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.
Arion Aircraft, LLC Lightning LS-1
Phone: (931) 680-1781Shelbyville, TN 37160 - USA
Look No Further A Flash of LightningOf course, fast glass will never replace gnarly back-country airplanes on giant tundra tires. If you like that sort of operation, you're lucky to have many choices. Yet aviation’s leading draw may be going fast as more is always better, right? Indeed, one reason Arion makes a kit as well as their LS-1 Light-Sport model is because then they can access the excellent speed potential of this slick design. Let the drooling begin over these beautifully-contoured flying machines that can race 135 to 190 miles an hour for a fairly modest investment. Arion's LS-1 is a complying Light-Sport Aircraft that meets all the parameters and succeeded in passing a detailed FAA audit with flying colors a few years back. Lightning XS is the Experimental model on which you can install a more powerful engine. That these handsome aircraft are also 100% designed and manufactured in the USA may be sweet icing on the cake for many readers.
Bolts of LightningLightning LS-1 is an all-composite design paired with metal hardware elements. All components are made in house by Arion’s experienced staff. More than 100 Lightnings are flying American skies. The company reported 160 Lightning models are flying world wide dating back to Lightning’s first flight on March 3, 2006. “Lightning LS-1 is designed and built around Jabiru’s powerful 3300 six-cylinder aircraft engine,” noted Arion. “With a displacement of over 200 cubic inches and a direct drive crank, this compact beauty outputs 120 horsepower to deliver performance rarely matched in a Light-Sport Aircraft.” Lightning has no trouble hitting the LSA speed limit of 120 knots (138 mph). “[However, we] spent more than three years making the kit Lightning as efficient and fast as we could, so slowing down to 120 knots was a complete reversal of our thinking but one that had its benefits,” said principal and designer, Nick Otterback. “By changing the airfoil slightly and adding three feet of wing span, LS-1 stalls below 44 knots clean, giving our aircraft an impressive 52-knot approach speed.” A Jabiru 3300 delivers solo climb in excess of 1,200 fpm and owners can expect 1,000 fpm at its 1,320 pounds gross weight. At cruise speeds of 120 knots, the Jabiru burns a miserly 5.5 gallons an hour. “These are real performance numbers a pilot can rely on; not on a perfect day at sea level or flying around solo, but all loaded up,” stated Nick. Most companies list useful load, but Arion said the more meaningful payload can be up to 470 pounds. That will allow two big Americans plus some luggage, assuming weight and balance concurs. “Now standard equipped with 40 gallons of fuel, a Lightning pilot can go over 800 nautical miles with VFR reserves,” Nick added. Lightning XS is sold in kit form. The taller XS with more ground clearance offers a redesigned forward fuselage structure that gives the builder the option to choose engines up to 180 horsepower. Landing gear offering higher ground clearance permits bigger props on this new kit to allow the speedier model to hit speeds of 160 knots (184 mph) or more. Firewall aft, XS is much the same as the classic Lightning including its 42-inch wide cabin. Arion first displayed an XS powered by a Titan XIO340 at Sun ‘n Fun 2019, although the company also supports “legacy” piston engines O200 to O320 at 115 to 160 horsepower plus UL Power’s UL520is engine making 180 to 200 horsepower. Arion offers several propeller choices for the engines above. “For fixed pitch we like Sensenich wood or composite ground adjustable props,” said Arion. “We have tested in-flight adjustable props as well. For the Titan or Lycoming types, Whirlwind Aviation makes the RV200 series lightweight constant speed prop. For Jabiru or UL Power we have tested the Airmaster series.” Installation of an in-flight adjustable prop can increase performance but, of course, builders must accept added expense and plan for extra weight on the nose as they work through the build process. For those unsure about building a kit, you can always choose the LSA model and pick it up ready to fly. If you want to speed up the assembly process, Arion offers a builder assist center at their Shelbyville, Tennessee facility about an hour south of Nashville. Lightning owners in the western USA can try this deluxe Arizona builder-help center. Here's one owner's experience building Lightning at that center.
