I have to admit my pleasant surprise. This tie-up of Copperstate and Buckeye Air Fair might be exactly what is needed to generate a major show in the Southwestern USA. Let me be fair. Other West Coast aviation events have interesting qualities but none has ever risen to the level of AirVenture Oshkosh or Sun ‘n Fun. Those two dominate general aviation events. Both are “back East.” With big pilot and aircraft populations in California, Arizona, and Washington, why have we no major shows in the West? No one I’ve asked can explain the riddle but could Copperstate Buckeye Air Fair be the right combination? Only time will tell yet on Saturday, crowds were as thick as Oshkosh, albeit in a much smaller area. City planners offered an airshow and lots for attendees to look at plus the Copperstate trade show alongside the Buckeye Air Fair gave the public close access to pilots operating all manner of light aircraft.
The Airplane Factory Sling
Phone: (+27) 11-455-4204Edenvale, -- 1610 - South Africa
U.S. Distributor is Airplane Factory (USA), The
Phone: (310) 721-9190Torrance, CA 90505 - USA
“Sling TSi was hands-down the hit of the show,” exclaimed The Airplane Factory USA. They reported one media outlet dubbed it the "Best New Sport Plane of 2018."
Builder Assistance for TSiAt an upcoming event at TAF USA’s base of operations — KTOA Airport in Torrance, California — the importer is closing a strong year by hosting one of their TAF Sling and Sling Flying Club Taco Social events. In addition to the Taco Bar treats (it is Southern California, after all, just a few miles from the Mexican border), attendees can hear about a most unusual Builder Assist experience. The “Main Event” will feature a presentation by Wayne and Matthew Toddun who traveled to South Africa to build their Sling TSi. Not only did the father and son travel half way around the world to build their Sling TSi, the aircraft was subsequently re-assembled in Oshkosh and shown to visitors before it was flown back to Los Angeles. TAF said that according to Matthew Toddun, "When my dad decided to purchase a new Sling aircraft for us to learn to how to fly, he went for the very best, the brand new Sling TSi!” Matthew continued, “When he decided [to pursue] a build assist program, he wanted the best assistance that we could get.” ”That is when our life-changing opportunity came about,” related Matthew. “[We would] travel to South Africa to build the first conforming Sling TSi. We spent a little over two weeks working side-by-side with the experienced factory crew, learning the ins and outs of our new plane, and assembling it piece by piece.” It was this Sling TSi that was revealed at Oshkosh 2018.
After Building, Learning to Fly Sling
Once you’ve built or bought a Sling aircraft, you can travel to SoCal and be trained at TAF USA’s new New Sling Pilot Academy.TAF USA also announced, “Next Year we are starting the Sling Pilot Academy to help prepare pilots for the airlines.” However, If you’re not in Southern California or don’t wish to travel to Torrence, you have another attractive alternative run by a veteran flight trainer.
“Life is grand in Carson City, Nevada at the Sport Aviation Center, said proprietor Paul Hamilton. "This has been a great year for flight training in the Sling. We have had a number of Sport Pilots go through the complete course from start to finish and successfully take their check ride.”Paul continued, “We are also teaching private pilots in the Sling LSA and now we have successfully completed three Private Pilot training and checkrides in the Sling. Additionally, two CFI long-expired certificates were reinstated with Sport Pilot CFI checkrides per 61.427. The Sling has been a reliable and tough workhorse and everybody loves how it flies up in the mountains. Check us out here.
When Rotax debuted their new 915iS engine at an Oshkosh press conference, Sling designer Mike Blyth raced forward at the end of the conference to closely examine the new power plant. It was clear to me this answered a creation he had in mind and now we can see the fruit of his ambition: the new Sling TSi. Since the Rotax 915iS remains a powerplant that requires an in-flight adjustable prop, it cannot be used on a Light-Sport Aircraft, but TSi is based on The Airplane Factory’s Sling 4 four seater so kit-built it must be. More on the builder effort below. For Oshkosh 2018, The Airplane Factory USA said, “[We are] excited to present the North American debut of the all-new Sling TSi! This kit is the airplane Sling fans have been waiting for!” The Southern California importer said TSi has all of the style, economy and practical utility of the Sling 4 but with more speed.
