Priced between an RV-7 and RV-14, Whisper is clearly a very similar aircraft but sleekly built of all carbon fiber composites. This was bound to happen and some readers may be delighted. While the RV series is the most popular kit-built airplane ever, it can be a demanding build for some and Whisper offers some advantages in that regard. This article goes outside our normal range but Whisper is represented by Deon Lombard of Aeropilot USA, seller of the L600 and importer of the FX1. Aeropilot USA will be moving to the newer L600 Eagle when ready; this is a spin-off from the L600 Legend with changes effected by an an engineer who departed Aeropilot. I will have more on Eagle when it is close to delivering — “soon,” Deon observed. Meanwhile… Whisper Aircraft cut its teeth building motorgliders. If you’ve ever examined any motorglider up close, you’ll know designers obsess over tiny flaws in the finish, sealing every gap that might cost a millionth of a point in glide.
Phone: (949) 283-9041Ft. Pierce, FL 34949 - USA
Rare and/or New AircraftMC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn't see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That's true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design). However, Gregg Ellsworth and AIR (Aviation Insurance Resources) came to the rescue so now importer Ed Ricks of Montaer USA has a good chance to get this all-new design to Midwest 2020. When you look at the image of MC-01, some of us see the Paradise P1NG. No surprise, as the designer once worked with Paradise. While the new model bears a close resemblance to the earlier SLSA, that one has largely disappeared from the U.S. market, so Montaer is filling a void. Paradise, and now Montaer, have long offered a yoke control with a voluminous three-door cabin. It makes people think Cessna 150 but larger (and it performs substantially better). The first U.S. delivery will also have hand controls, a choice available to offer assistance to some pilots. Merlin Lite by Aeromarine LSA — If you know Merlin, you should be asking, "…Lite?" Wasn't it already light? Ah, that is Merlin PSA. This is Merlin Lite …and yes, it is lighter, if you can believe that. Proprietor Chip Erwin of Aeromarine LSA is one of those can't-sit-still people and he's taking his early success with Merlin PSA even further with a lighter-yet, lower-cost-yet model powered by the Polini Thor engine that tens of thousands of powered paragliders use. The good news is you don't have to run this one off the ground. I'll have more on this, possibly before Midwest 2020 because this model is literally hot off the factory floor. Put this in perspective. Merlin PSA, also a single seater, is an all-metal, fully enclosed, well-equipped aircraft that you can assemble for around $35,000. Options and choice of engine can increase the base but it is easily one of the great bargains in aviation. A 60-horsepower four-stroke V-Twin engine will make the "bigger" Merlin soar into the sky, but just for fun, come see Merlin Lite at Midwest 2020. SmithSilver by Tri-State Kite — Owner Mark Smith's enterprise is "the nation's leading source of quality aftermarket parts for the complete line of the Quicksilver ultralight aircraft, and has been in business more than 33 years" he expressed. Mark has become a guru of the Quicksilver type, has made numerous components for them, and will have something called SmithSilver at Midwest 2020. I'm as curious as you and look forward to checking it out. BTW, are you puzzled by Mark's business name …specifically "Kites?" When hang gliders were a lot simpler than today's sophisticated models, they were often called "kites," a term that followed even earlier boat-towed rigs that literally had to be tethered like a kite. Even the first hang gliders were more than a mere kite but the name was quick and easy, and it stuck. Mark's time in the business goes back far enough that his business name could reflect that …even if today it sounds a bit odd for an aircraft company. Read for yourself Mark Smith's history of design ideas for the Quicksilver aircraft. Sparrow by Carlson — This oldie but goodie has not been seen for some time but thanks to the people behind the MiniMax series of affordable aircraft, the Sparrow is returning to the market. Lots of readers remember this once-popular model. Following the death of Ernie Carlson a few years back, the brand fell out of sight for most buyers even though Ernie's wife, Mary, kept the business running. Now with help from David Cooper of Team MiniMax (and some partners), the single place Carlson Sparrow will be returning to the market, with plans for the two-place in their mind but still on a back burner. This project is still new but come to Midwest 2020 and ask questions. F2 by Flight Design — I have reported this impressive new top-end Special LSA before but for most Americans, this will be their first viewing. I saw it in Aero 2019 but it had not flown then. It's all wrung out and approved now and I look forward to a flight in the bigger, better model. After Midwest 2020, F2 will go home with Tom and Tom Gutmann of Airtime