As Sun ‘n Fun 2022 comes to a close, so does my daily reporting. This happens through long days and short nights. My sleep schedule can soon get back to normal. In an article already underway, I will make some forecasts for what we’ll see at AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 based on what was displayed at Sun ‘n Fun 2022. Watch for that in a couple days after I catch my breath. Meanwhile I’m expecting to go fly in the TL Sport Aircraft high wing TL-3000 Sirius and perhaps their retractable tandem Stream. I’m also scheduled to go fly the BOT SC07 Super Cruiser. I hope to have reports on these later in April. Meanwhile, here’s a final daily report from Sun ‘n Fun 2022… Savannah by ICP What is it about orange? Several people told Savannah rep’ Walter della Nebia that it attracted them. I felt similarly. I can’t explain it but the show airplane certainly looked great and drew plenty of visitors.
Just Aircraft Highlander
Phone: (864) 718-0320Walhalla, SC 29691 - USA
Just Aircraft — Highlander SUPERSTOL (2013)
Just Aircraft's SuperSTOL was a major hit on the Paradise City runway at Sun 'n Fun 2013. In this video we continue our review of this amazing aircraft as we interview principal designer Troy Woodland. We go fly the aircraft; with cameras on the wing and even the tailwheel, you can verify its unusual performance that allows you to land with the joystick full aft. Watch the video to hear some of its secrets.
Just Aircraft’s SuperSTOL was a major hit on the Paradise City runway at Sun ‘n Fun 2013. In this video we continue our review of this amazing aircraft as we interview principal designer Troy Woodland. We go fly the aircraft; with cameras on the wing and even the tailwheel, you can verify its unusual performance that allows you to land with the joystick full aft. Watch the video to hear some of its secrets.
Just Aircraft — Highlander SUPERSTOL
An aircraft that grabbed everyone's attention at AirVenture 2012 was the new Highlander Superstol from the South Carolina company. Here's a video you want to watch as we show touchdown after touchdown to show just how that marvelous gear with the 20-inch range (measured at the spindle). In flight footage also shows the automatic slats in operation and our interview of Troy Woodland will tell you how they did it all. You'll enjoy this one!
An aircraft that grabbed everyone’s attention at AirVenture 2012 was the new Highlander Superstol from the South Carolina company. Here’s a video you want to watch as we show touchdown after touchdown to show just how that marvelous gear with the 20-inch range (measured at the spindle). In flight footage also shows the automatic slats in operation and our interview of Troy Woodland will tell you how they did it all. You’ll enjoy this one!
Just Aircraft — Highlander
An all-American design, the Just Aircraft Highlander is more than "just" an aircraft. Here's a rugged taildragger that can carry quite a load and can land on unimproved airstrips... or perhaps alongside that trout stream you always wanted to fish. Beyond its utility, Highlander is roomy to let you sleep in it. (Note: Contrary to my memory test on camera, I do have a pilot report on Highlander.)
An all-American design, the Just Aircraft Highlander is more than “just” an aircraft. Here’s a rugged taildragger that can carry quite a load and can land on unimproved airstrips… or perhaps alongside that trout stream you always wanted to fish. Beyond its utility, Highlander is roomy to let you sleep in it. (Note: Contrary to my memory test on camera, I do have a pilot report on Highlander.)
SuperSTOL to Perform at Just Plane Fun Days
Airplane-brand-specific fly-in events can be fun and informative. If the folks at Just Aircraft are involved and if they show off their amazing SuperSTOL, a company fly-in takes on a new level of excitement. Those of you who have stopped by their airshow display to speak to the people from Just Aircraft know the Walhalla, South Carolina manufacturer is composed of a bunch of individuals that seem so laid back, you could wonder how they get so much work done. They do, by the way, having produced and delivered more than 500 aircraft kits. Since 2012 — when they introduced their at-the-time-unnamed SuperSTOL to slacked-jawed response from crowds — Just Aircraft reported kit sales have more than doubled requiring the company to add a second shift to keep up with demand. How many other companies do you know with that need? All seriousness aside for a weekend, though, those Just Aircraft’ers know how to have a good time, too.
