Jim Weibe is the brains behind the Belite aircraft, some of which meet Part 103 parameters. He also does Belite Electronic superlight instruments. This busy fellow is now also offering amphibious floats, for his aircraft but conceivable for any other aircraft up to 620 pounds. The great news here is that you can’t find many other floats for truly light aircraft and Jim has labored to change that situation … though larger floats will follow.
We don’t have a lot of ultralight helicopter coverage here on ByDanJohnson.com because not many exist. A few have been proposed and prototypes built, but one that’s stood the test of time is the Mosquito. A couple examples flew regularly at Sun ‘n Fun 2013 so we decided to get a static flight lesson on these affordable rotary winged aircraft. Join us on this video and you can learn what we learn as we ask questions of an expert. Plus, get this: Mosquito is available for a bit more than $40,000!
If you’re looking for an airplane that carries a modest cost, you search can be challenging. However, one company almost singlehandedly can solve that dilemma and they can do so with a surprisingly wide range of choices. We spoke with the Sun ‘n Fun, Florida (Lakeland Linder airport)-based distributor for their line and learn about other services provided to light aircraft enthusiasts. You can get flying for less than $10,000 with Fisher.
Get an update on the very handsome F30 from Golden Avio, the very last design from aviation design legend Stelio Frati. To hear the latest we again interviewed Italian compmany representative Luca Ferragatta in the new and improved Paradise City of Sun ‘n Fun 2013. He tells of U.S. distribution, some changes for the American market, plans to gain SLSA approval and more. Come on along and hear more about an airplane that generates strong reviews.
We first looked at the Nando Groppo Trail from Italy at Sebring 2013. At that time, we spoke with the designer Nando Groppo and reviewed the airplane with its easy wing folding mechanism. Just three months later at Sun ‘n Fun 2013, the Trail had won its Special LSA approval and is now available for sale. Speaking with U.S. representative Valter della Nebbia, we heard more about some modest changes to better accommodate the American market.
Aerotrek and their dual models — the A220 taildragger and the A240 trigear — have been an impressive performer in the market share race, steadily moving up our chart. At Sebring 2013, we spoke with U.S. importer Rob Rollison about how these handsome, very well priced Special Light-Sport Aircraft can work in a flight school environment. Having acquired more than 1,500 hours in a training environment, Rob said the Aerotrek still looks and flies great and some European models have more than 4,000 hours. Hear more in this video.
When you want the final word, it’s often best to go right to the top, to the boss. That we did with Kolb Aircraft boss Brian Melborn. In this video shot at the new and improved Paradise City at Sun ‘n Fun 2013, we heard about the Kolb Firefly as a Part 103 ultralight vehicle … but the best news is a factory available ready-to-fly model, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Brian also tells about a few changes to the great flying light aircraft.
Describing the Pipistrel is interesting in three ways: the company name (a story by itself), the LSA industry’s broadest line of composite airplanes; and Pipistrel’s success winning three NASA efficiency contests. The factory in Slovenia is equally impressive. Our video cannot give all the details of this very active company celebrating 25 years in business, but we’ll introduce you to the boss and U.S. importer Michael Coates plus we’ll tell you how to find more.
We’ve seen AMT’s FlyCool light weight, low power draw air conditioning system before in other Light-Sport Aircraft but it had not yet been done in the CTLS. Now US Aviation in Texas has made it happen. They brought the hardware to Sun ‘n Fun and quickly made an installation which we got to experience. Come hear how it was done and how it works. In warm climates the FlyCool system can be a big benefit.
Air Management Technology makes the FlyCool, a lightweight, low power draw, surprisingly effective air conditioning system for Light-Sport Aircraft or light kit aircraft. Formerly air conditioning for a GA airplane was fearsomely expensive (unaffordable, really), weighed a lot, consumed too much engine power and … well, no surprise it didn’t take off. However AMT changed all that with their all electric system. In this video hear how it works on the popular SportCruiser from U.S. Sport Aircraft.
Quicksilver is an iconic brand, having sold more than 15,000 aircraft in its history. Pilots around the world have flown Quicksilvers and many are flying in the USA to include flight schools. In this video we speak with sales director Todd Ellefson about the strutted Quicksilver Sport 2S mated to Puddle Jumper amphibious floats. We speak about the experience of flying the float-equipped 2S model. You can build it in 100 hours, but the company is nearing completion of an fully manufactured SLSA version of this popular aircraft.
