You know the expression: “What goes up, must…” What goes up must come down and after it does, something needs to stop it. Here’s where one company has staked its claim. France’s Beringer left the high-speed action of motorcycles for even faster aerial machines …yet slowing them to a gentle stop is a matter the company takes very seriously. Judging from all the easily-recognized Beringer hardware I see gripping the wheels of our favorite aircraft, the company appears to be doing remarkably well. Happy Birthday, Beringer! In the rolling hills of Woodruff, South Carolina, at Triple Tree Aerodrome, Beringer Aero USA celebrated its 10-year anniversary in the fall of 2022. Beringer and its team of 32 employees, has progressively moved up in the ranks of widely-used wheel and brake systems, distinguishing themselves by the safety, reliability, and innovation of its distinctively-colored products. At Beringer in France, a team of 25 designs, certificates, and manufactures its products while their seven-person USA division “focuses on retail and warehousing for the North-American market, providing customer support and local contact to its customers.” The leaders of Beringer reported, “We did not set out to create ‘good enough’ wheels and brakes.
All New for LSAIn late February, A50 Junior earned its Special LSA approval from FAA. Now that it has been introduced to the public, the company can take orders and begin delivering aircraft as soon as the factory is fully ready. For additional information on A50 Junior, please see this earlier article. In this story from Sun 'n Fun 2023 I want to show those who cannot attend one machine they are missing. Please catch the video below for more. A Swiss team was engaged to create the first example of A50 Junior in the modern age. Now that the prototyping is done and Special LSA approval has been granted from FAA, A50 can enter the U.S. market and its first buyers are already stepping up. As you might expect from an aircraft of this highly detailed construction, this is not the least costly SLSA on the market. However, for those filled with desire, the first 29 airplanes — a nod to the year of its first introduction in 1929 — will be sold for about $195,000. I predict they won't have too much trouble finding buyers, especially as many LSA are now approaching (or have exceeded) that price. Junkers isn't done. An A52 model with side-by-side seating and retractable gear could enter the market as a Mosaic LSA or mLSA. Dieter and his team are already pondering that move and, again, their U.S. factory is set up and ready to produce. Even the wheels were their own masterpiece. The French Beringer company that has found a warm reception in America supplied the entire wheel set as a custom design just for Junkers. As one detail I learned, the large wheel size requires more substantial brakes; a dual caliper system was supplied from Beringer. A50 Junior uses the Rotax 912iS engine, which lifted a full load off the grass runway easily even in a full 90-degree crosswind (as you see in video below). The Rotax engine is mated to a two-blade MT propeller. A Galaxy brand ballistic airframe parachute is supplied out of the Czech Republic. Garmin supplies their G3X Touch in two forms. The aft seat has a large 10-inch display, while the smaller 7-inch display is used in the front seat. Junkers A50 Junior is flown solo from the aft seat. Learn much more about Junkers via Waco Aircraft and ask about their dashing A50 Junior. https://youtu.be/0jxieezSmyw
In a splendid professional presentation, Waco Aircraft unveiled their newest vintage-style aircraft. Well, that’s close to factual. In truth, Junkers Aircraft is its own company, but as it shares common ownership, it’s OK to group these two vintage designs together, partly as they are both 100% built-in-America designs. In Battle Creek, Michigan a European businessman, Dieter Morszeck, has invested more than $30 million to create a modern airplane factory capable of producing such complex yet handsome designs as the Waco biplane. For 2023, that facility has a new occupant, Junkers Aircraft. Both are owned by Dieter and this man is serious about aviation. Mr. Morszeck made his money in the luggage business. His brand, Rimowa, is known widely for its corrugated exterior, leaving an earlier Junkers aircraft built similarly to be dubbed the “flying suitcase.” This is a delicious bit of serendipity because now his former luggage business can be expressed in an airplane… one that draws people’s attention wherever it shows up.
Flight Design F2In early December 2021, Flight Design in Germany announced F2 is now an EASA CS-23 certified aircraft. CS23 is a full-certification system modeled on FAA's Part 23 approval process. Achieving this is a high bar to hurdle. “We couldn’t be happier to see this important step for the F2 program, which ultimately will lead to the F4 four-seat version and the all-electric F2e,” said Matthias Betsch, Head of Flight Design's Design Organization department that created the F-Series and many of its advanced concepts. "The F2-CS23 is the next step in Flight Design’s ‘Vision Zero’ concept which incorporates all commercially available safety features appropriate for this type of aircraft," the company elaborated. "These features include: a passive stall and spin resistant airframe design; airframe emergency parachute system; Amsafe-brand airbags and inertial reel harnesses; Garmin ESP (electronic stability and envelope protection); a strong occupant-protective enclosure for the pilot and passengers; automatic fuel management; simplified controls such as a combined throttle and brake lever; and a more modern, car-like atmosphere and operation." The company CEO, Daniel Guenther, said "This is an important milestone for our business and a tribute to the hard work by the F2 design team and our different businesses within Flight Design general aviation.” F2 is imported to America by Flight Design USA, and is represented by Airtime Aviation, the leading seller of LSA in the country. The F2-CS23 comes with an long list of standard features such as an all-Garmin G3X avionics suite; two-axis autopilot; Rotax 912iS fuel-injected 100 horsepower engine with a DUC certified propeller; Beringer wheels and brakes, perforated leather seats, heat exchanger heating system; and Whelen lighting. “EASA's CS-23 category is an internationally-recognized certification standard which will allow the new F2-CS23 to be easily accepted in all markets worldwide,” said Dieter Koehler, Project Manager the F2 and F4 projects. Flight Design sees the F2-CS23 as "an excellent choice for flight schools with its wide and easy-to-enter cockpit, fuel efficiency, unique safety features, and state-of-the-art avionics suite. All new Flight Design aircraft come with carbon compensation up to TBO under Flight Design’s Pro-Climate plan." F2-CS23 follows the company's F2-LSA that began deliveries earlier in 2021.