Just Aircraft Is a Decade-long Success Story
How do you take a laid-back approach to create a super exciting airplane? Schucks … it appears easy as falling off a log. The oversimplification denies how much energy and effort went into SuperSTOL. Because the folks at JustAircraft seem to be the most relaxed designers in America, don’t be fooled. Plenty of customers have seen the light that emanates from Walhalla, South Carolina. From the company’s unusual factory airstrip to the jaw-dropping performance of their super-duper STOL aircraft, Just Aircraft is a company you can’t — or at least shouldn’t — ignore. To gain more flavor of the extreme-looking but easy-flying aircraft, Just’s website has several videos that might fascinate you. “Since the company was formed in 2002, Just Aircraft was focused on developing an aircraft that would excel in back country performance,” the company announced recently. “Starting with the Escapade, the company began shipping out kits.
Two More Videos You’ll Really Enjoy
Here are two aircraft from sources thousands of miles apart. Likewise, the aircraft could hardly be more different yet each has something special about it. You’ll want to catch both videos. We’ll start with the one we flew: Just Aircraft’s brilliant Highlander SuperSTOL. The company has delivered more than 300 Highlander kits making the side-by-side two seater a hit on its own. However, the design truly arrived with the SuperSTOL edition. You’ll want to watch this fascinating video as lead designer Troy Woodland takes us all around this remarkable machine. Then go aloft with us as we feature cameras mounted on the wing, inside looking at a landing, and even on the tailwheel for a most unusual viewpoint. You’ll get to see why people watched with rapt attention every time Troy landed the SuperSTOL at the Paradise City runway at Sun ‘n Fun 2013. Talk about a fun airplane to fly … you literally land with the joystick full aft from downwind in the pattern until those big-boy tires meet terra firma.
Bending the Air in the Dynamic SuperSTOL
By all accounts — and none to the contrary (that I personally heard) — the “new and improved” Paradise City was an out-of-the-ballpark home run hit. On the final day of Sun ‘n Fun 2013, John “Lites” Leenhouts gave his closing review. He noted attendance was up somewhat on Tuesday through Thursday and down a bit on other days, but he highlighted the great success that was Paradise City, the new permanent home of the LSA Mall. The area was chock full of exhibitors, up almost double from last year. Flying went on all day long as predicted, even during the main airshow. Twice I flew in on aircraft I was evaluating while watching aerobatic aircraft twist and turn over the main runway. I know of no accidents or incidents so major kudos to the 186-person-strong volunteer staff under area chairman Dave Piper’s direction. They dealt with many new changes and nearly every detail appeared to go as planned.
Grand LSA News Wrap-Up… Pre-Oshkosh
CESSNA’S DISCOVER FLYING I met new business leader for the Skycatcher LSA, Tracy Leopold, at Sun ‘n Fun 2012 where she confirmed the Wichita giant’s support for their lightest aircraft, now being assembled in Independence alongside other Cessna models. As summer began, Tracy’s Skycatcher group amped up their game with a program called Discover Flying Challenge. *** After hiring eight university graduate flight instructors — plus a ninth to act as dispatcher — the team took off in all directions and will reunite again at AirVenture 2012. Meanwhile, the youthful team is visiting Cessna Pilot Centers and non-CPC FBOs plus fly-ins and air shows all the while doing what college grads do these days: updating Facebook and Twitter feeds and blogging about their activities. *** “We wanted to do something different, something that would get the attention of the next generation of pilots while at the same time getting the Skycatcher in front of the public,” explained Tracy.