Aviation, the world's largest dealer/distributor for Flight Design aircraft. As winter follows in a few months, Airtime's base in Oklahoma makes sense versus Flight Design USA in Connecticut. This is the first F2 in America so they're sharing the treasure. Vashon Ranger — While it's not brand new, Ranger R7 is new enough that many LSA enthusiasts have yet to see one and Vashon Aircraft has never displayed at Midwest before. The brand has done respectably well as our industry reports, as seen on Tableau Public, demonstrate. After their first deliveries in 2017, Washington-based Vashon has grown rapidly, thanks to a familiar construction at a good price (starts just below $100,000 fully built and reasonably well equipped). Through the first half of 2020, the company had already almost matched all of 2019, so despite the virus, more Rangers are taking to the sky. You should check this one out in person, but I'll be angling for a flight in the new design so we expect to report more and capture video. SD-1 (kit) By SD Planes —Readers of this website like affordable aircraft and the SD Planes single place kit is surely a great value in light aircraft. Construction is significantly wood. If you don't already know, building from wood is achievable by most, much less challenging that kits that involve welding or composite work. Check this video for more about building the airplane and for a look at the two seat model from the same designer. SD-1 is a modest project, not only from the build effort but you can keep the base price below $20,000, an amount the importer said includes the engine. If you simply can't see yourself building a single seater — no matter how much fun it might be — U.S. rep John Vining has the SD-2 Sportmaster. Both share the same ease of construction. VL3 by JMB Aircraft — This spring, we had a contest going on between three speedy European aircraft: Sweden's striking Blackwing, Switzerland's super-sleek Risen, and JMB Aircraft's VL3. Of these, only one will be at Midwest 2020: VL3. You already know this airplane under the marketing name Gobosh. It was sold as a fixed gear, fixed pitch prop Special LSA. In Europe, where no speed limit applies to what they then and still call "microlights" or European ultralights, companies like those mentioned above seek the highest speed they can achieve. All use the Rotax engine, so it becomes about airframe smoothness, wing efficiency, and getting as lean as possible, hence retractable gear. For now in the U.S., such aircraft must be built as kits but in 2023, such models will become LSA (or maybe Light Personal Aircraft, depending on what FAA eventually decides about a possible new category). Fusion 212 by Magnus — Did you wonder if this handsome aircraft disappeared? That's understandable because we haven't seen it for a short time (and, of course, not this unusual year). I did a flight in Fusion and you can check it out in this video. What could be better? You could attend Midwest 2020 and fly it yourself. At minimum, you can talk to the representatives, ask questions, and closely examine the all-composite aircraft built in Hungary but represented by Magnus USA. This list is not inclusive of all players but you can check the Midwest 2020 program to see all expected exhibitors.
Who Won't Be Present?I understand a few cannot be present and while I certainly respect their decision not to take chances, well… darn it! I'll miss these folks. Rob Rollison the proprietor of the very successful Aerotrek line has elected not to go. He cited concerns about the virus and how that can affect a show that is already modestly attended. Such things matter to vendors swayed by high traffic at shows like Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh, but an individual pilot actually benefits from a smaller number of attendees. Although the company appears on the site layout, apparently Rans has elected not to attend after many years of doing so. This is just that kind of year, I guess. Two other aircraft are not quite ready yet. These include two entries from Deon Lombard's Aeropilot USA distributorship. He is expecting the first M-8 Eagle, rebadged as L600 Eagle to provide continuity for the earlier Aeropilot Legend/L600 Deon formerly represented (he still owns the dealership for several more months but will then switch to the L600 Eagle; I will report more on that later). In addition, Deon is bringing in from South Africa the sleek composite RV-like Whisper kit-built aircraft. Perhaps at DeLand in January or certainly by Sun 'n Fun 2021, both aircraft should be available for your inspection. Deon will have the InnovAviation FX1 we saw at Midwest 2019 (here's our video on that model). He'll also have a very special opportunity for one buyer of the same aircraft I flew. Come and see for yourself. However, while we regret missing a couple regulars, I'm pleased those who show should (fingers crossed) have plenty to look at and I expect to make several reports from the event — the last of the year since DeLand Showcase has pushed into 2021 (January 28-29-30). Travel safely and I hope to see you in Mt. Vernon!
