A mid-week demonstration featured Europe’s Volocopter and America’s Opener BlackFly. The two (three actually, a pair of BlackFlys flew) demonstrated their eVTOL flying capability. They could hardly have been more different. Billionaires are investing in, uh, what to call them? …drones, multicopters, eVTOLs, UASs, UAVs, Powered Lift aircraft, the list literally goes on and on. The lack of a widely accepted generic name is one of several indications these air taxis of tomorrow are still in a fairly distant tomorrow. Two industry experts gave me their judgment after viewing the Volocopter and BlackFly demonstrations. Both agreed the Volocopter presented better, performing a true demonstration of its vertical launch then transitioning to forward flight, manuevering, and then doing a landing. Both also said the BlackFly was much less impressive. “They just kind of bobbed and floated around, not doing any maneuvering or making a transition to forward flight,” each agreed. Both wanted to like each aircraft but one clearly won in their minds.
Fusion Copter Ltd.
Phone: 661-972-5240 • +48601999626Warsaw, 02-284 - Poland
AirVenture Day 1: Welcome Back, Oshkosh! TODAY: Affordable Airplanes in the “Fun Fly Zone”
Fun Fly Zone Where Affordable Aviation LivesShort story first… My Canadian videographer Dave Loveman was denied entry at the border (long story) so I'm flying solo this year. I will concentrate in areas as the show is simply too big to cover top to bottom unless you have wheels — and they are reserved for a gilt-edged few. Most of us hoof it (or tram it), and did I mention the space stretches well over a mile plus miles more back and forth between exhibit spaces and aircraft. Aviation shows need lots of room and Oshkosh is the biggest of the big. When Dave can attend he uses a scooter (that can go literally anywhere …it's a golden ride). He's fitted his deluxe scooter with a tiny wheeled trailer, which I mount and then hang on for dear life as we wheel all over the grounds in minutes. Man, do I miss that speedy, if overly attention-getting, ride.
What follows will be key photos of the day plus a short paragraph. Each of these is worthy of its own story and when the show is over I will organize the best of these for a deeper dive. All of them, every one, are quite affordable.
Fixed Wing – Gyroplane – Powered Paraglider – Biplane – Trike – New LSABADLAND AIRCRAFT / F-SERIES — Chris Duell made a big change since I last ran into him (article here) and his new Badland F-series of legit Part 103 fixed wing aircraft. He moved from his longtime home in Las Vegas, Nevada to southern Minnesota. He was able to expand to more spacious quarters and beamed with pleasure at having enough room in a completely different surrounding. He recently bought this original Badland (nearby image) from a customer who had equipped it with tundra tires that looked great but might push it over Part 103 limits. Smaller tires as seen in the background make the numbers, Chris proved. He's got airplanes flying, kits in progress, and orders to build. Here's an affordable fixed wing aircraft many can like. F-series uses the Polini Thor engine with an E-Props propeller. Chris is pleased with both. DRAGON QUAD PPG — A newcomer in the space is this simple but effective looking "quad" from Dragon PPG. These carriages are the next step for foot-launched powered paragliders. Purists will still prefer that method but those who aren't confident in running launches and landings may elect an undercarriage. These need to be much leaner than the construction of a two-place, Rotax 912-equipped powered parachute; they're pretty different aircraft. Yet these are highly affordable, offer splendid visibility, and are light enough to make transport easier. Developer Dan Feldman put Dragon PPG together in just six months but has tested it and had experts put it through its paces …with flying colors. Dragon is powered by a 50-horsepower Rotax 503 giving the Part 103 light aircraft a very spirited climb (most PPGs used 35-horsepower engines or smaller, though they carry less weight.) Dan said an ample supply of zero-time rebuilt 503s is available. FUSION NANO (GYRO) — Gyroplanes have been a hot spot in light aviation for several years. The models have become increasingly deluxe with several top competitors in the space volleying back and forth for more sophisticated aircraft. They have indeed become beautiful flying machines. However, while most are still affordable compared to many top fixed wing LSA, they have priced themselves higher with each improvement. Single seat gyroplanes — like the Bensens and others when the category was founded — are very rare …until now. Fusion Copter makes a very affordable gyroplane that looks to deliver fun flying in that rotary way. In an earlier article I described the aircraft in more detail and I will have fresh news about this aircraft in the weeks ahead. HIPERLIGHT — Ron Jones has been selling a kit version of the Sorrell Brothers' Hiperlight series since he took over in 2004. The design dates to the early 1980s. For all that time, this longtime model has only been available as an Experimental Amateur Built but that is now changing. Ron reported (a video will follow with more details) that he has been working diligently for many months to go through the ASTM standards used by FAA to "accept" (not "certify") a new Special LSA. He