Americans have formerly seen the Colyaer Freedom S100 amphibian Light-Sport Aircraft. The long-winged seaplane disappeared from the market after the first U.S. distributor left the business. Now with new representation that we’ll meet, Freedom will call the Lakeland airport home along with the Sun ‘n Fun organization. Spanish owner, Santi, will help us understand the Freedom better and we’ll hear more about their plans.
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In late 2006, the second amphibian to win SLSA approval was Colyaer’s Freedom, after CZAW’s Mermaid. Since these two, the SeaMax also joined the party, and at least two more are in development. Flying boat fans have some sweet choices. Even though we have three today, sales have been modest for a variety of reasons: manufacturing is more complex with retractable gear; marketing to a country the size and diversity of the USA is challenging; and cost of any LSA floatplane is greater than its equivalent landplane (though a fraction of the cost of a Part 23-certified airplane on floats). *** Now, welcome Waterbirds. From the people that bring you the Sting S3, availability will now be better as this new company struck a deal with LSA Aero, importer of the Freedom. Contact Larry Martin stated, “Waterbirds will manage the sales and marketing of Colyaer’s Freedom, while LSA Aero will continue to import the airplane and provide after-sales support.” *** With a wingspan greater than 40 feet, Freedom claims a glide of 20:1, an impressive figure, especially for an amphibian.
On the same day Van first flew his RV-12 LSA and on the same day AOPA’s Expo 2006 opened with a fleet of LSA on display, LSA Aero president Don Langford received #44 SLSA certification for the Freedom from Troy Hart of the Memphis FSDO (photo). The following week Decatur, Alabama-based LSA Aero delivered the first Freedom amphibian to its owner. Langford says the Freedom, part of a family of airplanes based on the design, “is the culmination of eight years of development by Colyaer of Pontevedra, Spain.” The Martin3 landplane and Gannet non-amphib seaplane share the same wing, cabin, tail, and fuselage down to the waterline, added Langford. *** Glide performance from the 40.3-foot wings is said to be 20:1 and this helps keep water runs to a reported 8 seconds. Empty weight with the amphibious gear is 854 pounds but LSA seaplanes can gross at 1,430 pounds yielding a respectable 576-pound useful load.
At big airshows with thousands present, it’s easy to miss one sharp airplane. When I completely missed Sun ‘n Fun 2006, I also lost my second chance to examine the Colyaer Freedom amphib. But the airshow judges were on the job. Colyaer’s amphibious Freedom won Best Composite Seaplane. The same model also won a take-off award. “We were averaging 6 to 8 seconds, even with two people,” said Colyaer’s U.S. importer, Don Langford. *** The Colyaer designs boast some strong performance numbers. In particular, glide is reported at 20:1 and sink rate at 300 fpm. These reach up into sailplane figures but 40.6 feet of span and wing area of 130 square feet surely help…a land version claims 23:1 and only a 240 fpm sink rate! Freedom is built entirely from composite materials (carbon, kevlar, and fiberglass) except for a few metal parts. Colyaer hails from Spain.
Another design has made its way to American shores and will be available for examination at the 2005 Sebring Expo (see the event link to the left of your screen). LSA Aero, an importer based in Tanner, Alabama, is introducing the Spanish designs of Colyaer. The design has three family members, a land plane — the Martin 3; plus two seaplanes, one boat hull and one amphibian — the Gannet and the Freedom. All feature wingspans over 40 feet which provide a strong 20+ glide ratio. They also offer exceptional visibility with a high wing aft of the cockpit.
UPDATE 11/28/21 — Vickers Aircraft sent fresh images and additional comments. See ••• below. —DJ
Excitement is in the air, even as the season wraps up activity here in the USA. Remember, while winter approaches for Americans, summer is coming to New Zealand.
That might explain an information deficit of late from LSA seaplane developer, Vickers Aircraft. People have been asking questions and reports have become infrequent. Uh, oh…!
Fortunately, the quiet period appears to have a good explanation.
Received November 24th, 2021 — “Hi Dan. Sorry (for a delayed response),” wrote Paul Vickers. “We are pushing very hard for a 10 December first flight. We are structurally testing the wing today.”
Often called a “strongback,” Paul refers to the I-beam steel testing jig seen in the nearby photo. “This was custom designed and manufactured by our Wave team,” he added proudly.
••• “Wave is not just another LSA,” clarified Paul in follow-up email.
SeaMax from Brazil has been somewhat absent in recent years. I will spare you the detail but the company used a lot of energy to repel an undesired takeover. In recent months that was resolved and the company is now ready to move forward smartly.
SeaMax was an early LSA to meet the consensus standards as required by FAA. The first was the Mermaid in February 2006. Second was the Colyaer Freedom on January 2007. On Christmas Day 2007, SeaMax became the third.
However, of those three only SeaMax has remained in regular production for the last ten years. More recently, SeaMax was followed by SeaRey, Super Petrel, and A5 as ASTM-compliant LSA seaplanes. See our SLSA List for all aircraft shown in sortable columns.
At Sun ‘n Fun 2017, I did a video interview with designer Miguel Rosario that you can watch below.
Once upon a time, in the early days of Light-Sport Aircraft, way back in 2006 and 2007, new LSA models were being introduced at the torrid pace of two, three, even four per month. Aviation had no prior design outpouring to compare. The rate of development had to slow — such a pace is not sustainable — and it did. Yet the young industry continued on to the astonishing sum of 131 models and it ain’t over yet. Meanwhile, though, a new tsunami is building within the LSA sector. I’ve written about a wave a new seaplanes and as summer 2013 approaches, a tour of the many choices may help guide interest of seaplane enthusiasts.
Current Seaplanes (distinguished from float-equipped land planes *) include FAA-accepted SLSA models: Mermaid, SeaMax, SeaRey, and Freedom. At present all are being offered and have some measure of U.S.
Last month the southern China city of Zhuhai hosted a large collection of aircraft at Airshow China. We’ve been hearing about this once-closed country in matters of aviation so often, I thought it would be something different to show a collection of photos taken by my LAMA Europe colleague, Jan Fridrich. He works for the Czech Light Aircraft Association and you know his name as the man who does the hard work to gather figures for our regular LSA market surveys.
Another associate of mine, Will Escutia, one of the new owners of Quicksilver Aeronautics, also traveled to China recently. Visiting dealer prospects in the north of the large country Will reported that he sees four main forces driving the opening of aviation in China: (1) airspace below 3,000 meters is opening to civilian aircraft; (2) high interest in flying follows that airspace opening; (3) government is concerned about their economy and aviation is seen as helpful; (4) entrepreneurs are jockeying to take early advantage of the burgeoning market.
Good to Go in China Things are happening in China. “So, what’s new,” you say? “We’ve been hearing about China for months.” Things may move slowly in China but this week, Airshow China is happening in the southern city of Zhuhai and my colleague, Jan Fridrich is present. He reports that some LSA are displayed including Triton’s Mermaid and SC3D (based on the SportCruiser), Flight Design’s CTSW, Colyaer’s Freedom, and some other aircraft he is working to identify. Watch for a followup article. Triton is the new China-based factory run by Chip Erwin. ••• LSA leader CubCrafters gained Type Certificate approval in China for their Part 23-certified Top Cub. General Manager Randy Lervold said they have taken no steps with the LSA models but that they expect to pursue that in the future. Meanwhile, though the company announced the sale of two Carbon Cubs in Europe, they are taking a similarly measured approach using Permit to Fly privileges for now.