Pricing the KitsSince we focus on "affordable aviation," just how much will you part with to own a Sling 2 or 4? The ready-to-fly SLSA Sling 2 runs from $132,000 for a basic model to $165,000 for a "Garmin IFR" version. You may not consider that "affordable," but it helps identify the savings with a kit. According to TAF-USA, a Sling 2 kit runs $38,000 for the airframe kit (including interior and finishing) or $83,000 with avionics, engine, and prop. That saves you more than $50,000 in exchange for 900 hours of your time. If you value your time more highly, a $17,500 QB kit will tip the scales at just over $100,000 …but even that saves $30,000, and it saves you 400 hours of your (yielding about $45/hour for your labor). TAF-USA's Sling 4 kit adds more cost but also adds more capability, specifically two more seats and the turbo Rotax 914 that adds a few knots even with the heavier load. A Sling 4 airframe kit sells for $50,000 or $115,000 with engine, avionics, and prop. Sling 4 will take more time to build: 1,200 hours. You can shave off 500 hours with the $20,000 QB kit. Act before March 1st — and save about 10%, making the offer worth about $4,000 to over $13,000 depending on which model and type interests you. Call 424-241-0341 (west coast time) or send an email for more details or to place an order. TAF-USA's all-metal CNC-accurate components come significantly completed (photo). Control surfaces are nearly finished. Wings are almost complete. Key elements like fuel tanks are finished and sealed, and where driven rivets are used, those components come already fabricated. Here's an especially modern idea, thanks to the young staff at TAF and TAF-USA. The South African producer allied with the U.S. importer helps builders with more than building manuals. They've created an iPhone/iPad app that reads the bar codes attached to every part in the kit. You scan the code and the app will display information for that part including the part’s name, where in the plans that part is used, how many parts should be included. It even keeps a running inventory of how many of those parts are used and how many are left. Prior builders may recognize how handy is the use of this modern technology. TAF-USA is closely associated with MGL Avionics line (also from South Africa) so I urge you to check out these fine instruments and radios while you ponder a Sling 2 or Sling 4 kit purchase.
Special deals are unusual in aviation, an industry of hand-built flying machines sold in modest quantities. This is the paramount challenge in keeping aviation affordable. Challenging, but not impossible. Mainly due to the fluctuation in government currencies, The Airplane Factory USA has little choice but to raise prices by about 10%, however, they are offering a chance to capture the current price if you can make a decision before March 1st, 2018. TAF-USA has two choices depending on your wishes. I’ve experienced both models and find them both highly desirable. The Sling 2 — their Special LSA entry — can be had either fully built or in kit form. The four-seat Sling 4 is available only as a kit. Either is available as a quick build (QB) kit or standard. Either will save you some money in exchange for a few hundred hours of your time. Pricing the Kits Since we focus on “affordable aviation,” just how much will you part with to own a Sling 2 or 4?
Gone Flying!Once aloft, I try to go through a uniform regimen of evaluations. The routine can vary by aircraft, for example, flying the Pipistrel motorglider had to involve shutting down the engine and feathering the prop. You don’t, in fact are not allowed, to do the latter on most LSA. Even entering the aircraft varies if it is a high or low wing. Performance and stability checks include — but, as lawyers love to write, “may not be not limited to” — handling qualities, high speed flight, slow flight (both while checking various engine parameters such as temperatures and fuel burn), slow flight, steep turns, and a thorough group of stalls: approach and departure stalls as well as accelerated, or turning, stalls. I fly on whichever side of the aircraft the representative pilot does not wish to fly. As a former flight instructor I am comfortable in either seat. Before or after I do my routine, I generally ask the rep’ pilot to show me anything he or she would perform in a purchase demonstration flight. Once in a while this gets especially interesting. As with the videos interviews I conduct — which often result not just in a video but also a post (or even a print magazine article) — I try to ask the questions you would ask if you had the opportunity that I have. Hey! As stated at the outset, I agree I have a pretty cool job. Thanks SO much for reading posts and articles, for watching videos, and generally for supporting this work. If you really want to help, please consider membership but I’ll end the pitch and repeat my gratitude for clicking or tapping your way to this website.
Sometimes I am told I have the best job in the world. Hmm, could be. My work entails some of those things no one truly loves, like paying bills, but it also involves flying airplanes for review. That part is indeed quite a pleasure. In this post, I want to tell you what I flew at the DeLand Showcase 2017 plus a little about how we do these VPRs or Video Pilot Reports. For many years, I wrote such things for print. That still happens but most of my reporting now goes online and my more detailed pilot reports have significantly — though not exclusively — gone to video …hence “VPR.” At DeLand 2017, I went aloft six times, five to evaluate aircraft and once on a photo (and video) mission. Video reporting consumes much more time than an interview, 30 minutes or more simply to attach some or all of our eight Garmin VIRB cameras inside and outside the subject aircraft.
