When Sun ‘n Fun 2022 starts, a signal can be heard ’round the world. The message? It’s time for a new season of recreational flying. After we got the LSA Mall set up to receive a flock of airplanes, I was able to get around the sprawling Sun ‘n Fun campus to see what else I planned to cover as the show begins. It starts Tuesday the 5th and runs through Sunday the 10th. I hope you can make it but if not, I’ll be reporting on the aircraft that I think may interest you. One extra treat — for me and for you: my YouTube partner, Videoman Dave has been able to escape Canada and turned up at Sun ‘n Fun. We’ll return to our usual drill of roving around doing video interviews. I’m happy as Dave is highly knowledgeable about the same kind of aircraft I report and we’ve learned to work well together, making somewhere approaching 1,000 videos.
Satisfying Success!"It was an incredibly emotional moment for the entire Vickers Aircraft team, a moment more than 11 years in the making," said Paul after the first flight was concluded. "December 10, 2012, was when I made the decision and began designing the concept, and began turning a dream into reality by spending money. At this point talk became action." "While much of the aircraft is as it will be in final production, the interior and landing gear are purely functional, allowing us to refine and perfect these areas," explained Paul. As you see in the list below, Wave promises landing gear unlike any other seaplane. "After a series of further test flights, we will be removing the undercarriage and commencing the much-anticipated water testing," said Paul. "Once we have completed the water testing, we will be fitting our revolutionary undercarriage." As the Vickers team observed and as the video appears to show, Wave flew well as soon as it got airborne for the first time. "Seeing how stable Wave was in flight is a true testament to taking the time to get things right," Paul felt. "Always having 'safety' as the key driver for every decision has proven to be an incredibly fundamental corner stone for the Wave project; from who we hire to our suppliers and hardware, safety has led our decisions." Along the way, Vickers has looked at different engines but the New Zealand group settled on the Rotax 915iS with its potent push of 141 horsepower. A turbo charger also help assure more thrust for a seaplane; getting off the water quicker is always desirable. "The Rotax 915iS performed incredibly well," Paul said. "It was smooth and very responsive, coupled with the MT-34 constant speed propellor that is controlled by the RS Flight Systems SLPC (single lever control).
First Flight Notes"Wave performed as expected," Paul reported. "The first flight was limited to 85 knots, and we will be further stretching her legs in the coming weeks as we approach our 120-knot cruise speed." For avionics in the test aircraft as well as in later production aircraft, Vickers had selected Dynon. Other systems will also be offered. "Dynon stepped up very early in our program and have been an incredible support during the installation and system checks, all of which were seamless," Paul said. "Dynon Skyview easily integrated into Wave and provided an abundance of information." Test Pilot's Comment — "The Wave felt great to fly. Handling and performance were both impressive. The test points flown worked out as expected or better," said Prospero "Paco" Uybarreta, a former U.S. Air Force test pilot now the test pilot for Vickers. "Of all the light airplanes I have flown, Wave is now and by far my favorite," said Paco. "Paul and his team have done a spectacular job designing and building Wave. It was an honor and privilege to conduct the first flight. I can’t wait to fly Wave again." "The design team are well on the way to firming up the remaining areas to be productionized," finished Paul, "while the production team is looking at increasing capacity and forward ordering required materials." Congratulations to the Vickers team for taking the time to get it right and for completing a successful first flight, a momentous achievement for any clean-sheet design such as Wave.
What Makes Wave Different?
Wave Design Distinctions (partial list)
- Wave has a landing gear system (named Cross-Over™, patents pending) that is a fixed gear arrangement for both land and water operations. This landing gear system will eliminate accidents when landing on land with gear up, and landing on water with gear down.
- Wave’s egress doors offer increased occupant safety in the event of the aircraft coming to rest inverted (on land or water).
- Light Sport Aircraft are not allowed to use adjustable propellers so to give the pilot more control of the aircraft on the water, around marinas, and other watercraft, Wave has an electric bow thruster.
- Wave has incorporated an airframe emergency parachute as standard equipment.
- Wave has incorporated an angle of attack (AoA) system to enhance stall awareness.
- Wave has incorporated inflatable airbag restraints.
Following is Vickers Aircraft's video on the first flight including some good closeups of the machine… https://youtu.be/qQKlGWCncrk Next is an earlier interview with Paul Vickers where he describes some of his goals. https://youtu.be/hFVTAEYybq8
Long in development to incorporate a raft of distinctive ideas, Vickers Wave took its first flight last month, mere weeks before the launch of Sun ‘n Fun 2022, which kicks off a new flying season. Lead by company namesake, Paul Vickers, Wave has been a work in process for eleven years. All along Paul has been saying he would get it right on the first flight and it looks like he succeeded. He also said that the methods he followed to get this far would speed production significantly. He means that when this airplane would take its first flight, it would not be some cobbled-together, proof-of-concept aircraft. The Wave that just flew should also go very directly into production without the need for another long round of engineering. Look at the images and the video. This looks like a factory production model, not a crude prototype still rough around the edges.
Norden is "Best Yet"About two years ago, Zlin first announced Norden, then with the 100 horsepower 912iS. Now, the model has gone big with the 141 horsepower Rotax 915iS that sends Norden leaping into the air.
“Norden is a high performing, aluminum-wing airplane with electrically controlled leading-edge slats, designed and thoroughly tested for short-field and off-runway capabilities,” Bill Canino said. “It also exhibits good speed and stable cruise characteristics which are unusual in aircraft of this design." While production spools up on the new model, SportairUSA has reserved a limited number of production slots, with delivery scheduled for this year (2022).
Bill worked with FAA representatives to gain acceptance during the fall and winter of 2021-22. “We appreciate the attention to safety that the FAA brings to this process,” said Canino, whose company, SportairUSA, has been a pioneer in the field of Light-Sport Aircraft, serving the experimental and recreational aviation community since 1990.
The newly accepted Savage Norden is already finding willing buyers looking for economy and exceptional performance. SportairUSA has presold seven aircraft and reserved six additional production slots for 2022. More than 50 have been sold worldwide. This early success follows several other models under the Savage brand, for example, Shock Ultra, iCub, and Bobber.
More About Savage Norden
Savage Norden is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Zlin Aviation s.r.o. A highly refined design, Norden is based on the company’s extensive experience designing and building similar aircraft. Earlier versions of Savage aircraft which have been certificated and sold in this country as SLSAs include the Savage Classic, Cruiser, iCub, Nomad, Bobber, Shock, and Shock Ultra (see links above to articles on these aircraft).
"The design of Norden incorporates classic short takeoff and landing (STOL) elements together with innovative concepts tested and proved in previous Zlin products," said Bill. "Pilot feedback, from the Alaskan bush to the deserts of South Africa, played an important role in Zlin’s evolution as a designer and manufacturer of STOL aircraft."
The American version of the Savage Norden is comprehensively equipped with avionics, operational functions and other features that are offered only as options in other locations around the world, believes Bill. SportairUSA’s goal is to provide an aircraft tailored to meet the expectations of a demanding marketplace.
According to Zlin’s founder, Pasquale Russo, “The design target was to offer to the market a new version of our plane with improved STOL performance and with these main characteristics: full metal wing, electrically-operated retractable slats, double slotted flaps, extended range, optimized cruise and low-speed flight characteristics, a wide flight envelope and low pilot workload.” (See extensive feature list below.)Norden comes in at €164,450 (about $180,000 at today's exchange rate) with a 141 horsepower Rotax 915iS. While this will require a budget it is tens of thousands less than a CubCrafter model. It may not be for everyone but it sure will produce some huge smiles for those with the funds. The American version of the Norden will be available for examination in SportairUSA's display (booth 297) at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 scheduled for July 22—31. Get more information about Savage Norden by Zlin. For more info or ordering, contact Bill Canino by telephone at 501-228-7777.
Key features of the Savage Norden:
- Standard Rotax 915iS, turbocharged and intercooled, 141 horsepower engine
- Complete instrumentation including Garmin GPS with ADS-B in, EMS, transponder, VHF radio
- New all aluminum wing design optimized for speed in cruise configuration
- Pushrod double slotted aluminum fowler flaps to 60+ degrees
- Aluminum, electric, retractable leading-edge slats add lift to balance the flaps for extreme low-speed control
- Flattened landing flare lets you see the entire landing site
- All aluminum wing with advanced airfoil, load tested to over 4,000 pounds
- Push rods and ball bearings for the aluminum frise ailerons mean light control pressures
- Basic empty weight less than 900 pounds
- Fuel tank designed for distance travel; 36 gallons useable
- Dual low fuel warning systems
- Large cargo area with optional carbon fiber and external aft access door
- Extended seating space & improved flight controls for comfort and command
- Forward-mounted heavy gear system for hard braking
- Float attachments included in the airframe
- Available Acme Aero Pro shock absorber systems
- Available dual caliper wheels and braking
- Available Airframes Alaska T3 or Acme Aero Stinger tailwheel suspensions
- Available extended aft storage for travel sleeping area
- Available all aluminum, amphibious 1500 Z~Floats for water operation
Welcome to the newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft in the fleet: Savage Norden. The first example is in the United States and headed to its new owner. Norden is #157 on our SLSA List. “It is the best of the several models of LSA that Zlin has ever made,” SportairUSA boss, Bill Canino said of Norden. He proudly announced that Norden received its FAA certificate of airworthiness as a Special LSA. SportairUSA is the distributor and service center for Savage and other sport aircraft in the USA. Because the first customer’s Norden was used to gain FAA acceptance as a Special LSA (that included logging 20 hours), the owner is understandably anxious to receive his new bird so SportairUSA will not be attending Sun ‘n Fun with the model. The first public viewing will be this summer at AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. U.S. Norden #1 will be flown in May to its new home in McCarthy, Alaska, at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains Norden is “Best Yet” About two years ago, Zlin first announced Norden, then with the 100 horsepower 912iS.
Evektor Is #1… ForeverYou may not have heard quite as much from Evektor over the last couple years. That's because they've been head-down puzzling over America's legal system, a challenge for many foreign producers. Based in a different country, some manufacturers feel insulated from lawsuits but given America is by far the world's largest aviation market, well… it's wise to think differently. The legal issue is not the subject of this article, but now that the matter has successfully been resolved, the Czech producer is back in action and raring to go. For the three U.S.-based representatives — Steve Minnich's Dreams Come True, or Art Tarola's AB Flight, or Steve Treretola's western dealership, Sunrise Aviation — the cloudy skies have given way to bright sunshine and a warmer climate. One thing no one can ever take away from Evektor is their #1 position as the first Light-Sport Aircraft ever to be accepted by FAA seventeen years ago at Sun 'n Fun 2005. Evektor and Flight Design, with the SportStar and CT respectively, were the first two LSA accepted at an opening day ceremony and Evektor was the very first. Starting almost immediately, Evektor proved to be a winner in flight school operations and that success obviously continues.
Big New Order LoggedRecently, Evektor in the USA booked an order for a dozen new Evektor Harmony LSA with the potential for as many as 100 more. Such numbers in Light-Sport aviation are more than attention-getting. This is a big order. Good for Evektor but good for all in the LSA community. Stronger manufacturers means better service and more innovation for all customers. Jet Access began as a jet-share organization but realized that building their flight school operation was a worthy path to follow. Anyone paying attention to an impending pilot shortage is already aware of this potential. This Indiana company runs established flight schools and has plans to acquire more. "They plan to equip all these with Evektor aircraft, which they've seen as a great training aircraft that produces better pilots quicker and costs much less to operate than brand new or legacy GA designs," said Steve Treretola. "We'll also have some interesting news at Sun 'n Fun," predicted Art Tarola. As the season-opening show begins, make your way to Evektor's display near the turf runway in Paradise City (space LP-001) to learn more. John Mauch, Jet Access' Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Operations said, "We are the 10th largest charter in the world based on flight hours. Jet Access is the only vertically integrated aviation enterprise at a national scale. We do charter, Part 91 jet management, brokerage, FBO management, full service Part 145 MRO, Part 61 and 141 flight training with collegiate program management." "Headquartered in Indianapolis, Jet Access has chosen Evektor for the same reason organizations have chosen primary trainers for the last 100 years: they are two-place, light and frisky, durable, easy-to-fly and maintain, with a high dispatch rate, plus low fuel burn and operating costs," explained west coast rep', Steve Treretola. "The Evektors are technically advanced aircraft with glass cockpits and autopilots," echoed John. He added, "This prepares our students for modern piloting that improves safety, while still focusing on stick and rudder skills due to flight characteristics of the Evektors. They’re also larger inside than legacy trainers with far better visibility and cabin airflow." With airplanes Jet Access has on order for Q3 2022 delivery, they will operate about 80 aircraft, the company elaborated. John Mauch is an ATP instructor with experience in Cessna, Piper, and Cirrus models. He instructed for Larry Gehrig's Sport Pilot Chicago for three years. "After flying Evektors John had no desire to return to the previous 'standard' flight school aircraft," said Steve Minnich of Evektor dealer Dreams Come True. Sport Pilot Chicago continues seven-day-a-week operation with three Evektors: a Sportstar, Sportstar SL, and a Harmony. "The Evektor fleet has amassed over one million flight hours," Steve Treretola added. "Evektor is built using traditional metal construction, has a fuel burn of four gallons per hour, and has a 2,000-hour engine TBO making it an ideal 21st century successor to the famous trainers of the past including the ubiquitous Cessna 150 and 152 plus the Piper Cherokee series." Treretola observed that Jet Access chief pilot, John Mauch has amassed several thousand hours instructing in Evektor Harmony and knows the brand well. "With that experience, Jet Access felt comfortable placing an initial order for a dozen Harmony aircraft and has optioned a total of 100 [with delivery] spread out over a number of years," Steve reported.