expects to complete the project by the end of 2021 and then enthusiasts can buy a factory-built Hiperlight. After checking out several engines, Ron settled on the Jabiru 2200 four-cylinder, 80-horsepower engine. As Hiperlight is, well… light, this provides exhilarating performance, he said. AEROS ANT (TRIKE) — Years ago I visited Aeros in the Ukraine. They were developing into a major supplier of hang gliders but were also contract building the Sky Ranger for a French company. It was a primitive working environment for many ex-Antonov workers (when Communism collapsed, many experienced workers and engineers were thrown out of work) but those people turned out some very nice products despite the challenges. Now, years later, their hang gliding background still lives and the Ant is a product aimed at that market …or anyone else looking for a very affordable price tag (below $20,000 ready to fly). Not only is the aircraft a bargain but it can literally pack down into three bags you could carry on and in most vehicles. Plus, Ant can retract its main gear in flight and packs down quickly for compact hangar storage as well. CARLSON SPARROW — Welcome back to Ernie Carlson's Sparrow! I knew this project was in the works (as reported earlier), but David Cooper and his helpers have been head-down learning the product and supplying some information that went missing through two previous owner changes since Ernie passed away. David acquired design rights, tooling, and inventory for Carlson's single place Part 103 Sparrow and the two place Sparrow XTC. He had an example of the latter at the show; it's the one they used to remeasure and confirm certain aspects of the design. After sorting out many details, David is now ready to start work on production. He will continue, of course, with the MiniMax line. The latter is nearly all wood, while Sparrow uses welded steel and aluminum construction. It's great to see David keeping these two long-lived models alive and well. OK, it's late and Tuesday is already here. So, that's a wrap for today. Let's see what I can find tomorrow!
WOW! It’s great to be back at a major airshow. I imagine every single person on that immense stretch of show grounds (way past a mile north to south!) felt largely the same way I did. Airshow buddies. Cool aircraft to check out. All manner of compelling gear to make your bird better. Forums on a wide variety of topics. Terrific aerobatic acts and a constant, joyful racket of airplane noise. Oshkosh is literal aviation sensory overload and every person present is splashing around in it like a kid in a backyard pool. Whee! Fun Fly Zone Where Affordable Aviation Lives Short story first… My Canadian videographer Dave Loveman was denied entry at the border (long story) so I’m flying solo this year. I will concentrate in areas as the show is simply too big to cover top to bottom unless you have wheels — and they are reserved for a gilt-edged few.
UltraChoppers — Exploring Two Light Rotary-Winged Aircraft: 1 Helo + 1 Gyro
Micron-3 Coaxial HelicopterHave a glance at the RD Heli's Micron-3 ultralight helicopter. This is like no other ultralight helicopter I've ever seen, although the idea of coaxial is not new. History suggests coaxial rotors originated with Mikhail Lomonosov a very long time ago, according to Wikipedia. Over the years, many helicopter models have emerged but none so compact as Micron-3 Coaxial rotors are a pair of helicopter rotors mounted one above the other driven by concentric driveshafts, with the same axis of rotation, but turning in opposite directions (contra-rotating; see graphic). Another benefit arising from a coaxial design includes increased payload for the same engine power; "a tail rotor typically wastes some of the available engine power that would be fully devoted to lift and thrust with a coaxial design," say knowledgeable people. Reduced noise is another alleged advantage of the configuration Phoenix Skyblazer is an American coaxial helicopter that was designed by the Nolan brothers and produced by Phoenix Rotorcraft using a pair of 50 horsepower Rotax 503 engines. It never found a market but coaxials are more common in Russia, where the military uses them. According to the Micron website, the aircraft is powered by a single MZ202 engine for which the company reports 63 horsepower at 6250 rpm. A standard fuel tank offers 1.5 hours of flight but an extra tank can be added. The website was sparse about tech specs so endurance and range are unknown but the video below displays an agile and fun-looking flying machine. As the aircraft weighs 348 pounds empty and assuming it was fitted with extremely light floats, it is conceivable that Micron could qualify as a Part 103 ultralight. Certainly it could be assembled as a kit although technical support for a kit project is unknown. I report this as a fascinating light aircraft but I cannot vouch for Micron-3. It presently has no American representation that I could discover. I also have no information on pricing although I have contacted the company to request additional details. If they are forthcoming, I'll add to this article. Generally, though, I can tell you RD-Heli's website has very good English language descriptions. Go explore for yourself. Micron-3 helicopter development was a collaboration by Chief Designer Valery Shokhov and Dmitry Rakitsky after whom RD-Heli company is named.
