“Now, wait a minute,” I hear some object! “You can’t do aerobatics in a Light-Sport Aircraft. It’s not allowed.” Are you sure about that? True, most LSA are not recommended for aerobatic flying or training. However, one of the main reasons for that is that Rotax does not want their LSA 9-series engines used for aerobatics. If the engine manufacturer does not permit that, we’re done talking. It cannot be used that way. The airframe maker can also stipulate no such operations. However, neither FAA regulations nor ASTM standards expressly prohibit aerobatics. We’ve already seen one entry that is capable of aerobatics — the FK-12 Comet biplane — but when that model uses a Rotax powerplant, going upside down on purpose is not permitted. Has Magnus got a valid reason for pursuing aerobatics? Are they trying to invite owners to fly this way? A better rationale: With a capable aircraft, a qualified instructor can offer what some call “Upset Recovery Training.” Others may say “unusual attitude training,” but the purpose is to prepare pilots who may find themselves in unfamiliar — “upset” … “unusual” — situations, so they know how to exit that condition.
Magnus Aircraft Inc (USA)
Phone: 830-998-7270Orange, VA 22960 - USA
Built for Aerobatics Fusion 212The handsome Fusion 212 you see in the nearby pictures was not initially conceived as a Light-Sport Aircraft. It was first built to perform in a Red Bull flight demonstrations series for two years. When that Red Bull pilot retired from performing, the Magnus team wanted to create an aerobatic trainer, and, as they said, "Fusion 212 was born." Magnus Aircraft in Hungary developed Fusion 212 as a training aircraft because while having a very strong wing, it also exhibits predictable flight qualities. When I flew it I found the controls brisk but not overly sensitive, a good combination. I also clearly recall, when maneuvering in Fusion, that it felt extremely solid. Later I learned that this aircraft uses a single-piece wing (as does the Cirrus SR series). This no doubt aided the tight feel I experienced. At that time the man in charge of Magnus in the USA was not stressing the aerobatic capability. In a 2018 article announcing the Fusion as the newest SLSA in the U.S. market, this appeared: “This low-wing monoplane [has a] symmetrical wing profile that provides it with superb aerobatic capabilities,” said Magnus Aircraft. However, the company advised, “While the aircraft has aerobatic capabilities … as a Normal Category SLSA aircraft, Fusion 212 is presently limited to a maximum of 60 degrees of bank and a maximum pitch up or down of 30 degrees when operating in the United States.” Now, younger representative Doma Andreka speaks for the Hungarian company in revealing that they are pushing flight school sales when upset recovery training is offered. Fusion certainly looks the part. Perhaps it was a different (and striking) paint job on the 2021 model I examined at Midwest LSA Expo but I was immediately caught by the flatness of the upper wing surface. On looking at the also-flat underside I recalled that Fusion 212 uses a symmetrical airfoil, not uncommon on high performance aerobatic aircraft. Fusion's span is also tight at just 27.3 feet plus it employs a dual-taper planform. Fusion's cruciform tail is placed higher to be in clear air all the time. In 2021, Magnus in America is employing a different approach and it appears to be working. As head of Magnus Aircraft's U.S. operation, Doma is an ideal candidate. He has worked in the factory in Hungary for some years, as head of communications and marketing. As the Hungarian company sought to pursue business in America, the leadership sent Doma to Texas to help Fusion 212 earn its SLSA Special Airworthiness Certificate. In 2021 alone Doma reported selling seven aircraft and expects to log a couple more before the year ends. That's a solid start to the refreshed Magnus America enterprise in the USA. Although this sturdy aircraft may be optimized for aerobatics the images nearby show this is a comfortable traveling machine as well. Going gross country knowing an aircraft can handle turbulence is reassuring. As Doma next plans to promote Fusion 212 in the uberactive aviation state of Florida, I'm sure we'll be seeing more Fusions and if some of them appear to be upside down… perhaps they are! Watch for our 2021 video interview to learn even more. Until the new one is done this after-flight review contains a lot of information about Fusion. (Video shot at Sebring in 2018.)