About Evektor Harmony"Evektor currently has delivered 1,400 LSA worldwide," Steve noted, adding that "half of them are in flight schools or aero clubs." The balance are owned by individuals, he said. Why are Evektor models so popular in flight schools? It might not be what you think, given that nearly all pilots trained in American schools over the last half century have learned on yoke-equipped aircraft. "These are great stick and rudder platforms," Steve Treretola explained. "They create good pilots." Properly equipped, Evektor's LSA can qualify as TAA, or Technically Advanced Aircraft, and are thereby suitable for not only primary but instrument and commercial training. Evektor is a leading design, engineering and aircraft manufacturing group from the Czech Republic. It has become one of the world´s most recognized manufacturers of Light-Sport Aircraft whose factory in the south of Czech has been in aircraft production since 1936. It makes sales in 40 countries and employs a staff 400 people. Evektor has gone far beyond LSA with their four seat Super Cobra (nearby photo) developed some years ago and a twin-engine turboprop regional airliner called EV-55 Outback. These are far outside my coverage of aviation but show the depth of experience and knowledge within Evektor. Years ago I visited their factory in Kunovice, Czech to see them building the SportStar LSA. It was an impressive facility and the region is highly aviation oriented so an abundance of talented workers is available. Evektor is also very active in design and development work for the automotive industry. I hope to see you at Sun 'n Fun 2022 coming in mere days as this is written. If you can't make it, stay tuned to this website and I'll do my best to keep you informed. Watch for a preview article coming soon…
Did you read “Jet Access” and think this article was not for you? I get that but please read further. Jet Access is not about airlines or military. It isn’t even about jet engines or biz jets. It is about flight school operations and which aircraft the operators find optimal. Spoiler Alert: Light-Sport Aircraft win. Here’s the question of the hour: “Why are leading flight schools world wide choosing Evektor LSA to replace their aging legacy fleet of flight training aircraft?” The question is posed by Evektor’s U.S. Director of Fleet Sales, Steve Trerotola. Answers follow… Evektor Is #1… Forever You may not have heard quite as much from Evektor over the last couple years. That’s because they’ve been head-down puzzling over America’s legal system, a challenge for many foreign producers. Based in a different country, some manufacturers feel insulated from lawsuits but given America is by far the world’s largest aviation market, well… it’s wise to think differently.
Foot-Launched AviationBefore Part 103 came out, FAA initially said such "powered hang gliders" — as people, especially FAA, regarded them then — had to be foot launched. Pilots were not supposed to roll off on wheels. The very earliest of such aircraft didn't even have wheels. Think of John Moody and his foot-launched 10-horsepower Easy Riser. This beloved pioneer of ultralight flying still demonstrates that method at airshows and it's a crowd pleaser. I recall some truly hilarious moments as I watched this or that chief pilot for an ultralight manufacturer trying to demonstrate how he could stagger into the air while supposedly foot launching his aircraft. Hint: more often than not, that pilot dragged some part of the aircraft along the ground while attempting to run a few steps with the engine going full blast to hopefully lift him aloft before he stumbled. It was probably dangerous and only a strong pilot could manage the athletic feat once aircraft grew past literal hang gliders with an engine bolted on somewhere. Chuck decided to come out with his own Part 103 ultralight… but his would be fully enclosed. Shocking, right? The pilot had no chance to foot launch as he or she could not put their feet on the ground. No one else dared to make a fully enclosed ultralight for fear of running afoul of FAA inspectors. Fortunately, the foot-launch rule gave way to Part 103 and one reason why ultralights look the way they do today is because of Chuck's courage in offering a trend-smashing aircraft.
CGS Hawk, the OriginalWork is progressing to restore Hawk Prototype #1. Hawk Single & Ultra owner Bob Santom wrote, "Our renovation of Hawk #1 will not be complete for the Sun 'n Fun 2022 show, but it should be 100% by Oshkosh." Woo, hoo! EAA is working on plans to make a celebration of Part 103's 40th anniversary and Hawk #1 showing at the big summer show will be highly appropriate. You can come see the work-in-process in a couple weeks at Sun 'n Fun 2022. Bob announced, "We plan to have the fuselage and some components on display at our vendor's site during the show." How did Bob and son LB happen to obtain Hawk #1? As old enough readers may recall, Hawk #1 won Best New Aircraft Design at Sun 'n Fun 1982. The design went on to win many other awards at subsequent airshows and competitions. The storied aircraft last flew down Paradise City's grass runway in April of 2006, just before Chuck donated it to the Sun 'n Fun museum at Lakeland Linder Airfield. A few years later, "Tim Williamson and his wife Laura were at Sun 'n Fun, and visited the museum to see Hawk #1," Bob related. "To Tim and Laura's dismay, Hawk #1 was not on display. After questioning one of the museum's staff members, Tim and Laura were told that Hawk #1 was in storage, which happened to be outside behind the museum building." A longtime friend of the Slusarczyk family, Tim was bound and determined to save Hawk #1 from disintegrating in the Florida sun. "As I understand it," Bob said, "Tim negotiated with the Museum staff to acquire Hawk #1, so long as it was never flown again, and Tim's intention was to move the plane to his personal hangar in Florida, with plans for a future renovation." Bob continued, "After the acquisition, Tim and Laura moved to Tennessee and took Hawk #1 with them, storing it in Tim's rented hangar, again with the intention of renovating her someday. "Unfortunately, and tragically, Tim was killed in a light aircraft crash on September 10, 2020, in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Laura was not able to keep the hangar and moved Hawk #1 to a barn at her home. "Since Tim and Laura were longtime Hawk fans," Bob remembered, "our paths crossed after we acquired the single seat and ultralight manufacturing rights. Conversations ensued about how most everyone believed that Hawk #1 was a very important and historical airplane, worthy of preservation. As [one of] the first true three-axis ultralight-type flying machines that literally and positively changed our industry for many years to come, restoring #1 is a tribute to Chuck as well as all of the Hawk faithful." "Via mutual Hawk enthusiasts and after spending time with Laura, we bought Hawk #1 and transported her back to our shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida," explained Bob.
Come See #1 for YourselfWhile the restoration is not yet complete, bringing Hawk #1 to Sun 'n Fun this April is fitting as this is the 40th anniversary of when she won best new aircraft design in 1982. Bob credits progress on the Hawk #1 restoration project to "a lot of help from the Hawk Faithful." Being authentic means installing the correct original engine used on Hawk #1. Bob and LB report a Cuyuna 430 engine has been refinished, rebuilt, and test run. It looks and sounds great. "Gary Grimm from Weston, Ohio, performed that rebuild for us and wouldn't take a dime," Bob stated, "as he felt strongly that bringing Hawk #1 back to life for the 2022 airshows was a great way to pay tribute to CGS Hawk and to Chuck personally." An original 60-27 wooden Culver Prop was sent out to Alaina Lewis from Valley Engineering in Rolla Missouri (also the company behind the since-discontinued Backyard Flyer). She refinished that original prop for the project, again with then understanding that the prop will not be used in flight. Alaina did a wonderful job; it is beautiful. The instrument panel was removed and refinished, as were all of the original instruments, even keeping the same mismatched screw types in their respective locations. We have even replicated the sign sitting on the seat while parked at Sun 'n Fun 2006, as well as the decals & tail numbers. "When my son, LB, and I were stripping down the painted fuselage," Bob recalled, "we discovered a weight and balance method used by Chuck and team. The horizontal tail post of the rudder was filled, from bottom to top, with buck-shot, presumably for additional tail weight. While it was not possible to capture all of the buckshot as they rolled all over the shop floor, we did save a bunch of them to bring to the show in a plastic bag for all to see." "We talked several times with longtime sailmaker Dick Cheney about replicating Hawk#1's Dacron wing coverings. Dick remembered that Chuck's sister made the very first set and we are keeping our fingers crossed that his patterns will be a close fit," admitted Bob. They have the replacement sails, but have not yet installed them while other work progresses. Hawk Single & Ultra (the business) plans a gathering/celebration for the Hawk Faithful in honor of their 40th year anniversary at Sun 'n Fun. While that is an invitation event, Bob and LB invite attendees to stop by our vendor site (LP-44 in Paradise City) to check out this noteworthy element of ultralight history. "My personal toast to Chuck has been stated many times before," Bob emphasized. “Thank you, Chuck, for a wonderful airplane, and the opportunity to be the temporary caretaker of this wonderful flying machine, until it's time for someone else to carry the company flag for future generations to come.” Sun 'n Fun 2022 should have many aircraft to grab your attention but you should surely make your way to see Part 103 history in aluminum and Dacron. C'mon down to sunny, warm Florida. We're only a couple weeks away!
Gotta Have Two Seats? — Pilots seeking a two-seat Hawk should note that those models are available brand new but from a different business. Bob Santom and his son LB only do the single-place models under the name Hawk Single & Ultra — while CGS Aviation builds all the two-place models including the Special LSA version. Both are active businesses.
I can remember firsthand when one of aviation’s true characters — Chuck Slusaczyk, of Chuck’s Glider Supplies or CGS — brought his first Hawk to Sun ‘n Fun. As this article illustrates, that was 40 years ago! Yes, fellow fun flyers, 2022 is the year aviation celebrates the 40th anniversary of Part 103 and the emergence of the “ultralight vehicle.” One of the ground-breaking designs that year (1982) was the CGS Hawk. When Chuck introduced this flying machine, he broke some of the rules and went on to sell more than 2,500 of the popular series. What rules did he break? Foot-Launched Aviation Before Part 103 came out, FAA initially said such “powered hang gliders” — as people, especially FAA, regarded them then — had to be foot launched. Pilots were not supposed to roll off on wheels. The very earliest of such aircraft didn’t even have wheels. Think of John Moody and his foot-launched 10-horsepower Easy Riser.
World-Leading TecnamAfter 18 years of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tecnam brand can claim to be the largest aircraft producer in this sector. The Italian company has gone beyond LSA with a four seat, Part 23-certified aircraft (P2010) and an 11-seat commuter aircraft (P2012) yet the LSA sector remains vital to their enterprise. Numerically, they've sold many more of these than the higher end models. With a whole stable of handsome aircraft — this complete re-work of their best-selling P92 Echo is simply gorgeous — P2008 stands out to many pilots as one of the shapeliest Light-Sport Aircraft in the global fleet …and given many beautiful LSA, that is truly saying something. Since it had been some years since I'd flown the P2008 I've long admired, when a Spruce Creek airport friend and fellow LSA pilot asked if I wanted to take a flight in his new bird, I jumped at the chance. While Roger decides what he will do with his '650 (he's keeping it for now), he looked for an airplane he could enjoy with his wife and the striking aircraft in the nearby photos was his choice. I won't divulge his exact purchase price but with a new P2008 passing $200,000 when well equipped, Roger saved many tens of thousands by buying a used aircraft. He bought well; a glance shows this P2008 appears almost new, inside and out. Although Roger scored a superbly-equipped, low-time P2008 (and paid a bit more for it), at least one other for sale, a 2009 model is asking $117,500 in early 2022. Honestly, a used example is a way many pilots could acquire one of these sharp airplanes. Roger is a LSR-M LSA mechanic. Open the engine compartment doors and you'll see an engine so clean and tidy it looks like it has never been run. If you have the mechanical aptitude and training Roger has, your airplane ownership can be much more affordable. (Note that Roger also does maintenance work on the RV-12 I am flying these days.)
