For years, I have been interviewing suppliers of Light-Sport Aircraft about how functional and durable their SLSA are for flight training. Contrary to what many think many SLSA actually make good trainers (see this recent article). Old timers might think you have to stick with Cessna or Piper to have an airframe built robustly enough to handle student flight training. Those who feel that way are behind the times. LSA are here and now in flight schools. This is a tale, not of two cities, but of two coasts, the Pacific and Atlantic yet the story is unfolding in several other locations, too. Based on multiple flight schools deep into using LSA (as portrayed in the linked article above), current LSA appear more than up to the job. That has been ongoing for some time. The new development that is popping up on the coasts and elsewhere in between are entirely new flight schools, ones organized completely around Light-Sport Aircraft as primary trainers.
The Airplane Factory
Phone: (+27) 11-455-4204Edenvale, -- 1610 - South Africa
This Just In!Follow the Sling TSi LIVE tomorrow, Sunday March 31st, 2019, as the new model flies this route: KTOA – KLAL (Coast to Coast) • Torrance, California to Lakeland, Florida, a distance of 1,900 nautical miles Intended Departure: Sunday at 4 AM Pacific • Landing Florida before 7 PM Eastern in a flight forecast to take "under 12 hours" at a predicted speed of 160 knots (184 mph), at altitude. You can track the flight on FlightRadar24. Why would the boys from The Airplane Factory USA make such a long flight non-stop? Their purpose is "to demonstrate the altitude, true airspeed, and endurance/economy of the Sling TSi." They call out a normal cruise will be at 155 KTAS at 9,500 feet burning eight gallons an hour using the Rotax 915iS. The turbocharged FADEC engine will allow the airplane to climb as high as 20,000 feet. Sling TSi has standard tanks of 45 gallons capacity or optional long-range wing tip tanks that add an additional 22 gallons plus an internal portable tanks of 20 gallons for a grand total of 87 gallons on board. Visit The Airplane Factory USA at Sun 'n Fun and see Sling TSi — you can also arrange a demo flight — at their Sun 'n Fun exhibit spaces N-082 and N-089. Until you can see it in all its aluminum glory, here is a short video to whet your appetite. Also, added since this post went live is a longer-length review of Sling TSi. Click this link to read the report in General Aviation News. https://youtu.be/JVH2Gt0BNEU
This Just In! Follow the Sling TSi LIVE tomorrow, Sunday March 31st, 2019, as the new model flies this route: KTOA – KLAL (Coast to Coast) • Torrance, California to Lakeland, Florida, a distance of 1,900 nautical miles Intended Departure: Sunday at 4 AM Pacific • Landing Florida before 7 PM Eastern in a flight forecast to take “under 12 hours” at a predicted speed of 160 knots (184 mph), at altitude. You can track the flight on FlightRadar24. Why would the boys from The Airplane Factory USA make such a long flight non-stop? Their purpose is “to demonstrate the altitude, true airspeed, and endurance/economy of the Sling TSi.” They call out a normal cruise will be at 155 KTAS at 9,500 feet burning eight gallons an hour using the Rotax 915iS. The turbocharged FADEC engine will allow the airplane to climb as high as 20,000 feet.
