CESSNA’S DISCOVER FLYING
I met new business leader for the Skycatcher LSA, Tracy Leopold, at Sun ‘n Fun 2012 where she confirmed the Wichita giant’s support for their lightest aircraft, now being assembled in Independence alongside other Cessna models. As summer began, Tracy’s Skycatcher group amped up their game with a program called Discover Flying Challenge. *** After hiring eight university graduate flight instructors — plus a ninth to act as dispatcher — the team took off in all directions and will reunite again at AirVenture 2012. Meanwhile, the youthful team is visiting Cessna Pilot Centers and non-CPC FBOs plus fly-ins and air shows all the while doing what college grads do these days: updating Facebook and Twitter feeds and blogging about their activities. *** “We wanted to do something different, something that would get the attention of the next generation of pilots while at the same time getting the Skycatcher in front of the public,” explained Tracy. Keep up with the 8+1 at Big C’s Facebook page. It’s great to see Cessna’s dedication to their littlest airplane and we wish them huge success at finding more, younger pilots. ||||
BREEZER AT LAKELAND
In early July, Breezer Aircraft USA, announced they entered into a five-year lease with Sun ‘n Fun to move their flight training and related aviation services to the SnF campus at the Lakeland, Florida airport. Breezerites will headquarter in Hangar B, familiar to airshow attendees as part of the indoor displays. *** This is part of the vision that airshow boss John “Lites” Leenhouts has for making SnF into a seven-day-a-week, year-round destination, instead of just a once-a-year event. *** Along with their flight training ops, Breezer USA plans to offer builder’s assistance for their Breezer II kits and will offer Rotax maintenance. They’ll be joining Pilot Mall and the Seaplane Pilots Association on the SnF campus.
Breezer USA chief Mike Zidziunas — pronounced by most folks as “Mike Z” — said, “We’ve been working on this plan for many months.” At a “Fire Hub” event in late June, he was pleased to forecast the arrangement “…any day now.” *** Mike Z also plans to work with students of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy at Sun ‘n Fun, to have a hands-on program allowing students to obtain their A&P Certificate by the time they graduate from high school. Mike Z is an A&P with a Light Sport Repairman Rating, a certified Rotax Mechanic and importer of the Breezer II Light-Sport Aircraft. Contact Mike at 941-915-8883 or send him an email ||||
FIRST U.S. ROTAX 912 iS INSTALLATION?
So far as I know the very first Rotax 912 iS got installed and it will work side-by-side with its older brother, the ubiquitous 912 ULS. How’s that? They are both installed on an AirCam (one of my favorite flying machines and the aircraft I used to obtain my multiengine rating). Proprietor Phil Lockwood and his Lockwood Aircraft team are completing the new installation, which other manufacturers have observed is a significant project. This should provide a superb test bed as AirCam can operate exceedingly well with either engine. *** One of Phil’s top lieutenants is John Hurst, an electronics guru who has been hard at it for a year to totally redesign the Lockwood website. On my recent visit to Sebring to plan for the 2013 Expo, he gave me a brief review on my iPad (it works best in landscape mode). The navigation is vastly improved but of great interest to many mechanics or homebuilders are exploded-part drawings that themselves explode into detail views. You can zoom in so far that every nut and bolt seem to jump off the screen. The Lockwood bunch are like the Energizer Bunny, always moving and improving. I don’t know how you do it, guys and gals, but keep on flyin’. ||||
JUST AIRCRAFT’S EXTREME(ly) COOL AIRPLANE
Speaking of flying, you never know what Troy Woodland might be cooking up at Just Aircraft. How about something, umm… genuinely extreme? Come to think of it, they haven’t settled on a name for their new aircraft and Extreme rather fits the bill (even if it has become a bit overused). *** Their newest creation, which we just saw at Just in prototype form, is looking good and standing tall… quite literally on its huge tires and what seemed to be mile-long gear legs. Troy’s business partner Gary Schmitt showed me a video of them drop testing the Extreme (or whatever it may be called) four-plus feet without any obvious damage or deformation. To those that have no experience with such tests that may not sound too high, but I’ve observed such tests in my days with BRS parachutes and I’m here to tell you that is huge! Commonly such test are done at two or even one foot. *** The giant tires and gear combine with automatic leading edge slats. Not fixed slots, these slats hinge sideways in two sections — inner and outer wing elements — to allow the bird to take off in something like two fuselage lengths. To assist, the flaps are elephant-ear sized, dropping to 40 degrees, which means the tail feathers also had to be enlarged. All this is a work in process and I’m spilling the beans a bit so don’t hold me or Just Aircraft accountable, but what a so-cool project! *** The two section slats allow the inner section to slap closed before the outer, which means control stays effective even at ridiculously slow speeds. All this is great for the shortest imaginable takeoffs and landings and that’s a good thing given Just’s truly extreme factory runway. Right outside the factory is a parking lot leading to a 400-foot grass runway on a slope inclined enough that you could nearly foot launch a hang glider. Crazy? Not at all, as I witnessed young pilot John von Kaenel take off and return like it was any runway (well, assuming good preparation and technique). Hopefully attendees can watch demonstration flights of the extreme new Just at AirVenture 2012. ||||
LOTUS FLOATS FINDS NEW HOME
After years in the aircraft float business, the developer of inflatable Full-Lotus floats decided to focus on non-aviation products. Design rights, inventory and production tooling were sold to Aircraft Floats Manufacturing, Inc. (AFM), The Canadian company will continue producing the standard line of Full-Lotus floats and has started deliveries of floats as well as replacement parts for maintenance and repairs to existing owners. The company will soon start introducing type-specific rigging instructions for a variety of popular aircraft designs, something not previously offered by Full-Lotus. *** The one-of-their kind Full-Lotus floats are a lightweight, robust, air-inflated system introduced in 1985 for ultralight aircraft and since adapted for general aviation use. The design uses multiple bladders inside a tough vinyl casing with polycarbonate protective shell. “The result is a float system that can be beached on rocky shores without worry and that can bump most submerged objects at taxiing speed without damage,” reported AFM. Inflation provides a shock-absorbing capability unique to aviation floats. *** AFM’s new production facilities are located on the Huronia Airport (CYEE) in Midland, Ontario, next to Zenair Limited, the well-known kit aircraft manufacturer. Visit AFM’s website, call 705-526-4537, or send email. ||||
LSA AMERICA / ALLEGRO MOVES
Wrapping our tour of LSA news, we look at another move for the U.S-based producer of the Allegro Light-Sport Aircraft. LSA America, which has already made one landing in Halifax County, North Carolina, “prepared for another flight today that will bring the company to the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport,” reported owners Doug and Betty Hempstead. The company will move from its current location in Littleton officials said at a recent groundbreaking ceremony at the new location. *** Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman James Pierce told the audience the company plans to build a 16,000-square foot manufacturing facility at the airport. “While the Littleton site works well, the airport needed to promote the business side. The [new] location is a great business opportunity.” Pierce noted that LSA America’s move is important to the community because it will create 34 jobs within two years. “We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with LSA.” You gotta love when politicians boost aviation so congratulations to Doug and Betty… and that’s our news for now. We’re traveling to Oshkosh for much, much more, so stay tuned to ByDanJohnson.com!
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