P2008 DescriptionP2008 is a conventional configuration, strut-braced high-wing design originally prepared for the American market. Learn more in the video below but Tecnam's P2008 differs from earlier models following their acquisition of a composite specialty company. Not long after, the Italian manufacturer mated a carbon fiber fuselage and tailplane to wings and control surfaces made of aluminum. P2008 is #106 on our SLSA List. Tecnam's wing for the sleek P2008 is fairly conventional constant-chord shape except for a pinching at the wingroot/fuselage junction. Outboard, the trailing edge is gently tapered with slightly upturned wing tips. Frise ailerons span the outboard sections with discreet slotted flaps inboard. A single lift strut on each side braces the wings to the lower fuselage. On its tail P2008 has a stabilator-style constant-chord tailplane. Its vertical fin is gracefully swept. Although Roger's P2008 has the turbo 914 engine, most P2008s are powered by Rotax's 912ULS. While Roger's P2008 has a three-blade prop, most models come with a two-blade propeller. Cloth-covered seats match a fully-appointed interior that bares no metal or composite, hiding all linkages out of sight. An aft baggage space can hold 44 pounds. For P2008, Tecnam engineers enlarged both the cabin and doors aiding entry and exit and making your time aboard more comfortable. Either seat can be moved fore and aft at any time. Fixed tricycle gear uses spring cantilever main legs and a castoring, non-steerable nosewheel with compressed rubber suspension. You steer on the ground using differential braking. P2008's first flight took place September 30, 2008 and the first P2008 was delivered to the U.S. in December 2009. All Tecnam models are revered for their "natural" handling. This is one of the most straightforward-flying LSA in the fleet. It can function as a capable cross country aircraft or could be used in flight training, though probably not with the turbocharged Rotax 914. In my flight, the turbocharger added a very noticeable boost to depart the runway and enhances initial climb rate generously. We saw more than 1,200 feet per minute at near-sea-level operation. When you increase power, a detent you can feel with your throttle hand alerts you that the turbo is about to be engaged. After five minutes of use — enough to get to 5,000 feet or so — you need to back off the turbo but could employ it again for enroute climb or operations at very high elevation airports. While a more complex installation with somewhat higher maintenance needs, Roger says the 914 is quite easy to operate. No wonder Tecnam has risen to be the largest builder of very light aircraft. If you are in the market for a luxury-class LSA, a P2008 on the used market could be your next airplane.
Tecnam Aircraft P2008 (non-turbo) TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS all data supplied by the manufacturer
- Length — 22.87 feet (6,97 m)
- Height — 8.76 feet (2,67 m)
- Wingspan — 29.5 feet (9 m)
- Maximum Take Off Weight — 1,320 pounds (600 kg)
- Empty Weight, standard configuration — 827 pounds (375 kg)
- Useful Load — 496 pounds (225 kg)
- Baggage Capacity — 44 pounds (20 kg)
- Fuel Capacity — 32 U.S. gallons (123 lt)
- Max Cruise Speed — 128 knots (237 km/h)
- Stall Speed (flaps down, power off) — 39 knots 72 km/h
- Takeoff Roll — 600 feet (183 m)
- Landing Roll — 568 feet (173 m)
- Rate of Climb — 800 feet per minute (4,06 m/sec)
- Range — 514 nautical miles (952 km)
- Engine Manufacturer — Rotax 912ULS
- Engine Power — 100 horsepower
- Propeller — 2-blade fixed pitch
- Fuel Consumption — 4.5 gallons per hour (17 lt/h)
- Fuel Type — Mogas and Avgas
Pilot, builder, owner Roger Jennings is singular in an uncommon way. He has built and loves to fly a Zenith CH-650 but he recently bought a used Tecnam P2008. You could say he goes both ways. Most of us, including your author, tend to fly only fully-built aircraft while another group of equal size enjoys the building process — or at least this is a more affordable path to airplane ownership. Roger truly enjoys his ‘650 on which he mounted a potent 130-horsepower Viking Aircraft Engines powerplant. “It climbs 2,000 feet per minute!” What red-blooded pilot can’t love that? The ‘650 is a low wing, however, and while Roger still loves it, his wife preferred a high wing. They’re easier to enter and offer some shade in Florida’s warm, sunny climate. World-Leading Tecnam After 18 years of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tecnam brand can claim to be the largest aircraft producer in this sector.
Coming: Air Command's New Single Seat GyroplaneIf you've been around Light-Sport Aircraft aviation for a while, you already know the Air Command brand. Some with long memories may recall problems. Before the more recent wave of interest in gyroplanes, Air Command was a significant player. Sales were good but accidents happened. After founder Dennis Fetters sold the company, a successive owner tackled the issues. To this day, some speak ill of Air Command but that is out-of-date information. Back in the early 1990s, aeronautical engineer Harold Smith took over the design. With his son Doug, they examined the original Air Command design and determined it should not be flown due to the possibility of Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO). In a safety bulletin Harold stated the old Air Command gyroplanes were not airworthy unless alterations were made. Ultimately, the Smiths issued three key corrections to solve design issues (dual-redundant masts, a joystick control system to replace the "pump-stick," and horizontal stabilizers). Read more about the problems and fixes at this website. The Air Command brand dates to 1979 with first flight in April 1984. In early days, Air Command claimed to be selling two gyroplane kits per day. "More than 2,500 production gyroplane kits were sold worldwide," said company officials. "Air Command is the longest running gyroplane company in the United States," they added.
I am longtime enthusiast of single place aircraft. Clearly, I am not alone. In fact, the number of pilots showing an interest in single-place aircraft has been growing fast according to several ways of estimating such interest. When you fly solo you can operate your flying machine the way you want — well… within the laws of physics and the laws of FAA (or whatever national CAA you must obey). What you don’t need to do is worry about a passenger. Single place aircraft are commonly much more affordable. Despite following single place aircraft closely, even I have been astounded at steadily increasing interest in single place aircraft over the last few years. Although significantly out of sight of many aviators, single place aviation has been growing faster than you imagine. Some pilots actually think Part 103 “died” a couple decades back. I don’t know how it feels to be that wrong, but they are.
Icon Will Continue ProductionIt's very rare for an aircraft in the space I always report to appear in the Wall Street Journal that I read for mainstream news. However, one of the paper's articles discussed a case brought before CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., by a group led by original Icon founder, Kirk Hawkins. "Feuding investors … are firing off allegations against each other," started one of two lengthy articles by Kate O'Keeffe. "A group of American shareholders fell out with Chinese investors who hold a dominant stake in Icon, alleging they are improperly transferring the company’s technology to China." After Icon raised money from various investors, Chinese funds became the dominant source of cash for the California developer of the A5 LSA seaplane. Find the original article here (but only WSJ paid subscribers can read the full article). In filing a lawsuit appealing to Cfius, which reviews deals on national-security grounds, dissenting shareholders told the panel that Icon’s technology has possible military applications. O'Keffee wrote that Hawkins and the others cited "a previously confidential Pentagon program looking at turning Icon’s planes into unmanned aerial vehicles." Icon’s Chinese backer is Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., a government-backed firm known as PDSTI. Kirk remains on Icon’s board even after PDSTI ousted him as chief executive. Icon's current leadership answered saying, "A5 is suitable for spending a fun afternoon on a lake, not for military missions." "PDSTI’s investment in Icon started out small in 2015," O'Keeffe reported "but by 2017, it had amassed its current nearly 47% stake, according to filings to Cfius and in the separate Delaware lawsuit by the American shareholder group." According to O'Keeffe's article, the minority shareholders were seeking as much as a $60 million buy-out of their interest by PDSTI, though this is not from official court documents. “No unresolved national security concerns,” were found by Cfius noted O'Keeffe as she reported the latest news on March 1, 2022. The panel added that action with respect to the deal “is concluded.” Lawsuits and government regulatory decisions are serious matters but they pale in comparison to bomb threats…
Flight Design and its Ukraine FactoryI hardly need to say more than Flight Design does its primary fabrication in a town called Kherson in the south of Ukraine. Until very recently, you may not of been able to find that on a map, but recent events have changed perspectives significantly. It's also changed how business is done for Flight Design. To inform the situation, Flight Design USA importer, Tom Peghiny made the rounds with large aviation outlets via a video appearance on AOPA TV and though an interview reported online by the newly-reformulated Flying magazine. AOPA — Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association journalists Dave Hirschman and Tom Horne wrote about difficulties for Flight Design after Russia began their attack. "The Flight Design factory is located in Kherson, a city of 300,000 people in the southeastern portion of Ukraine, where Russian troops took control after overcoming days of resistance in a spirited defense by Ukrainian defenders," wrote AOPA. "Russian tanks patrolled the streets on March 2, Reuters reported, though Kherson remained the only city under Russian control." “At this point, there are about 10 to 12 airframes at the Kherson plant,” Peghiny said to AOPA. "Ordinarily, the airframes would be sent to Flight Design’s final assembly and completion center in the city of Šumperk in the Czech Republic." “We’ve found a new, 25,000-square-foot site [in Šumperk that is] suitable for use as a production and paint shop, and will use that in the future,” Peghiny said in the AOPA article. Engineering work is also conducted in Šumperk. "Flight Design is offering to move its Ukraine staff and their families to the Šumperk facility," AOPA wrote. "Peghiny said that the Kherson plant will function as long as conditions allow. However, tooling currently remaining in Kherson will have to be replaced by newly manufactured tooling for use in Šumperk. The company will fund new tooling, but it may take six to nine months to build." AOPA TV had Tom on to talk about Ukraine. Follow this link and see timecode 4:08–7:04 for the whole interview. As Tom notes in his remarks, this is personal not only for Flight Design employees suffering through this military action. Officially, they are behind Russian lines and are OK but what lies ahead is uncertain. Flying magazine — "A week into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Flight Design USA’s president Tom Peghiny reports that — with the Russian forces occupying Kherson three days ago — work has ceased as the company looks to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its workforce," wrote Julie Boatman for Flying magazine (full original article). "Flight Design employs just under 200 technicians, assemblers, and engineers currently at the Kherson plant," continued Boatman, "and according to Peghiny, the company has been ramping up that number. 'We were hiring more aggressively in the past year because of the popularity of the F2, but the other models in the range have been selling well in Europe — simpler, lighter models in particular,' Tom said." Of course, Tom refers to the CT-series including CTLS that is one of the most popular LSA in America. “We know [our employees] very well,” Peghiny said in Boatman's article. “Some have been with the company more than 20 years. We’re good friends, and we take this very personally.”
Aeroprakt Also AffectedAOPA also contacted Dennis Long, importer for the well-selling A22 and A32 LSA made in Kyiv, Ukraine that is presently under attack. Dave Hirschman wrote, "Dennis Long, a dealer for Aeroprakt… said he spoke with factory officials who said they plan to remain on the job. 'They told me they’re going to keep making airplanes until they can’t'," AOPA reported. 'For the time being, it’s business as usual, although my next two airplanes will likely have to be shipped from Poland because the port of Odessa [in Ukraine] is closed.'” Aeroprakt has steady registered more aircraft with the FAA. When asked by AOPA's writer, Dennis said, "Right now, due to all the uncertainty, I’m not taking any new deposits. I’m more concerned about the people over there than the airplanes at this moment." My View — I have personally visited Aeroprakt in Kyiv and Flight Design in Kherson, Ukraine. While the battle rages on between political and military leaders in Russia and the Ukraine, the regular citizens building the airplanes many Americans enjoy are under immense duress. I hope you'll join me in wishing for the safety of these airplane builders. The sooner hostilities end, the better.
Two wildly divergent events occurred in the last few days. They are completely unrelated yet they show the global interplay in modern light aviation. One story involves relative newcomer Icon Aircraft and their A5 LSA seaplane. The other revolves around the producer of the most successful LSA in America, Flight Design. Both airplane producer stories made it into mainstream media. If we go way back in time, to 2003, that is, before Light-Sport Aircraft, we saw a world where Americans flew kit-built airplanes while European pilots were flying what they called ultralights or microlights. Of course, this is an oversimplification but we had no idea the two methods of production would converge as they have in the last two decades. Using widely-accepted consensus standards, Light-Sport Aircraft can operate in multiple countries — thanks to the useful work of many volunteers that assembled and maintain ASTM standards embraced by FAA and other CAAs all over the planet.
A steady stream of readers ask about motorgliders. This is one of recreational aviation's most interesting aircraft types. Motorgliders can soar reasonably well for those interested in working thermals or ridge lift to ascend without motor noise.Many others might never shut down the engine and soar but are intrigued with efficient cross country flying. In a motorglider, a pilot can be more confident as the aircraft can glide far further than other types, providing a broader safety margin. From a one-man operation comes the Italian Piuma Project. Designer and builder Tiziano Danieli describes his creations as "a friendly family of ultralight* motor gliders."