Flying The Airplane Factory Sling TSiA year ago, I got to fly the 915 in Wels, Austria at a Rotax journalist event after Aero Friedrichshafen. In two quickly linked flights, they let me compare 915 to 912iS. That was most helpful but I did not know either airframe well so it was challenging to compare performance with my earlier experiences. Now, I have a better picture. At Copperstate a couple years ago I flew Sling 4 with Rotax's 914 Turbo. I was very impressed, feeling it flew as well as the Sling LSA. Dare I admit I actually liked the four seater's flight qualities better than the LSA? Like Sling 4, Sling TSi is not a Light-Sport Aircraft. It cannot be flown with the Sport Pilot certificate. Several reasons explain why, even though the new model closely resembles the Sling LSA. First, it's a four seater. Secondly, it has much higher power. That's allowed but the Rotax 915 engine currently requires a constant speed prop not permitted under LSA regulations — though perhaps in a couple years. The Turbo Intercooled 915iS energized the Sling 4 airframe much more than the 914. The difference was clear. Acceleration was fast, we rolled less than 500 feet and climbed quickly from the start and kept going. Jean d'Assonville and I flew perhaps 300 pounds under gross but CPS Rotax specialist Bryan Toepfer said it did well when loaded to the limit on a flight he experienced. Thirdly, Sling TSi is too fast and too heavy to be a LSA. Here's something important… this is not Sling 4. Oh, it appears so similar that I would not have known without closer inspection. Instead, Sling TSi is a nearly brand-new aircraft from nose to tail, literally. The distinctive Sling nose cowl has also changed subtly, better accommodating the 915 and its new hardware. Aft of the engine compartment, Sling TSi uses dimpled flush rivets on the front portion of the fuselage and on the leading edge of the wings. This clearly works to pick up the speed of Sling TSi without raising its stall speed. The wing itself is a fresh new airfoil and wingspan is about 16 inches shorter on each side. The tailplane has counterbalanced surfaces to reduce chances of flutter given Sling TSi's speedier ways. Aloft we saw 128 knots at modest cruise power and 3,500 feet MSL. Coming out to the show Jean and Wayne reported seeing better than 160 knots TAS and 180 knots GPS groundspeed, thanks to a tailwind. Fuel burn was a bit over six gallons an hour. Climb out of Buckeye (1,000 foot field elevation on a cool day) averaged 1,000 fpm and we saw 1,500-1,800 fpm on successive climbs from a touch and go. Stalls in all configurations were very mild, even with full stick aft and no quick effort of recovery. At full power, Sling TSi would not stall and only wobbled the nose to signal the pilot — well, that and a clearly audible stall warning plus a very steep deck angle. Handling was very responsive but steady with a light touch even in steeply banked 720 turns. My efforts at dutch rolling produced acceptable results either fast or slow. The landing was straightforward. Sling TSi manages energy very well — an LSA-like feel, it had — making roundout and touchdown quite easy. Visibility is good, a very good thing at a busy Buckeye Municipal (KBXK) when numerous airplanes entered the pattern to pay a visit. In all, Sling TSi is a commendable achievement, a further refinement of the original Sling LSA introduced in 2009. In that decade, Sling has delivered more than 500 aircraft, Jean indicated. We recorded a full Video Pilot Report with cameras on and in the airplane. When it's done in editing, this will provide much more detail and very few complaints about The Airplane Factory's Sling TSi. Well done, Mike Blyth and team, well done indeed! Find more factory info on Sling TSi here and catch a video glimpse below. https://youtu.be/JVH2Gt0BNEU
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.
“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.
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.
- LSA sold an estimated 3,000 aircraft in 2015 where in the same year worldwide deliveries of single engine piston certified aircraft numbered 969 units. Also, see the final chart in the above linked article.
- More than 66,000 LSA or LSA-like* aircraft are flying around the globe. Most of these have been sold in the last 15-20 years, a delivery pace far faster than all GA-SEPs. I expect this trend to continue.
* "LSA-like" is a term describing aircraft that very much resemble America's LSA but may not be called that because each country has its own definitions.
A good friend in aviation journalism and Editor-in-Chief of Plane & Pilot magazine is Robert Goyer. We’ve known each long enough to have stood around years ago at South Lakeland Airpark waiting to fly this or that new ultralight. In his Going Direct column earlier this month, Robert wrote an editorial about FAA’s Part 23 rewrite project. Using an LSA viewpoint, I wanted to add some commentary to his observations. My goal here is twofold: (1) Show how success with LSA led to good things for other aircraft sectors, and (2) Show how LSA continue to significantly outpace sales of Type Certified Single Engine Piston aircraft. Robert wrote, “The FAA announced earlier this week that the Part 23 Rewrite has taken effect. This means that the rule, which gives manufacturers leeway to employ what are known as consensus standards to meet airworthiness standards instead of the FAA’s prescriptive rules.
- 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.