsequent articles. So, here’s three aircraft you haven’t seen before AirVenture 2016 plus a revised project involving an increasingly popular engine. I’ll start off with a famous guy checking out a famous engine to propel one of my favorite airplanes. We begin our quick review with Lockwood Aircraft‘s AirCam. Of course, you know his face. When I once heard Harrison Ford speak, he said modestly (paraphrased), “I earn a living making faces.” I never thought of acting in such simple terms, but I accept such skills are part of the job.