Titan-Powered Lightning XSSome pilots (me, for instance) thoroughly enjoy the beauty of flying slowly, of drifting leisurely over the landscape at a “human speed” that allows enough time to enjoy the expanse of an aerial view of your surroundings. Yet the allure of going fast is great, quickly chewing up the miles en route to your destination. When contemplating a cross country trip of a lengthy distance, fast cannot be too fast. In addition to a higher TAS, we all yearn for a tailwind that will raise our ground speed by another 20 mph. Lightning with the big Titan engine required a bulging nose cowl, Nick said. Taller landing gear for bigger props, bigger brakes, and 40 gallon fuel tanks are also among some of the features of this kit. How fast does Lightning XS go? Early testing revealed max cruise at 165 knots (190 mph) TAS at 8,500 feet density altitude at full gross. Climb is a stunning 2,000 fpm. These figures may sound boastful but but reflect real-time experience as recorded by the no-nonsense Nick Otterback. Most buyers may elect more than the basics but the fully-built Light-Sport Aircraft version of Lightning, called LS-1, is base priced at the genuine bargain of $115,000. Yet if you have time, the interest, and enjoy constructing a kit, Lightning XS has a base kit price of $39,900 with the Titan firewall-forward kit. A builder assist program is available for $4,000 extra. The program lasts four weeks. Of course Lightning XS is not a Light-Sport Aircraft and will require a Private or better certificate plus a medical, though BasicMed will suffice. If you don’t want to acquire a current medical, you can choose the SLSA version. Choices are good and Arion delivers sparkling performance with dashing good looks regardless of which variation you prefer.
Listen to developer Nick Otterback tell you lots about the superspeeder Lightning XS with 180 horsepower. A second video goes into depth about the Titan line of engines. https://youtu.be/gqOL9oZNzAw https://youtu.be/cycCQeOVwoo
You’ve heard some pilot say: “That airplane is so sleek it looks fast even when sitting parked on the ramp.” This is one of those airplanes. While most light aircraft producers concentrate on either kits or fully-built, a few swing both ways. Some builders unwilling to experiment with two very distinct business models permitted others to contract build a fully-built version while they focus entirely on kit building. Few have managed to do well with both endeavors but Arion seems to have solved the challenges. Arguably the shapeliest and smoothest aircraft in either the kit or RTF space is Arion Aircraft’s Lightning series. Nearly everyone agrees these qualify as fast-when-sitting-still types. Even one of the many electric airplane wannabe producers, Bye Aerospace, chose Lightning as its airframe template because they needed the smoothest, most modern look they could find. Look No Further A Flash of Lightning Of course, fast glass will never replace gnarly back-country airplanes on giant tundra tires.
Build Your DreamAided mightily by the real boss, Greg’s longtime spouse Crystal, the pair have created a idyllic setting to build your own aircraft. Located about 30 miles northwest from Tucson or a hour and a half south of Phoenix, Arizona, Greg and Crystal built with their own hands a large hangar with all the space and all the amenities needed to get your airplane kit put together. Yours and several other projects all at once. While you work at the project in time periods that work for you, the experience will be a eat-sleep-breath kit building from Day One. As Greg notes, entertainment and restaurants are a few miles away at the closest and people come to the Build Center not to go out for dinner or a movie but to build airplanes. So, build airplanes they do. They'll work with you 12 hours a day if you want, but "it's whatever the customer wants to do," clarified Greg. If eight hours maxes you out (probably understandable at first, anyway), you can collapse on one of the lounge's comfy chairs and recharge your batteries. I was told by several builders that Crystal puts out a good food spread and generally these two make you feel at home, even providing bedrooms so you can stay on the job as long as your schedule allows. "Most spend time, return home, and come back to finish the task," explained Greg. Building a Lightning — Greg observed, "All the primary fiberglass assemblies are preformed and fully fabricated including fuselage halves already bonded together with bulkheads installed; wings are substantially finished with fuel tanks installed; and all flight controls are installed." The kit also includes cowls, the prop spinner, cockpit canopy frame, seats, and baggage floors. Welded