All-too regularly I hear people lament the high cost of Light-Sport Aircraft. Indeed, some with all the latest equipment do get up in price, but that does not change the fact that many lower priced aircraft are available. One company, Valley Engineering and their Backyard Flyer series brings several very agreeably priced aircraft to the market. They are kits but in return for some hours of labor you can have a very fun flying machine for a cost nearly anyone can afford. Check out their highest-powered example in this video.
When you think a company has wrung all it could from a design, think again and then once more. First came the CH-701 STOL, which acquired the nickname “Sky Jeep” for its great off-runway capabilities and short take off. Zenith improved that with the CH-750 that featured a wider cockpit among other changes. At Sun ‘n Fun 2013 Zenith unveiled the Cruzer, a non-STOL version of the same airplane now offering faster cruising. We spoke with expert factory pilot Roger Dubbert about the newest variation on this successful theme.
Belite Aircraft rarely sits still. This company,. operated by a man former in the computer industry, knows that constant development of an idea stimulates interest. The latest from James Weibe is the UltraCub and it has two main differences: (1) the main fuselage is of notably different construction and (2) it has a four-stroke engine up front. You can hear the engine and hear more about all the changes to the newest model from Belite on this video.
Beringer is a family company that has been deeply involved with wheels and brakes in the automotive and motorcycle world. But in 2006 the family focused on aircraft (they sold the automotive part) and dedicated its energy in this area. At Aero 2013 we spoke with Claire Beringer to ask about the family business. She shows us their impressive line of premium wheels and brakes and tells us how these have been improved even further.
We all like the idea of owning an airplane, one we call our own and one we are used to flying. The downside is obvious: airplanes can cost a lot and it isn’t fun paying all the costs by yourself. So, how about paying only 1/8th the cost plus have a professional organization handle the business organization of partner ownership? More folks are turning on to this idea and Aviation Access Project leaders explain how it works in this video.
Do you feel like you never heard of SkyLeader? Well, actually you have but you probably know it better as the Kappa KP-5. After losing their early distributor some years ago, the airframe fell off the U.S. radar. Now, with a new distributor in the Jacksonville, Florida area, Americans can once again consider the design. Over those years of absence, the model has been greatly enhanced. Check out the appearance in this video
At Sebring 2013, we made the rounds speaking to sellers of various Light-Sport Aircraft. We asked how their aircraft holds up in flight school instruction use. Some aviation journalists and some general aviation pilots believe LSA cannot withstand the rigors of training. Flight Design USA sales manager John Gilmore assures us the CTLS does very well in flight schools and one has accumulated more than 13,000 landings! Here the rest of the story in this video.
Evektor’s SportStar was the very first to win Special LSA approval and the company since established a long tradition of constantly updating the design (see all our coverage to follow this). The latest, which company designers thought was just a demonstration project, is EPOS, an electric powered version of SportStar. The idea was so well received, they sold 10 at the Aero 2013 show. Here you can see our interview about the details of the electric installation.
Tecnam has likely built more variations on their Light-Sport Aircraft theme than any other company. One of the latest to show was the SeaSky, an amphibious float-equipped version of the P92 Echo Classic that has more than a 20-year history with the company. The floats are also a Tecnam product, a product of the Italian company acquiring a Spanish company with composite technology and equipment. Company rep Tristan Rabb shows us around the new model.
The 20th design from Rans, one of the light aircraft industry’s most prolific innovators, is basically a side-by-side version of the company’s very popular S-7 Courier. As designers and company owner Randy Schlitter explains, their newest model is a combination of several of their models including the highly successful S-6. One of LSA’s most interesting folks, you’ll want to hear Randy talk about the design goals for the new S-20.
Another in our series of full-length video pilot reports focuses on the TL Ultralights TL-3000 Sirius, represented in America by Sportair USA. We provide background on the airplane in this first of two videos; later we’ll take it up for a video in flight session and talk more about flight qualities. The Midwest LSA Expo is an ideal place for these video pilot reports and we did several of them. For more on this Sirius pilot report, see the similarly titled video “2 of 2.”
Bill Canino has imported the TL Ultralights line of Light-Sport Aircraft for many years. The first of their modern line is the Sting and its a series of models that have evolved steadily. In this video we speak with Bill and hear more about this very handsome S4 Sting, which has enjoyed regular innovations. The company also makes the TL-3000 Sirius high wing all composite and Bill’s company SportairUSA sells an entire line of LSA.
Light-Sport Aircraft may only be used commercially in two ways: for paid flight instruction and aircraft rentals. However, if a LSA is bought by a municipality, the U.S. government, or the military, it may be called a “Public Use Aircraft,” and is then exempt from FAA’s prohibition of other commercial use. The Tecnam in this video is fitted with a reasonably low cost, quickly attached camera system that might be used by law enforcement officials. Watch too see how the gear works.
