Larry Newman, 63, one of the seminal manufacturing/marketing dynamos in the early days of hang gliding who made the successful transition to ultralights, has died after a reported 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer. *** Larry was a flamboyant entrepreneur who successfully sold his ElectraFlyer hang gliders. *** When people started sticking motors on the foot launched craft, he came out with a new company, American Aerolites, to produce the Eagle ultralight. *** I first flew the Eagle with Plane & Pilot Publisher Steve Werner back in 1983. I remember it vividly: while Steve was up on a test hop, I was taking photos of his flight next to the runway at Coronado Airport, north of Albuquerque, near Larry’s factory…and I got stung twice by fire ants.I almost jumped out of my jeans, it hurt so bad. I thought I’d been shot in the leg. I could barely see the critters but what a painful wallop they packed.
To our readers and all Light Sport pilots and dreamers, we thank you for your enthusiasm and support in this year of both challenges and triumphs. *** The dream is alive, and all of us together will carry it forward this year. *** Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all! *** ~ Jim Lawrence
On those weekends that I’m hanging out at my newly adopted country airport of Great Barrington, MA (GBR), I always look forward to seeing young Joe Solan. *** Joe’s 12…going on 28, as someone at the airport affectionately quipped. *** Joe is one great kid, the kind I sometimes wish I’d been more like when I was his age. *** When we first greet, whether he’s dutifully dragging a heavy gas pump hose that weighs half what he does, answering the airport office phone or hunting up a charged handheld battery, he’ll flash a friendly smile, say “Hi!”, and stick out his hand like the straight-up little man he is. *** He’s growing up at the airport, mentored in running the business and mentored in life by his dad Rick, a co-owner of the airport with lots of great ideas for growing its prosperity. *** Rick’s also the guy who keeps American Airlines 777 drivers on the straight and narrow as a top-level inspector pilot.
Following up on my post two days ago, I’m happy to report Wired magazine just ran a story online about the Yuneec E-Spyder that Tom Peghiny of Flight Designs has been developing for them. The story has several excellent photos and it’s a good write-up, so click on over there to see how the mainstream media is helping push public awareness of electric aviation. *** Here’s the Wired video of the E-Spyder that ought to whet your appetite for electric flight…I can’t wait to get back to the states and get over to Tom’s to do my own story on it.
We’ve all seen the ads: “Full IFR-Equipped LSA!” A few top-line models offer such instrument packages, such as Flight Design CTLS, Evektor MAX, Tecnam’s P2008. But is an LSA legal to fly IFR? Quick tell: Yes — when flown by an appropriately rated pilot. We already know that a Sport Pilot license holder can only fly in day VFR up to 10,000 feet. This discussion is about the airplane. As pal Dan Johnson, who just took up this issue on his own blog, notes, ASTM’s F37 committee has worked hard to create an IFR standard, but unsuccessfully so far. The committee did add a line to the latest Design and Performance (D&P) Standard (yet to be adopted) that prohibits S-LSA flight into Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). This does not however prevent a rated IFR pilot with a current medical from flying a currently registered SLSA into IMC, and of course let’s also assume the airplane is rigged with the appropriate Full Monty: IFR instrumentation, lighting and powerplant.
Two wild-and-crazy Swiss airline pilots decided to take a busman’s holiday – one hell of a busman’s holiday – by taking two Flight Design CTLS S-LSA on a little jaunt, in celebration of the birth of aviation in Switzerland 100 years ago. *** Their destination? The airport they launched from April 30th: Sion, Switzerland. *** The catch? Before they return to Sion, they’re flying around the world! *** Dan Johnson’s got a detailed writeup on his Splog but the short tell is the pilots, Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo, will fly 27,500 miles over 18 countries, five continents and two oceans. *** Both craft are modified to carry extra fuel – 120 gallons each, instead of the stock 35 gallons. *** They’re also carrying survival gear including water ditching rafts as their route crosses both the Atlantic (Africa to South America) and the Pacific (America to Viet Nam). *** As of today they’ve made it across from Africa to Natal, Brazil.
French hang glider pilot and light sport innovator/entrepreneur G©rard Thevenot has been a visionary all his life. I’ve profiled him previously re his efforts to create alternative-powered sport aircraft. *** He’s been testing electric trikes for Yuneec, the China company that’s developing several commercial sky-breaking electric aircraft designs. *** And last fall he set an electric trike record for sustained power flight of 1 hour 16 min. *** Today comes word from Aero 2010 International Exhibition for General Aviation, the big European airshow, that Thevenot has been awarded the 2010 E-Flight Award for his hydrogen fuel cell-powered trike. *** His trike is one of three fuel-cell powered aircraft exhibiting at this year’s Aero show. *** A fuel cell is a power source that creates enough electricity to drive an electric motor, using, in Thevenot’s case, only hydrogen fuel and oxygen. *** The exhaust components?