structures, such as the motor mount, spar box assembly, gear leg sockets, and various brackets, are finished and epoxy painted at the factory making them ready to install. Lightning's landing gear is machined from 7075T6 aluminum and ready to fit. An airplane like Lightning "goes together pretty fast," said Greg, continuing to say that the process takes only about three weeks. If you try this at home, plan on more time, other builders told me. The help the Build Center gives is invaluable plus it's more social than many projects. The Experimental Aircraft Build Center Arizona also helps builders create the Flying Legends Tucano and the ICP Savannah. The Build Center is 10 miles west of Marana's municipal airport, which itself is 20 miles northwest of Tucson, Arizona or about 100 miles south of Phoenix. This is baking hot country but Greg and Crystal's facility will keep you comfortable. Find out more by visiting Experimental Aircraft Build Center Arizona. As you will see and learn, you need bring nothing but your enthusiasm. Greg and Crystal — along with partner Jack Norris — will provide everything. You get a sleeping room. Crystal prepares meals and several builders told me this may be the highlight of the whole experience. The Build Center provides all the tools, jigs, and work tables you need. Let's get to work!
Let me be honest. I’ve built one aircraft in my life. It was a Quicksilver MX series, a design that can be assembled by first timer with reasonable skills in only 80 hours or so. A lot depends on your skills and interest, your basic mechanical aptitude, the space you have to work, your tools, and how much time you can put into a project. Quicksilver is a super-simple kit. What if you desire something more complex? I deeply admire those who have built some of the most beautiful aircraft I’ve ever seen. As many a manufacturer has told me, even kit manufacturers — “A homebuilder can do an even better job than we can at the factory because they can spend all the time needed to get every detail exactly right. We have a business to run and even though we’re very good at what we do, we cannot justify the hours a homebuilder may invest.” Sounds right to me… even considering how many superlative factory-built kits I’ve seen.
Bolts of LightningLightning LS-1 is an all-composite design with welded or machined elements. All components are made in house by Arion's experienced staff. More than 100 Lightnings are flying American skies (latest data here). The company reported 160 Lightning models are flying world wide since Lightning first flew on March 3, 2006. "Lightning LS-1 is designed and built around Jabiru’s powerful 3300 aircraft engine," noted Arion. "With a displacement of over 200 cubic inches and a direct drive crank, this little beauty has over 120 horsepower on tap for performance rarely matched in a Light-Sport Aircraft." Lightning has no trouble hitting the LSA speed limit of 120 knots (138 mph). "[We] spent more than three years making the kit Lightning as efficient and fast as we could, so slowing down to 120 knots was a complete reversal of thinking that had its benefits," said principal and designer, Nick Otterback. "By changing the airfoil slightly and adding three feet of wing span, LS-1 stalls below 44 knots clean, giving our aircraft an impressive 52 knot approach speed." Solo climb is in excess of 1,200 fpm and owners can expect 1,000 fpm at 1,320 pounds. At cruise speeds of 120 knots range fuel burns runs 5.5 gallons an hour. "These are real performance numbers a pilot can rely on; not on a perfect day at sea level or flying around solo, but all loaded up," stated Nick. Most companies list useful load, but Arion said the more meaningful payload can be up to 470 pounds. That will allow two big Americans plus some luggage assuming weight and balance confirms. "Now standard equipped with 40 gallons of fuel, you can go over 800 nautical miles with VFR reserves," Nick added. Lightning is offered only in tricycle-gear configuration — as most pilots prefer — but a taildragger version has been created by a builder. Read about that here. Lightning XS, available only in kit form, offers a redesigned forward fuselage structure that gives the builder the option to choose engines up to 180 horsepower. At Sun 'n Fun 2019, Arion displayed an XS powered by the Continental Motors Titan XIO340, although the company also supports "legacy piston engines O200-O320 at 115 to 160 horsepower and UL Power's UL520is at 180 to 200 horsepower. Taller landing gear permits bigger props on this new kit to allow the speedier model to hit speeds of 160 knots (184 mph). Firewall aft XS is much the same as the classic Lightning including its 42-inch wide cabin. Arion