We have almost exclusively two place entries in the Light-Sport Aircraft space. And indeed, the SD-1 Minisport is not presently (in 2013) a LSA officially. For now it’s sold as an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft. What sets this cute little apart from dozens of others is that this is a single place aircraft. On this video we spoke with Tyler Ives, the U.S. importer of this Czech airplane and he tells us what you want to know.
Anybody who organizes an airshow knows one irrefutable fact: you cannot offer these shows with a veritable army of volunteers. Indeed, the light plane area at AirVenture (almost exactly like Paradise City at Sun ‘n Fun) has 225 volunteers, just in this one area of the giant EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event. We speak with Lee Crevier, the present chairman of the light plane area. He helps us pay our respect to that army of volunteers.
The amazing, incredible AirCam … one aircraft you fly in ways you’d never fly in another airplane. How that? AirCam is an open cockpit twin engine airplane that can even take off with only one engine (though don’t do this!). AirCam developer Lockwood Aircraft tested the new fuel-injected Rotax iS engine on one side with a carburetor 912 ULS on the other. How did that work? Watch this video while light aircraft expert John Hurst explains his experience flying this aircraft from Florida to Oshkosh.
Meet the boss … of the season-opening Sun ‘n Fun airshow, John “Lites” Leehouts along with longtime Paradise City chairman, Dave Piper. These two men made the “new and improved” Paradise City area — formerly the Ultralight Area and subsequently the Light Plane Area — a major hit at the 2013 Sun ‘n Fun airshow. Lites took a flight in a ultralight-like Light-Sport Aircraft and describes his enthusiasm for the new area. Hear it all on this video
FK Lightplanes longtime designer Peter Funk once again grabbed the attention of many attendees of Aero Friedrichshafen 2013. His all-composite 70%-scale replica created a sensation with its exquisite attention to “fake” detail. Though built entirely of carbon fiber, FK 51 Mustang has more than 100,000 simulated rivets or screwheads. FK manufacturer Rolland Hallam tells us how it was done.
You might see the Flightstar ultralight in this aircraft and you’d be correct. Now owned by Yuneec International, the design has evolved into the eSpyder, a solely electric-powered aircraft and we believe it is the very first to win certification as an electric airplane (by the German-sanctioned authority called DULV). We speak with Flightstar designer Tom Peghiny about his creation and its systems.
Some of the very lightest aircraft at the huge Aero Friedrichshafen 2013 event were those for hang gliding or light trike flying. They were also electric powered, proving again the idea that lightweight flying machines can employ electric power today. In this video we look at several variations on the theme and hear about special features to make electric power work.
We’ve reported on the Zlin Savage iCub in the past. At Aero Friedrichshafen 2013 we captured a video on the Bobber, a sort of custom version of iCub that deliberately lacks an exterior finish but has other special finishing touches. It can be customized in dozens of ways … much like a “Bobber” motorcycle thereby explaining the choice of names. U.S. importer Bill Canino helps us understand the thinking behind Bobber.
ICP gained brand name awareness primarily with their Savannah model, a short take off and landing airplane that sells for a modest price. We’ve seen it several times but always in tricycle gear. Now at Aero, everyone saw for the first time the new taildragger model from Italy’s ICP. We spoke with company leader Loredana Arisio. We also take a look at their new light aircraft engine with questions answered by engine Andrea Caglio.
BOT Aircraft is the producer of the Speed Cruiser LSA, which we reviewed earlier. In this video shot at Aero Friedrichshafen, we explore the company’s work with the D-Motor aircraft engine. As the launch customer for the powerplant, B.O.T. boss Reiner Tauern reviews with us why he chose the new engine and what buyers might expect of it. In addition, B.O.T. also supports hand controls for pilots who have special needs.
Rotax Aircraft Engines power more Light-Sport Aircraft than any other engine by a wide margin. Around the world, light aircraft of all types depend on the Rotax brand. Any new engine has a warranty but Kodiak, the distributor of Rotax brand to the Americas, has now extended the warranty for all their customers. RFSC rep’ William Burgher also helps Rotax users contact Rotax Maintenance Technicans.
We looked at the handsome Sam LS at Sebring earlier in 2013 but the update at Sun ‘n Fun was that the Sam LS is now flying. The company earned approval under Canadian rules (slightly different than U.S. LSA rules). In this video he tells us some facts and thoughts about flying the new aircraft. Hear directly from the designer who finally flew his own creation; he quotes a few facts and figures.