Trouble Is… Motorgliders Are Expensive …Or, Are They?Fully manufactured LSA motorgliders may get you airborne quickly whereas you need to build your Piuma, but the factory-built version will cost substantially more. I've written about Pipistrel's Sinus, Ekolot's Elf, Distar's SunDancer, the Phoenix Air motorglider, and even the kit-built Sonex Motorglider, among several others (even more here). Most of these will cost multiples of the cost of a Piuma homebuilt motorglider. If you’d like a motorglider without the big bill, Tiziano's Piuma series might be just what you are seeking. "As readers will see on the website, I am not a company, but only a passionate pilot / designer / builder of ultralight motor gliders in wood and fabric for personal use who has decided to sell the construction plans to finance his passion," related Tiziano. "Now I am retired, but … being a technician by training, this allowed me to document technical texts in order to first perform the structural calculations of the elements making up the aircraft and then design and build the objects of my hobby." Tiziano fulfilled his dream — with a lot of effort — and he is willing to share that effort via a plans set and descriptions of materials needed. Readers who want to save money acquiring a motorglider may finally have a good option: the Piuma Project — composed of five models, the Original, Evolution, Tourer, Twin Evolution, and Almerico. The latter two are two seaters, though Tiziano admits his primary interest is the single place model. "The first idea was to design, to build and to fly a little one seat ultralight motorglider, for personal use, very safe in flight, simple in the construction, and easy to pilot,” said Tiziano. "I wanted it to have flight characteristics and comfort higher than various tube-and-fabric ultralights of that time." (This was at the end of the '80s.) The first flights of the Piuma Original date back to 1990. This was followed with the Tourer.
Piuma designs have a significant history, yet Tiziano saw value in upgrading his plans and info package. "Given growing interest in minimal ultralights,” Tiziano reported, “in 2021, the drawings of the Original Piuma, the Construction Manual, and also the Project Book were improved with new photos, all now available also in English language." Based on my scouring every page of his website, I can attest his command of English is excellent. When you examine Piuma's website, you will even find English measurements, unusual for a European developer.
Touring Piuma MotorgliderPerhaps a majority of pilots interested in motorgliders will rarely fly them as soaring machines. With long, slender wings, gliders and motorgliders have an elegant, graceful look and are efficient aircraft with low fuel usage per mile flown. A Piuma Tourer confirmed the suitability of the name by flying from Venice to Sicily one year (1,250 kilometers or 776 miles) and from Venice to Paris another year (900 kilometers or 560 miles). These flights confirm, Tiziano said, "that even with a small motorglider, I can do great trips." He has also designed and drawn two-seater versions: the Piuma Twin, later replaced with the Piuma Twin Evolution, that incorporates all the improvements suggested during nine years of Piuma Twin construction: a 20 centimeter (8 inch) longer front fuselage, for better balance without ballast and a rear fuselage similar to the single seat Piuma Evolution. The designer's interest and that of many potential buyer/builder may remain with the single seat models. Not only will they be less costly but with only a single seat, pilots need only satisfy themselves.
Constructing PiumaTiziano sells neither completed motorgliders nor kits. These are "scratch-built" aircraft, meaning that builders have to acquire all the materials and follow drawings to build any of the Piuma models. “Construction time depends on the builder's meticulousness,” said Tiziano. “Normally, about 1,000 hours are sufficient for a person with limited woodworking experience to complete the work. Plans are composed of large technical sheets (24 x 40 inches) with lots of details.” “Some component elements require the use of a lathe and/or milling machine, but most of the construction may be built without special tools. It is very easy,” said Tiziano. He completed his Piuma Original after 18 months of work, in a two-car garage measuring 21 feet long and 13.2 feet wide. Drawings show multiple views and have all the details. A "Construction Book" is provided with instructions and references to the drawings that explain more details relating to each model. Drawings and the book also note all the materials to be purchased specifying the quantity and quality of each necessary element, from the aviation birch plywood to the aluminum alloy parts and including Dacron fabric, glues, and more. A "Project Book" is not necessary for the normal builder, but it is very important for those who want to know the project better. The Project Book contains design considerations; lots of drawings of the fuselage, wings, tail, and more; structural calculations; plus flying characteristics and speeds. The construction plan set sells for $200-$400 (each model is somewhat different in price) in early 2022. Tiziano reported, "The cost of materials, excluding engine and instruments, is around $4,000 (at 2020 prices).” Based on that number my guesstimate for total price with a used Rotax two-stroke engine, basic analog instruments, and minimal paint might be $15,000 or less.
How This Gets Interesting After Mosaic Is ReleasedProfessional build centers have been highlighted as one of Mosaic’s many aspects. Everyone including FAA recognizes that kits built with oversight from people who know the aircraft and the process of construction makes for better, safer airplanes. Because safety is FAA's main consideration, professional builder-assist centers are expected to part of the new regulation. I have been predicting we will see the NPRM by Oshkosh 2022 (mere months away now).
- Wing span — 38.4 feet(34.1 feet)
- Total wing area — 125 square feet (99 square feet)
- Aspect ratio — 11.2:1
- Dihedral — 3°
- Total tailplane area — 17.2 square feet
- Length overall — 19.4 feet
- Height — 4.6 feet
- Empty weight — 320 pounds
- Max take-off weight — 518 pounds (550 pounds)
- Useful load — 198 pounds
- Max wing loading — 4.14 pounds per square foot
- Recommended load factors — +3.4 / –1.2
- Ultimate load factors — +6.8 / 2.5
- Max level speed — 51 knots (81 knots)
- Normal cruising speed — 43 to 48 knots (73 knots)
- Stalling speed — 26 knots (34 knots)
- Never exceed speed — 65 knots
- Best glide ratio with power off — 17:1
- Take-off — 330 feet
- Landing — 330 feet
- Max climb rate at sea level — 390 feet per minute (1,000 fpm)
- Min sink rate (at 31 knots) — 200 feet per minute (235 fpm)
- Engine — 25 horsepower (40 horsepower; Rotax 447)
To help you find lots more information and details plus more photos for each model click or tap any of the several links below. (Note: English is used and is very good.) * European use of "ultralight" does not mean FAR Part 103 parameters. While light, these are not Part 103 ultralight vehicles.
This March 2, 2022 update provides photos of designer / builder Tiziano Danieli's own project. Here's a few words from him about it. "I personally am still flying with my Original Piuma and I am completing the construction of the Almerico (images below), which I modified into a single-seater for personal use." "The construction plans of the Piuma Almerico single-seater that I used for my personal use are not yet completed [but] I intend to make them available to the builders, together with hundreds of photos of the details under construction, in the coming months."
Article Update — Photos of the designer’s own project… see at bottom. —DJ 3/2/22 A steady stream of readers ask about motorgliders. This is one of recreational aviation’s most interesting aircraft types. Motorgliders can soar reasonably well for those interested in working thermals or ridge lift to ascend without motor noise. Many others might never shut down the engine and soar but are intrigued with efficient cross country flying. In a motorglider, a pilot can be more confident as the aircraft can glide far further than other types, providing a broader safety margin. From a one-man operation comes the Italian Piuma Project. Designer and builder Tiziano Danieli describes his creations as “a friendly family of ultralight* motor gliders.” Trouble Is… Motorgliders Are Expensive …Or, Are They? Fully manufactured LSA motorgliders may get you airborne quickly whereas you need to build your Piuma, but the factory-built version will cost substantially more.
Welcome to Zigolo Mg21Check out earlier articles on Zigolo — here's a full pilot report — but know this: While Mg21 shares the name Zigolo, nearly everything about the new model from Aviad developer Francesco Di Martino is different. I recently exchanged email with Francesco regarding his listing in our new Part 103 List; Mg21 is the newest entry. Zigolo Mg21 starts out with multiple versions, mainly differences in wings and wing controls. Since beginning in 2007, Francesco has delivered more than 50 aircraft to 16 countries and the new model looks to be a solid upgrade from the Mg12. Aviad's three variations address different national regulations. The short-wing version is currently being tested. That will work in Europe, but will be too fast in some countries, such as the USA. A longer wing version will follow — and may be appreciated by those searching for a modestly-priced motorglider. Finally, a longer-wing version with flaps is planned for the American market to fit properly in Part 103. All versions have a single wing strut and will lose much of the wire bracing that helped keep Mg12 so very light. Mg21's central structure is a lower box beam running from an aerodynamically-shaped nose containing a digital instrument panel to a tubular empennage boom. In the center of the structure, two rectangular box-section beams support a fixed center wing section and the engine. As nearby images show, this new Mg21 model has wings that can be folded "by one person in less than two minutes," according to a report in VFR Magazine. Folded wings allow transport on a trailer and storage in a car garage. A "bicycle trolley" supports the load with the wings folded during transport. "During wing folding you don't need to remove the propeller and the ailerons remain connected. The process is very fast, width is less than car, and you can carry Mg21 on a trailer that meets street rules," reported Francesco.
Flying Mg21Mg21 will be powered by the popular Polini Thor with a 130-centimeter (51-inch) propeller, but Aviad will also offer the more powerful Vittorazi Cosmos 300. Both are known in U.S., but the Polini has a broader following. Flight testing is ongoing but stall speeds are estimated at 63 kilometers per hour or 34 knots for the short wing, 60 km/h (32 knots) for the long wing, and 52 km/h (28 knots) for the long wing with flap. Francesco will need to slow it another 4 knots to meet FAA's AC-103-7. Fast cruising is between 110 and 120 kilometers per hour (60-65 knots) — depending on the engine and propeller. Mg21's cruise speed should meet FAA's required 55 knot maximum (63 mph or NN kilometers per hour) when fitted with the flap-equipped longer wing option. Zigolo Mg21 lifts its tail after 65 feet of acceleration and rolls into the air in 300 feet. Climb is an impressive 900 feet per minute, he reported, "at my weight of 100 kilograms (220 pounds)." Francesco said, "In a few months, test flights will be completed and we assume that the first kits may be available in the middle of 2022," He added, "I will start this year (2022) with 10 aircraft, and I want be ready next year (2023) with a Part 103 model. I’m making tests with different wings to have best performance that can meet rules in different countries.
America in 2023Once Francesco can find a U.S. distributor, he said, "I believe next year I can start sales in USA. The Part 103 segment requires flaps. I need to reduce stall speed a little bit." However, he notes, "The wings are designed to have flaps and a longer span. Torsion and bend moments were tested for the different versions. While the fuselage is the same [on all versions], the horizontal tail is also made to have two different sizes." "For the USA market, I’m sure we can have a 55 knot cruise speed with climb at 800-900 feet per minute plus the easy-fold system (nearby photo), and a competitive price for an advanced [quick-build-type] kit. Due to very small pack size, we can use air shipment. I’m working with DHL to have worldwide fast shipment without the expensive container charges. I worked very hard to keep all measures inside the maximum permitted by DHL" Given numerous reports of container shipment costs rising by double, triple, or even more, air shipment might ironically turn out to be cheaper for such a cleverly-packaged product. Francesco added, "I prefer Mg21 as a taildragger, but I'm studying a tricycle-gear version." "All production will be managed internally from my workshop," observed Francesco. "We can fabricate all components." "Accessories, engine, and instruments are included in the kit but will be shipped separately," said Francesco. "A customer will receive the airframe kit with all necessary to start the work, and a second shipment will bring the accessories. A Guesstimate about Cost… I asked Francesco for an estimate of pricing, even though it is early. He replied, "I’m still working on this, but estimate about €18,000 (just over $20,000 at today's exchange rate) for an advanced kit with engine." Shipping and other expenses will add to that yet Mg21 should remain an affordable purchase. To address other customers, Francesco added, "I also plan a basic kit for a distributor that wants to preassemble it in USA for his customer." This is permitted if the aircraft qualifies for Part 103. Beside that plan, he will "give the option of a ready-to-fly Mg21 shipped in a box with all components." In this challenging environment of shipping he is investigating cost for sea shipment of a completed aircraft. "For an engine using dual ignition and with a simple instrument package, I believe the price will stay under €20,000 ($22,278 at today's exchange rate) for a factory-built Mg21," Francesco confirmed. Please keep in mind these prices are subject to change given supply problems affecting all industries. "In any case, I will state an offering price for each batch of airplanes because the prices change on all materials," said Francesco. A first batch of 10 kits will be offered at close to the prices mentioned above but contact Aviad for future prices. While flight testing of Mg21 proceeds, keep up with Aviad and Francesco on their Facebook page.