also offers several propeller choices for the engines above. "For fixed pitch we like Sensenich wood or composite ground adjustable props," said Arion. "We have tested in-flight adjustable props as well. For the Titan or Lycoming types, Whirlwind aviation makes the RV200 series light weight CS prop. For Jabiru or UL Power we have tested the Airmaster series." Installation of an in-flight adjustable prop can increase performance but, of course, builders must plan for the extra weight on the nose during the build process. Pricing and other questions are answered on Arion's FAQ page. For those unsure about building a kit, you can always choose the LSA model and pick it up ready to fly. If you want the extra speed, Arion offers a builder assist center at the Shelbyville, Tennessee facility about an hour south of Nashville. As the video mentions, Lightning was selected by Bye Aerospace as the airframe for its electric propulsion project. The sleekness of the model is a perfect mate for electric power (here's an earlier article about that project). https://youtu.be/6B90OEtC7jg
Most pilots love a fast-looking aircraft that looks as good on the ramp as it does in the air? Sure, gnarly backwoods airplanes on huge tires and tall gear struts have huge appeal, and float-equipped aircraft and seaplanes also draw strong interest. Yet aviation’s leading draw may be speed …more is better, right? If that’s an accurate assessment, then let the drooling begin over this beautifully contoured flying machine that can race 135 to 185 miles an hour for a fairly modest investment. I’m writing about Lightning from Arion Aircraft, available as either a Light-Sport Aircraft or an Experimental Amateur Built version. That these handsome aircraft are also 100% designed and manufactured in the USA may be sweet icing on the cake for many readers. LS-1 is a true Light-Sport Aircraft that meets all the parameters and survived a detailed FAA audit a few years ago. In the field owners I’ve spoken to love Lightning and its speedy ways.
How did Mike Lotz do it?"While doing first basic construction steps, I kept toying with the tail wheel idea. I started researching plans and books: Tony Bingelis' Sportplane Builder and my favorite, Ladislao Pazmany's Landing Gear Design For Light Aircraft. "While in construction, I decided I would commit to the tail wheel conversion. At the same time, just to see if it could be done, I decided to modify Lightning's controls to create center stick, another thing the factory had not done. I thought this would make entry easier and also let my wife have her own uncluttered space. This was my first project and at the rate I was going, I figured I wasn't going be doing too many of these so I wanted to do this one exactly how I wanted it. "I contacted Nick and got some better clarity on center of gravity and possible wheel positions and applied them to Pazmany's formulas until everything came in within the guidelines. Theoretical weight and balance and prop clearance were also considerations. I am a retired machinist, so the metal work and fixturing was very familiar to me although I did have to 'tune' up my welding for about a year and a half before I attempted the landing gear legs and supports. "At this time I've got about 2,500 hours into it. Although the empty CG moved a little more than an inch aft with the tail wheel, we are still well within the envelope and Light-Sport limit with two people and 20 gallons of fuel. "I'm using the Jabiru 3300 and without the nose wheel, I hope to add a few miles an hour in cruise and lose a couple on landing." Wisely, Mike hasn't decided if he'll do the test flight on his Lightning TD. "I've spent more time building than flying lately," Mike admitted. This is a common, smart move… to let a person other than the builder do the test flight. Mike continued, "Buzz Rich, who is very involved with Nick at Lightning and has a ton of time in the Lightning and tail wheels, has offered to do the first flights and it would be a kick to get his take on my project if we can work it out. I'll be flying amateur built but Lightning TD will come within Light-Sport limits. "This is way more plane than I could have ever imagined for myself." Make is both clever with technical skills and is diplomatic as he added an essential thank-you note. "Thanks to my wife Kathy for the great seats she sewed, for helping me move, lift, hold, and generally assist in the barn and for tolerating airplane parts in rooms around the house for seven years now. In fact, I think she misses the propeller not being in the living room anymore." Mike also added thanks to Nick, Mark, and Buzz at Arion Aircraft. So, now that you know Mike's story, what will you do this weekend?