To help you psych' up for Midwest 2020, here's a few videos assembled by Videoman Dave. He's putting up lots before this event — go to his YouTube channel to see many more. https://youtu.be/oSpq6vZ4skQ https://youtu.be/mMV824eEbRk https://youtu.be/eq0FfmDvNtE https://youtu.be/P25dFK_RCY8
I hope you can attend 2020’s Midwest LSA Expo — the last airshow in 2020. If you cannot attend, rest assured your trusty reporter will be onsite and gathering all the info on the coolest aircraft I can find. What will be available? Well, if I am honest, we will have to see when we arrive to be certain. In these virus-impacted times, things have a lousy way of changing at the last minute, however… Those who attend should see a few aircraft that few Americans have seen before. Here’s a quick take, not forgetting the statement about how arrivals can be altered beyond the wishes of any particular vendor. Rare and/or New Aircraft MC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn’t see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That’s true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design).
Bristell 915iSThe successful model from the very active BRM Aero in the Czech Republic was always a favorite for its exquisite design with no detail overlooked, with some of the smoothest execution in the industry. It's wide cabin and luxurious appointments puts Bristell almost in a class of its own, with a price tag to match. Bristell with Rotax's uber-powerful, 141-horsepower 915iS fuel injected, turbocharged, and intercooler engine bumps the selling price beyond reach of many aviators while still being a fraction of its equivalent among legacy general aviation airplanes. You'll pay in the high $200,000 range for Bristell 915 but what a superlative airplane you'll receive for that money. While the price might discourage some, fear not, as main man Lou Mancuso also offers a shared ownership program that may be the best I've ever heard (details in this video). As we launched on our photo mission with Bristell going first, it was clear this machine can soar into the sky faster than almost any LSA I've seen short of much-slower-cruising STOL designs. Look for our video to follow with more information about the latest offered by Bristell USA. BRM Aero is definitely a moving target with new models in the works, but as with all the vendors featured in this virtual preview, you will have to learn about the new ideas at a later airshow. Stay tuned! ••• Get Lots More Info — Bristell USA (for North America) or BRM Aero (for other countries)
Jabiru J230DFor a very rare airframe company that also builds its own engines, welcome to the all-new Jabiru J230D with their latest Gen 4 (generation 4) Jabiru engine. The two seater LSA is also supplied as a four seater in its homeland of Australia, so this American model offers not only one of the most voluminous aft cabins in all of LSA-land but a separate, third door to access it. Representative U.S. Sport Planes, led by industry veteran Scott Severen, has demonstrated this baggage capacity with photos showing a large dog sitting comfortably aft of the pilots. Those who struggle to load a couple small bags in most airplanes may be envious of the ease of entry to the back cabin. Yet capacity is not the whole story behind J230D. This new model has refinements to make it fly even nicer. Since J230 models were already able to speed to the top of the category, improvements are focused on fit and finish and handling qualities. In addition to the updated airframe, Jabiru is now in full production on their Gen 4 engine offered in two configurations: a four-cylinder 2200 model producing 80 horsepower; and the six-cylinder 3300 model with 120 horsepower. Learn more about both Gen 4 engines. The J230D uses the later to scoot along at max LSA speed. ••• Get Lots More Info — U.S. Sport Planes
Flight Design F2Flight Design has been busy over the last year. Not only have they come out with their CTLS 2020 (fresh news) but they've put their all-new F2 through multiple tests. The German company is almost ready to begin deliveries. Since I first saw the F2 in mock up, Flight Design has redesigned the intake for two reasons: "to reduce drag as we confirmed the older version was very functional but draggy; and for aesthetic reasons," said the company. "Flight Design team designer and Head of Airworthiness, Christian Majunke, designed conceptually. He also designed a rather novel installation of the coolant and oil radiators," elaborated Flight Design USA representative, Tom Peghiny. Also new panel is an SLSA panel with twin G3X screens, a Garmin GTR 225 Com, Garmin GTX 345 ADSB in and out transponder, Garmin GMC 507 autopilot control head (with dual axis autopilot), and Garmin GMA 245 intercom. Pilot controls remain essentially as they were on the CT-series but note the combined single lever throttle and brake system. "Our F2 prototype number 002 arrived at port in Miami in preparation for display at Sun n Fun 2020," said Tom. Like most vendors, Flight Design USA hoped to go forward with the Lakeland show but will now unveil the new model at Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on schedule). "After completing all SLSA required flight testing including the demanding ASTM 3180 anti-spin requirements, production has started on the first aircraft from production tooling in Germany, Ukraine and the Czech Republic," concluded Tom. ••• Get Lots More Info — Flight Design USA
Whisper X350You know the Czech Cessna-182 lookalike called L600 from AeroPilot USA. You also know the dashing FX1 from InnovAviation in Italy. Both of these interesting models are represented by Deon Lombard of AeroPilot USA, now based in Florida but with representation in California. At Sun 'n Fun 2020, Deon expected to introduce Whisper to American kit builders. Alas, as with the rest of this group, you probably won't see it until July in Wisconsin.