Americans know Zigolo thanks to U.S. importer, Chip Erwin. He brought the genuine Part 103 ultralight to the USA but also to other countries where he found customers. Those who know Chip are aware he has many international connections. Beside importing aircraft to the USA and helping customers build them, Chip experimented with electric propulsion for Zigolo. In short, he did a lot for Italian producer Aviad but Chip is now focused on his Merlin PSA and Merlin Lite plus his Hybird V-Twin, 60 horsepower, four stroke engine. You’ll be hearing more about that as Sun ‘n Fun 2022 approaches. Welcome to Zigolo Mg21 Check out earlier articles on Zigolo — here’s a full pilot report — but know this: While Mg21 shares the name Zigolo, nearly everything about the new model from Aviad developer Francesco Di Martino is different.
Can Doroni Do It?However, a two-seater, ducted-fan, LSA-like aircraft with a 500 pound payload for $135-150,000 could actually be something some readers might consider. So, here's a brief update on Doroni. No one commenting on Jetson One or the other Part 103 multicopters I've reported mentioned a need for a second seat. Many said that a 20-minute range was not enough but no one seemed to care that it was for solo flight only. Based in Coral Springs, Florida, Doroni Aerospace wants to let you take a passenger with you or carry a couple hundred pounds of other payload. If it actually came to market at LSA prices, is this of interest? For the record, I will note that in 1999, Cirrus offered their first SR20 at $139,000. It's now a multiple of that with top-end models reaching nearly $1 million. In the LSA market, Icon's A5 also came to market at $139,000 and is now around $350,000. So, perhaps (probably?) Doroni's $135-150,000 forecast will also be short-lived. However, if they somehow could retain that price, would that be of interest to any current Sport Pilots? Only each one of you know the answer.
Doroni DetailsFutureFlight.aero reported, "Doroni H1 is an electrically-powered. two-seat eVTOL vehicle with four ducted fans fitted in a main wing and canard, and a pair of small pusherprops at the rear of the fuselage.” Each ducted fan location houses two electric motors spinning counter-rotating props. H1's main application is personal transportation, but the company also sees a potential for future light freight deliveries. Doroni Aerospace stated, "The aircraft will have a range of around 60 miles, a cruise speed of 100 mph, and a top speed of 140 mph." H1 is compact enough to store and recharge in a two-car garage and light enough to be towed by the family sedan.
The aircraft boasts a 500-pound capacity (what I'd call "payload") and may be flown by an onboard pilot or remotely controlled. The company offers payload and passenger options:
- Pilot and passenger
- Pilot and 200-pounds of cargo
- Up to 500 pounds of cargo with pilotless delivery
Ducted Fan ConfigurationBy reducing propeller blade tip losses, a ducted fan can be more efficient in producing thrust than a non-ducted propeller of similar diameter, that is, while producing a similar amount of thrust, a ducted fan can use a much smaller diameter than a free propeller, allowing for more compact equipment. Given their enclosure, they can also be safer than a free-spinning prop. Ducted fans are also quieter than propellers: they shield the blade noise and reduce the intensity of the tip vortices. This is important for neighbor relations (especially when your unusual aircraft will also attract more than a usual share of attention). Here's a big point in favor of Doroni's use of ducting: Ducted fans can allow for a limited amount of thrust vectoring, something for which normal propellers are not well suited. Smaller props housed in ducting require high revolutions and minimal vibration but those parameters are easier to achieve with electric motor propulsion. Naturally precision ducting adds manufacturing challenges and adds complexity compared to simpler multicopter approaches. On projects as diverse as the Martin Jetpack (company now defunct) or a modern airship, ducting has proven workable. Honestly, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this in eVTOL designs. The fact is that ducted fan technology is not universally applauded. Some say they are less not more efficient. Yet a related configuration that has wide appeal is high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines that are used on nearly all airliners.
That's It for NowI'm done writing about multicopters for now though I may cover more as interesting designs emerge. Many proponents and industry observers predict huge revenues for such aircraft. Perhaps, but as the old saying goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." We will see which of these exotic designs succeed in the marketplace. The future is devilishly hard to predict. Remember Atari, Compac, Radio Shack, Commodore? These were all big brands in the early days of personal computers a few decades back. None exist today. https://youtu.be/di7A6QGGvGw
I promise I will not keep reporting futuristic eVTOLS or multicopters. However, since the Jetson One article went over better than expected and since I’ve focused mainly on Part 103-sized multicopters, how about one that is LSA-sized? I still would not follow one multicopter article with another except for developer Doron Merdinger, saying this, “Suggested [selling price is] $135,000 to $150,000.” That got my attention. From what I’ve seen so far, any eVTOL larger/heavier than a Part 103 entry is way, way more expensive. Beyond that come air taxies… 4-6-8 seater urban air transport aircraft. Those I will never report as they are commercial by design and cost far beyond any Sport Pilot’s budget. In addition, it could be years before they actually enter the market. Can Doroni Do It? However, a two-seater, ducted-fan, LSA-like aircraft with a 500 pound payload for $135-150,000 could actually be something some readers might consider.
No, Not Air Taxis… Recreational MulticoptersLook, this article is not about air taxis or so-called UAM vehicles (Urban Air Mobility, according to some who enjoy making up new names for these multi-motored flying contraptions). Uber Air may be coming but I'll bet it is years in the future because of new regulations that will be demanded by the political class and concern from the big-city general public about weird aerial machines buzzing overhead. In this article, I'll explore only such aircraft that might be called recreational. Interestingly, these developers have discovered Part 103 and are using it to get their aircraft to market. Like them or not, you have to admit these people are creative and driven. We should expect to see more of this. Indeed, people who might buy one of these aircraft could conceivably outnumber all current-day pilots. So, as my clickbait title asks, "Are we Sport Pilots an endangered species?" "We aim to make the skies available for everyone with our safe personal electric aerial vehicle," writes the producer. "We intend to make everyone a pilot." Are you good with that? Millions of new pilots? You could be the minority. Or maybe not. Future history cannot be written yet.
What is Jetson One?Reports FutureFlight.aero (bold and italic highlights mine), "Jetson produces a kit-built eVTOL aircraft called the Jetson One. The Swedish company was founded in November 2017 by high-performance car entrepreneur Peter Ternstrom and drone specialist Tomasz Patan. In the summer of 2022, they [will] start production of the single-seat Jetson One model, and deliveries of the kit-built vehicle are set to begin before the end of the year. In October 2021, the company officially opened an order book, having previously made a number of word-of-mouth sales. Its limited production run is sold out through 2022 with the next delivery slots available in 2023." This appears to translate to 12 aircraft in 2022 with 104 more already ordered for delivery in 2023; only three spaces remain for '23 at this writing. The chassis, as the company calls it, is constructed of aluminum with carbon fiber for the balance of the structure. "The aircraft is being produced under FAA Part 103 rules and, as such, owners do not need a pilot's license to fly it," wrote FutureFlight.aero accurately and assuming it can address an FAA challenge). "Jetson says it provides a day of flight training to customers, who complete assembly of the $92,000 aircraft themselves." To place an order, the company asks for "a deposit of $22,000." "The elementary design features an open chassis that means the Jetson One is only suitable for operations in fair weather conditions. It has eight sets of electric motors and rotors, and is fitted with a whole-aircraft recovery parachute," wrote FutureFlight.aero. "We aim to make the skies available for everyone with our safe personal electric aerial vehicle," say the two developers. "Jetson One [is] a commercially available personal electric aerial vehicle that you can own and fly."
Jetson One TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
- Jetson empty weight — 190 pounds (86 kilograms)
- Maximum pilot weight — 210 pounds (95 kilograms)
- Dimensions — 8 feet long x 5 feet wide x 3 feet 4 inches tall (2,480 mm x 1,500 mm x 1,030 mm)
- Width when folded — 3 feet (900 milimeters)
- Flight duration — 20 minutes
- Top level flight speed, software limited — 55 knots / 63 miles per hour (102 kilometers per hour)
- Service Ceiling — above 1,500 feet AGL
- Flight controls — 3-axis joystick / throttle lever
- Battery type — high discharge Lithium-Ion
- Charging time — 1 hour on 220 volts / 2 hours on 110 volts
- Max total power output — 118 horsepower (88 kilowatts)
- Chassis type — all-aluminium space airframe
- Motor type — high power output electric brushless outrunner
By my study and reports from several other organizations, the world has somewhere north of 1,000,000 pilots. That estimate includes all airline, military, GA, and recreational pilots even including hang glider and paraglider pilots and sky divers. One million, more or less. Now, as anyone who has not been vacationing on Mars the last couple months probably knows, another new multicopter is captivating YouTube gazers. Dubbed Jetson One after the famous TV cartoon from decades past, this small vehicle is certainly intriguing… even if you are one of many current-day pilots who dismiss these aircraft. The video below has been viewed more than 14 million times in three months! Not only haven’t we seen the last of this, more likely this is just the beginning. No, Not Air Taxis… Recreational Multicopters Look, this article is not about air taxis or so-called UAM vehicles (Urban Air Mobility, according to some who enjoy making up new names for these multi-motored flying contraptions).
LSA with a Purpose"Like a bat outta…" in this case, South Africa not that hotter place. Kidding aside, Bat Hawk is positioning itself as a very capable workhorse. Their website shows a great many activities for which this aircraft is being used, perhaps most notably, as a workhorse for rhino anti-poaching actions. Such working duties should not surprise anyone since LAMA has (apparently) successfully convinced FAA that these light aircraft are more than capable of certain types of for-hire activities LAMA called "aerial work." LAMA didn't call it "commercial use" as that could imply passenger hauling or air freight and those were not included in the request. Instead Bat Hawk in South Africa refers to work such as anti-poaching and follow-up patrols; water-point monitoring; patrolling rivers and gathering valuable data on crocodiles; vegetation mapping and erosion monitoring; and, monitoring and mapping burning programs, to select only a few. Most of these are surveillance of one kind or another and any of us who enjoy aerial sightseeing can comprehend that use easily. I'm pleased our fun flying aircraft might be pressed into some useful duties. These aircraft are capable and offering manufacturers another potential customer base can help keep them healthy so they keep developing and building recreational aircraft for the majority who simply fly for fun.
What is Bat Hawk?As the South African describe it, "Bat Hawk is a high-wing monoplane with crew of two seated side by side in an under-slung tubular framed structure surrounded by a glass fiber composite fairing." Occupants are protected from the elements by "a very large wrap-around windshield." Bat Hawk's engine and prop are mounted in a tractor position at wing level. Its tailplane is conventional in location and layout. Tricycle gear has a steerable nose-wheel. Bat Hawk's wing is strut- and lift-wire braced. Once common, wire bracing has largely disappeared from fixed wing but it remains a very strong configuration. Bat Hawk's wing is built around two larger aluminum tubes forming the spars, one at the leading edge and one at the rear edge of the wing as is very common of aircraft with this construction. Sewn Dacron sailcloth covers all wing and tail surfaces plus the aft cockpit fairing. Bat Hawk uses full-span flaperons attached to the rear spar; flaperons work independently as ailerons and together as flaps. There is no flap position indicator but approximate settings can be determined from the flap selector angle. Maximum flap movement is restricted by a limit stop mounted on the flap lever quadrant. Side by side seating offers full dual control based on a center stick that no doubt makes entry a bit easier. Bat Hawk's rudder is actuated by cables running from the pedals. Ailerons are controlled by cables from a torque tube connected to the central control stick, which has a built-in control stop. The elevator is actuated by a push/pull cable attached directly to the control stick with built-in stops. Manufacturer Micro Aviation said a wide track undercarriage has the main wheels supported by an inverted ‘V’ shaped glass fiber that provides suspension. Bat Hawk's nose wheel is supported by two hydraulic shock absorbers that "allows Bat Hawk to operate on rough terrain." Black Max disc brakes are actuated using a hand lever on the control stick. Differential braking is not available. Instrumentation is provided by an also South African MGL EMS (sold and serviced in America by Michigan Avionics). The MGL digital instrument is standard equipment and "enables the pilot to monitor dual CHTs and four EGTs plus voltage, oil pressure, oil temperaturem and RPM simultaneously." Price? — What will this multi-purpose aircraft set you back? In Experimental Exhibition category for now, the first aircraft is listed for sale at $79,500 plus shipping. Bathawk Aircraft USA is investigating Experimental Amateur Built or Light-Sport Aircraft for the future. More about that as I learn about it.
