Normally I don’t write about record attempts or exceptional flights until they are completed and even then only if they are significant. Too many grand voyages end prematurely. But I’ve known Mike Blyth for decades and he’s already accomplished several daring flights. For example, his South to South expedition went from the southern tip of South America up through the USA across the Atlantic through Europe and back down to South Africa, all in weight-shift trikes. Plus they made a very watchable movie from this large experience. So, if Mike says he is launching Around the World Expedition 2009 with a stop at Oshkosh on the way, we need to pay attention. Mike and his business partner James Pitman leave South Africa on July 17th and AirVenture begins the 27th. So, throttle up, boys! *** The trip is unusual in a few ways. One, their Sling LSA — from the business the two aviators co-own, called The Airplane Factory — has just completed flight testing.
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In the midst of a couple weeks away from home to marry off my firstborn daughter, I remain nonetheless able and willing to mine the LSA infoverse for newsworthy veins. *** Also, check out Aero Friedrichshafen going on right now in Germany. It’s one of Europe’s premier aviation events, with lots of new aircraft (like the Pipistrel Panthera 4-seat flying Ferrari) and technologies announced every year. Now, two items of interest: *** Flight Design Goes EASA *** The leading SLSA producer for the U.S. market, Flight Design, told everyone at Aero that the CTLS has earned the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) restricted type certification ((R) TC) for the two-seater.John Doman, Flight Design’s director of business development of global sales and marketing, said, “For European flight schools the certification will enable additional aircraft utilization leading to more revenue and value for their purchase of a Flight Design (R) TC aircraft.” *** This type-certificated version of the CTLS will be distributed under the variant name CTLS-ELA and is nearly identical to the SLSA version already marketed worldwide.
Even those who are not Apple fans agree the trend-setting California company’s focus on design beauty draws attention to their products. From their position near the back of the pack a dozen years ago, Apple has become the most valuable tech company in the world. Could this be due to their highly-refined sense of esthetics? More to the point of aviation enthusiasts, is artful design an ingredient in pleasing customers? *** I don’t know what all buyers are thinking but beauty has long enhanced the appeal of most consumer products. It seems the so-called niche aircraft producers have gotten this message perfectly well. Especially this is true for those products that have emerged since Light-Sport Aircraft burst upon the aviation scene. *** Creators of new LSA seaplane designs in particular seemed to have found the religion of design esthetics. Icon leads the pack with their stunning — and extremely well presented — A5.
Life is good if you like LSA seaplanes. I’ll review five LSA seaplanes, either on the market or in development. *** Today SeaRey reins as far and away the most successful and proven design with some 600 flying. While SeaRey has been an Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) model, they’ve been working diligently on SLSA approval and will eventually sell SLSA, ELSA, and EAB versions. Priced around $70,000 as a kit, SeaRey is the most affordable seaplane. Owners are intensely loyal to the brand (Progressive Aerodyne) and the model. SeaRey is having a workshop right before Sebring. More about that shortly. *** SeaMax is the next most proven and accepted seaplane. Manufactured in Brazil, about 100 are flying including a handful in the USA. SeaMax America is the new importer for the handsome LSA seaplane from prolific designer (and nice guy) Miguel Rosario. From Great Neck, New York Richard Rofe said, “We have added many new features and have moved to a much larger production facility.
For most pilots flying 100 hours represents a decent year of enjoying aviation. Mike Blyth and James Pitman hit that on the first long leg of their ’round the world flight, traversing a huge expanse of ocean en route from South Africa to Oshkosh. Their total flight will see each logging nearly 250 hours of flying… in a month! *** The intrepid duo successfully arrived at AirVenture Oshkosh right on schedule. After spending a few days at this “Disneyland for Airplanes,” the pair of global adventurers will set off for California, Hawaii and the far east as they wing their way back to what should be a heroes’ welcome in South Africa. Blyth has accomplished several impressively long flights and has made movies about the experience. He and Pitman will repeat with “Sling 2009 Around the World” aerial expedition. These are no mere “There I was…” films.