Whisper Aircraft in South Africa has created Whisper X350 Gen II, a two-seat, cross-country sport aircraft with a limit load factor of plus 6.0 and minus 4.0 Gs. Those are merely limit loads. This is a tough bird.
Whisper wings feature a carbon fiber structure tested to an ultimate load factor of 12.0 Gs. The Gen II’s wing tanks offer a total fuel capacity of 63 U.S. gallons, giving a range of 1,000 nautical miles and an endurance of over 6 hours.
"The aircraft also has one of the widest interiors on the market today, featuring optional leather interior and plenty of baggage room making the Gen II perfect for comfortable cross-country trips. This will make a good member of the AeroPilot USA family. A few more specs: Useful Load — 925 pounds; Speed — 175 knots; Range — 1,137 miles.••• Get Lots More Info — AeroPilot USA
Montaer MC-01It might have been one of the great flights to reach Sun 'n Fun 2020, had it occurred. That's because designer and company representative Bruno de Oliveira had planned to fly his new model all the way from Brazil to Lakeland. That alone would have been reason to examine the new Light-Sport Aircraft. Bruno will be aided in his approach to the U.S. market by longtimer, Ed Ricks, who once helped the Paradise Aircraft people with their P1NG (video). Unfortunately, that relationship faded but when Bruno, who once worked for Paradise, struck out on his own, Ed and partner were pleased to get back involved. MC-01's airframe is constructed with 4130 molybdenum steel tube providing a greater safety to the occupants. The exterior is all aeronautical aluminum fuselage and wings. A steerable nose wheel, dual toe brakes, and control yokes are just some of the features of this well built airplane. Learn more here; get more specs here. Had Ed been able to show MC-01 at Sun 'n Fun 2020 he was ready to make a special offer. While this handsome, approved, all-metal airplane normally sells for a reasonable $135,000, an introductory price of only $125,000 was to be the show special. If you're lucky, Ed may extend the offer to AirVenture Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on its present schedule). ••• Get Lots More Info — Montaer USA
While I continue to worry about the cash crunch faced by two of my favorite shows, I am still driven to provide content as if those shows had occurred this year and not been postponed to 2021. Of course, I refer to Aero Friedrichshafen and Sun ‘n Fun, the latter my focus for this post. Here I will relate five aircraft you might have seen in Lakeland last week …before it was bumped to early May, but which is now off until April 2021. I admit I secretly hoped for good news in these sad cancellations that might allow me to attend both events in 2021. I had to pick one over the other in 2020 as they were exactly opposite one another. Unfortunately for my schedule, the year-long postponement didn’t change anything. Sun ‘n Fun 2021 will be 13-18 of April while Aero 2021 is planned for 14-17 April.
It's Holiday Time What Could You Ask Santa to Bring?How about WingBug as a stocking stuffer? This thing is pretty amazing. I admire developer Alex Rolinski and partner Bryan Tittle for pursuing such a project to a high state of the art. The good folks at Levil have a different entry (the B.O.M.) but WingBug has an advantage in that they also developed an app to support the hardware. The app and product are darned impressive and the video below will tell you all you need to know plus give you a close-up look to see how it functions. (This was a rare solo effort of video recording on my part but it has been made totally professional thanks to the talented YouTube publisher Videoman Dave who could not attend DeLand this year.)
Going Faster in the Future?"Here is some newsworthy information for your website," related Deon Lombard, who imports the Aeropilot L600 and InnovAviation FX1. "As we believe this aircraft will qualify for the new Light-Sport Aircraft rules to come (perhaps)," this kit could find a market in the USA. Until that rule arrives — probably in late 2023 — "Whisper can be a nice step up in airspeed and weight limits within the Experimental Amateur Built class." Deon's now-Florida-based operation will offer Whisper in kit form or quick-built kit. It can be completed as a taildragger or tricycle gear (nearby photos). Deon said Whisper will require about "half the airframe build time of an RV or Lancair in a very strong composite sandwich material, with UV and lightning protection." He reported the structure has been tested to handle a 12G load. One is already approved and flying in the USA, Deon reported, using a slightly smaller Lycoming engine at present. Some 25 are presently flying in South Africa. Whisper is, he added, "a fast and roomy aircraft, with a lower profile, making it about 10 knots faster than a RV 7." See additional factory specifications here. The price is also very competitive, Deon maintained. "We will be offering an owner builder-assist program conducted by the factory guys, in Florida." Deon said it takes only a 14-day period when assembled at their U.S. facility. He promised to advise a hangar address early next year and hopes to have a demo plane ready for Sun 'n Fun 2020. See Whisper at the Aeropilot booth at the April event.