One area of light aircraft flight — LSA, kits, or ultralights — that gets less attention is aerobatics. “Oh, we can’t encourage that from Sport Pilots,” some lament, but those who say that are not considering one aspect of flight training that also gets less attention than it deserves: upset recovery training. Some call it unusual attitude recovery but the purpose is to prepare pilots for potentially threatening positions where the pilot should promptly execute practiced control actions to restore normal flight. When I did conventional flight instruction many years ago, we always included spin recovery training, even for the Private Pilot certificate. In those days, before any student was signed off for a checkride, he or she had likely done full spins to recovery. We thought it made good sense for pilots to at least know how to perform when they find themselves in unusual attitudes. Built for Aerobatics Fusion 212 The handsome Fusion 212 you see in the nearby pictures was not initially conceived as a Light-Sport Aircraft.
Rare and/or New AircraftMC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn't see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That's true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design). However, Gregg Ellsworth and AIR (Aviation Insurance Resources) came to the rescue so now importer Ed Ricks of Montaer USA has a good chance to get this all-new design to Midwest 2020. When you look at the image of MC-01, some of us see the Paradise P1NG. No surprise, as the designer once worked with Paradise. While the new model bears a close resemblance to the earlier SLSA, that one has largely disappeared from the U.S. market, so Montaer is filling a void. Paradise, and now Montaer, have long offered a yoke control with a voluminous three-door cabin. It makes people think Cessna 150 but larger (and it performs substantially better). The first U.S. delivery will also have hand controls, a choice available to offer assistance to some pilots. Merlin Lite by Aeromarine LSA — If you know Merlin, you should be asking, "…Lite?" Wasn't it already light? Ah, that is Merlin PSA. This is Merlin Lite …and yes, it is lighter, if you can believe that. Proprietor Chip Erwin of Aeromarine LSA is one of those can't-sit-still people and he's taking his early success with Merlin PSA even further with a lighter-yet, lower-cost-yet model powered by the Polini Thor engine that tens of thousands of powered paragliders use. The good news is you don't have to run this one off the ground. I'll have more on this, possibly before Midwest 2020 because this model is literally hot off the factory floor. Put this in perspective. Merlin PSA, also a single seater, is an all-metal, fully enclosed, well-equipped aircraft that you can assemble for around $35,000. Options and choice of engine can increase the base but it is easily one of the great bargains in aviation. A 60-horsepower four-stroke V-Twin engine will make the "bigger" Merlin soar into the sky, but just for fun, come see Merlin Lite at Midwest 2020. SmithSilver by Tri-State Kite — Owner Mark Smith's enterprise is "the nation's leading source of quality aftermarket parts for the complete line of the Quicksilver ultralight aircraft, and has been in business more than 33 years" he expressed. Mark has become a guru of the Quicksilver type, has made numerous components for them, and will have something called SmithSilver at Midwest 2020. I'm as curious as you and look forward to checking it out. BTW, are you puzzled by Mark's business name …specifically "Kites?" When hang gliders were a lot simpler than today's sophisticated models, they were often called "kites," a term that followed even earlier boat-towed rigs that literally had to be tethered like a kite. Even the first hang gliders were more than a mere kite but the name was quick and easy, and it stuck. Mark's time in the business goes back far enough that his business name could reflect that …even if today it sounds a bit odd for an aircraft company. Read for yourself Mark Smith's history of design ideas for the Quicksilver aircraft. Sparrow by Carlson — This oldie but goodie has not been seen for some time but thanks to the people behind the MiniMax series of affordable aircraft, the Sparrow is returning to the market. Lots of readers remember this once-popular model. Following the death of Ernie Carlson a few years back, the brand fell out of sight for most buyers even though Ernie's wife, Mary, kept the business running. Now with help from David Cooper of Team MiniMax (and some partners), the single place Carlson Sparrow will be returning to the market, with plans for the two-place in their mind but still on a back burner. This project is still new but come to Midwest 2020 and ask questions. F2 by Flight Design — I have reported this impressive new top-end Special LSA before but for most Americans, this will be their first viewing. I saw it in Aero 2019 but it had not flown then. It's all wrung out and approved now and I look forward to a flight in the bigger, better model. After Midwest 2020, F2 will go home with Tom and Tom Gutmann of Airtime Aviation, the world's largest dealer/distributor for Flight Design aircraft. As winter follows in a few months, Airtime's base in Oklahoma makes sense versus Flight Design USA in Connecticut. This is the first F2 in America so they're sharing the treasure. Vashon Ranger — While it's not brand new, Ranger R7 is new enough that many LSA enthusiasts have yet to see one and Vashon Aircraft has never displayed at Midwest before. The brand has done respectably well as our industry reports, as seen on Tableau Public, demonstrate. After their first