Icon Aircraft A5California-based Icon Aircraft wants to expand their international sales and to facilitate that, the company chose to pursue Primary Category approval by FAA. Icon has already achieved SLSA approval; number 137 on our SLSA List. "In countries that do not have a Light-Sport category (Canada and others), the Type Certified version of the A5 can be imported and registered as a Primary Category aircraft," the company explained. They are searching for partners outside the U.S. that want to be Icon Aircraft dealers. Icon's Primary Category certification is well along the lengthy process. "All of our paperwork has been submitted to the FAA for review and the only remaining item on our to-do list is noise testing to ensure we are within compliance. We don’t expect this to be an issue and are planning to complete it in January." "Once that is done," the company continued, "it’s fully over to the FAA to finish reviewing our paperwork. The estimate we’ve received from the FAA and our certification team is that the project should be completed and our type certificate in hand by March or early April, 2022." Primary Category certification also has benefits in the U.S., Icon reported. One is that any A&P is authorized to work on it. Because it is not a SLSA, owners will not need to use designated Icon Service Partners, though the company will still encourage them to do so. Another benefit is international travel, for example, flying your Icon A5 to islands in the Caribbean, or to keep your A5 on a yacht when you are in another country (image). "Light-Sport Aircraft do not receive a Type Certificate," Icon explained, "so typically, special permission is required before you can fly in another country just like if you are flying an Experimental aircraft." Some exceptions exist, notably in the Bahamas, which does allow U.S.-registered LSAs. The Bahamas is further unique among other countries in that they accept FAA's Sport Pilot certificate. "International expansion has been a critical part of our business plan since day one,” said Jason Huang, President of Icon Aircraft. “People in the U.S. have been able to enjoy adventure flying in the Icon A5 for several years, and we will continue to produce the SLSA version. But now we are excited to introduce the A5 to others around the world. Type Certification is one of the many investments Icon has made to grow our capabilities and improve the A5. We know it will be appreciated by our international deposit holders and sales partners, and we are all very excited for this day to come." "Note that we will continue to make the SLSA version, as well," assured Huang. This continues the chance for American pilots to fly A5 without the need for an aviation medical, using only their driver's license in lieu of a medical approval. Why not pursue approval using the coming regulation often referred to as Mosaic? "Mosaic is an FAA initiative that doesn’t translate globally," stated the company. "Thus, pursuing Primary Category Certification is the action we needed to coincide with our global expansion plans." https://youtu.be/dxpFU7UfsQo https://youtu.be/4kBRY79lw5Y
Rather loudly and persistently I beat the drum about “affordable aircraft,” but readers also enjoy learning about other aircraft. I will never write about jets or multimillion-dollar turbines but I will continue to follow any “light” aircraft that meets LSA parameters now or after the Mosaic rule. In this article I will describe how two aircraft are pursuing conventional certification: Flight Design’s F2-CS23 and Icon’s A5. Contrary to common language, LSA are not “certified.” Instead a manufacturer declares they meet ASTM standards and FAA “accepts” that declaration. Frequently at first, FAA audited producers in a point-by-point check of their declaration plus verifying that producers use generally-accepted best practices in their manufacturing. Companies with prior approvals may not be required to undergo an audit; it’s always FAA’s choice. I’ve been involved with ASTM for many years and I can attest to these standards being very rigorous. They were welcomed by many countries where they are in active use.
Let’s get this show underway…
Jabiru USAOne of the earliest Light-Sport Aircraft to be approved was the Australian Jabiru brand. Not only was Jabiru one of the first approved SLSA (#22) but also one of the most prolific with SLSA #22 J250-SP, #23 J170-SP, #40 Calypso SP, #67 J230-SP (redesignated as J230-D in 2013), and #142 J170-D. The "SP models came from an earlier U.S.-based manufacturing arrangement. The "D" denotes the manufacturing now conducted in Australia. When you are an early entrant you have time to get the details right and flesh out the operation. Now in the capable hands of Scott Severen, who runs US Sport Planes and took over from Jabiru USA founder Pete Krotje, Jabiru has matured to one of the leading LSA suppliers. It is the only Australian fixed wing aircraft brand to successfully enter the U.S. market. The company remains a member of a very select club that manufactures both airframe and engine. All Jabiru models appear compact but actually have spacious interiors; especially the latest J230-D has a cavernous aft area (where people sit when the same base airframe is used to make a four seater). A third door for this purpose serves U.S. pilots by making the loading of luggage (or your pet) easier. With its 4th Generation six-cylinder engine producing 120 horsepower, Jabiru J230-D will satisfy a lot of pilots. Stop by their space at AirVenture and perhaps you'll meet some of their owners that will attend another annual Jabiru Owners Group (JOG) gathering.
BeringerKnown far and wide for their distinctive orange-ish wheels, Beringer has built a premium brand serving aircraft from the lightest LSA to Cirrus' SR-series. The France-based company with a permanent U.S. operation has numerous products in support of airframes including the unique locking tailwheel and their wheel shocks. Now, they have something new. Beringer’s SensAIR™ system is connected to a mobile app on your smartphone (image) thanks to pressure and temperature sensors fitted to your Beringer rim. Sensors are normally switched off to save the battery (2 to 3 years lifetime) and are activated when the smartphone is detected within a 30-foot radius (10 m).
Low pressure and temperature levels are set by the user on his smartphone so he or she can receive a notification.
No need to crawl under your plane to check pressure anymore, thanks to SensAIR you can check your pressure before and during each flight! SensAir is available now for 4-, 5-, 6-, and 8-inch wheels.
SeamaxWith fabrication in Brazil, Seamax has been in the U.S. market for many years, earning FAA acceptance as #63 in our SLSA List. In the last few years Seamax has substantially upgraded their U.S. representation with full-time facilities adjacent to the prestigious campus of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. From this ideal location they can cover the Eastern U.S. Now, Seamax is pleased to announce a new dealer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The seaplane maker now offers support, training, and sales for several Midwestern states. The new business is called Central Seaplanes and they become the official sales agent and brand representative for Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Central Seaplanes will provide mechanical and maintenance service to Seamax aircraft in association with Johnson Aviation of Tulsa and plans to provide flight training in association with Destinations Executive Flight Club of Tulsa. The Oklahoma dealer recently acquired two fully-equipped Seamax M-22 aircraft to their fleet and. One M-22 is equipped with IFR gear, which allows a pilot in training to log instrument hours at competitive rates. Central Seaplanes, LLC is a father-daughter, veteran-owned business represented by Kira and Todd Lang. Todd is a former fighter pilot with 40 years of aviation experience and 11,000 logged hours with CFI, CFII, and MEI instructor credentials. Currently, he is an international Boeing 767 Captain for a major U.S. airline. Todd also holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Embry Riddle. Kira has an Associate degree in aircrew safety systems technology, a Bachelor's degree in aviation management and a Master's degree in aviation and space science. She is currently finishing her doctorate. Kira received her Private Pilot certificate when she was 18 years old. Kira said she has always dreamed of starting her own business with her dad. She has a passion for aviation and has thrived in the industry. She intends to dedicate her time to the success of Central Seaplanes and their association with Seamax aircraft.