In case I don’t get another post up before (gosh, this is a busy time of year, isn’t it?)… let me wish all visitors and viewers a very warm and wonderful holiday. We so appreciate your visits to ByDanJohnson.com! We begin a new year shortly and will keep our focus on the many enjoyable light airplanes. This industry and the pilots it serves have an exciting four years ahead as FAA’s huge new regulation comes to completion. For some this will add excellent new opportunities such as using an LSA of the future to do various kinds of aerial work — and much more. For others — those of you who enjoy pure recreational flying — the new rule will also be beneficial as FAA pulls further back to let industry take the lead in new directions. I find this very foresightful of the aviation agency and I’m thrilled to report more as we learn details of the new rule.
Thoroughly Modern Ultralight; Now a SLSAWe knew the FX1 from its ancestral JetFox series culminating in the JetFox 97, well… in 1997. See more of its history and background in this article. Here's an earlier report as FX1 completed development. The older JetFox models were more clearly ultralights. These were European ultralights, which are somewhere between a Part 103 ultralight vehicle and LSA of today. The design always caught my eye and I very much enjoyed flying the late '90s model. However, I did not enjoy worming my way into the cockpit around tubing structure and throwing a leg over the stick. You needed to be something of a contortionist to enter and I did not do so very gracefully. Times change. Along came modern LSA in all manner of aircraft and along came carbon fiber, digital instrumentation, crashworthy designs, and modern engines like Rotax's 912iS. Longtime JetFox/FX1 designer Alfredo di Cesare made incremental changes to the JetFox series but he kept aware of the changing design of light aircraft and moved forward with an entirely fresh creation. Virtually every part of InnovAviation's FX1 is new compared to JetFox 97. What FX1 retains is a similar shape and configuration. If that shape looks familiar to you, it should. In the JetFox 97 days — see this full-length pilot report of the 1990s design in an article written before SP/LSA was announced — the Italian aircraft significantly resembled the Flightstar series, which had evolved from designs by prolific Swiss designer, Hans Gygax.
FX1, the SLSAAlfredo and his team took the advice of Videoman Dave and me to take FX1 to Mt. Vernon, Illinois after Oshkosh. We assured him he and his airplane would be taken care of in the professional and enthusiastic manner of airport manager, Chris Collins. Chris created the Midwest LSA Expo (coming up on September 5-6-7, 2019), an event entering its second decade. We tell all aircraft producers they should go as this event is the No. 1 place for Dave and I to do Video Pilot Reports. These video productions are too demanding and time consuming to attempt at events like Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh but, thanks to Chris, we can do whatever it takes to make our popular VPRs at his airport. You should attend. It's laid back but that means you can get all the time you want with the aircraft representative. Alfredo and Team InnovAviation did much more than bring their airplane. Read what Chris had to report… "The InnovAviation FX1 made its inaugural flight in the United States at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport! "The long path to the air started with the aircraft on static display at Airventure Oshkosh last week, a late-night arrival at KMVN on Monday, nearly 40 straight hours of assembly and testing, and the inspection and sign off by the Federal Aviation Administration on August 1st. "At the controls were southern California-based reps for the aircraft, Pete Schutte and Deon Lombard. In the post-flight photograph are (from left to right) Deon Lombard, AeroPilot USA; Paolo Silvestrini, InnovAviation Chief Engineer; Pete Schutte, AeroPilot Chief Pilot; Alfredo Di Cesare, CEO InnovAviation (and the aircraft’s designer), and Umberto Di Cesare, InnovAviation Chief Operations Officer. "The aircraft and assembly team hails from Corropoli, Italy. The aircraft is sure to be a hit at the Midwest LSA Expo in early September. It was great hosting Alfredo, Umberto, and Paolo over the last three days. Thank you Deon and Pete for allowing KMVN this honor."