I readily admit I find Arion’s Lightning LS-1 (the Special LSA model designation) one of the most handsome in the Light-Sport fleet …which is saying something as we enjoy dozens and dozens of quite beautiful aircraft in this sector. It’s also all-American, referencing its design and manufacturing. Lightning lives up to its name, running easily to the 120-knot maximum for LSA, especially when powered with a very muscular six-cylinder, 120 horsepower Jabiru 3300 powerplant. Every Lightning to date has been a tricycle gear airplane and, honestly, for most pilots, that is the right choice. However, like many aviators, I love the look of a tail dragger so when I stumbled across the one you see in the photos, I did a double take. Whoa! That looks hot! What you see here is a product of seven years of work by builder/owner Mike Lotz. I asked him to tell me about it and he offered enough that I’m going to let him tell his story.
Arion Aircraft is well known for its very smooth and handsome LS1 that qualifies as a SLSA, ELSA, or Experimental Amateur Built kit. That's great versatility but more is possible. All you have to do is add more power, so that's exactly what Arion principal designer Nick Otterback is doing. In this video he shows us around the latest variation with a 160-hp Superior Air Parts Lycoming engine.
Arion Aircraft is well known for its very smooth and handsome LS1 that qualifies as a SLSA, ELSA, or Experimental Amateur Built kit. That’s great versatility but more is possible. All you have to do is add more power, so that’s exactly what Arion principal designer Nick Otterback is doing. In this video he shows us around the latest variation with a 160-hp Superior Air Parts Lycoming engine.
Many of us have long admired the supersleek Lightning LS-1 and now it's better than ever. We spoke to co-designer and company leader Nick Otterback about changes to the aircraft and also about Arion's 2012 FAA very thorough audit. That's good reassurance for buyers but what's more fun is a newly enlarged tail. Nick tells us how this affects and improves an already great Light-Sport Aircraft (also available as a kit).
Many of us have long admired the supersleek Lightning LS-1 and now it’s better than ever. We spoke to co-designer and company leader Nick Otterback about changes to the aircraft and also about Arion’s 2012 FAA very thorough audit. That’s good reassurance for buyers but what’s more fun is a newly enlarged tail. Nick tells us how this affects and improves an already great Light-Sport Aircraft (also available as a kit).
One of the newest SLSA is an all-American design, from Arion Aircraft and it's called the Lightning LS-1. Winning its approval just before Sun 'n Fun 2009, LS-1 was preceded by some 80 kit Lightnings the company has sold in the last three years; more than 40 are already flying. I found the Lightning great fun. You might, too.
CORRECTION: In this video, I refer to a "retractable" version of the Lightning in kit-built aircraft form, however, that is an error. The model was never designed with such equipment
One of the newest SLSA is an all-American design, from Arion Aircraft and it’s called the Lightning LS-1. Winning its approval just before Sun ‘n Fun 2009, LS-1 was preceded by some 80 kit Lightnings the company has sold in the last three years; more than 40 are already flying. I found the Lightning great fun. You might, too. CORRECTION: In this video, I refer to a “retractable” version of the Lightning in kit-built aircraft form, however, that is an error. The model was never designed with such equipment
Last weekend Zenith Aircraft held another of their open house events. At the Midwest LSA Expo a few weeks beforehand I asked factory pilot guru, Roger Dubbert how many people the company expected. His answer: a rather amazing “700.” According to Zenith president Sebastien Heintz it was indeed another strong event, one they’ve repeated every year since setting up shop in Mexico, Missouri. “By all accounts and measurements, the 23rd annual Hangar Day was an incredible winner,” summarized Sebastien. Among the highlights of the two-day festivities was the arrival of EAA’s two Zenith aircraft. One was an EAA staff-built version of the CH 750 Cruzer (watch for our video pilot report to be posted soon) and the second was the One Week Wonder CH 750 that was completed during AirVenture with participation from over 2,500 people. As Arion Aircraft‘s Nick Otterback put it, “Since this month seems to offer many open houses I wanted to share ours.
