Continuing news from Sun ‘n Fun 2021 is rolling in from across the country. Even while most international enthusiasts were unable to attend because of covid-induced travel restrictions, Americans turned out in strong numbers — and had a great time. FAA personnel casually (not officially) reported some 70,000 tickets bought on Saturday alone. I have no idea about such numbers historically, but by any measure, that’s a darn fine performance, the equivalent of a major football stadium stuffed full of fans. I am so relieved for Sun ‘n Fun. Inc., and I’m sure my relief is but a drop in the bucket compared to that felt by Team Sun ‘n Fun. If Oshkosh goes similarly, then I think it will be fair to say recreational aviation is nearly back to normal. Fortunately, in the Year of Fear that may be ending, tons of builders worked on kit airplanes, loads of LSA owners got out and flew their birds, and Part 103 ultralights probably set a record for shipments and kept sport pilots up in the air.
3 Distinctive Aircraft from Sun 'n Fun 2021Now let's continue our look at airplanes of interest to those seeking light recreational, affordable aircraft. I highlight three aircraft, each quite different in its own way. —Luscombe is an all-American original. The company now based in Jamestown, New York made an appearance at Sun 'n Fun 2021. I finally found it in vintage parking. It was well located; this was a genuine vintage example, nicely polished and prepared for the faithful to admire. Meanwhile, the company is taking a measured approach to re-entering the Light-Sport Aircraft market. Steve Testrake, whom I met in Lakeland, has explained that the newly-reorganized company (see link above) will begin by supplying much-needed replacement parts to the existing Luscombe fleet. As the renewed factory sets up, they will add to the list of components. This effort will be treasured by many Luscombe owners. They love their aircraft like few other models I have ever investigated, making a maintenance-grounded Luscombe agonizing for those enthusiasts. Steve and his team aim to resolve that. Bravo! Then, he described a plan to go slowly at a return to manufacturing the vintage aircraft as a Special, fully-built LSA. Another bravo, including for taking the time to get it right. Readers should understand getting semi-tractor trailer loads of inventory, tooling, jigs and more will take some time to get set up properly. It was 14 years ago on the EAA Sport Pilot Tour, not long after the first emergence of Light-Sport Aircraft, when Luscombe won acceptance as a SLSA. That's when I had my first crack at this much-beloved aircraft. Here's what I had to say about this storied model from America's past. This one stands the test of time well flying as wonderfully as I'd always heard. That's worth another Bravo!
For More Info: Visit Luscombe Aircraft
• • • • • • •—Skyleader 600 looks familiar to some viewers. It should, though a lack of immediate recognition is understandable. Early LSA enthusiasts knew this aircraft as the Jhilivan (or Kappa) KP-5. It was one of the first Special LSA to win FAA acceptance; here's my review of it back in 2006. Then the design went away… for years. It came back once as the refashioned Skyleader, faltered again in America, and is now back with stronger representation. I recorded a new interview with importer Michael Tomazin and that will follow after editing. Meanwhile, here's a video review of Skyleader 600 with the former importer. Michael's enthusiasm for the aircraft is evident as he talks about the model. Several features are worth observing. First, entry is over the wing as with all low-wing models but the canopy arrangements is great at least two ways: it slides aft on a carbon fiber-reinforced rail that makes moving the large covering easy. While not intended as a roll bar, the carbon bar does aid entry. A canopy articulated in this fashion is also likely to be more secure in gusty winds. Once up on the wing, you can simply stand on the floor in front of the seat and sit down. Unlike its predecessor from Kappa, Skyleader 600 has both seats side-by-side; KP-5 had a slimmer cockpit width and staggered the right seat aft a few inches to give more room and a wider view. While the current configuration is more commonplace and will probably please more buyers, I rather liked the staggered seating; it gave the pilot in command great visibility out both sides. Another nice bit of engineering is the far-extending Fowler-style flaps (nearby photo). This flap construction is more complicated than simple hinged flaps but the Fowler design allows lots more airflow making the surface much more effective. When the flaps extend, the elevator trim automatically adjusts to reduce pitch changes when deploying the large flaps. Of course, this level of sophistication is more costly than simpler constructions.
For More Info: Visit Skyleader North America
• • • • • • •—Rev XS from Evolution Aircraft, America's premium trike developer, extends an amazing run starting with the letters "R-E-V." First, Revo. Then, Rev. Then, Rev X. Then, RevoLT. And now, Rev XS. I don't recall for sure, but it may be that each of these won an award; they're that well done. So, no surprise that Rev XS won an award at Sun 'n Fun 2021, except this time with an attractive difference. This winner was built by Amy Mednick. Until a few years ago when Larry and Amy Mednick got married — at Sun 'n Fun, of course 😎 — you knew her as Amy Saunders. She's been in this game a while. Only a couple weeks before Sun 'n Fun, I heard from her. "I thought you would to know, since I have talked about it for years," she texted. "I am officially a Weight Shift Control (WSC) Certified Flight Instructor with Private privileges!! …as of this morning," she added enthusiastically! Then at the airshow she won the "Outstanding LSA — Trike" award. Indeed, it's been quite a year for Amy. I'm not sure I recall ever seeing Amy when she wasn't smiling but this one-two set of accomplishments really had her beaming. Right behind her was very capable designer and husband, Larry Mednick. His smile was nearly as broad, understandably. Evolution Aircraft enjoyed a banner year in 2020, despite all the covid anxiety. It turns out that open-cockpit trike flying was embraced by many last year and Larry noted that the enthusiasm is continuing into 2021. This husband-and-wife team appears set to have another good year in 2021. Contratulations to Amy in particular and Evolution more broadly.
For More Info: Visit Evolution Aircraft
This video reviews the entire Evolution line from last year's lone airshow, the Midwest LSA Expo: https://youtu.be/v5XxJaVC4J8