You're Invited to MWLSA!I've already bought my ticket and will be on hand all three days of the Midwest LSA Expo. I hope you can make it, as well. MWLSA is located about an hour's drive east of St. Louis. The airport is all LSA, Sport Pilot kits, and ultralights for the show days. You can visit with about 40 aircraft vendors (weather permitting and it usually is good) and you can take a demo flight in mere minutes. The airport has forums, air conditioned inside displays, food, regular bathrooms, and a ramp full of fun airplanes. The town has plenty of restaurants and hotels, all reasonably priced. What's not to love? Here's a short video image about FX1 at Oshkosh and Mt. Vernon. Enjoy!
* Lots of people get this wrong. We've been conditioned by many years of FAA "certifying" airplanes, like Cessna, Cirrus, Piper and so forth. However, Special LSA are not "certified." They are "accepted" by FAA after proving in very detailed form that the design meets ASTM standards and the company uses standard "best practices" in the manufacture of the aircraft.
If you are an ultralight enthusiast (as I certainly am!), then you are probably celebrating with me as FX1 joins the Special LSA fleet — which it does as Number 150 on our popular SLSA List. Here’s a secret: the SLSA List is one of the most-visited features on ByDanJohnson.com. Those who frequent that page know they can find all the Special LSA that have been accepted by FAA with links to the manufacturer, their importer if appropriate, contact info and all our content about any of the long list of aircraft. We are nearly at the 15-year anniversary since FAA released the regulation for what is now known as Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft; the rule came out in early September 2004. It was grandly previewed at Airventure Oshkosh that summer. The first approvals — Evektor‘s SportStar and Flight Design‘s CT2K — were granted in April of 2005 at the Sun ‘n Fun event.
FX1 at Aero Friedrichshafen 2018I had some correspondence with Alfredo but we had not met until this year's Aero show in the south of Germany. Since I worked closely with my associate, Videoman Dave — whose YouTube video channel 40,000 of you obviously enjoy — we captured a video interview with the design. See that below. While FX1 clearly follows the Jetfox 97 — its overall shape, planform, and layout are very similar — the new model is very different in some ways not obvious in the nearby photos. To start, FX1 uses a chrome moly steel internal structure, with a beautifully-shaped carbon fiber exterior, and riveted aluminum wings and tail. No doubt, Alfredo's latest is a dramatic update from the one of two decades back. Today, as then, the main engine choice is the Rotax 912 ULS carbureted engine but InnovAviation will soon begin offering the Rotax 912iS Sport fuel injected version.
When in USA and How Much?While our video (below) is already up around 15,000 views in just five days after it was posted, I've also heard plenty of chatter on social media about FX1. Although lots of pilots love the look, several have said, "Well, it'll never be available here" (I don't know why they think that) or "I never see the price." We've got the answers and more. FX1 will make its first showing at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 and even its designer, Alfredo will be present. It is being imported by Deon Lombard of AeroPilot USA, the same man who brings in the L600 that we've reported here. An 80% scale version of Cessna's 182 — at a most agreeable price — L600 a beautiful flyer (watch our Video Pilot Report here). FX1 will make a nice complement to L600. Deon expects to sell the sleek black aircraft for $135,000 and based on what we've seen for L600 it may be quite well equipped for that figure. Look for Deon, Alfredo, FX1, and L600 in the ultralight / light plane area of Oshkosh at the south end of the sprawling airshow grounds (you can take a free tram ride if the hike is too much for you). Meanwhile, enjoy our video interview and look for Videoman Dave and I at Oshkosh (though we'll be a blur as we zoom back and forth making many more of the videos you love. Specifications are shown below the video. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is only six weeks away. It is followed by the Midwest LSA Expo in early September. https://youtu.be/rQLAICk1g0w
Weight & Dimensions