deliveries in 2017, Washington-based Vashon has grown rapidly, thanks to a familiar construction at a good price (starts just below $100,000 fully built and reasonably well equipped). Through the first half of 2020, the company had already almost matched all of 2019, so despite the virus, more Rangers are taking to the sky. You should check this one out in person, but I'll be angling for a flight in the new design so we expect to report more and capture video. SD-1 (kit) By SD Planes —Readers of this website like affordable aircraft and the SD Planes single place kit is surely a great value in light aircraft. Construction is significantly wood. If you don't already know, building from wood is achievable by most, much less challenging that kits that involve welding or composite work. Check this video for more about building the airplane and for a look at the two seat model from the same designer. SD-1 is a modest project, not only from the build effort but you can keep the base price below $20,000, an amount the importer said includes the engine. If you simply can't see yourself building a single seater — no matter how much fun it might be — U.S. rep John Vining has the SD-2 Sportmaster. Both share the same ease of construction. VL3 by JMB Aircraft — This spring, we had a contest going on between three speedy European aircraft: Sweden's striking Blackwing, Switzerland's super-sleek Risen, and JMB Aircraft's VL3. Of these, only one will be at Midwest 2020: VL3. You already know this airplane under the marketing name Gobosh. It was sold as a fixed gear, fixed pitch prop Special LSA. In Europe, where no speed limit applies to what they then and still call "microlights" or European ultralights, companies like those mentioned above seek the highest speed they can achieve. All use the Rotax engine, so it becomes about airframe smoothness, wing efficiency, and getting as lean as possible, hence retractable gear. For now in the U.S., such aircraft must be built as kits but in 2023, such models will become LSA (or maybe Light Personal Aircraft, depending on what FAA eventually decides about a possible new category). Fusion 212 by Magnus — Did you wonder if this handsome aircraft disappeared? That's understandable because we haven't seen it for a short time (and, of course, not this unusual year). I did a flight in Fusion and you can check it out in this video. What could be better? You could attend Midwest 2020 and fly it yourself. At minimum, you can talk to the representatives, ask questions, and closely examine the all-composite aircraft built in Hungary but represented by Magnus USA. This list is not inclusive of all players but you can check the Midwest 2020 program to see all expected exhibitors.
Who Won't Be Present?I understand a few cannot be present and while I certainly respect their decision not to take chances, well… darn it! I'll miss these folks. Rob Rollison the proprietor of the very successful Aerotrek line has elected not to go. He cited concerns about the virus and how that can affect a show that is already modestly attended. Such things matter to vendors swayed by high traffic at shows like Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh, but an individual pilot actually benefits from a smaller number of attendees. Although the company appears on the site layout, apparently Rans has elected not to attend after many years of doing so. This is just that kind of year, I guess. Two other aircraft are not quite ready yet. These include two entries from Deon Lombard's Aeropilot USA distributorship. He is expecting the first M-8 Eagle, rebadged as L600 Eagle to provide continuity for the earlier Aeropilot Legend/L600 Deon formerly represented (he still owns the dealership for several more months but will then switch to the L600 Eagle; I will report more on that later). In addition, Deon is bringing in from South Africa the sleek composite RV-like Whisper kit-built aircraft. Perhaps at DeLand in January or certainly by Sun 'n Fun 2021, both aircraft should be available for your inspection. Deon will have the InnovAviation FX1 we saw at Midwest 2019 (here's our video on that model). He'll also have a very special opportunity for one buyer of the same aircraft I flew. Come and see for yourself. However, while we regret missing a couple regulars, I'm pleased those who show should (fingers crossed) have plenty to look at and I expect to make several reports from the event — the last of the year since DeLand Showcase has pushed into 2021 (January 28-29-30). Travel safely and I hope to see you in Mt. Vernon!
To help you psych' up for Midwest 2020, here's a few videos assembled by Videoman Dave. He's putting up lots before this event — go to his YouTube channel to see many more. https://youtu.be/oSpq6vZ4skQ https://youtu.be/mMV824eEbRk https://youtu.be/eq0FfmDvNtE https://youtu.be/P25dFK_RCY8
I hope you can attend 2020’s Midwest LSA Expo — the last airshow in 2020. If you cannot attend, rest assured your trusty reporter will be onsite and gathering all the info on the coolest aircraft I can find. What will be available? Well, if I am honest, we will have to see when we arrive to be certain. In these virus-impacted times, things have a lousy way of changing at the last minute, however… Those who attend should see a few aircraft that few Americans have seen before. Here’s a quick take, not forgetting the statement about how arrivals can be altered beyond the wishes of any particular vendor. Rare and/or New Aircraft MC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn’t see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That’s true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design).