Dragon PPGWelcome to Dragon PPG (powered paraglider). This quad — a term describing the four wheeled carriage some powered paraglider enthusiasts prefer — “is a new concept,” said Erin Thorson about designer Dan Feldman's work. Dragon will make its official debut at AirVenture 2021. Thorson is a 30+ year A&P and former Air Force aviator. "Considerable research and thought have been put into producing a high quality seated powered paraglider that meets all FAR 103 requirements," wrote Erin. Dragon PPG is aimed at taller and heavier PPG pilots. The design features a roll cage for protection. Such a configuration is common in powered parachutes (different aircraft, if you aren't familiar) but quads have previously been very light weight construction that mainly aimed to provide some structure to accommodate wheels, and not much more. Based on Rotax 503 power, Erin described thrust of the engine as "incredible!" Dragon was weight tested at 4Gs assuming a 220-pound pilot. Commonly, powered paragliders prefer the lightweight, higher-revving Polini engine (see next news item). "Last week, Eric Dufour, a world-renowned paragliding pioneer and well respected paramotor instructor, personally flew the Dragon PPG and loved everything about it," wrote Erin. "I have witnessed the Dragon fly; it is a rocket!" Dragon PPG is made in the USA. "The challenge (and frustration) for many quad PPG pilots is a lack of power and thrust and overall structural integrity," continued Erin. "Dan set out to design a wheeled powered paraglider [carriage] using heavy-wall aluminum for the main structural components with aluminum clamp devices and U-channels clamps to secure the tubing. The reason is primarily to add strength to the tubing without drilling of holes which can weaken the structural integrity of the frame." He reported the Dragon frame and engine have been designed to meet FAR 103 requirements. The Dragon frame itself can also be purchased as a stand alone frame without engine if the customer desires.
E-Props and Polini EnginesIn early July 2021 flying enthusiasts participated in the second edition of a STOL competition for ultralights (with engines limited to 100 horsepower) in the south of France. The contest was organized by the French Federation, FFPLUM. “The propeller is a very important equipment to succeed in this kind of competition,” the company wrote. “E-Props is proud to have won the first three places.” Earlier, on the weekend of June 17, 18, and 19, the French Open Training Slalom 2021 at Sevins Le Lac, “the podium was monopolized by pilots using Polini Thor engines,” boasted the Italian engine maker. Champion Alexandre Mateos, an ace of this sport, dominated results winning in his debut with the new Thor 303. Commonly, E-Props have been paired successfully with Polini. In second position was Jeremy Penone using the super-tested Thor 250. In third, winning the bronze medal, was Marie Mateos also using the new Thor 303. Marie reached a new goal with Thor Polini engines. After previously winning the female category, in this recent competition she was the first woman to be on the winner's podium ranked equally with male pilots. In a similarly timed event called "Slalomania," in Bornos in the south of Spain, the Slalom Open Spanish Championship took place. “Once again the pilots powered by Thor 303 engines confirmed this engine is superior for powered Paragliders,” reported Polini. Of the 21 pilots that took part to the competitions, 16 chose Polini Thor engines.
…but, of course, all the above is merely the tip of a large iceberg. I hope to achieve sensory overload at Oshkosh '21 and I will do my best to transmit that excitement to you. Watch for the bright orange logo denoting coverage from the big show.
Off we go!
Well, FINALLY, AirVenture Oshkosh is barely a week away. It seems like forever, doesn’t it? It has been two years but feels like a decade. I hope you can attend, but if not, I plan to be on-site all week gathering the latest about Light-Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot kits, and ultralights. In this edition of “LSA Update,” I’ll cover an update about… 1️⃣ Jabiru and their AirVenture activities; 2️⃣ Beringer’s new SensAir system that works with your smartphone; 3️⃣ an impressive father-and-daughter partnership forming a new dealer for Seamax; 4️⃣ a preview of the new Dragon powered paraglider single-place quad; and, 5️⃣ competition successes for E-Props and Polini engines. Let’s get this show underway… Jabiru USA One of the earliest Light-Sport Aircraft to be approved was the Australian Jabiru brand. Not only was Jabiru one of the first approved SLSA (#22) but also one of the most prolific with SLSA #22 J250-SP, #23 J170-SP, #40 Calypso SP, #67 J230-SP (redesignated as J230-D in 2013), and #142 J170-D.
Comco Ikarus C42CThe air is like glass as the C42 accelerates into a winter sky in the United Kingdom. I took this proven, affordably-priced light aircraft aloft to evaluate flight qualities on the newest iteration of the design. Now in its "C" model configuration, C42 is one of the most successful European microlights (a category between Part 103 ultralights and LSA, but closer to the latter). Comco Ikarus has evolved the machine into a fine airplane. In England, C42 is sold by The Light Airplane Company (TLAC); boss Paul Hendry-Smith reviewed for me many changes on the newest "C" model. C42A first flew in 1996 later maturing from C42B to the C, which first appeared in 2015. More than 1,450 C42s have been delivered, and the type makes up a substantial part of the UK’s microlight fleet. Some have logged more than 8,000 hours. Tried and true elements stayed the same. Power is still provided by a 100 horsepower Rotax 912S turning a composite three-blade fixed-pitch Helix prop although the Germany company lists the 80-horsepower version as standard. One easily-noticed difference is that the cowl now features a controllable flap for the air inlet (photo). Fuel is carried in a single 17.2 U.S. gallon fuel tank made from roto-cast polyethylene located immediately behind the right seat; filling is done via a cap on top of the fuselage. An auxiliary tank is an option, which takes total fuel capacity to 100 liters (26.4 gallons). The airframe is constructed primarily of aircraft grade aluminum and is covered with non-structural molded composite sections, with all the strength in the large aluminum boom. The fit & finish of the composite panels is excellent. Comco Ikarus have invested heavily in CNC-made molds which produce composite panels to a very high standard. C42C's strut-braced wings use tubing spars front and rear but this latest model features a sharper leading edge plus winglets. The airfoil has also changed and with it, an overall drag-reduction program was instigated. C42C now has various panels to reduce drag and wingroot fillets between the fuselage and flaps, which have a slight upward reflex of about negative-5° for higher-speed cruise. Interestingly, the differential ailerons now feature spades, commonly found on aerobatic aircraft to enhance roll response. Aft of the cockpit there’s a frangible cover which the BRS rocket fires through, and a very large quickly removable panel on the port side, through which the fuel quantity can be seen and a lot of the interior structure visually inspected. The rear baggage bay can hold up to 100 pounds, weight and balance allowing. C42C's tail consists of a strut-braced tailplane and separate elevator, a slightly swept-back vertical stabilizer, which carries a broad-chord rudder and a small ventral fin tail bumper. Wings, tail, flaps and control surfaces are all covered in XLAM (a type of sturdy, dimensionally-stable fabric sailcloth) with Tanara Teflon thread (which is impervious to UV light) used for the stitching. Less obvious changes include a significant revision of the wing structure with more use of carbon fiber. C42C's cockpit roof has been completely redesigned and the doors are now hung on redesigned hinges. A sturdy hydro-pneumatic tricycle undercarriage offers nosewheel steering via the rudder pedals and carries Beringer wheels and hydraulic disc brakes. Unusually, the main gear and nosewheel are the same size. All C42C controls work via pushrods, except the rudder which uses cables. The A model I flew in 2001 had a gross weight of 992 pounds although the design is ready to have its maximum all-up weight increased to 1,235 pounds (very similar to Canada's Advanced Ultralight category) as soon as the legislation changes. Big gull-wing doors and low sills make ingress easy to C42C, particularly as the doors are held up by powerful gas struts that are strong enough to allow taxiing with the doors open. Doors cannot be opened in flight but can be removed completely. Doors seal tightly. I did not detect even a slight draft, even at high speed. Neither seat nor pedals adjust. After fastening my four-point harness, I raised the throttle into its correct position and familiarized myself with the cockpit. Throttles on both sides fold flat to aid ingress and egress. C42C's instrument panel is large and could easily carry just about every possible permutation of instrumentation, from very basic analog to the latest Garmin G3X touchscreen, which is an option. The test aircraft has (from left to right) a VSI, ASI and altimeter, with the Kanardia tachometer directly underneath the ASI. A central column braces the instrument panel and carries push/pull plungers for the choke; cabin heat and carb heat; a transceiver and transponder; and a toggle switch for the intercom. C42C's fuel selector is located at the base of the central column by the pilot’s right leg; easy to see and reach. Large map pockets are built into the doors. A center stick features a comfortable foam grip with buttons for electric elevator trim and a bicycle-type brake lever with integral park brake. The large handbrake-type flap lever is set into the roof, in front of a red T-handle for the BRS.