- Seating: 2
- Cabin width: 49 inches (1.26 meters)
- Wingspan: 27 feet 7 inches (8.454 meters)
- Chord: 4 feet 5 inches (1,345 meters)
- Wing area: 122.7 square feet (11.4 square meters)
- Wing loading: 10.75 pounds per square foot (56 kilograms per square meter)
- Empty weight: 728 pounds (330 kilograms)
- Max takeoff weight: 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms)
- Useful load: 592 pounds (270 kilograms)
- Payload (at full fuel): 406 pounds
- Fuel capacity: 30.9 gallons (117 liters)
- Baggage Allowance: 77 pounds (35 kilograms)
- Powerplant: Rotax ULS producing 100 horsepower (74 kilowatt)
- Propeller: E-prop 3-blade, 67 inch diameter (170 centimeters)
- Max. continuous speed (VH): 136 mph/ 120 knots (220 kilometers per hour)
- Cruise speed (75% power): 124 mph / 108 knots (200 kilometers per hour)
- Stall speed (VS0), flaps down: 40 mph / 35 knots (65 kilometers per hour)
- Never exceed speed: 150 mph / 130 knots (240 kilometers per hour)
- Range (with reserve): 559 statute miles (900 kilometers)
- Endurance (with reserve): @ cruise: 5.5 hours
- Glide ratio: 11:1
- Best glide: 80 mph / 70 knots (130 kilometers per hour)
Years ago, back in the late 1990s, I flew an aircraft called JetFox 97. It resembled the Flightstar of the day and both were modeled on talented European designer Hans Gygax’s designs. Along came Light-Sport Aircraft in 2004; years passed with not much word about the increasingly aged JetFox 97. It’s back and looking handsome, cloaked in a carbon fiber fuselage. Since this is an Italian design, it has the beauty we often associate with products from that country. I am describing Alfredo Di Cesare‘s FX1. You can read this article for more details of the history of this handsome aircraft along with many points of interest about it and some in-flight video. An earlier article provides more background from American John Hunter, a longtime light aircraft enthusiast and expert who assisted Alfredo as he completed the design. FX1 at Aero Friedrichshafen 2018 I had some correspondence with Alfredo but we had not met until this year’s Aero show in the south of Germany.
Aeropilot L600In the video below, you can join me as I take you around and inside the L600 from Aeropilot in the Czech Republic, represented here in America by Aeropilot USA. In the next few days, I'll give you a similar tour of the Evektor Harmony LSA and we'll talk with folks from Flight Design to hear how that well-known producer is doing as 2018 begins. These video pilot reports have largely replaced text-and-photo pilot reports although reporting in that form will continue as shorter articles here on the home page. Video pilot reports can provide actual views of an aircraft performing some of the evaluations I talk about in the narrative portion. In this way, a print article simply cannot compete with video. So, "lights, camera, action" — let the fun begin! Also, please remember all the hyperlinks embedded in articles take you all over this website with its 1,500 or so pages packed to the edges with all kinds of info about Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit-built aircraft, and ultralight aircraft …our singular focus in aviation. Aeropilot USA sells L600 starting below $100,000 at which price it makes a great value in a sleek yet familiar shape. You can check it out further if you attend Sebring 2018. https://youtu.be/ar12-jSMTdg
This website was born in 2004 after a few years of laboriously uploading a large number of written pilot reports that had appeared in aviation print magazines over the years before. It was tougher to do then than it is now. The project started in late 1999, barely four years after the World Wide Web was built on the Internet. Tools were crude then and it proved to be a multi-year project to convert from print to web. Today, such a task is vastly easier and we hope you are enjoying the refreshed ByDanJohnson.com that was launched in spring 2017. In this new millennium of intense change, print has slowly but steadily yielded to online (aviation magazines have actually faired reasonably well, but print in forms such as newspapers has badly eroded). We got lucky as we were early and we established a solid presence for this website that today reaches most of the owners of the 66,000+ LSA or LSA-like aircraft sold around the world, with the majority of those aircraft delivered since 2000.