In my previous post I made a passing mention of a coming flock of four seat aircraft loosely based on the two seat LSA that five manufacturers are presently building. As promised, more on that later. In this post I want to focus on two alternative directions. First is the Arion Aircraft Lightning XS, a kind of big brother to the Lightning LS, which can be flown as a SLSA, ELSA or EAB kit. You don’t need a medical to fly LS. You will for the XS (or “Excess”) and you will have to build it, but the newest variation from Arion promises to be a hot performer realizing the potential this all-American design has always possessed. Arion boss Nick Otterback said, “We flew our new kit the Lightning XS [that] is based on our popular Jabiru powered Lightning kit but with several design changes incorporated.” XS has been designed to allow engines up to 160 horsepower.
In this post I’m going to do something potentially risky. I am going to make some statements about the politics of aircraft certification. While rather dull, this subject is nonetheless something pilots and others feel rather strongly about as the safety of aircraft — for persons in or under aircraft — is involved. Doesn’t everyone except a handful of thrill seekers care deeply about safety? I certainly do yet I feel it’s time for some new directions. I fully expect not everyone will agree, but I feel strongly that these statements need to be made. So, here goes … My term as Membership Secretary of ASTM’s F37 LSA committee will complete later this year; I will be term limited out. That’s perfectly fine … I’ve done my duty for several years. ASTM’s F37 committee is the group that wrote and updates the standards used to gain acceptance for Light-Sport Aircraft. F37 is populated by some exceptional people that are largely unsung heroes for all the hard work they’ve done with little recognition.
Since the beginning of LSA time, way back in 2005 (when the first LSA was approved), LSA have arrived on American shores from overseas factories. American producers also sold airplanes to Yankees, but none went overseas as governments of other nations had not yet accepted ASTM certification standards. In the last year, a lot has happened. *** At least four companies are selling LSA in other countries with aircraft defined by U.S.-originated parameters and meeting ASTM standards. LSA Global developments are reported by Arion Aircraft, U.S. Sport Aircraft (representing Czech Sport Aircraft), Remos Aircraft, and Flight Design. *** Yankee First? Arion Aircraft is one of the first all-American companies to go global with its production. The Marysville, Tennessee company — a related company to Jabiru U.S., which supplies the J230 and other high wing models to LSA buyers in the USA — has sent aircraft to Australia. The down-under country was one of the first to use ASTM certification after the new approval method was introduced by FAA in America.
Accompanying this article is our customary chart showing market share of the entire fleet of LSA. I’ve received a few comments over recent months that we should emphasize current-period results. Market share for many products, computers, for example, are given as total market share (“Windows has 90% of the market.”). *** In truth, I have reported current-period results in the article text for the last few updates. We’ve collected all market reports to make reviewing them easier. Here’s a look-back with emphasis on results only for 2010. *** With 83% of the year (10 months) accounted for, Piper‘s legacy brand is convincingly leading the market. At 43 airplanes registered in 2010 (24% of all registrations), the Vero Beach, Florida company is rising rapidly. Note as always that these figures do not match actual sales activity at companies. *** Following Piper, CubCrafters is enjoying a strong year, said Jim Richmond at AOPA as his company added 37 LSA registrations (20% of all ’10 LSA).