Gone Flying …for You!Our VPRs have proven popular with some approaching a million views and several with hundreds of thousands of views. In my early days of writing aircraft reviews, I produced hundreds of such reports. Indeed those articles were the original foundation of this website. They date back into the 1980s and some even in the '70s. Yet, times change. After YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-hosting sites arrived, they drew huge viewership. YouTube is often said to be the #2 search engine on the Internet after Google. People love videos! Videoman Dave informed an inquiring group of pilots that his Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel now generates 1.8 million views a month (for all his 1,000+ videos, which include all the ones in which I perform). We joined the parade and now create VPRs, involving mounting up to eight Garmin Virb cameras as well as shooting from the ground, plus a stand-up review where I relate information immediately after flying the aircraft. Obvious, pilots enjoy these and we'll keep making more. Magnus Fusion — Magnus Aircraft USA is the manufacturer of a Hungarian design called Fusion 212. Designed in 2013 with first flight in 2015, and FAA acceptance as a Special LSA in 2017, Fusion is one of the newest aircraft in the SLSA List, in the #146 spot. The U.S. assembly site brings in carbon components from Hungary but the American operation is acknowledged by FAA as the official producer of the LSA version, according to boss Istvan Foldesi. This all-carbon-fiber design is a low wing side-by-side model with dashing performance featuring quick climb rates with the Rotax 912 ULS. Fusion cruises at 110-115 knots and exhibited very accommodating handling. Watch for many more details and get plenty of views when the video is released. SilverLight AR1 — To handle this VPR a bit differently, I asked pilot/instructor Greg Spicola to pretend I was a new gyroplane student. That's close to accurate as I have about four hours under my belt in a variety of gyroplanes. However, except for a few differences associated with a spinning wing, AR1, like all gyroplanes, can be flown essentially as a you'd operate a fixed wing LSA. "Power before pitch" was a mantra Greg drilled into me and that with a few other differences — such as operating the rotor pre-rotator and learning to brake the rotor disk before making abrupt turns on the ground — are easy enough to learn. It only takes a bit of "unlearning" so one's fixed wing habits don't result in the wrong actions by the pilot. These aircraft are special in many ways — the ability to descend vertically (although not land that way) and to make seriously tight turns about a point — that combine with massive visibility at affordable prices …all of which explain some of the growing popularity of these aircraft types. Again, look for many more details and views when the video emerges from the edit suite. As the show wound down, we did an interview with Executive Director Mike Willingham and Executive Assistant Bev Glarner. The longtime team are the key players behind the event these days but we also asked questions about the airport itself. Watch for that update when editing is complete, but please be patient as Videoman Dave is already working his way across the southern states en route to Copperstate 2019. This year, the long-running event has moved from from October to February. If you live in the southwest, come on out to the event and give a wave when you see us dashing about to record more great video interviews and VPRs for you.
The final day of the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo brought good flying conditions until mid-afternoon when light precipitation returned. The good start allowed us to record two Video Pilot Reports (VPR), one on the Magnus Aircraft all-carbon-fiber Fusion 212 and the other on the fully enclosed SilverLight Aviation American Ranger AR1 gyroplane. The videos will take some time to edit but I’ll provide a quick glimpse below. One surprise arrival was Aeromarine LSA‘s Mermaid. Remember this model? This Chip Erwin creation was really the forerunner of the modern LSA seaplane category. Before Mermaid, we had Progressive Aerodyne‘s Searey and Aero Adventure‘s Aventura. Both those models have been upgraded for the time of ASTM standards compliance but early in the new millennium it was accurate to call them “ultralight seaplanes” built of gusseted aluminum structures covered with sewn Dacron surfaces.