Alright, I’m succumbing to Electric Fever a bit more today, but a more-thorough reading of that excellent FlightGlobal piece I mentioned in the post below has a lengthy discussion about PC-Aero, a German firm that’s coming out with its own line of electric-powered aircraft…including a four-seater for General Aviation. *** The brains behind this effort live inside Mr. Calin Gologan, who predicts an all-electric four-seat GA airplane in the next ten years. *** His company is debuting his first prototype, a single-seater electric dubbed Elektra One, at the European Aero show in Friedrichshafen this week. *** Apparently the tantalizing prospect of winning the $1.5 million in prize money offered by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge (in 2011) was the kicker to start Gologan down the E-Plane path. *** The Electra One will be followed by an Elektra Two (two seats) and Elektra Four (four) down the road.
Just out of a 3-day stomach bug sick bed, I must still be a bit delirious ’cause that old Sinatra tune, “Love is wonderful, the second time around” keeps winding through my fuzzy brain. *** No doubt I’m subconsciously morphing into music the news I got yesterday from old hang gliding pal and ultralight/light sport entrepreneur John Dunham that he’s back, in the biz he made so successful in the ’80s – Second Chantz Aerial Survival Equipment. *** His company sold more than 4,000 ballistic recovery systems when it was in operation, and has documented more than 70 saves worldwide. *** You can read all the gore-y details on John’s blog linked above but a brief bio must include his deep hang gliding/ultralight/LSA background as pilot, test pilot, instructor and savvy manufacturer/businessman from the early ’70s. He’s an all-around talent, this guy! *** John’s Flight Design West biz in Nevada marketed several LSA including the Flight Design CT and the lovely (and we hope soon-to-be-resurrected) Lambada motorglider.
The Creative Solutions Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization, founded by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh, that just announced his creation of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP). *** In stirring language as quoted to AOPA’s Alton K. Marsh, Lindbergh says, “We are literally teaching the next generation to imagine and create their future.” *** The idea, as we’ve seen in the past with similar contests such as the Orteig Prize (1st Atlantic crossing won by Lindbergh) Kremer Prize (human powered flight – Gossamer Condor), and the X-Prize (1st private suborbital space flight), is to “promote the practical development of electric aircraft by recognizing specific advances in this emerging cleantech (sic) industry.” *** Prizes will be awarded for: *** Best Electric Aircraft: keyword in this category is practical, and it can be an Experimental, LSA or Certified aircraft. *** Best Electric Aircraft Sub-System: component systems that advance the field of electric aircraft *** Best Electric Aircraft Component Technology: Individual components such as batteries, motors, power electronics etc.
Everybody laments the high cost of LSA ownership: here’s an alternative…especially if you like true bugs-in-teeth aviating like our winged forefathers…uh, and foremothers of course…er, forepersons? Sheesh. Staying PC is so last week. *** Manfred Ruhmer, the German hang glider world champion and one-time distance record holder of 435 miles (current record is 444 mi.!), has been working on his own electric-powered trike – named the Icaro 2000 Pit-Trike. *** Chalk up that curious name to translation from the Italian. Maybe it grabs the air like a pit bull? Icaro’s price page calls it Nano Trike – take your pick! *** BTW, a “trike” is a wheeled undercarriage, powered by a pusher-prop powerplant, that allows a conventional foot-launched (or aero-towed) hang glider to fly under its own power. *** The trike unit without hang glider wing lists between $11,000 and $15,000 US, reports my pal Dan Johnson, before shipping, *** and you still have to add your own hang glider – another $3K to $6K.
Last year, I almost got to do a flight report on one of the most enjoyable airplanes I’ve ever flown: an Urban Air Lambada SLSA motorglider. *** Alas, before the magazine could schedule the story, two (not one, but two) Lambadas broke up in flight, both in very strong soaring conditions. *** The design was immediately suspect of course, though plenty of load tests on the Czech Republic design both before and after the incidents had failed to show any structural weakness. *** Both pilots used their onboard ballistic parachutes by the way, which saved both their lives. That’s yet another strong argument right there for onboard parachute systems: no way would they have survived otherwise. *** One breakup was evidently a case of pilot overspeeding – way overspeeding, and during 1500 fpm soaring conditions to boot. Yikes. The other is still under investigation but pilot error is suspect there too.