An all-American speedster that flies as fast as the law allows The first one I saw was gorgeous, even bare of paint accents. That Arion Lightning prototype looked undeniably smooth and, well, fast as lightning. Pilots are inspired by lovely flying machines, and on the factory ramp in Shelbyville, Tenn., was one of the most fetching examples of an LSA I had ever seen. Arion Aircraft’s Lightning LS-1 (www.flylightning.net) isn’t new. Indeed, in three years, the company has sold 80 kits, and 40 already are flying. Now comes a ready-to-fly airplane, an all-American flying machine that’s able to hit the LSA max speed of 120 knots (138 mph). The Lightning’s smokin’ fast speed, however, is just one measurement of its appeal. Wherever it goes, the Lightning gathers admiring glances. That’s no surprise, as it’s an amalgam of the former Esqual from Spain with touches of Van’s RVs, the Aerospool Dynamic, various Lancair models and the also-Spanish Toxo LSA-each as shapely as a fashion model.
I once followed judging at shows like AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun. In fact, an aircraft I helped inspire — a modernized primary glider called the SuperFloater — won Outstanding New Design at Sun ‘n Fun 1995. Judges closely examined homebuilts, kit or restored vintage airplanes, and warbirds. If they included factory built aircraft, I was not aware of it. *** So, this year I admitted surprise after learning factory-built Light-Sport Aircraft won awards. *** To honor the hundreds or thousands of hours people put into their winners, I want to highlight some LSA and ultralights that judges liked. The Grand Champion LSA was Wayne Spring’s 2010 Predator powered parachute; Reserve Grand Champ was James Jonannes’ 2009 Arion Lightning LS-1; Grand Champion Ultralight was James Wiebe’s 2010 Belite Superlite; and, Reserve Grand Champ was Danny Dezauche’s 2010 CGS Hawk Ultra.
After selling 40 aircraft under the Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) rule, Arion has now completed their SLSA approval just in the nick of time before the season-launching Sun ‘n Fun starts. Welcome to Lightning — SLSA #96 — from Arion Aircraft, which is our 69th company to enter production of Light-Sport Aircraft. *** Lightning got its start back when Jabiru-man Pete Krotje, his son Ben, plus Nick Otterback were dealers for the Spanish Esquale. That lead to the lovely low-wing Lightning though the design borrows from several light aircraft. It may sound like an organic development but the results are definitely worthy. I was highly impressed with a flight in an earlier EAB model, which did not have the speed limitations of LSA. “Extra wing area was added to bring wing loading and stall speeds into compliance with the applicable standards,” said Nick. *** Arion won approval on April 15, 2009.
In September, as the Cessna Skycatcher’s wave of orders soaked up funds that might have gone to other SLSA, Jabiru logged the most FAA registrations — 6 more J-250s, bringing the company to 44 units delivered and placing the model 9th overall among fixed wing airplanes. In second place, CT, CH-601XL, and Skyboy each added three registered units. Though the month was slower than usual for fixed wings, weight-shift added another strong month with 19 registrations (though some are wondering if these trikes are all SLSA or include ELSA conversions; we’re researching this). Combined, trikes and powered parachutes added 25 aircraft to the FAA registry while fixed wings added 27 for a total of 52 new SLSA. *** Jabiru USA has moved steadily up the market share chart. As the only aircraft company I know supplying both airframe and engine, Jabiru USA advanced steadily into the Top Ten of SLSA providers in the USA.
A standard measuring stick for aircraft design is the ratio of minimum speed to maximum speed. Powerful jets like the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 (along with a government credit card to fuel them) can perform in airshows from 120 mph to 700 mph, almost a 6:1 ratio. But for airplanes you and I can afford, a ratio greater than 3:1 is good with 4:1 being the holy grail. In my experience, a 4:1 ratio is rare; a LSA that stalls at 40 knots and tops out at 120 knots represents only 3:1. *** Recently I flew the Arion Aircraft Lightning. Yielding a fine experience with quick yet stable handling, short takeoffs and easy landings plus mild stalls, Lightning also proved a handsome performer. Nick Otterback reports flying Lightning to better than 200 mph and I held around 40 mph in slow flight. Even assuming instrument error at slow speeds, that’s still well beyond the 4:1 ratio.