Fusioncopter JK-2 NanoNow, let's look at a more familiar aircraft type, a gyroplane, but as with Micron-3, the JK-2 Nano is not like any other gyroplane you've seen in recent years. In one way Nano is similar to the original Bensen Gyrocopter. Nano is a single seater. At first, all gyros were one-seaters but since European engineers took the concept and started to advance development, I've seen almost exclusively two seaters. What's even more unusual is that Nano comes from a company call Fusioncopter that started out making, get this! — a four-seat, twin-engine gyrocopter. I'm guessing you've never heard of that either unless you dig pretty deeply among unusual aircraft information. "JK-2 Nano project was created from experience accumulated during research and development of a large, two-engine, four-seat gyroplane designed by Fusioncopter Ltd., with investor funds," explained Jacek Lichota. "Nano is a younger, smaller, but still fully professional brother." Nano is a simple gyroplane that has a partially-enclosed cabin and a fairly traditional configuration. Empty weight is listed as a modest 220 pounds. Large-wheels enable take-offs and landings not only on runways but also from undeveloped fields. Nano uses an aluminum structure, composite body with carbon and kevlar materials. Sturdy-looking 20-inch main wheels allow more confident operation from turf runways or grassy meadows. A suspended 16-inch front wheel also helps negotiate uneven surfaces. The metal rotor was developed by Fusioncopter, the company notes. Unlike bigger, two-seat gyroplanes that commonly use mechanical means, Nano uses a hydraulic rotor prerotation system to shorten takeoff roll. It is powered by a popular powered paraglider engine, the Polini Thor 250DS with electric starter and dual ignition system and Fusioncopter reported that it outputs 48 horsepower.
Nano Q&AI posed a series of questions to Jacek Lichota. How many of your aircraft are flying? "At the moment six, which are all Nanos. We started manufacturing in March of 2020." How long has Nano been flying? "Nano took its first flight on 25th of September 2019. We started to sell Nano on November 18, 2019." Do you believe this will meet U.S. FAA Part 103? "Definitely, yes!" What is the approximate price? "The price is €20.000 (currently about $23,800)." Please see the U.S. representative for exact pricing. Have you any U.S. representation? "Yes, we have a dealer in California." Interested readers can contact Jonathan Barraclough of Tehachapi, California at 661-972-5240. Visit his website or send email. What countries are flying your aircraft? "Today they fly in Poland, Austria, Czech Republic and the next three are going to the USA, followed by two to Germany and two more to Poland." How long has the company existed? "Fusioncopter was founded in 2012. We made two prototypes of our FC-4 four-seat gyroplane, which needs more time for certification; it shares the same technology employed on JK-2 Nano that is just for fun flying." When is the twin-engine model available? "I hope we will perform some flights this year but I do not think it will be commercially available for two years (or 2022)."
JK-2 Nano Technical Specifications
- Rotor diameter — 23 feet
- Empty weight with coolant and hydraulic fluid — 220 pounds
- Maximum take-off weight (limited by regulations) — 440 pounds
- Fuel tank capacity (limited by regulations) — 5 gallons
- Never exceed speed — 70 mph
- Maximum speed — 55 mph
- Minimum speed — 22 mph
- Cruising speed — 45 mph
- Maximum climb speed — 400 feet per minute
- Take-off run — about 150 feet
- Landing distance — 0-30 foot roll
- Fuel consumption — approximately 1.5–2 gallons per hour
New Info Since Article Was PostedMany of you asked about prices for these two rotary winged aircraft. The Fusioncopter Nano was price quoted in the article above. What follows came from my inquiry to RD Heli. What is the approximate price of this aircraft? "Price of a kit starts from 2,500,000 rubles." That amount converts to about $33,500 at today's exchange rates. Find more detail on the kits on RD Heli's website, then scroll down to images and click on the kit image, not the order button. How many are flying? "We sold more than 10 units. Not one unit was sold to private pilots. All of them were sold to companies."
Additional Tech Specs:
- Maximum speed — 72 mph
- Cruise speed — 55 mph
- Fuel capacity — about 7 gallons
- Fuel consumption — 4.5 gallons per hour
- Empty weight — 348 pounds (10 more than the maximum allowed under Part 103)
➡️ This article was UPDATED on July 31, 2020 with additional information — see after video… Some pilots love to whirl their wings over their heads. Many others like the idea of rotary flight — offering short takeoffs and landings plus ease of operation in windier conditions. A majority have not (yet) acted on their interest but perhaps they are waiting for the right aircraft, maybe one of these. One is a very light coaxial helicopter from Russia. The other is a single place gyroplane from Poland. Micron-3 Coaxial Helicopter Have a glance at the RD Heli’s Micron-3 ultralight helicopter. This is like no other ultralight helicopter I’ve ever seen, although the idea of coaxial is not new. History suggests coaxial rotors originated with Mikhail Lomonosov a very long time ago, according to Wikipedia. Over the years, many helicopter models have emerged but none so compact as Micron-3 Coaxial rotors are a pair of helicopter rotors mounted one above the other driven by concentric driveshafts, with the same axis of rotation, but turning in opposite directions (contra-rotating; see graphic).