What Airplanes to SeeI won't try to predict all you might get to see, but here are three aircraft of particular interest, each in its own way. Seamax LSA Seaplane — We welcome back to the LSA space Brazil's Seamax M-22, now with folding wings. After emerging from under a takeover cloud Seamax is roaring back in business, complete with a new U.S. base of operations. The company "will be displaying and delivering our aircraft Serial Number 149 at this year's DeLand Showcase." They added, "Our Brazilian team, including Seamax designer Miguel Rosário will be ready to answer your questions." Launching their U.S. presence, "Seamax will be delivering the M-22 regularly, landing our first M-22 at DeLand [and] ready to accept orders as our production in Brazil is ramping up." Shortly after the new year starts, Seamax will start final assembly operations in Daytona Beach, Florida. "We will ship the Seamax, manufactured in Brazil, to be assembled in the USA." Factory-trained staff will add engine, prop, and avionics at their facilities at Daytona Beach, on the campus of Embry Riddle Aero U. "Our new building, located in São João da Boa Vista’s airport in São Paulo, is allowing us to ramp up production fast so we can satisfy our future customers soon," finished the company statement. Flight Design USA — One of the most successful U.S. importers is a Connecticut-based company, run by one of the most respected names in Light-Sport aviation, Tom Peghiny. If you feel you haven't heard enough about them and him lately, that's because Flight Design, the German company has been through a top-to-bottom reorganization. Now, they're back and you can see them at DeLand! We saw AeroJones representing the company at DeLand #1 (2016) and that Taiwan enterprise continues strongly as it enlarges CTLS production to serve customer sales in many countries, including China. I'll have more about AeroJones early in the new year. Flight Design USA is the name that kept the CTLS and CT-series atop the market share chart for a dozen years, before bowing to CubCrafters in 2016 while undergoing the German court-ordered reoranization. If you've been waiting to get the latest news about this important brand, come speak to Tom and new Flight Design director, Lars Jörges at DeLand. Aeropilot L600 and New FX1 — I've been telling you about L600, a scale-model representation of Cessna's popular Cessna 182 Skylane …only at a fraction (something like one-eighth!) of the cost. You can see L600 at DeLand but you can also hear what U.S. importer Deon Lombard has to say about a new entry headed America's way. Deon recently visited Italy with another pilot to examine and fly the FX1 and reportedly came away excited and impressed. I've written about this handsome Italian aircraft, a follow-on to their 1990s era JetFox97. I recently spoke with Designer Alfredo Di Cesare by phone and I am more than a bit intrigued to see and fly this latest iteration of a proven design. Aeropilot USA will not yet have an FX1 on display in DeLand. Alfredo said he is finalizing work to comply to the ASTM standards that allow FAA acceptance. He's already earned German "ultralight" approval, a good preparation for showing compliance with ASTM. Last year, DeLand had a full roster of airplanes both new and familiar. The event, organized by Jana aided by (husband) Gary Filip with oversight from airport manager John Eiff, put on a superb first-year event. I expect DeLand #2 to be even better. I'll be present every day shooting new YouTube videos with Videoman Dave and capturing article material. I hope to see you in Florida …soon!
Given a successful Midwest LSA Expo, you could say the “LSA show season” is underway. This is proven by the upcoming DeLand show — the second annual event — followed by the 14th Sebring LSA Expo. Even before DeLand, for those in western U.S. states, is Copperstate (which is not a pure play LSA event but does have a good representation of them). Why go to DeLand over November 2-3-4 of this year? Several reasons come to mind. First, Showcase executive Jana Filip — who earned her stripes managing Sebring for several years — said exhibitor sign-up has been strong, meaning you can see many great light aircraft …more on that below. Second, weather in early November in Florida should be marvelous, even as the northern states head toward winter. Third, DeLand is one of those aviation-sports airports featuring one of the world’s most active sky diving operations.
L600 — known as Legend 540 or 600 in Europe — is a new arrival in America, although this high wing LSA is known in Europe for a few years. At Sun ‘n Fun 2017, we spoke with U.S. importer, Deon Lombard, who tells about this entry in the Light-Sport Aircraft field. If it looks familiar to you, it should. L600 was modeled after the Cessna 182 at approximately 80% scale. That’s probably smart as nearly every pilot on the planet has been in a Cessna 172 or 182 at one time or another and probably came to like it …except for their prices. In comparison L600 is very attractively priced. The aircraft is a try composite unlike the older model it resembles.
Doesn’t the newest SLSA resemble an aircraft you know? Can you place it? Welcome Aeropilot Legend 600 imported by U.S. representative Aeropilot USA, which received a Special LSA Airworthiness Certificate from FAA on September 21st, 2016. After a bit of delay, we’ve now added Legend 600 to our 143-aircraft-long SLSA List. Deon Lombard is the American rep. He comes from an aviation family following Anton Lombard, a World War II pilot who founded Safair Freighters in South Africa. They report this was the nation’s first air cargo service and is now the largest air cargo company in the country. An aviation engineer by training, Deon created a flight school in South Africa and now runs Fly Light Sport California in Fullerton. First introduced in Europe at the 2011 Aero Friedrichshafen show, the Czech-based manufacturer said, “Legend was designed as an 80%-scale version of the very successful Cessna 182, with two passenger seating for [European] Ultralight or LSA.” They added, “But [Legend 600] actually has more passenger room than the Cessna.” Aeropilot’s European model is called Legend 540.