Flying C42CTaxiing reveals good, well-damped suspension, and the turning circle is acceptable even without differential braking. C42’s Beringer brakes are very powerful. With my solo loaded weight about 200 pounds below gross, a paved runway, and a brisk headwind, I anticipated a stellar take off and climb characteristics and I was not disappointed! The prop was pitched for cruise but you’d never guess. I reached 1,000 feet above the runway before the airfield boundary. After shooting the air-to-air photos, the camera ship departed and I took a look at C42C's general handling. All controls were nicely harmonized and authoritative. The roll rate in particular is much more sprightly than the C42A, while the stick forces felt lower than I remembered, no doubt due to the spades mounted on the ailerons. A short center stick does not provide much mechanical advantage but the spades help. Control around both pitch and yaw axes was equally effective, and keeping the slip-ball centered took only small amounts of rudder. The electric pitch trim is effective and nicely geared. Moving onto an examination of the stick-free stability around all three axes reveals the directional stability is definitely soft to the left and neutral to the right, while spiral stability is slightly positive from the right and neutral to the left. The longitudinal stability is quite strong; a 10-knot displacement from a trimmed speed of 70 knots resulting in a long wavelength low amplitude phugoid that damped itself out after three lazy oscillations. Importantly, C42C is not divergent around any axes. Slowing down to explore the slow speed side of the flight envelope revealed no unpleasant traits. As the speed reduced past 60 knots, I moved the flap lever to +2, which lowers the flaps to their maximum of 40° and causes a significant change in pitch trim, although this is easily trimmed out. With full flaps and a reasonable amount of power C42C showed no desire to stall. At modest stall entry and with the nose just above the horizon, C42C mushed and wallowed while the sink rate increased. No stall warning is provided but you feel a mild aerodynamic buffet. Hold the stick on the backstop and it hunts slightly in pitch while sinking. Adequate aileron control is available post-stall. When I used a more aggressive technique C42C stalled with a slight wing drop. At test weight, the wing drop came around 32 knots. Performing a departure stall I retracted flaps to the take-off setting of +1 (15°), opened the throttle and pitched up …and up …and up! It feels as if I’m lying on my back before the wing finally gives up and the nose falls through. Comco Ikarus reports a glide angle of 11:1 (a Cessna 150 is about 9.5:1), while minimum sink rate is around 400 feet per minute. As I’d anticipated, this C42 is considerably quicker than the earlier models, and because the air is as smooth as glass I was relaxed as the ASI needle slipped into the yellow arc. C42C was still accelerating at 5000 rpm. Top-of-the-green arc is 82 knots at 2,000 feet and 4800 rpm. At about four gallons per hour, you can comfortably plan for 300 nautical miles with a 30-minute reserve. That’s about 25 nautical air miles per gallon. As I got back to base, I did a few take offs and landing, and for the first time I found the roof-mounted flap lever slightly intrusive; you’re constantly swapping hands. It’s not a big deal, but writers have to complain about something. For a short-field landing trial, I used 48 knots with a hint of power. Over the runway I flared, chopped the throttle and C42C sat straight down. I applied strong braking and quickly stopped. Going around once more, I was light, had burned off more fuel, and had cold, dense air. Climb was almost 1,400 feet per minute, even more impressive as the prop was pitched for the cruise. When C42C can go to 1,235 pounds gross, it will boast a useful load of more than 600 pounds. At full fuel payload is more than 500 pounds. This illustrates the value of a light airframe. With eventual gross weight at 1,235 pounds (85 pounds less than nearly every LSA), C42C will have a greater payload than much more costly designs. That and a long history with commendable flight qualities makes C42C a winner. Base price in England translates to just over $80,000 in early 2021 and the Canada dealer has similar numbers though you should contact them for the latest information. As tested, this C42C was priced at $94,000. Shipping may add another $5,000 so Comco Ikarus' entry could come in at $90,000-100,000. Interested American should contact Ikarus Flight Centre; featured in the video below.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Comco Ikarus C42C
- Length — 21 feet
- Height — 7.2 feet
- Wing Span — 28.5 feet
- Wing Area — 128 square feet
- Empty Weight — 500 pounds
- Gross Weight — 1,041 pounds (with parachute allowance; weight may increase to 1.235 pounds)
- Useful load — 432 pounds (higher when new gross weight is approved)
- Wing Loading — 8.14 pounds per square foot
- Fuel Capacity — 17 gallons; optional 26 gallons
- Never Exceed Speed — 121 knots
- Cruise Speed — 100 knots
- Stall Speed (best flaps) — 34 knots
- Climb Rate — 1,200 feet per minute
- Takeoff Roll — 280 feet
- Takeoff Over 50 Foot Obstacle — 525 feet
- Landing Over 50 Foot Obstacle — 675 feet
- Powerplant —Rotax 912S air; liquid-cooled, four cylinder, 100 horsepower at 5800 rpm (an 80 horsepower Rotax 912 is standard equipment)
- Propeller — Helix composite three-blade fixed pitch
In this video from four years ago, Comco Ikarus’ North American dealer describes C42. https://youtu.be/M9hIdpoQx7k
Americans have seen Comco Ikarus‘ C42 before. At least three different importers have represented C42 versions to the U.S. market. Today, Germany’s most successful light aircraft is served by a Canada-based dealer, Ikarus Flight Centre. Yet no one can dispute that C42 — once rebadged as Cyclone for American buyers — has for many years been THE success story in Germany. This southern German company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. Our favorite British aerojournalist, Dave Unwin is back with another of his imaginatively written and thorough pilot reports. As some of us get ready to head to Sun ‘n Fun 2021, those still unable or unwilling to travel can enjoy this while I gear up for stories from Lakeland, Florida. Enjoy! —DJ Comco Ikarus C42C The air is like glass as the C42 accelerates into a winter sky in the United Kingdom.