- Sling LSA Basic - $135,000 (approx. $880/mo.)
- Sling LSA Garmin VFR - $142,000 (approx. $920/mo.)
- Sling LSA Garmin IFR - $165,000 (approx. $1,060/mo.)
“Oshkosh is all about airplanes, right?” asked The Airplane Factory USA‘s Jean d’Assonville. I loved his remark since that is how we promote ByDanJohnson.com. “It’s all about the airplanes!” is how we modeled our line after Apple’s Steve Jobs famously said, “It’s all about the music,” when promoting iPod (remember those!?) in the early 2000s. Jean — one of the TAF heroes who has done long portions of the South African company’s several (yes, several!) flights all around the globe — went on to write, “This was my third Oshkosh and what rang true for me is that Air Venture is actually all about people who love airplanes! It is the people who dream them, build them, fly them, polish them, sleep in or under them and just simply love them. Yes, it’s the people!” Jean is right. The airplanes are the main message here and at AirVenture but they exist to give satisfaction, education, and inspiration to those who fly our wonderful light aircraft.
You should already know the Sling. The South African design set a new benchmark by coming off design and initial development to take an east-to-west trip around the globe. That showed the confidence of designers Mike Blyth and James Pittman. At Sun 'n Fun 2013, we spoke with reps from The Airplane Factory USA who answered questions about flight characteristics and future plans plus talk about the kit Sling they're assembling. Watch this video to get all the facts.
You should already know the Sling. The South African design set a new benchmark by coming off design and initial development to take an east-to-west trip around the globe. That showed the confidence of designers Mike Blyth and James Pittman. At Sun ‘n Fun 2013, we spoke with reps from The Airplane Factory USA who answered questions about flight characteristics and future plans plus talk about the kit Sling they’re assembling. Watch this video to get all the facts.
As I’ve indicated many times in the last couple years, this website seeks to deliver news and video about Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, ultralights, and light GA aircraft. The latter refers to four seat (and larger) aircraft created by the same companies that make LSA or kits. Specifically, I do not plan much on Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, Diamond, and other legacy brands as every magazine already examines these every month. Instead, I plan to cover emerging models from companies that established their brand in the LSA space: Tecnam, Flight Design, Pipistrel, Evektor, Van’s and The Airplane Factory. These six manufacturers are presently in the four seat game either with ready-to-fly aircraft or four seat kits. More are expected to follow. At Copperstate 2015, I finally got a chance to fly the Sling 4 from The Airplane Factory, which I had been anticipating since enjoying the Sling LSA.
Among the critiques some old school pilots employ when trying to marginalize Light-Sport Aircraft is that these aircraft are not suited to flying long distances. I’ve reported several around the world flights (check this article and here’s another) but that’s hardly all the long flights. The invitation started out, “Join all of us at Progressive Aerodyne and the City of Tavares on Friday, September 11 for a presentation by Michael Smith about his epic Searey flight from Melbourne, Australia to Central Florida. Michael will give a presentation at the beautiful Tavares Pavilion on the Lake about his incredible journey.” Unfortunately, I can’t attend as I’ll be working the Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois that weekend. However, many readers probably cannot attend either so here’s a bit of Michael’s story. In the not-too-distant past, documenting a trip like his probably meant appealing to a magazine or publishing a book.
In this Copperstate Part 2 article we resume the list of aircraft Videoman Dave and I reviewed at the show south of Phoenix, Arizona in Casa Grande. To remind you, this was the 43rd running of this show that invites all sorts of aircraft — and many dozens did fly in each day plus others did fly-over demonstrations. However, Copperstate generates a particularly strong response from manufacturers and representatives of Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and utralights. That makes it a must-go show for our team at ByDanJohnson.com and Dave’s SportAviationMagazine.com YouTube channel that so many of you seem to enjoy. Like other shows, many of you approached us at the event and expressed your ongoing interest in the video content we create. We are very pleased about your loyal viewership and will continue to work hard to build our growing video library … already at 400+ videos and moving steadily to 500 and beyond.