Strong Survive 2008; LSA Market Share Adjustments
Through the first six months of 2008, Light-Sport Aircraft deliveries have reflected the same challenges afflicting the rest of general or sport aviation…and for that matter, the overall U.S. economy. In fact, LSA registrations aren’t off as badly as are GA deliveries, perhaps due to significantly better fuel economy in an LSA. These FAA registrations can be analyzed to show trends. *** In the first half of 2008, the LSA industry registered 248 aircraft, which is 22% of all registrations from April 2005 through December 2007 (1,118). Many find it interesting to observe how market leaders compare. If a supplier registered less than 22% of their fleet in 2008, they slipped in market share (even if they registered more total airplanes). If they exceeded that figure, they gained market share. In the first half of 2008 gainers included: Remos up 62%; Czech Aircraft Works 47%; FPNA 45%; Gobosh 38%; Tecnam 35%; Aeropro 32%; and AMD 28%.
Big Crowds at the Sun ‘n Fun LSA Mall
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
2008 LSA Sales Reflect a Stalling U.S. Economy
The U.S. economy is hardly crashing, but while slipping backwards in late 2007 and early 2008, it has been on a bumpy plateau. This unevenness causes trouble for many businesses. Even giant coffee seller, Starbucks, is rejiggering their business model to adjust for folks balking at $4 coffee while their stock portfolio lurches up and down. Light-Sport Aircraft sales also reflect that lack of consumer confidence. *** Figures for the first two months of 2008 show slightly more than 40 aircraft registrations per month. In 2007, the industry averaged 47 aircraft registrations per month. Of course, this 15% decrease also comes while many northern states have endured awful winter flying weather, partially explaining why sales are off the beat. Despite a cloudy overcast some bright spots emerge. *** CZAW‘s SportCruiser led the pack with more than 17% growth during January and February. AMD is close behind with 14% growth, and CubCrafters continues their climb with 7.5% growth.
Just Aircraft’s Highlander
|Empty weight||600 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wingspan||31 feet 5 inches|
|Wing area||120.75 square feet|
|Wing loading||10.9 pounds per square foot|
|Cabin Interior||44 inches wide|
|Height||7 feet, 10 inches|
|Kit type||Construction kit|
|Build time||400-600 hours|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||105 mph|
|Never exceed speed||130 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||300 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||250 feet|
|Standard Features||Two side-by-side seats, full enclosure with doors on both sides, doors and windows open separately, skylight, folding wings, push-button flaps, steerable tailwheel, 18-gallon fuel tank, 4-point pilot restraints, large tires, trim, heavy-duty bungee-suspension gear.|
|Options||Powder-coated fuselage weldment, quick-build wings, flaps and ailerons, hydraulic toe brakes, electric trim, tinted Lexan for windows and skylight, lighting kit, interior finish kits, spinner, nosewheel conversion kit.|
|Construction||Factory-welded steel fuselage, wood wing ribs, fiberglass cowling, instrument panel, wing tips, dope-and-fabric wing coverings. Made in the USA.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Just Aircraft's Highlander is built bushplane-capable, a stouter version of their Escapade. Established American design shape with side-by-side seating useful for training. Well-proven configuration and construction with light, responsive handling and performance. Welded steel fuselage.
Cons - Taildraggers aren't for everyone (if so, order the optional nosewheel kit). Just Aircraft has yet to make clear their LSA ambitions or plans (though their aircraft can be built as kits and flown with a Sport Pilot certificate).
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - The Highlander comes well-equipped with electric starting, 3-notch button-detent flap handle, directional brakes, and dual center sticks. Trim lever located between seats alongside flap handle. Large instrument panel has plenty of room for radios or extra gauges.
Cons - Trim control was too coarse for precise setting; a longer lever or more gradual linkage would be better. Four-stroke engine generates higher purchase cost, especially when paired with a 3-blade composite prop. Fueling is on top of wing, requiring a ladder or step.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - The Highlander offers a roomy cabin with outward bulging windows. Excellent upward visibility through skylight and clear turtle deck. Seats adjust fore and aft. Entry to either seat is easy. Well-finished interior. Large cargo area. Doors can open in flight; windows float upward and stay put.