Welcome to our favorite British writer providing in his distinctive style thoughts about flying Skyranger's Nynja. Also thanks once again to talented photographer, Keith Wilson. Why did I want this article even though Skyranger has no U.S. representation at present? With a base price in UK of $59,760, Nynja is affordable to many. Is it desirable? Dave helps you decide. —DJFor far too long, the more bigoted aviators among us considered such an aircraft to be little more an overweight hang glider powered by a second-hand lawn mower engine and barely capable of flying fast enough to kill you. Noisy, slow, and smelly — they were considerably less than satisfactory. However, times change and this class of flying machine has changed more than most. Designed by Frenchman Phillippe Prevot in the early '90s, the original Skyranger was an object lesson in KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Prevot’s intent was that anyone competent with basic tools could build it, as there was no bending, composites, or welding involved. It was to be covered in an equally simple material, Dacron sailcloth. Easy to build, maintain and fly, more than 1,600 have been produced; nearly 300 are registered in England alone. Beside numerous minor improvements, fundamentally Skyranger has changed little: the ventral fin has been replaced by a taller fin and the wingspan has been reduced.
Now "Made in UK"Since 2017, Britain's Flylight Airsports Ltd., has had the sole design rights and is now rightly considered the manufacturer. Owning the design rights also puts Flylight firmly in the pilot’s seat regarding future developments. (It will also be helpful for FAA acceptance, if sought. —DJ) Flylight's main subcontractor is Aeros, based in Kiev, Ukraine. Aeros make some of the world's best hang gliders; they are experts in tube and fabric work. They've built Skyrangers for many years. Today, Nynjas are assembled in the UK. Nynja's airframe is constructed primarily of straight, pin-jointed, aircraft-grade aluminum tubing, covered with a combination of non-structural composite sheets for the fuselage and pre-sewn polyester Xlam fabric for the wings and tailplane. An interesting feature (and one that flags up how speedy the Nynja is) is that the wings feature foam spacers that ensure the aerofoil retains its shape at higher speeds. All the primary controls are actuated by cables, as is the elevator trim. The tailplane is wire-braced and the strut-braced wings feature upswept winglets. An excellent option allows the wings to be folded back for ease of storage. Earlier Skyrangers were powered by several different engines, including the Jabiru 2200, HKS and BMW R100, but these days the Rotax 912 is the engine of choice. Removing the cowling to inspect the engine requires the removal of a considerable number of screws, however, Flylight plans a new cowling that features generously-sized hinged doors. The engine is fed from a pair of fuselage-mounted 8-gallon polyethylene fuel tanks behind the pilots’ seats and linked by a balance pipe, with the single filler cap on the starboard side. The two tanks feed the engine from one outlet controlled by a single fuel valve. The engine is quite closely cowled and turns a composite two-blade ground adjustable Kiev propeller. My demonstrator Nynja was loaded with about every option except a BRS (which is also an option). All three wheels feature snug fitting wheel pants. Nynja's main gear is supported by aluminium "half springs" bolted to a steel center tube and feature hydraulic Beringer disc brakes, while the nosewheel uses an oleo arrangement for shock absorption, and steers through the rudder pedals. Beringer wheels are another option. Entry to the cockpit is excellent as the sills are low, although care must be taken not to bump the large throttles. The split doors are large but seemed overly complicated and I prefer the one-piece top-hinged doors (which I believe are an option). Up to 22 pounds can be carried in a small baggage bay behind the left seat. Settling into the cockpit, the first thing that struck me was the width of the cabin. At 43 inches, Nynja is wider than a Cessna 172 and the extensive glazing actually made it feel even more spacious. Although there is no provision for adjusting the pedals, the seats can be moved. Pitch and roll control is via a single joystick mounted between the seats while each pilot has his own throttle on the side of the instrument binnacle. Nynja's trim lever and three-position flap lever are both located between the seats. The instrument panel has more than enough space built into a centrally-mounted structure with large stowage bins either side, an excellent feature. The panel has the flight instruments, tachometer and slip ball in front of the left seat and the oil pressure and temperature, coolant temperature and voltmeter on the panel's right. In the center, a mount for an iPad and a row of switches. The Rotax started readily and a quick test of the brakes with a squeeze on the control column-mounted bicycle-type brake lever revealed they not only work, but work well. A neat little catch on the control column locks the lever for use as a parking brake. Nynja's nosewheel steering has a positive feel and a reasonably-small turning circle. Rolling out onto the runway I opened the Rotax up to full power. With 13 gallons of fuel on board Nynja was right on the 992-pound gross weight. It was cool and I checked a slight crosswind from starboard. With a power-to-weight ratio of less than ten pounds per horsepower, acceleration was excellent and after what seemed a ridiculously short ground roll, the Nynja literally leapt off the runway and clawed itself skyward at an impressively steep angle. With the VSI indicating in excess of 1,200 fpm and a relatively low forward speed of only 62 knots, we crossed the airfield boundary already at more than 1,000 feet. At such an aggressive climb, Nynja's nose was quite pitched up, greatly reducing the field of view, but even lowering it to more a cruise-climb attitude still produced about 700 feet per minute of climb at 80 knots and 5,000 rpm. With light weight, plenty of power, and crisp controls joining up with Al and Keith in the EuroFox cameraship was easy; collecting the pictures in this article didn’t take long.
Nynja Flight QualitiesFlying in close formation will show up any handling deficiencies from a qualitative perspective, but when I switch over to a more quantitative evaluation I soon discover the Nynja is nicely harmonized around all three axes. Expanding the envelope with some more energetic maneuvers confirms the controls are authoritative with agreeably light stick forces. Only small amounts of rudder are required to keep the slip-ball centred, and harmony of control is as it should be, with the ailerons being the lightest and the rudder the heaviest. Breakout forces are low. For a high wing aircraft, the visibility is quite good, although as is a feature of practically all-high wing aircraft, it is a tiny bit blind in the turn. Another nice touch is the transparent panel in the roof, as if the aircraft is rolled into a very tight turn it is possible to look through the roof. The controls all seemed quite nicely harmonised and authoritative. The roll rate in particular is distinctly sprightly, while both pitch and yaw control were equally effective. Trim is effective. Moving on to an exploration of the stick-free stability around all three axes, I get the impression the Nynja is strongly positive longitudinally, weakly positive directionally, and neutral laterally. Slowing down to explore the low speed side of the flight envelope revealed no disagreeable mannerisms. Indeed, with flaps down and carrying a reasonable amount of power the Nynja showed no desire to stall at all, but a more vigorous approach to the stall with the engine off produced a more positive break at about 33 knots, combined with a slight wing drop which was easily controlled by the rudder. I increase power for a look at a departure stall and, as expected, this maneuver provoked a slightly more vigorous response, although the ensuing stall was easily recovered from with minimal height loss. Flaps up, the stall is still less than 40. The claimed glide angle is a reasonable 9:1 at 55 knots, while minimum sink is modest at around 500 feet per minute at 45 knots. Cruise is middle-of-the-range at 95 knots, achieved at 5,100 rpm, giving a true air speed of 101 knots at 3,000 feet with a fuel flow of about 4.75 gallons per hour, but the engine does sound somewhat frenetic. A much more comfortable cruise rpm is 4,000, which still gives an IAS of 70 knots (76 true) and a fuel flow of less than 2.6 gallons per hour and a still-air range of over 400 nautical miles, including Day-VFR reserves.