Bat Hawk SPECIFICATIONS
All specifications provided by the factory
- Overall length — nose to rudder trailing edge 18.2 feet (5.5 meters)
- Length — propeller to rudder 17.0 feet (5.3 meters)
- Wingspan — 31.2 feet (9.50 meters)
- Height — 10.5 feet (3.20 meters)
- Undercarriage wheel track — 5.4 feet (1.7 meters)
- Main wheel size — 8 x 6 inches
- Nose wheel size — 4 x 4 inches
- Powerplant — Rotax 912 100 horsepower 4-cylinder, 4-stroke
- Maximum weight all-up weight (gross weight) — 1,204 pounds (540 kilograms)
- Typical empty weight with standard equipment — 573 pounds (260 kilograms)
- Maximum fuel — 20.5 gallons / 123 pounds (56 kilograms)
- Minimum solo crew weight — 163 pounds (74 kilograms)
- Payload with full fuel — 508 pounds (231 kilograms)
- Cruise speed — 77 knots
- Stall speed — 36 knots
- Vne — 92 knots
- Take-off run — 100-165 feet (30-50 meters)
- Landing roll — 165-200 feet (50-60 meters
It’s always exciting to welcome a new entry into recreational aviation. Two Bat Hawks are presently inside the USA and will be debuted at Sun ‘n Fun 2022. Bat Hawk is a well-established, conventional microlight-style light aircraft powered by a Rotax 912 that helps it provide “sensational” performance. “We now have two planes in the country,” said importer and representative Gary Saitowitz, “and we just received our FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate at the end of 2021.” At this time, Bat Hawk is not a Special LSA. As they get started with the new-to-Americans model, both are registered Experimental Exhibition. After Bathawk Aircraft USA can gauge market interest, they may pursue another level of FAA approval. LSA with a Purpose “Like a bat outta…” in this case, South Africa not that hotter place. Kidding aside, Bat Hawk is positioning itself as a very capable workhorse. Their website shows a great many activities for which this aircraft is being used, perhaps most notably, as a workhorse for rhino anti-poaching actions.
What Is RMZ 500?In the lead photo for the article, I hinted the return of the beloved Rotax 503. That was admittedly a bit deceptive but as you've probably never heard of the RMZ 500, I felt it was necessary to compare it to the popular former Rotax engine. To most eyes, the RMZ 500 is nearly impossible to distinguish from the original that was taken off the market in 2010. A Russian producer manufactures it to power the snowmobiles they sell. I get that lots of readers may turn away when hearing the engine is a Russian product but many may be able to see beyond the political-class demonization of all-things Russian to understand that regular citizens of that country could have the capability to assemble a worthy engine. U.S. support makes all the difference and that is Aviator Paramotor's goal. According to a British importer (using it for small hovercraft), "The RMZ 500 engine is piston ported with air-cooled cylinder heads and cylinders, utilizing a fan for cooling. The engine comes complete with a Ducati CDI unit [and is] also equipped with two 34mm Mikuni carburetors [with] fuel delivery supplied by an external pulse pump." The UK site concludes, "Overall, [this gives] a great affordable and reliable replacement to a Rotax 503." Specifications: RMZ 500 is a gasoline, air-cooled, two-cylinder engine with 497 cc displacement; with a maximum engine output 50 horsepower at 6,000 rpm; and engine weight of 75 pounds not including exhaust. Speaking of exhaust systems, Aviator Paramotor's Eric Farewell (see video) reports that he has five more RMZ 500 engines on order since November but that supply chain problems have temporarily stalled shipment. The Russian company producing RMZ 500 is unable to get exhausts or gear boxes at this time. Fortunately, a Rotax 503 B gearbox and muffler system can bolt on to the RMZ 500; both remain available, new or used. Eric and Aviator Paramotor are working the task and may be able to supply a full package later this year. If you have skills in this area or are a supplier of such components, you should contact Eric by email. Eric related that his group has hundreds of hours on the trike undercarriage fitted with the RMZ 500. He reports the powerplant has been very trouble-free and he is enthusiastic about it, not merely to sell but to use in his busy flight school.
Exemptions Live On…You probably thought all two-place exemptions expired when LSA arrived upon the scene in 2004. You're partly correct. FAA did bury the old two-place powered ultralights. The agency's idea was that "properly" regulated Light-Sport Aircraft would replace the role filled for many years by Part 103 ultralight trainers. In case you arrived since 2004, those were simple two seaters that closely resembled related single place ultralight vehicles. They were intended for training only. You were not supposed to fly your buddy or your spouse on pleasure flights. All flights were to be for instruction only. LSA supposedly fixed the problem — and in a few examples they did (Quicksilver, M-Squared, CGS Hawk, some trikes and powered parachutes). In a Special LSA ultralight-like aircraft, you could fly a passenger recreationally and you did not need to always perform instruction. Pilot licensure also was tightened. Unfortunately, the results were devastating to ultralight aviation — many instructors left the training business. However, out of sight from most aviators, hang gliders were still permitted to do two-place instructional flying without needing a Special Airworthiness Certificates such as all LSA have. It has continued right on working well to this day as it had done for the decades before the big changeover. What even less people know is that powered paragliders (different than powered parachutes) were also permitted to keep their training exemption. FAA recognized that almost no one flew two-place hang gliders or paragliders or powered paragliders so they didn't mandate a switch to costlier LSA. The Aviator Paramotor rig you see with two seats, and the RMZ 500 powering it, remains a legal, exempted vehicle. For those intrigued about flying a powered paraglider as a very affordable and manueverable aircraft, a wheeled carriage with a powerful engine could make an interest purchase. Training is available and Aviator Paramotor can barely keep up. Check this link for more about their training program. Presently revising their comprehensive website, Aviator Paramotor is based in central Florida at the well-known Lake Wales airport (X07). The central Florida company — with a satellite operation at the Dunnellon airport (X35) — offers a wide range of products that you may want to explore but as affordable aircraft go, these qualify. By casual estimate, the paramoter, a wing, and an undercarriage will run around $15,000 in ready-to-use form. Your final price may vary as options are available. In regular use, Aviator Paramotor uses the RMZ 500-powered rig to train new students — lots of students, some 300 per year. Demand is so strong they actually have to turn some people away. "We could probably exceed 1,200 students a year if capacity were available," said Eric Farewell. The Show — Eric's team caught my attention a few years back as they put on a formation flying show using powered paragliders. They fly in surprisingly close formation and execute impressive maneuvers not so different than you are used to seeing with teams operating conventional aircraft. After decades of airshows, I admit I don't always follow aerial acts closely but this bunch caught my attention. They're good. Check them out yourself at Sun 'n Fun 2022. https://youtu.be/oDgjtddwibo
For years — no, make that decades — numerous pilots of light aircraft have told me the Rotax 503 was their favorite two-stroke engine. These days, it’s much more likely a pilot will go on about how great the Rotax 912 is. Yes, some grumble about the purchase price, the replacement parts cost, or the cost of an overhaul, but I’d expect to hear such groaning about almost any aviation product. Contrasting a few negative opinions is an entire world of pilots who are intensely loyal backers of the 9-series engines. Around the planet, I have identified more than 66,000 light aircraft and 70-80% of them use a Rotax 9-series engine as their powerplant. Every other brand occupies the remaining 20-30% space, including some other fine and reliable engines. No matter how you spreadsheet the numbers, Rotax is far and away the dominant brand …although no longer in two-strokes.
Hidden to VisibleAlthough I have been an advocate of Part 103 ultralight vehicles since they first began in 1982, for many years this was something of a sparse, desert landscape with fewer choices than many of us would've preferred and almost no news coverage about them. Call them sleeper aircraft if you will. The 103 industry labored behind a thick curtain emblazoned with all things LSA on the public side. If you noticed anything going on behind the curtain, you were the exception. Along the way, however, things had been changing. I can't date when this happened but I would estimate that it started to get legs approximately five to seven years ago, after the first decade of LSA had passed. At first, I was not aware of this market interest and from speaking to numerous producers, I found they didn't know either. Each manufacturer essentially operated within their own bubble, selling to people who admired what they were doing, but… who else knew? As LSA held the spotlight, and as many GA pilots made the transition from more complex and costly conventionally-certified aircraft, they begin asking suppliers to fit more and more features on the airplanes. The airframes themselves went through a generation or two of change and became much more sophisticated and capable. The downside: they got more expensive, too. LSA brought many great things to the marketplace and I remain as excited about them as ever. Not only did this new breed of aircraft permit pilots to acquire some sophisticated, fuel-efficient, and modern aircraft, LSA allowed many pilots to forego their next aviation medical and they were able to keep flying without that limiting factor (yet still earning an admirable safety record, I hasten to add). While LSA are available below $100,000, many have gone far above that even exceeding $200,000 or even $300,000. For many pilots that's not only too much money, it's more capability than they needed simply to go aloft for a bit of aerial sightseeing at the end of a pretty day.
Part 103 Goes LargeAs I labored throughout 2021 to find every Part 103 ultralight vehicle I could uncover — now presented in the warmly-received Part 103 List – I discovered a market intensity beyond my expectations. You can see this for yourself via 89 models from 57 manufacturers. Many of those are U.S.-made products but lots of innovative ideas also come from Europe and a handful of other countries. One of those countries is Romania. While you might struggle to find that nation on a map, there are smart people everywhere and capable businessman willing to bring fresh aircraft to market. One of those is AVI Aircraft and their Swan series offered by businessman, Radu Berceanu. This company offers a Part 103-capable vehicle and has both electric and gasoline versions. They have a unique folding mechanism that allows a Swan to fit into the tiniest trailer you could imagine. While negotiations remain ongoing, it appears quite probable that Swan will make its American debut at Oshkosh 2022. When that arrangement is finalized, I will follow up with more detail. Meanwhile, the world of Part 103 ultralights continues to show amazing activity and brings the prospect for even more light, recreational, affordable aircraft. That's worth celebrating, I think.
A Personal NoteIn the last week our household joined an estimated 150 million Americans that have probably encountered Covid. My wife, Randee (whom many of you know from airshows), enjoys volunteering with various community-aid organizations. That puts her out in public somewhat more, where I work out of the home and interact far less. After she tested positive and then showed the effects, it was just a matter of time before I did, too (we've been vaccinated). As endless articles show, the omicron variant is quite transmissible, but fortunately, it's less serious than the earlier variants. We are both recovering now although dealing with this slowed my productivity. I trust you'll understand if my output has not been what it usually is. By this time next week I expect to be fully back on track and bringing you more news about light, recreational, affordable aircraft. Thanks for understanding.
In the early days of Light-Sport Aircraft, a veritable tsunami of flying machines crossed the Atlantic or Pacific to land on American shores. In the earliest days imported aircraft comprised more than two-thirds of all entries on the market and that situation persisted for a few years. Later, American companies — which had been relegated to building kit aircraft due to regulations at the time — joined the growing parade. Today American-made LSA represent better than half of total registrations. Of course, U.S.-based kit-aircraft makers continue to do well as my recent article showed. Fully manufacturing an aircraft is quite a dissimilar business model from manufacturing a complete kit and supporting home builders (arguably the bigger task). Both are demanding enterprises but require different staff, different facilities, and different machinery. Hidden to Visible Although I have been an advocate of Part 103 ultralight vehicles since they first began in 1982, for many years this was something of a sparse, desert landscape with fewer choices than many of us would’ve preferred and almost no news coverage about them.
How Healthy Is the Market?Generally speaking, the leaders from 2019 and 2020 remain in similar positions for 2021 — the second year everyone endured the virus pandemic. While actions to reduce the problems caused upset in many industries, light, recreational, affordable aviation seemed to have prospered surprisingly well. As I relate performance numbers below, please keep this important point in mind: Factory-built LSA registrations generally mean a new aircraft that got built and delivered in the last year, where kit-built aircraft were probably delivered some years earlier and finished in the year discussed. This mismatch evens out over time. Also, these numbers may not identically match what producers claim they sold in any given year. Steve Beste wrote, "Of the 19 companies that registered 10 or more aircraft in 2020, 15 did so again. Those who slipped from 2020 included AutoGyro, BRM Aero, Kolb, and Scoda. New to the list were Aeropro and Quicksilver. Standouts were Icon, whose A5 amphibian registrations almost doubled from 13 to 25 and Aeropro, whose two Aerotrek models got 13 registrations, up from 5 last year. Two other important factors in 2020-2021: Overseas shipping rates have skyrocketed (I've been told three to five times as much per container). That mainly affects imported aircraft but all have been challenged by rising insurance costs as agents lost a couple underwriting companies, which notably tightened availability. Older pilots have seen additional difficulty gaining insurance. As a category, gyroplanes seem even more highly affected.