"New or Used?"That is a question pondered by vendors. Many businesses representing airframe manufacturers cater exclusively to the new aircraft sales. Many regard used aircraft, even their own brand, as competitors. Some, like Scott Severen of US Sport Planes, see used aircraft — especially for the Jabiru brand he represents for North America — as an alternate for his enterprise. He displayed two pristine Jabiru LSA with prices 50% under a new model. They are not the same as current new models but from my look, many buyers would find them highly desirable. Did I mention for half the price of new? Scott and other vendors have taken a more entrepreneurial approach to used aircraft, turning the sale of used LSA into a profit center to support their business rather than fighting futilely against the presence of a growing used fleet of LSA. "I earn more with a new plane but I can do fine with used," Scott said. "My reasoning best serves the customer, too, as a pilot looking for new isn't interested in used and a customer who wants to spend less is motivated by a lower price (photos)." Another veteran of the LSA business is John Hurst who represented a pair of Breezers that also look very good despite being used. Breezer Aircraft of Germany has not had a U.S. representative for several years but existing ones can certainly be given some tender loving care (home page image). "I went through the airplanes from nose to tail," said John, while noting the exceptionally good flying characteristics. If he doesn't move this pair of Breezer sooner, look for one in the LSA Mall at Sun 'n Fun in a couple months. Naturally, both Scott and John are also happy to supply brand new LSA with as many bells and whistles as you like. Scott has the whole Jabiru line for the entire USA and John represents Flight Design and its CT-series in the southeast U.S. on behalf of Flight Design USA.
New Is NiceA couple new airplanes that appeared to be drawing good attention were the Aeropilot L600 and the Magnus Fusion 212. L600 importer Deon Lombard said he expecting his first with the Rotax 912iS. "The injected engine installation has been all worked out and the manufacturer keeps making airframe improvements," said Deon. The two aircraft he exhibited have some hours on them criss-crossing the country from his base in Southern California, but these are two clean flying machines. See our Video Pilot Report here. Magnus is represented here at Sebring by Istvan Foldesi, who reports fully building the Fusion in the USA using parts fabricated in Hungary. The smooth composite — mostly carbon fiber construction with an elegant dual-taper wing — is making the rounds at airshows and attracting admiring looks, I have observed. At Sebring company pilots were giving demo flights to prospective customers. (Magnus also supplied a yummy native Hungarian dessert — they literally transported a suitcase-full — and the treat was enjoyed by all exhibitors at Sebring's exhibitor reception on Wednesday evening.) Other companies also told us about new models or upgrades coming in the near future, perhaps as soon as Sun 'n Fun 2019. It looks to be an exiting new year for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot Kits.
Here's Our Race-Around-Sebring Videohttps://youtu.be/YYONP0o7ERA
“Duck and cover” was a phrase to describe the morning on Thursday, Day Two at Sebring. Rain that lasted until late morning dampened turnout and you can’t blame those who stayed home because tomorrow, Friday January 25th, looks much better. It will be cooler (by Florida standards, 60°F) but clear skies are forecast. Plus, it’s Friday, so come on out and enjoy! We took advantage of the wet weather to visit inside displays and will have videos coming on the Wingbug airdata WiFi device; about insurance for Light-Sport Aircraft, ELSA, Sport Pilot Kits from Aviation Insurance Resources; and on Whelens line of very bright LED strobes. Once they are edited and uploaded, find them on the YouTube channel of Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer. Please be patient for the videos. Soon after Sebring, Videoman Dave and I head out to Copperstate for the show now co-produced with Buckeye Air Fair at an all-new time of the calendar: February 8-9-10.
Specifications for Magnus Fusion 21
- Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms)
- Fuel Capacity — 23.7 gallons (90 liters)
- Cockpit Width — 46 inches (1.17 meters)
- Cruise Speed — 116 knots
- Never Exceed Speed — 151 knots
- Stall Speed (no flaps) — 48 knots
- Stall Speed (best flaps) — 45 knots
- Takeoff Distance — 400 feet (120 meters)
- Landing Distance — 500-600 feet (150-200 meters)
- Range — 500-600 miles (800-1,000 kilometers)
All specifications provided by Magnus Aircraft
A new-to-Americans Light-Sport Aircraft made its debut showing at AirVenture 2018. Here is the Magnus Aircraft Fusion 212. It appears another SLSA snuck by my penetrating radar for such achievements. U.S. chief pilot Charlie Snyder told me that the first Fusion earned its Special Airworthinews certificate back in September 2017 thereby joining our SLSA List at number 146. Magnus hails from Hungary, home to more aircraft manufacturers than you may be aware, including such as ApolloFox fixed wing and Apollo weight shift trikes. American representation for Magnus Aircraft USA is handled by Snyder and Magnus president Istvan Foldesi. We recorded a video interview with both men at AirVenture 2018. Both live in the USA while the company CEO Laszlo Boros runs the Hungary operation in a new manufacturing plant near Pecs-Pogany Airport. Snyder and Foldesi exhibited their brightly painted low wing that uses mostly carbon fiber construction and a dual taper wing.