Touch Down!Nynja is a fabulous machine for flying traffic patterns at your airport; Nynja's strong climbs gets you back up quickly for the next. I flew several variations: full flap, half flap, no flap, glide approaches, powered approaches, steep sideslips… the whole gamut, and each one was great fun. For the last I sat up a little straighter in my seat, held the brakes on against full power and was airborne in less time than it takes to read this sentence. On approach to landing, I nailed the ASI’s needle to 50 with just a smidgen of throttle and then chopped the power. After Nynja's main wheels touched firmly I lowered the nose and applied maximum braking; I actually locked the wheels up and we skidded momentarily on the damp grass. All total I used a little over 300 feet. Overall, I thought the Nynja a great little aircraft that offers outstanding value for money. It is a lot of aircraft for the money. What a cracking little aircraft! Fast, frugal and fun, the latest iteration of the seminal Skyranger might just be the best one yet.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Skyranger Nynja More about Nynja
- Length — 19.4 feet
- Height — 7.9 feet
- Wing Span — 29.2 feet
- Wing Area — 138 square feet
- Empty Weight — 573 pounds
- Gross Weight — 992 pounds (see "Coming Later" below)
- Useful Load — 419 pounds
- Payload (calculated at full fuel) — 324 pounds (see "Coming Later" below)
- Wing Loading — 7.2 pounds per square foot
- Fuel Capacity — 15.9 U.S. gallons
- Never-Exceed Speed — 132 knots
- Cruise Speed — 90 knots
- Stall Speed (flaps) — 32 knots
- Climb Rate — 1,200 feet per minute
- Takeoff over 50 foot obstacle — 920 feet
- Landing Roll over 50 foot obstacle — 930 feet
COMING LATER… Flylight Airsports said that with the increase in the allowed weight to 600 kilograms (the 1,320 pound LSA maximum at present) the company is looking at increasing Nynja's capabilities and feature set. All indications are that the UK will transition during 2021 to a 600 kilogram microlight category, matching the global LSA standard. Details are still being worked out, but Flylight has been preparing for the change. The LS model was initially approved at 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds), and work is ongoing for a higher gross weight. The wing has already been tested satisfactorily at 600 kilograms, and currently the last piece in the jigsaw for approval at the higher gross weight is a new main undercarriage. Other future plans include a taildragger version, different engine options, and electric propulsion.
“Nynja lifts off after a ridiculously short ground roll and soars skyward at a precipitously steep angle. I can’t help but grin. You can have a lot of fun with something like this,” writes longtime aviation journalist, Dave Unwin. Welcome to our favorite British writer providing in his distinctive style thoughts about flying Skyranger’s Nynja. Also thanks once again to talented photographer, Keith Wilson. Why did I want this article even though Skyranger has no U.S. representation at present? With a base price in UK of $59,760, Nynja is affordable to many. Is it desirable? Dave helps you decide. —DJ For far too long, the more bigoted aviators among us considered such an aircraft to be little more an overweight hang glider powered by a second-hand lawn mower engine and barely capable of flying fast enough to kill you. Noisy, slow, and smelly — they were considerably less than satisfactory.
Jetting straight from Sun ‘n Fun, we were able to arrive at Aero Friedrichshafen by noon on opening day. A quick swing around the most light-aircraft-filled halls (the “B” halls) brought some fresh surprises. Following are a few designs that caught my eye on an initial pass. The profusion of light aircraft we don’t see in the USA — some of which will never reach the market — is one of the main reasons Aero Friedrichshafen is my favorite show in Europe. This mostly indoor fair (as Europeans call such shows) always has many ideas of interest. Zlin Ultra with Rotax 915iS — Never one to rest Pascale Russo reintroduced his Ultra Shock from last Aero with the more powerful Rotax 915iS. Ultra Shock plays on the term “ultralight,” which means something different in Europe than in the USA (it is a reference to light aircraft quite similar to Light-Sport Aircraft).
Big Beautiful Bristell in the BushBristell in all models features a handsome interior that is one of the widest among LSA. The model boasts a 50-inch (128 cm) wide cabin that should accommodate even large occupants without pressing them up against their cockpit companion. All that space might be useful for another kind of enjoyment: bush flying, landing on river beds, camping …that sort of adventure. For the new "bush" version of TDO, BRM again did a great job of finishing the interior, both in creature comforts (as seen in the nearby photo) or equipment. To mount big Alaska tundra tires on their TDO, BRM teamed up with Beringer wheels and brakes — and shock absorber systems, and taildragger innovation, and more. Milan's son Martin flew the big-boy-tire model from their home base in the south of Czech Republic to Friedrichshafen German in about four hours, averaging about 95 knots. This is certainly not as speedy as the more streamlined, wheel-pant-equipped versions but that's not a bad cruise. What's great about the Beringer/Alaska adaptation is that it follows Milan's mantra to keep as many new innovations as possible retrofittable to older models. That works here, too, but owners get a bonus. Through the design of this Bush TDO model, Milan made sure a mechanically-savvy owner can switch back and forth. Use your fiberglass gear and wheel pants to go fast for travel but swap to bush mode when you want to fly for fun on the weekend, maybe at your cottage. Cool, huh? What wonderful versatility.