Light-Sport Aircraft comprise an diverse gaggle of some beautiful airplanes. Choices are available in a dizzying array of configurations and variations. In fact, so many selections are available to you (as Special LSA) that I created PlaneFinder 2.0 to help folks narrow the decision to a few that might best suit your needs, interests, experience, and budget. If you haven’t checked out this cool feature, you should do so. You can click on and off more than 20 different aircraft characteristics, all simple yes-or-no type entries. As you do so, the “Matching List” changes to show the aircraft that meet your criteria. From that list you’ll see links that let you read more content (written and video) available on this website. You must register to use PlaneFinder 2.0 (your email is all that is required and after you do so we’ll send you a regular English-word password that you can change), however, PlaneFinder 2.0 is completely free, like most of our content.
The “Big Show” is just days away, so of course, journalists and readers are asking what will be present? The question is worthwhile, but often the most interesting discoveries are not foretold either to maintain secrecy or due to the last minute scramble to make a new project showable. Here are four products attendees may want to investigate. Watch for more previews. “What a journey so far, wrote Jordan Denitz, spokesman for The Airplane Factory USA! Globetrotters Mike Blyth with Patrick Huang of The Airplane Factory Asia have completed their first three legs on their way around the world in a Sling powered by the Rotax 912iS. Starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, they traveled to Namibia, Ghana, and Cape Verde. On Monday they were taking a well deserved rest after 37 hours and more than 4,000 nautical miles logged so far. “They are gearing up for the biggest hop yet, crossing the Atlantic,” added Jordan.
It’s almost time! — The tents are in place. Most of the displays are built. Airplanes are already parked by the thousands in EAA voluminous parking areas. The campground and every hotel room for miles is packed full. While the usual pandemonium reigns the night before opening, it is a familiar scene that somehow, almost magically resolves into a ready-to-go show on opening day only hours away, tomorrow, Monday July 20th, the earliest start to AirVenture Oshkosh in years. Today, I got a text — thank some tech guru for inventing text, which always seems to get through quickly even when phone calls do not, with hundreds of thousands of attendees all using their smartphones at the same time. The text from The Airplane Factory USA‘s Matt Liknaitzky read, “Mike [Blythe] and Patrick [Huang] are arriving in the Sling 912 iS … if ya wanna see them.” We did, so we dashed north to the North Aircraft Display Area space.
When you deliver an airplane to an accomplished video producer you are bound to get some great photos out of the deal. The images with this article show video impresario (and my longtime friend), Paul Hamilton, flying new Sling N288SL around beautiful Lake Tahoe not far from his home base in Nevada. Paul has been around light aviation for more years that he may be willing to admit. He has long promoted weight shift aircraft and was influential in developing early LSA training documents and videos in addition to making several video productions that were enjoyable to watch. The Airplane Factory USA boss Matt Liknaitzky wrote, “It was another great showing for the Sling at Sun ‘n Fun 2015 and our team has been busy ever since.” Regarding the new delivery, he added, “In some recent exciting news, another Sling has stretched its wings! N288SL, a brand new Sling [powered by the fuel injected Rotax] 912iS, made the journey to its new home at Paul Hamilton’s Sport Aviation Center at the Carson City Airport (KCXP).
One year ago Rotax announced a contest to award a brand-new 912 engine to the flight school that achieved the first time between overhaul (TBO) of 2,000 hours on a Rotax 912 iS model that the engine builder had just released. Upon reaching the goal, the flight school had to prove the hours by sending a copy of the logbook to their local distributor and then return the used engine to Rotax BRP in Austria. At the end of January 2015, Rotax announced they had donated a copy of their newest Rotax 912 iS Sport engine to Madiba Bay School of Flight located in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. “Madiba Bay achieved the first time between overhauls (TBO) of 2,000 hours on their Sling 2 equipped with a Rotax 912 iS engine,” said representatives of the big Austrian engine manufacturer. Flight school owner Gerhard Van Eeden said, “We are pleased to be the winner of a brand-new Rotax 912 iS Sport engine.
Taildraggers may be among the least understood and most feared aircraft available in the LSA space … or for that matter throughout general aviation. While we have many good choices that I’ll list below, I have nonetheless heard from many readers or airshow visitors that they are uncertain about their operation of an aircraft that has no nosewheel. If you have no taildragger skills, you’ll also find it a challenge to get proper flight instruction in a “standard” aircraft. For those seeking new skills in flying, however, taildraggers may provide high satisfaction. Most who have crossed the barrier to taildragging subsequently look very fondly at such aircraft, seeing a sleeker yet gutsier, more rugged appearance. Of course, nosewheels dominate general aviation as they can be easier to land, especially in crosswinds, but once you learn the lesson of “happy feet” — or keeping your feet active on the rudder pedals throughout approach and touchdown — you may always yearn for more taildragger time.
