he proven airframe and modern panel of the Sky Skooter make perhaps the oddest, yet most appropriate of mates. Each from a different age – the T-211’s unique ribbed wing beckons from the 1940s while the ePod streaks ahead in the 2000s – they nonetheless complement each other. The Sky Skooter is the fun little variant of the T-211 series, including the FAA-certified T-211 and the ASTM standards-compliant (LSA certified) Thorpedo. The company can deliver just about any version of John Thorp’s groundbreaking design, the very one that lead to Piper’s Cherokee, which sold tens of thousands. Complementing the joyful and innocent Sky Skooter with the most pleasant in-flight handling comes the visitor from the future: IndUS Aviation’s ePod. Putting these together for a flight review shows the past and the future of light-sport aviation. Long Perspective The T-211 has a long, rich aviation history. The model dates back to designs studies in the early 1940s that lead to the Lockheed Little Dipper, a single-place light aircraft created by legendary designer John Thorp.
|Empty weight||625 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,270 pounds|
|Wing area||115 square feet|
|Wing loading||11.1 pounds per square foot|
|Length||19 feet, 3 inches|
|Height||6 feet 4 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||21 gallons|
|Kit type||Fully assembled 1|
|Notes:||1 Fully assembled as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft; kit program may be available|
|Standard engine||Jabiru 2200|
|Power||85 hp at 2,850 rpm|
|Power loading||14.9 pounds/hp|
|Max Speed||115 mph 1|
|Cruise speed||98 mph|
|Never exceed speed||156 mph 1|
|Rate of climb at gross||690 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||350 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||400 feet|
|Notes:||1 Performance figures at 1,150 pounds|
|Standard Features||Jabiru 2200 4-cylinder engine producing 85 hp accessible by top cowling "hood," electric starter, 760 transceiver, intercom, encoding transponder, ELT, 2-blade Sensenich wood propeller, basic flight and engine instrumentation, fully enclosed cabin with canopy that can be opened in flight, dual joysticks and rudder pedals, 2-position flaps, in-flight trim, panel-mounted choke, convenient fuel shutoff, oleo-strut gear, steerable and suspended nosewheel, single-lever mechanical brakes, ball-bearing control linkages, all-metal wings and tail, shoulder belt pilot restraints, large storage area, map pockets.|
|Options||120-hp Jabiru 3300 engine (on Thorpedo model), IndUS-designed ePod electronic engine measurements instrument (see detail in article), Dynon digital flight instrument, additional flight and navigation instruments and radios, ballistic parachute.|
|Construction||All-metal aluminum airframe, special ribbed aluminum wing skins and horizontal tail with limited composite components. Made in the USA by American-owned company (see article for additional detail); distributed by U.S.-owned company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - The Sky Skooter and its increasingly well-accepted Jabiru engine will work for flight schools and sport pilots. The T-211 is a proven design from a respected designer, John Thorp, whose work lead to the Piper Cherokee. Unique ribbed wing was designed for ease of assembly and improved aerodydnamics.
Cons - Modest performance and smaller cabin may limit interest from some buyers (though payload is good). With 85-hp engine, the Sky Skooter is a basic performer. Some potential buyers will view this as an older design despite its modernized electronic instrument panel.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - The Sky Skooter appears to be a simple plane (and it is) but still has flaps, trim, and electric starting. Flap lever position gives good leverage for ease of operation. The Sky Skooter is well appointed and most buyers will need few options. The ePod is an easy-to-use electronic instrument with excellent features.
Cons - Though the ePod is a very thorough instrument, like all electronic references you'll need to read a manual to get the most out of it. Flaps are not particularly effective surfaces. Single hand brake is common to ultralight pilots though general aviation pilots might not care for it. Right-side occupant cannot see trim.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Comfortable, leather upholstered seats with fully adjustable shoulder and lap belts in the Sky Skooter along with fully finished interior. Dual joystick controls for each seat within easy reach. Large, easily adjusted trim wheel (left of center console). Fuel tank fills from the outside and no interior fumes detected.
Cons - Entry means stepping up on a wing and then lowering yourself into a small cockpit, a tougher action for some less flexible occupants. Small interior only an inch wider than a Cessna 150. Seats don't adjust, neither do rudder pedals although thicker or thinner seat cushions take care of this. Large pilots should try it on for size.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Excellent ground maneuverability even without directional braking. Hand brake lever is very accessible for both occupants; lever position affords good grip and pull range. Wide-open visibility for preflight traffic checking. Oleo struts provide suspension for mains and nosewheel.
Cons - Single hand brake offers no differential braking (though ground steering is responsive enough that such braking is not needed). I found brakes were not particularly strong at slowing the Sky Skooter on pavement, a problem common to many aircraft, though IndUS feels this is partly related to tire size as the brake can hold the airplane at full throttle.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - The Sky Skooter offers simple and straightforward landings. Broad visibility on landing approach and before takeoff. Authoritative controls help on crosswinds operations very straightforward. Slips were reasonably effective. Generous ground clearance.
Cons - Landing approaches at 50+ knots (58+ mph) seem a bit fast from an ultralight pilot's perspective. Ground roll was longer and climbout was significantly slower than some ultralight pilots are used to experiencing. Flaps don't help shorten takeoff roll much; I was advised not to bother with them.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Light touch and well-harmonized controls on the Sky Skooter will be appreciated by flight school students and experienced pilots. Handling is very predictable with precision turns to headings easy to do. Linkages are smooth, supported by ball bearing construction. Slow-speed handling is quite good.
Cons - No one will call the Sky Skooter's roll rate "brisk" as 45°-to-45° bank alternations were in the 4-second range. Adverse yaw was present; you must make use of the controls to effect a well-coordinated turn (though this is common to many other designs).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - The Sky Skooter's slow-speed flying qualities are quite good (though this won't amaze many ultralight pilots). Cruise with Jabiru 2200 engine is modest but acceptable at about 100 mph at 75% power. Slow flight qualities were very predictable. Ground roll is shortened by lower weight than on the Continental-powered T-211 model.
Cons - Climb rate is only 690 fpm even with 85 horsepower. Compared to potent 2-stroke engines on many ultralights, the Sky Skooter's Jabiru won't inspire many ultralight pilots. Cruise speeds are modest for the price tag (many ultralight-like aircraft can match the Sky Skooter, though the Sky Skooter may last far longer).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls in all forms were very mild and showed no negative characteristics. Longitudinal stability was what you'd expect for a light sport aircraft built to meet Part 23 certification; disturbing the pitch resulted in level flight again in a short time. Excellent visibility helps overall safety.
Cons - Stall speeds are higher than most ultralights (though the lighter Jabiru version is better than the Continental O-200-powered version). When nosed over aggressively, the Sky Skooter can pick up speed rapidly. Adverse yaw, while not significant, is present.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - The Sky Skooter may find a ready market in flight school operations. Can be flown with canopy open, a plus for ultralight enthusiasts. Has won Light-Sport Aircraft airworthiness and is on the market as such now. Delightful handling combined with the performance boost from a light Jabiru engine makes for a most enjoyable flying airplane.
Cons - The Sky Skooter may resemble a general aviation airplane too much for ultralight pilots (though this configuration may help resale). Design has been around a long time yet not many are flying in the USA. Dealer network and support are still being developed (though general aviation A&P's can do most of what you need). Prices, as with most light sport aircraft, are on the high end for ultralight pilots.