I have been working in this industry since, well… before it was an industry, so a long time. In all that time I have continually been impressed with the willingness of businesses that are clearly competitors to join together in ways that promote the entire light aircraft sector. From the Sport Pilot Tour of the early 2000s to the LSA Mall of the 2020s, gathering industry together to better present the entire segment has worked amazingly well and I commend those many companies that participated enthusiastically. Daily reporting from the season-launching Sun ‘n Fun 2022 continues… * Mustang Collaboration One such example is a fascinating collaboration, in this case between two companies each producing a substantially authentic scale model replica of the famous World War II fighter. One has a market established over several years. The other has a spectacular new entry. How can you imagine the story ends?
Producers of P-51 Mustang Replicas Collaborate; Refined Hiperlight; New Gyroplane
Mustang CollaborationOne such example is a fascinating collaboration, in this case between two companies each producing a substantially authentic scale model replica of the famous World War II fighter. One has a market established over several years. The other has a spectacular new entry. How can you imagine the story ends? Surprise! They decide to work together. Christian von Kessel of ScaleWings reported that he and John Williams of Titan Aircraft will proceed on a plan for Titan to assist builders of the SW-51 Mustang replica. The two use entirely different constructions but John has a wealth of knowledge building the iconic shape plus he knows how to run a production business. ScaleWings has done a spectacularly-authentic job of design and production mold building but they lack a U.S. presence, so Titan can become an important partner offering credibility and reassurance to American buyers of a European design. The cooperation is at an early stage.
Refined Hiperlight Biplane (Special LSA-to-be)When I interviewed Ron Jones of Thunderbird Aviation in Michigan at AirVenture Oshkosh 2021, he grabbed my attention when he reported that he believes he can sell a complete SLSA version of SNS-9 Hiperlight using the Jabiru 2200, 81 horsepower engine for $65,000. As this article from last summer calculated, that price is actually less than many originally expected for Light-Sport Aircraft. "Affordable" means something different to everyone, but I believe most will agree that is quite a value for such an airplane in 2022. To keep up with this evolving design, we interviewed Ron again at Sun 'n Fun 2022. He has owned this business for a quarter century and exclusively sold kits during that time. Now he enters the ready-to-fly market and while he agrees that ASTM standards are tough, he is confident that Hiperlight will rise to the occasion. He reported that documentation is 90% done (one of the most difficult steps in winning SLSA acceptance by FAA). He expects to begin ASTM Standards flight trials soon after Sun 'n Fun. Ron showed active work on the project as they unveiled their new nose cowling at Sun 'n Fun. If you look at the earlier article you'll see they've made a quality upgrade. This happened when an automobile industry engineer with an interest in airplanes offered to assist Thunderbird. He was able to employ his skills including use of an auto company wind tunnel to refine the shape. As the nearby images show, the work reveals professional quality; the shape is excellent. Will it be all done by AirVenture Oshkosh 2022? No, but it'll be coming along this year, Ron is sure.
Hummingbird H2 Gyroplane, All-Terrain Gyro?Talking to representatives of gyroplane companies at Sun 'n Fun confirmed that the gyro market that had slumped a bit over the last couple years has now steadied and is recovering. The sector has had to cope with being the only LSA that manufacturers cannot deliver ready-to-fly. This will get fixed in Mosaic LAMA is sure, but a requirement to build from a kit has certainly restricted sales. Now things are improving so a new entry might be expected. Making its U.S. debut at Sun 'n Fun 2022, welcome Hummingbird H2. "Hummingbird is an innovative project designed and manufactured by Hummingbird Industria Aeronautica and distributed in North America by Helicopters International," reported U.S. representative Carlos Guarilha at Sun 'n Fun 2022. "All models have shock-absorbing landing gear with the option to remove the wheel fairings and use larger tires for grass or rough-field surface takeoffs and landings," Carlos said, adding that the gyroplane is often used for off-airport duty in Brazil. Rough field operation is common. Hummingbird H2 is also a simple construction that contributes to easier maintenance. They promote reasonable prices: the two-seater around $75,000 and a single seater around $40,000 (but contact the company for current prices; shipping costs are at crazy levels). The two seat tandem model we saw at Sun 'n Fun had the Rotax 912 ULS 100 horsepower engine that accounts for about a third of the selling price. This table shows all factory specifications for Hummingbird H2. More news will follow from Sun 'n Fun 2022. Click or tap back soon!
* In case you're wondering what happened to my Sun 'n Fun Day 3 report… in a word: rain. A heavy downpour starting at noon and continuing into the afternoon scuttled my plans to shoot additional photos. Never fear, though, the Day 3 report will still come out, but as a summary article at the end of Sun 'n Fun. Look for some mighty interesting news discovered at Sun 'n Fun 2022.