Who's Leading the Market?Zenair/Zenith (up 9%) retained their market leading position. In fact, their builders registered a third more than builders of #2 kit maker, Rans (up 22%). Trailing Zenith with Rans was Kitfox (down 4%). These are the Big Three among Sport Pilot kit suppliers. All the top kit-built producers increased their growth except Sonex, which slid 32%. The company changed hands from founder John Monnet to longtime manager Mark Schaible and we may see them resume their position for 2023 (except for that time delay between kit sales and kit completions). Van's (up 5%) and their RV-12 again came in as the #1 producer of fully-built LSA. Their registrations show the hard work of our premiere datastician Steve Beste. Anyone can access these numbers but none I've found can match Steve's gift at deciphering what the registration variations mean. Van's registered 43 Experimental LSA, 9 Special LSA, 5 Experimental Amateur Built, and 1 Other. With the ELSA likely delivered ready-to-fly as they can be, an owner can then register as Experimental LSA and gain some privilege at the loss of being able to use the aircraft for paid flight instruction. Among factory-built manufacturers, Progressive Aerodyne had strong results, growing 44% to register 26 new Searey LSA in 2021. Icon also rebounded from a low 2020 to output 25 A5s last year (a 92% growth). Another factory-built producer, Aeropro — sold in the USA under the name Aerotrek — was up 160% in 2021. This company is one of the steadiest producers in all of light aviation. The company famously refuses to expand and as a result is extremely consistent about production. The big growth in 2021 surely reflects some registration delays in 2020 more than any spike in manufacturing. The first chart above, counting total registrations of factory-built versus kit-built shows that for 2021, both grew at almost an identical pace. When you combine both production methods, the total (317 aircraft in 2021) compares favorably to deliveries of Part 23 single engine piston aircraft (the closest comparison). As you can see, for 2020, kit-built aircraft had more than double the factory-built totals but for 2021, the equilibrium returned.
The Light(est) StuffAlthough their numbers are modest, it's good to see Air-Tech and their assumption of all production of the Quicksilver line had good growth in 2021 (up 63% in registered aircraft without including Part 103 unregistered models). The longtime Louisiana supplier of Quicksilver aircraft and accessories took over all rights other than the GT500 and they continue to serve this market well. Among Alternative Aircraft — Gyroplanes continue on a long slope downward, not declining fast but steadily. Difficulties with insurance may be a problem plus they are the only category of LSA not allowed to fully build aircraft. This should be solved with Mosaic in 2024. For this report Steve Beste wrote, "Gyroplane registrations were way down. Only SilverLight and Tango had (slight) increases. This once-hot segment cooled a bit in 2020 and now even more in 2021." Among other categories, weight shift trike sales were off to their 2018 level (Part 103 trikes are doing better but don't show up on the registration database). Powered parachutes enjoyed continuing growth, led by Powrachute (up 25%). One More (New) Thing — A new trick for our datastician Steve was to count Part 103 aircraft that were registered as Experimental Amateur Built. Conforming Part 103 vehicles do not need N-numbers. "Perhaps the owners wanted to add features that bumped the planes over the 254-pound ultralight limit. If so, credit to them for being honest about it and registering the planes," wrote Steve. Aeromarine LSA leads among Part 103 manufacturers with their Zigolo registering 10. Air-Bike registered 7, Phantom and Legal Eagle 5 each, Affordaplane 4, and Cloudbase (maker of Skylite and Lil' Bitts) 3. All these are in addition to any Part 103 models the companies delivered. For lots more information and links to every producer and all 89 models, see our new Part 103 List.
Market ObservationsSteve Beste wrote, "Many manufacturers have left the market. Tableau Public for LSA tracks 140 manufacturers who are registering aircraft with FAA. Of those, only 71 manufacturers registered an aircraft last year." He added a caution, "This is a world in which a lot of dreamers bring promising aircraft to market… and then fizzle. Prospective buyers — especially prospective kit buyers — should keep this mind.” The LSA and Sport Pilot kit industry can be compared fairly well to single-engine piston models of conventionally-certified aircraft. Some years it's been closer, but for 2021 Steve noted, "GA sales dwarf these LSA and Sport Pilot kit numbers. Just to keep our beloved world in perspective, in 2021, Cirrus registered 272 single-engine piston aircraft; Cessna, 148; Piper, 92. Just those three companies registered 512 aircraft in 2021, to the light recreational aircraft industry's 317 combined Factory-Built and Kit-Built.
Barely after we rang in the new year, here’s a review of 2021 market shares and info regarding the state of the light, recreational aircraft industry. After a surprisingly strong 2020 despite Covid, 2021 returned to Earth a bit but with some shifting between categories. This year the contrast that stood out was between Factory-Built and Kit-Built. In 2020, perhaps because builders were locked down at home and completed more projects, kit registrations blew the doors off factory-built. For 2021, the ratio equalized again with kits narrowly edging out factory-built (nearby chart). Note that for this reporting, datastician Steve Beste said, “We define kit-built as aircraft registered as Experimental Amateur Built. Factory-built are everything else, including SLSA, ELSA, Exhibition, Primary, and Standard.” To understand how Steve solves the FAA database mysteries, check this PDF. How Healthy Is the Market? Generally speaking, the leaders from 2019 and 2020 remain in similar positions for 2021 — the second year everyone endured the virus pandemic.
Let's Review…Part 103 Ultralight Vehicles are a special category within the FAA regulations. How special? Here's the important points:
- These most affordable aircraft need no FAA registration (no N-numbers are needed).
- Part 103 ultralights need no pilot certificate of any kind.
- Because no pilot certificate is needed, no aviation medical is required to fly Part 103.
- The manufacturer can fully build a 103 ultralight or sell in kit form.
- Operating a Part 103 ultralight follows a remarkably simple set of rules (one page, front and back)
The ListThe new Part 103 List presents all known current-day producers and models of Part 103 ultralights in various aircraft types. They may originate in any country although many are U.S.-built aircraft; after all, this is where the regulation started way back in September of 1982 (40 years this year!). While aircraft in the Part 103 List meet this U.S. regulation, very similar (though not identical) programs are also offered in other countries, for example:
- 120 Kilogram Class — Germany, others (120 kilograms is 264.5 pounds; very similar)
- SSDR (Single Seat DeRegulated) and Sub-70 Kilogram — UK, others
- Microlight, and other 103-like regulations — France, various other countries
Gotta Have a Two Seater?Part 103 is strictly limited to a single seat. Not everyone will be satisfied by that constraint. Many pilots, in order to gain acceptance from their spouse or generally to satisfy a desire for more capability, insist they need two seats. Of course, it's fun to take somebody along, but how often do you actually do that? I used to quote an AOPA survey that was done for many years. It regularly showed the average occupancy of a GA airplane was 1.6 persons. Since GA airplanes are commonly four seaters and sometimes six seaters, that means such roomy aircraft are flown solo most of the time if the average of all flights is 1.6 persons. If that's true, then why do many pilots insist on a second seat in their light aircraft? Compared to the overall expense of creating a new aircraft, the cost of adding a second seat and the necessary structure, engine power, additional fuel, and larger wing area should not in theory add a tremendous amount to the cost of building such an airplane. However, perhaps it's like the amplifier for your home theater. Once you decide you've got to have surround sound instead of just a couple of great speakers, you might have to upgrade everything in the system in order to make that all work. Airplanes are no different, of course.
I'll give my opinion because I believe it is quite common; I've asked hundreds of pilots at airshows about this. I enjoy flying solo because what I like best about flying is the great view from aloft, of flying over the countryside and observing things on the ground. Sometimes seeing what I want means banking steeply to have a closer look. I don't do that when I'm concerned about another person in the cockpit with me. I find these flight movements more tolerable (even enjoyable) when I don't have to worry about a person in a second seat.That's not to say I never want to take a passenger. Sometimes doing so can be enormously satisfying and fun. Flying with someone may be a great way to introduce someone to aviation or it might at least keep them from voting to tax your local airport out of existence. Nonetheless, flying solo has a special pleasure and in a Part 103 ultralight, you always fly solo. Of course, this creates some challenges to gain instruction appropriate to that Part 103 aircraft, so two seaters are necessary. When FAA created the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation, they scrapped existing "two-seat ultralights" for LSA. Many of the aircraft that followed are not good trainers for genuine 103 ultralights but some are, including Quicksilver 2S or M-Squared's Breeze II or CGS Hawk II.
The Heart of Affordable AviationThis website regularly promotes aircraft you can afford. This means something different to almost everyone but nearly every aircraft in the Part 103 List fits in the affordable category. All are less than $100,000 and some are less then $20,000 with a range in between. Of course, since they've been around for 40 years, lots of used aircraft are available. See this series of articles from April 2020 describing aircraft for less than $10,000 (used). Since our SLSA List has consistently been one of the most popular features on ByDanJohnson.com, I hope you will enjoy the resource offered under the name Part 103 List. Please… go check it out and tell others. Tail winds!
To welcome a brand new year in affordable aviation, I am pleased to announce the launch of our Part 103 List. This new list presents 89 Part 103 entries for models built by 57 manufacturers. [UPDATE 1/18/22 — We made the 103 List even better with the “Model column now leading to info right here on ByDanJohnson.com, when available. Other article changes are shown in red text. —DJ] Too many people believe this is a minor sector with “no fixed wing aircraft that qualify.” They’re wrong; we have 38 fixed wing producers alone. Some others among the general aviation pilot population thought that Part 103 ultralights had disappeared completely. They could not be more wrong. Not only are plenty of Part 103 ultralights being produced, they come in many diverse shapes and plenty of them are being sold. Clearly, it’s about time a list like this one got published to put the record straight!
You can hardly follow any media without finding some article about the latest whizzbang electric propulsion multicopter project that "will transform urban transportation!" Or so they breathlessly exclaim.Fine. I look forward to going from a downtown hotel to the airport in minutes versus slogging through ground traffic for an hour. Will these arrive in some near future? Maybe. Even if they do arrive sooner than later, would a pilot feel entirely comfortable flying in an autonomous, computer-controlled aircraft? Only you can answer that question. You might get a chance sooner than you think. Whatever you think right now, would you change your mind if you got to fly one of these machines, safely, of course? Since autonomous operation is part of the plan, a current-day Lift Aircraft Hexa could take over any time and land safely on its own. Heck, my ancient (3-year-old) DJI drone can do that, with zero input from me. These things are pretty smart. So is a Tesla. The controlling technology is largely here. So… would you go fly one? From its base in Austin, Texas, Lift Aircraft has announced big plans. Reviewing their historical performance, it appears this company is capable of advancing rapidly to real-life products. Contrarily, some of these multicopter or swing-wing (Osprey-like) projects promote futuristic Urban Air Mobility (UAM) schemes focused on bringing in millions of dollars, delivering more promise than product. On the other hand, Lift's short history shows a steady movement toward their goals. They've checked a lot of the right boxes, enlisted some experienced talent, and look to be on their way, even finishing their first "shipset" and claiming, "Lift is the first company in the United States to start serial production of an eVTOL aircraft."
- In November of 2017 — Lift Aircraft founded.
- December 2017 — Design work underway
- July 2018 in Lago Vista, Texas — First unmanned flight
- October 2018 in Lago Vista, Texas — First manned flight
Should You… Support or Object?As I wrote this article, I knew sharp-eyed readers might (1) question Hexa's weight and (2) accept its weight or not, some would lament this could chance unraveling the almost 40-year-old Part 103 regulation. Now, numerous readers have said for years that the rule needs updating but many others argue that asking for any change might put FAA's least restrictive regulation at risk. With those two points in mind, what say you? It doesn't matter if you love or hate Hexa. Do you welcome their novel approach to meeting 103 parameters or do you think it could jeopardize Part 103? Mosaic, the new regulation expected by the end of 2023, is significantly aimed at accommodating eVTOLs, UAMs, and drones into the airspace. Most readers are focused on how Mosaic affects LSA but multicopters are a major reason why Mosaic exists in the first place. However, the new reg is still two years away. Therefore, a multicopter that can actually qualify with FAA as a Part 103 vehicle and is (nearly) ready for the market has an early lead. Slipping into a sweet spot, Lift and their Hexa need not wait for Mosaic, yet will benefit from its arrival.