A couple days ago I wrote about the Sling 4-4-40 Challenge. I believe this to be of interest for a couple reasons. One is the fast build at an airshow … much like the intense interest surrounding EAA’s One Week Wonder (video) building of a CH-750 at Oshkosh. The other is my promise to offer coverage of the “New GA” or “LSA 4” planes — which are four seaters built by LSA companies using the technologies and techniques those companies know so well. South Africa’s Airplane Factory (TAF) Sling 4-4-40 challenge — in which a Sling 4 was built in 4 days by 40 workers — marked yet another milestone for the Sling manufacturer. What normally takes a kit builder 1,000 hours to complete, took place at the 2014 Africa Aerospace event in just four days. Build team leader and company boss Mike Blyth reported it took their team 854 hours from bare kit to flight, although painting and perhaps some interior finish will take a bit more time, a situation similar to the One Week Wonder project.
Last weekend Zenith Aircraft held another of their open house events. At the Midwest LSA Expo a few weeks beforehand I asked factory pilot guru, Roger Dubbert how many people the company expected. His answer: a rather amazing “700.” According to Zenith president Sebastien Heintz it was indeed another strong event, one they’ve repeated every year since setting up shop in Mexico, Missouri. “By all accounts and measurements, the 23rd annual Hangar Day was an incredible winner,” summarized Sebastien. Among the highlights of the two-day festivities was the arrival of EAA’s two Zenith aircraft. One was an EAA staff-built version of the CH 750 Cruzer (watch for our video pilot report to be posted soon) and the second was the One Week Wonder CH 750 that was completed during AirVenture with participation from over 2,500 people. As Arion Aircraft‘s Nick Otterback put it, “Since this month seems to offer many open houses I wanted to share ours.
Super Petrel LS from Edra Aeronautica — As described in our earlier article, Edra Aeronautica was nearly done with their acceptance by FAA to be able to sell their handsome biwing Super Petrel LS in the U.S. as a Special (fully manufactured) Light-Sport Aircraft. The “almost” is gone now and Daytona Beach, Florida-based importer Brian Boucher of Florida Light Sport Aviation has the pink Special Airworthiness card in his LSA to prove it (photo). Brian’s business also represents the Flight Design CTLSi, so he has two distinctive Light-Sport models he can demonstrate. Florida Light Sport Aviation is based at the Spruce Creek Fly-in (just like ByDanJohnson.com!); he and wife Jean will be at Sun ‘n Fun in space LP-38 past the LSA Mall in Paradise City. Another Super Petrel LS will be available for examination in the LSA Mall as will his CTLSi. Brian is an airline pilot but enjoys Light-Sport Aircraft when he isn’t jetting around the globe.
The Great Recession was the pits … for nearly all industries and most employees or small business owners. That’s hardly newsworthy. However, the recovery from the recession — that government economists insist ended years ago — has been a long time coming. For too many out-of-work pilots, that recession lingers with us yet. Fortunately, the aviation economy appears to be improving. Although registrations didn’t show it for 2013, the year provided more sales for sellers if not more airplanes for their customers. Now, the hope is that airplanes will emerge from factories faster and the general health of the industry will improve, which is good for seller and buyer alike. A couple companies have proof that things are looking up and I’d like to tell you a little about them. First is South Africa’s The Airplane Factory (TAF) and their rep’, TAF USA, led by Matt Litnaitzky and associate Ryan Ruel.
Welcome to summertime … in December, just after Christmas?!? True, down under in Australia or partway around the southern hemisphere in South Africa, weather patterns are roughly opposite of those in the northern half the globe. While it is presently cool or cold where many readers live, perhaps it is of interest to take a tour of a down-under manufacturer, in this case South Africa’s The Airplane Factory (TAF), designer and manufacturer of the Sling series of Light-Sport Aircraft, four seat models — some built ready to fly and some kits. In case you may have forgotten, the two seat Sling that now qualifies as a LSA was bravely flown around the world shortly after it was introduced by partners and frequent very long distance pilots Mike Blythe and James Pitman. TAF’s American representative is The Airplane Factory USA. The California-based importer’s main main, Matt Litnaitzky, recently visited his supplier, snapping photos and giving us some additional insight to the organization behind the Sling series.