Cons - Clear doors and windows aren't sufficient for those who desire solid structure around them. Door latch popped open in the pattern after a hard slip to a touch-and-go landing. Interior is rather utilitarian. Cargo area lacks good tie-down provisions.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Tailwheel steering was responsive even on sandy, turf runway. Powerful hydraulic brakes are mounted to both sets of rudder pedals. Wide wheel stance and stout bungee shock absorbers. Large ground clearance, fitting a bushplane. Excellent upward visibility to check traffic.
Cons - Large tires add quite a bit of bounce that can aggravate poor touchdown technique. While taxiing, visibility over the nose is somewhat restricted as on most taildraggers. Taildragger pilots have to keep their feet moving on rudder pedals at near takeoff or landing speeds.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Climb is as strong as expected with 100-hp Rotax 912S engine; solo ground roll is less than 150 feet. Excellent visibility around you at all times. Flaps were quite effective at controlling approach path steepness; slips are also effective. Authoritative aileron response. Slow-speed capabilities (thanks partly to vortex generators) are great.
Cons - All taildraggers have some extra requirements on takeoffs and landings; pilots must stay active on rudder pedals without overdoing it. No other negatives.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Better handling qualities for most pilots compared to pioneering Avid and Kitfox designs of this configuration. Light, reasonably fast, authoritative controls were very agreeable. Good control authority for coping with crosswinds or performing slips to landing.
Cons - Aileron and rudder harmony was not perfect; rudder pedals were heavier than rather light aileron response. Trim control was too sensitive to assure a fine setting. Pilots not used to rudders will need to acquire new skills for taildragger operations.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Fuel consumption plus noise and vibration are good with the Rotax 912 4-stroke engine common to light-sport aircraft. Wing design benefits slow-speed performance (resulting in quick takeoffs and short landings). Cruise is comfortably over 100 mph, even at medium throttle settings.
Cons - Climb is not quite as strong as expected with the 100-hp Rotax 912S. Pilots seeking the fastest cruising LSA will have to look elsewhere; the Highlander is instead optimized for bushplane operations (which it does very well). No other negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stall speeds were reasonably slow (though not as low as factory specs; see article). Accelerated stalls rolled level in either direction. Longitudinal power response was positive, returning to level without oscillation. Four-point pilot restraints for both seats.
Cons - Disturb the joystick fore or aft at trim and the Highlander returned to level somewhat slowly (though positively). Rudder pedals felt slightly heavier than ailerons (though once a pilot gets used to it or linkages are adjusted to harmonize, the problem should disappear).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - The Highlander is effectively a third-generation Just Aircraft model and it shows: performance and handling plus rugged bushplane looks without the higher price and complexity of many LSA. Folding wings may help storage at crowded airports with high hangar prices. Kit options keep the Highlander closer to many pilots' budgets.
Cons - Base price of $21,500 plus more costly 4-stroke engine will push even kit prices toward $40K, plus 400 to 600 hours build time. Painting and finishing can add significantly. Just Aircraft has not yet announced its plan for ASTM certification. Company is only a few years old. o
If you’re familiar with Avid Flyer or Kitfox aircraft, you know at least something about Just Aircraft’s Highlander. Its pedigree “path” is somewhat meandering but leads to an excellent flying machine born of a rich American airplane design heritage. Dean Wilson was the originator of this now-proven design shape. The first departure from Wilson’s Avid Aircraft company was Dan Denney, who went on to offer the Kitfox. Denney’s prowess as a marketer brought international fame to the Kitfox and, over the years, the sale of nearly 3,000 aircraft. At one time Denney Aerocraft was among the country’s largest suppliers of kit-built aircraft. What had been an ultralight design evolved into a successful 2-seat homebuilt, but that wasn’t the end of the evolution behind Wilson’s original creation. Denney sold his company to Phil Reid, who renamed the Idaho company SkyStar. A Well-Evolved History Another break-off from Avid Aircraft and Denney Aerocraft was Flying K Enterprises, which introduced the single-seat Sky Raider.