Here's how the Part 103 calculations work for Hexa:
- Base empty weight allowance: 254 pounds
- Floats (30 pounds each x 7 floats): 210 pounds
- Ballistic parachute: 24 pounds
- Total allowed: 488 pounds
- Current Hexa empty weight: 432 pounds
- Excess allowance remaining: 56 pounds
Will "the Public" Fly Hexa?To reassure pilots and everyone else, Lift has put major attention on safety. "Hexa is semi-autonomous so, regardless of what the pilot does, it will only fly in a safe manner within the limits programmed into the autopilot computer," notes Lift as they work to bring flying to the public. For example, "The aircraft is continuously calculating the energy required to 'return to home' based on altitude, wind speed and direction. Regardless of what the pilot does, the aircraft will automatically return and land when the battery approaches this level plus a reserve, and it can also automatically land in designated safe landing areas, if necessary.” Hexa presently has a 15-minute flight endurance The plans are more explicit in several ways and you can explore their website to learn more. Does "semi-autonomous" mean you are simply along for the ride? You direct the flight but you (theoretically) cannot screw it up. Is this "cheating?" Are you merely a person saying where you want to fly and the aircraft does it all for you? These are worthy questions pilots may ask. One answer is that pilots already use design features to operate aircraft more safely: LSA have straight-and-level or 180-turn buttons and very effective autopilots. Engineers went to great trouble to assure an aircraft recovers well from a stall or has landing gear able to absorb hard touchdowns. Are these design features "cheating?" Over many years in this business I've heard dozens of ideas about how to get more people into aviation. This one sounds as good as any and better than most. After an hour in their simulator, Lift Aircraft says anyone can go fly, safely. If — that's a big, giant IF — the software is robust enough, yes, I can believe that. Would it still be flying as a pilot does today? Well, truthfully, few current pilots might be willing to agree but it could produce better outcomes, that is, less crashes. This story is just beginning and I'll circle back if readers show an interest. But here's an important point. Lift does not intend to retail sell their Hexa 103 but rather to rent them at a facility they call "Vertiport" (image). The first is already underway but that's material for another article. I'll tell you what — if a Hexa comes my way, I'd love to take it for a flight. Would you?
The following lists highlight some but not all of Lift's plans. The company seems highly focused on safety. That's probably good for their corporate future but also good for the future of anyone who flies Hexa.
Could Lift Aircraft set up rental facilities and how would they guard against problems?
- FAR Part 103 allows rental of aircraft
- Redundant 2-way communication with Control (experts guiding a renter's flight)
- Dedicated controllers monitoring flight telemetry
- Multiple remote pilots on standby
- Assisted preflight and safety briefings
- Emergency assistance and intervention
What happens if a pilot gets in trouble while flying Hexa?
- Flight controlled by computer with joystick input (the pilot does direct the flight, is not just along for the ride)
- "Let go" of stick is a controlled hover
- Automated precision takeoffs and landings
- Automatic low battery Return to Home
- Automatic wind speed, direction adjustments
What are some safety features has Lift incorporated into Hexa?
- Eighteen motors, propellers, and batteries
- Safely land with up to 6 motors disabled
- Highly reliable — only 18 moving parts!
- Propellers out of reach
- Enhanced visibility
- Distributed batteries (away from pilot; located under each motor)
- All critical systems at least 2x redundant
- Design factor of safety — more than 2 everywhere
- 18 separate batteries for fault tolerance
- Batteries located way from pilot (thermal runaway tolerant)
- Safe emergency landing capabilities on water
- Energy-absorbing center float crumple zone
- Whole aircraft air-cushion deploys with low-altitude emergency airframe parachute
You can hardly follow any media without finding some article about the latest whizzbang electric propulsion multicopter project that “will transform urban transportation!” Or so they breathlessly exclaim. Fine. I look forward to going from a downtown hotel to the airport in minutes versus slogging through ground traffic for an hour. Will these arrive in some near future? Maybe. Even if they do arrive sooner than later, would a pilot feel entirely comfortable flying in an autonomous, computer-controlled aircraft? Only you can answer that question. You might get a chance sooner than you think. Whatever you think right now, would you change your mind if you got to fly one of these machines, safely, of course? Since autonomous operation is part of the plan, a current-day Lift Aircraft Hexa could take over any time and land safely on its own. Heck, my ancient (3-year-old) DJI drone can do that, with zero input from me.
Rotax Power 141 Horses …andSometimes the changes are big (iOS 15.0). Sometimes the changes are incremental (iOS 15.2). Significant changes often arrive through small steps forward. News from Rotax Aircraft Engines represents one of those smaller yet valuable updates: more electrical power. Why is this needed? Because, in case you somehow missed this change, cockpits are increasingly electronic. We like keeping our devices charged. Older engines may not supply enough juice for everything.
Features of the Rotax 915iS C24 (and the certified 915 ISc C24):
- No added weight
- New extra light 24V converter (max. 150g)
- Enables 24V aircraft board systems
- Supports digital displays and glass cockpit
- Adds reserves for auxiliary instruments, tablets, and gadgets
- Supplies powerbuses with 24 voltages
- 24V power supply delivering up to 800W
- Ample power for most installations
Wave Engine Start; First Flight ScheduledSpeaking of 915iS engines, Vickers Aircraft happily told us that the Wave amphibian first engine start proceeded without issue. If that doesn't seem like much, well… it is. Getting an airframe right for first flight importantly means getting the engine elements right, such as mounting, cooling, plumbing, electric, and more. Team Vickers succeeded (nearby image). This was even more meaningful as Vickers installed RS Flight Systems’ single-lever control equipment (approval of which is expected in the coming FAA Mosaic regulation) regulating an MT prop. Learn more about single-lever control. Getting the engine start behind them means they can push forward for first flight. Like many such projects, the devil is in the details. A global lockdown plus growing delays in shipping goods around the world complicated normal development challenges. Vickers thought they'd get in the air earlier in 2021 but as company leader Paul Vickers stressed, "We have always been driven by safety and quality, not dates; we will always take the time that is required." Aircraft design work is commonly followed by construction of a proof-of-concept aircraft in which to do first flights. Almost always, the aircraft subsequently goes through significant changes. Seeking a more efficient way, Paul used technology to eliminate duplicative steps. His goal was to get the Wave project so close to a finished aircraft that he and his team would face far fewer clean-up tasks than usually follow a P-o-C first flight. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we'll find out how well his careful planning went after first flight. When is that estimated to happen now? "We hit a large milestone yesterday (December 23rd) with our first engine run. It went beautifully!" He now projects, "First flight around January 15, after the break." More info: Vickers Aircraft
Inflation Hikes Prices …but If You Act Soon
We all know a wide range of goods have become more expensive in the last two years. Beyond business changes and closures, inflation has leaped into the forefront of news around the globe. The U.S. has broken 30-year records. Economists report 7 to 10% of currency inflation. Will that affect the prices of aircraft we know and love. Of course, it will.Try as they might to contain increases with various techniques, JMB representatives at Alion Aircraft said "Even for us the costs of inputs are rising significantly." “For that reason we will have to increase the price of the JMB Aircraft VL3 by about 6% very soon,” they said. Given inflation is running higher than that, according to several sources, a 6% bump is only keeping up. "That is the bad news…" wrote Adam Coubal. "The good news is I can reserve this year's price for you if you act right now. "Here is a deal," he observed. "If you book a demo flight as soon as possible and if we shake hands before the end of January 2022, the good old price is yours." A 6% savings while inflation is jacking up many prices qualifies as a valid offer for those who act soon enough. For pilots who don't want to wait until JMB builds and ships a custom order, "We have one 912-powered VL3 in stock and ready for sale," said Adam. More info: Alion Aviation
Dynon in a Bonanza? …and Why that's Good for You
Tie-Down Securely with SafeTAnchorThe humble yet important tie-down anchor. If we had a perfect system, so many variations would not be offered. But if you had to leave your airplane out as a storm rolled in, you'd want a secure connection to old Mother Earth! "We have invented and patented a safetanchor for planes and other uses. Easy to install yourselves and patented in the USA," wrote the company. Design of the anchor’s top allows it to pivot from hook-up to becoming completely flat. This makes the entire surface of anchors flush to ground level without removing them and so you can drive vehicles over it, cut the grass, prevents tripping of personnel, and being a hazard to cleaning machines or snow removal equipment. More info: SafeTAnchor
HAPPY NEW YEAR ‼️
Now that 2021 is historical and following two years of Covid uncertainty and business interruptions, many readers can breathe a sigh of relief for an better 2022. We have two full years remaining before FAA’s Mosaic regulation becomes active. During that time you’ll need to respond to the proposal I predict we will see at Oshkosh 2022 (only seven months away). Until then, what might happen in the world of light aviation? I don’t know any better than you. The future is as unknowable as ever. So many things can happen …who expected Covid-19? With my eye to the sky I’m pleased to start the new year out with some fresh news. Here are five stories to kick off 2022. Rotax Power 141 Horses …and Sometimes the changes are big (iOS 15.0). Sometimes the changes are incremental (iOS 15.2). Significant changes often arrive through small steps forward. News from Rotax Aircraft Engines represents one of those smaller yet valuable updates: more electrical power.
Flying the RV-12With several dozen hours in an RV-12 I've come to more fully understand why so many pilots are enthusiastic about their RV, the majority of which are not -12s, yet the whole Van's Aircraft line (RV-3 through RV-14) share common characteristics. Among those are sprightly performance and simply marvelous handling. I will let the two videos below provide most of the nuts and bolts details that pilots crave. In the following words, I'll relate some of my experiences and discoveries after flying the -12 for more hours. To begin, I'm a high wing guy. Most pilots have a clear preference for high or low wing configurations. Some think low wings look "less awkward" and "more streamlined." They are entitled to that opinion, but for me, the number one reason to fly an aircraft with an engine is visibility… to observe a beautiful landscape unfold below. I've found aerial sightseeing is a common desire among aviators. If so, a low wing gets in the way. RV-12 places the wing sufficiently aft that from either seat you actually do have some downward visibility, but it is not as broad as a high wing design, especially one with cantilevered construction; no wing strut gets in your way. High wing airplanes are usually much easier to enter, a factor for older, less flexible pilots. Yet among low wing designs, RV-12 is easier as you enter from the front of the wing (see step in a nearby photo). You can use structure to help climb up on the wing and once you get to that point you can simply step onto the floor. You don't have to step in the seat as on some low wing aircraft. Most folks don't like having to do that and some low wing owners have a towel to put on the seat to keep dirty shoes off of it. I'm ambivalent about whether the engine should be in the front or the back. On a weight-shift trike, I love having a wide-open view up front. I've also enjoyed the AirCam which puts twin engines in a pusher configuration and sticks the pilot way out in front of the wing, giving enormous visibility. Tractor-engine aircraft offer some efficiencies pushers lack, for example, better cooling, a very important design aspect. Speaking of engines, Van's chose the Rotax 912 series for their RV-12 LSA entry. I think it was the right choice although pilots have other great choices from Continental, Jabiru, UL Power, plus a number of auto conversion engines that can be used on kit-built aircraft. I'm very familiar with Rotax's 9-series so having one haul me around in RV-12 inspires confidence. Since RV-12's wings can remove, designers put the fuel in the cabin. I've never noticed any fuel smell but you may have 20 gallons of avgas or premium mogas on board and it is directly behind the right seat. In a severe upset, this could be troublesome. On the other hand, RV-12 is one of the easiest landing LSA on the market so any upset is that much less likely. RV-12 is "Made in America" and factory service is readily available plus thousands of RV owners can probably help or consult on any problems you may have. The RV-12 I flew (above in front of hangar) was a 51%-owner-built aircraft. After purchasing it, Joe hired an RV expert go over it thoroughly, correcting some builder deficiencies. Joe's RV-12 has a single, large (10-inch) Dynon touch screen plus autopilot with all the usual benefits of those avionics. It was never fitted with an airframe parachute as I'd always prefer. All these attributes and more (a total of 25 choices) form the basis of PlaneFinder 2.0. That feature — one of the most popular destinations on ByDanJohnson.com — is almost completely made up of this-or-that choices. It couldn't be much easier to use and many find it kind of fun to see how an answer changes the "Matching Aircraft" list that results. What PlaneFinder 2.0 truly does is narrow your choices, eliminating aircraft that don't have the features you want, leaving you with a smaller list of aircraft you can evaluate to find your best airplane. Try it. I'll bet you like it (free of charge after you register with only your email). That's enough about me and what I think of RV-12. Check out these two videos and learn more about Van's terrific RV-12. Happy flying! Tail winds, everyone! The nearby photo shows me on downwind for runway 6 at Spruce Creek Fly-In airport, a home to some 700 aircraft and hangar homes, 1,600 total homes, and around 4,000 residents. In-flight review — from Sebring 2014… https://youtu.be/Z1Mi_DgqgVM Post-flight review — more details… https://youtu.be/Q5TWZk-YRGo
Over the years, curious pilots have asked me what aircraft I fly. I’ve had the pleasure to evaluate a great many models; the number crossed 400 a couple years back. My usual quip is that this experience makes me a pilot of many and a master of none. I usually add that anyone with a good number of hours in their own airplane knows far more about it than I do. However, I have gotten to fly a small number of airplanes for a higher number of hours. The most recent such experience is with a Van’s RV-12, because a neighbor of mine at my home airport allows me to enjoy his airplane. It’s a nice arrangement that I value highly; thanks, Joe! I usually avoid identifying what I’m flying for a couple reasons. First, I don’t own a Light-Sport Aircraft because that can get uncomfortable in an industry where I fly one after another to report on them.