Bristell Never Slows DownBRM celebrated reaching 300 aircraft barely a year ago, and Milan said they are already at serial number 365 by mid-April 2018. This company is obviously doing very well and their continued inventiveness paired with good looks and high quality is clearly drawing new customers at a steady pace. U.S. representation is very strong with Bristell USA run by industry veteran — and inventor of the famous "Landing Doctor" technique for always making good touchdowns — Lou Mancuso. He has assembled a qualified team to work with him including John Rathmell and John Calla. With such a speedy aircraft, some buyers have asked about flying with reference to instrument. Lots of LSA sellers shy away from such sales (and if they do, that's probably appropriate for them). However, Bristell USA has researched this and is willing to offer a suitably and properly equipped aircraft. Learn more from a flight I took with Bristell USA team member, John Rathmell or, if you prefer, hear it on video. Despite being one of the newer companies in Light-Sport Aircraft (formed in 2009), BRM and its Bristell appear on course to remain a major contributor to this newest sector of aviation. Now, get the words directly from the boss, Milan Bristela at Aero Friedrichshafen 2018… https://youtu.be/R4wg_8jEvRc
BRM Aero boss and chief design, Milan Bristela, has convincingly proven his visionary credentials. Here’s an article about his company expansion over the last few years. BRM has several models of their Bristell Light-Sport Aircraft. Most models are tricycle gear as that is how most pilot are trained these days. However, for those who love “standard” gear, that is, taildraggers, BRM Aero offers a choice that remains as sleek and beautiful as all their models. The Taildragger option — or TDO, as BRM Aero named it — was introduced in 2013 and a year or so later it made its way to the USA thanks to the involvement of then-new distributor, Bristell Aircraft USA. While tricycle gear models still outsell TDO, it addresses a sweet spot for many pilots. Milan has also built a retractable version (of the tricycle gear model) for those flying in countries where such configurations are permitted and where higher allowed speeds make adding the complexity and cost of retractable gear worthwhile.
Day two of the year’s first show, Sebring was a bit cooler and windier but still a fine day as the photos show. I would guess crowds were as good or better than yesterday not even counting a large contingent of ROTC candidates visiting for the day. Zenith continued to garner lots of attention for their supersized SuperDuty CH-750 variant. Larger wings (six feet more span) and tail feathers are mated to a common 750 fuselage (construction time for which has been reduced through higher tech). The SD is powered by an Aero Sport Power IO-375 producing 205 horsepower. The show example was a three seater that grosses at 1,900 pounds. An 1,100 pounds empty results in an 800 pound useful load. This is the model with the distinctive Unpanel™ instrument system that works like a swivel-mounted flat screen TV in your living room (but better because it’s in your airplane).
Mark Your Calendar… Videos: November 1st — Show: 2nd-3rd-4thAccording to a local newspaper, "More than 6,000 people are expected on the DeLand Municipal Airport Thursday, November 2 through Saturday, the 4th, to inspect more than 100 aircraft." The reporter went on to say that DeLand expects to "top the 1,000 flight operations recorded last year." Hours all three days are 9 AM to 5 PM. General admission for adults costs $20 each day, or $40 for a three-day pass. Lower prices are available for youth aged 11-17 and kids under 10 get in free. The entrance and free parking for DeLand Showcase are off Industrial Way on the northwest side of the airport. Here's the posting schedule for the gusher of videos you can watch. All these aircraft are expected at DeLand.
- Nov. 1, 2017 5 a.m. Tecnam Astore — Tecnam's low wing update that celebrated the 65th anniversary of this leading Light-Sport Aircraft producer from Italy. Tecnam is likely the world's leading producer of these aircraft and Astore is one of their newest. https://youtu.be/oTaWXgnZHUs
- Nov. 1, 2017 6 a.m. Zenith Aircraft — The 25-year-old kit company's CH 750 Cruzer is the speedier version of their ever-popular CH-701 and CH-750 models sometimes referred to as the Sky Jeep. It may not be shapeliest light aircraft but it can get out of the shortest airstrips. https://youtu.be/ioPY_PnMbMw
- Nov. 1, 2017 7 a.m. Aeroprakt A22 — From Ukraine comes one of the great bargains in light aviation with prices well below $100,000. The aircraft is also obvious for its major use of clear panels that assure wonderful visibility. Take the yoke and see for yourself. https://youtu.be/3qhbxWFdCFA
- Nov. 1, 2017 8 a.m. Aerotrek A220 A240 — The steady-Eddie of the LSA segment may be Aerotrek run by the ever-affable Rob Rollison. Through up years and down, Rob sells Aerotrek tricycles or taildraggers on a sane, predictable schedule that buyers appear to prefer. https://youtu.be/7ISH7ZqM4-Y
- Nov. 1, 2017 9 a.m. AutoGyro USA — One class of aircraft buys more Rotax 9-series engine than any other and by a good margin. That class is gyroplanes and AutoGyro is the largest producer. Now, Andy Wall is bringing the brand to America with a fresh, new look. https://youtu.be/2EUgcO5e5jg
- Nov. 1, 2017 10 a.m. Beringer Wheels and Brakes — Everyone likes get up and go but at the end of a flight you have to get down and stop. Beringer has leading expertise in abundance and offers beautiful, versatile systems to help you roll and brake smoothly. https://youtu.be/E7nVrcl2kz8
- Nov. 1, 2017 11 a.m. Ekolot Topaz — If Topaz has not caught your eye yet, you are in for a visual treat. Ekolot's smooth composite Topaz is as nicely appointed as they come and flies pleasantly to boot. Here's one that deserves your attention. https://youtu.be/c5tzmyiUgDE
- Nov. 1, 2017 12 p.m. Evektor Harmony — Harmony follows Evektor's SportStar, which will always enjoy the distinction as the very first Light-Sport Aircraft to win FAA acceptance. Harmony takes the highly evolved SportStar to a whole new altitude as one of the sector's best engineered aircraft. https://youtu.be/WtptDzfjx5o
- Nov. 1, 2017 1 p.m. Flight Design CTLS — For nearly every year Light-Sport Aircraft have been for sale, Flight Design's CT-series has lead the sales rankings and for good reason. It's fast, roomy, clean and smooth, and superbly equipped. At DeLand 2017, come meet the new group managing this venerable brand. https://youtu.be/wPpd6nuZ7YE
- Nov. 1, 2017 2 p.m. Groppo Trail — A lot of handsome airplanes originate in Italy, known for its stylish invention. Groppo's Trail is more the rough-and-ready version able to take on less improved airstrips. Now it's available in tricycle gear or taildragger form. https://youtu.be/6qZKtIkF0vQ
- Nov. 1, 2017 3 p.m. Just Aircraft SuperSTOL — Just Aircraft was already well known for their popular Highlander but when designer Troy Woodland sharply upped the ante with SuperSTOL, eyes at airshows everywhere turned to watch this outstanding performer. Seeing is believing. https://youtu.be/bQFoznvOO_k
- Nov. 1, 2017 4 p.m. KitFox Light Sport Aircraft — One the industry's most familiar shapes is that of Kitfox, whose several models bear the original appearance even as the current company continues to refine and improve their models. Their airshow models are always superlatively finished. https://youtu.be/Gs2FUw0UsAg
- Nov. 1, 2017 5 p.m. SuperPetrel LS — This is one you tend not to forget as it is a very rare biplane seaplane. While it may have a unique look, it works as well on water as any light seaplane model I have flown. The Brazilian company has a base in Florida, not far from DeLand. https://youtu.be/Si2hkU_CwE8
- Nov. 1, 2017 6 p.m. Pipistrel Alpha — This Slovenian company is known for their smooth, slender (and long) winged models made entirely of composite structures. Alpha is their most affordable model and you should look it over carefully. https://youtu.be/litphoYQLOc
- Nov. 1, 2017 7 p.m. Powrachute Powered Parachute — Powered parachutes offer one of the best viewing platforms in all of light aviation. They are also easy to fly and have the lowest hourly requirement to get a Sport Pilot license. Powrachute is the biggest supplier and their models warrant careful examination. https://youtu.be/Rg42_i3EcEU
- Nov. 1, 2017 8 p.m. Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey — We enjoy several great LSA seaplanes but only one boasts a long track record with a large fleet and that is Searey. Made in kit form only for years, you can now buy one ready-to-fly. Searey is made near DeLand in Tavares, Florida ...right on a lake, of course. https://youtu.be/7O7t1nJGPxo
- Nov. 1, 2017 9 p.m. REV Part 103 Legal Ultralight Trike — Among trikes available, the most deluxe and finished model is Revo from Evolution Trikes. However, this Florida company also made the fabulous Part 103 Rev for those on a budget or just look for solo fun in a well-made trike. https://youtu.be/oMK8myarZ94
- Nov. 1, 2017 10 p.m. RV-12 light sport — From the world's largest producer of kit aircraft, Van's Aircraft can now offer a fully built Special LSA RV-12 version through a collaboration with longtime kit-building partner, Synergy Air. Most RV-12s have been sold as kits, at which Van's is deeply experienced. https://youtu.be/PwX8FbTWdNc
- Nov. 1, 2017 11 p.m. Sling Light Sport Aircraft — The Airplane Factory-USA represents the Sling models, including the two seat LSA model and a four seat Sling 4 model that is built as a kit. Both fly wonderfully and have proven themselves uniquely by flying around the world, multiple times. https://youtu.be/3W0xzh0F7yo
- Nov. 1, 2017 12 p.m. SportCruiser — Known to the general aviation crowd as the PiperSport (thanks to a brand they know well), SportCruiser was before and has been since Piper's involvement a good seller under its original name. https://youtu.be/QcjW_X2v9Y0
Live! Soon! Go!Catch all these videos anywhere you like, but even better, make plans now to attend DeLand Showcase 2017. The weather has cooled from summer heat but it should still be in the high '70s, low '80s so it should be a great time to look at airplanes and other gear. As you enjoy all these free videos, I encourage you to visit Videoman Dave's YouTube channel and click here to support the work. You can see most of these videos featuring Dan Johnson right here.
My video partner must be working around the clock as he prepared a blizzard of videos for release starting November 1st. As you see in the list below, 20 videos will soon be available. I hope you’ll enjoy them. Besides giving you info on various aircraft to see at the event, we hope to encourage you to attend DeLand #2. Videos are great and in them we try to ask the questions you would ask and to show you things you’d look for if you attended. Good as videos are, nothing substitutes for you being present to ask and look yourself. I hope you can. Videoman Dave and I will be on-site all three days of the event. We will likely be a blur in motion dashing from one fetching aircraft vendor to another to gather more article material and video interviews. We also hope to record more Video Pilot Reports, as we did last year.
Beringer Aero USA announced an expansion of the French company’s U.S. presence on what they call “The Last Frontier.” Known for its best-in-class wheels, brakes, and related components, Beringer opened an office at the Birchwood airport in Alaska to wide their network and offer customer support. Alaska is an airplane lover’s state. Reportedly one in 50 residents of the largest American state are pilots, compared to around one in 650 in the “lower 48.” No wonder really, as the vast state has only a handful of roads and most of them are in Anchorage or en route to Fairbanks. The rest of the enormous state is largely accessibly only by aircraft. “The Alaskan Landing Gear and a complete range of wheel and brake systems are nearing certification and will be available to all Cub owners and pilots soon,” announced Beringer. “Our wheel and brake kits raise the level of safety thanks to efficient and progressive braking action combined with the strong and reliable design of the wheels.” Weight savings comes as an added bonus, the company said.
This last week, I trekked to FAA headquarters in Washington DC, an action that consumed three days of my time. This was a third visit in six months to meet with top ranked FAA officials, as two organizations combine forces to attempt bringing useful change to light aviation. I won’t long dwell on the effort yet I admit it feels good to advance the ball down the field. The U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA) represents pilots of light aircraft. The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) represents the light aircraft producer and business community. USUA, headed by Roy Beisswenger, and LAMA, chaired by your faithful reporter have made a dynamic duo since early 2014 when we embarked on a mission of advocacy. EAA and AOPA plus GAMA do some similar work and they do it well. However, they have a focus other than for recreational sport pilots and the not-certified light aircraft they fly.
Beringer is a family company that has been deeply involved with wheels and brakes in the automotive and motorcycle world. But in 2006 the family focused on aircraft (they sold the automotive part) and dedicated its energy in this area. At Aero 2013 we spoke with Claire Beringer to ask about the family business. She shows us their impressive line of premium wheels and brakes and tells us how these have been improved even further.
Aero is such an interesting event for many reasons. Among the most significant of these are the large number of aircraft introductions or the newest development projects one discovers in the vast gymnasium-sized halls … eleven of them in total. It can be hard to cover all the square meters, which although not as enormous as giant outdoor American shows, are nonetheless so packed with aircraft that one gets sensory overload before you’ve seen them all. The world premiere of BlackWing was such a project. Here is the first light aircraft I’ve seen from Sweden; others may exist but I’m not aware of them. This sleek speedster uses the ubiquitous Rotax 912 to achieve what they state as stunning speeds up to 400 kilometers per hour (250 mph or 217 knots) and this from only 100 horsepower! Of course, this won’t work as a Light-Sport Aircraft but BlackWing is LSA in size and concept other than its blazing speed.
Elements are basic components of nature. As in our first part, I see Oshkosh Elements as fascinating ideas other than airframes or engines. One such worthy idea is Beringer’s new anti-groundloop tailwheel. Before we talk about their innovation, though, let’s take a quick glance at tailwheel design popularity. Cub-like models and other taildraggers account for more than 20% of the LSA fleet today. Tricycle gear may dominate but lots of pilots believe a tailwheel aircraft is the “proper” gear for an airplane with more machismo, more bush-capability, more aerodynamic efficiency (less drag) … you name it, many pilots just love taildraggers. Tricycle gear pilots, however, not so much. The reason? Trigear landings tend to self correct regarding keeping the airplane straight on the runway. Tailwheel aircraft threaten the dreaded ground loop. Since this sounds — and can be — scary, lots of Cessna or Piper-trained pilots avoid flying taildraggers. Several other reporters covered Beringer‘s press conference and reported on the company’s tailwheel offering but none fully explained it, in my opinion.