In a recent piece on AvWeb, Paul Bertorelli takes a good look at Cessna’s decision to bump the price of the Skycatcher by a cool $35K — yes, that’s 35 thousand. Okay, it’s not every day we see a 31+% price hike in a retail price of anything, especially in this economy. *** Yet Cessna’s move should come as no surprise to anyone who knows, as Bertorelli points out, that the price of aircraft has grown faster than the rate of inflation for decades. Thirty years or so ago, a new Cessna Skyhawk could be had for around $30,000. Today it’s 10 times that number, or more than $300,000, whereas inflation applied to that original $30K number would put the figure just north of $100,000…about three times higher. *** Meanwhile, the aviation giant has up until now done its best to keep the price close to it’s original near-$100,000 level.
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Unless you’ve avoided every aviation magazine or website, you’re no doubt aware of the push by big aviation organizations to address future availability of 100 low-lead avgas. We wish the alphabet groups the best in arranging a replacement fuel or another solution for those operating high performance aircraft. But one solution does not fit all. Why? *** First is the often-quoted statistic that 70-80% of all “legacy” airplanes can use 91-octane and preferably zero ethanol (“E0”) mogas. No question that Light-Sport Aircraft can almost universally use E0 mogas and in fact, Rotax and Jabiru powerplants prefer premium unleaded (the 80-hp Rotax 912 can even use 87-octane satisfactorily for still greater savings). Only a modest percentage of U.S. aircraft must have high octane. • Secondly, 100LL is now more expensive and any replacement will share this quality. Mogas can be $1-2 or more less per gallon. • Thirdly, airplanes like LSA and those many older GA airplanes are not the only ones who can benefit from wider availability of E0 mogas.
Many Americans will agree
the name of this aircraft is odd, and that may be a kind word for the common reaction to “Sinus.” Is the name that important? Sinus (pronounced Seen-us), the aircraft, is a sleek, slender machine capable of impressive performance.
Any soaring-attuned pilot can easily live with the name Sinus for the 49-foot span and, get this, 28-to-1 glide performance! On first glance, except for its elegant, shapely, and thin wings, the Sinus looks like a proper light sport airplane. Pilot Matevz Lenarcic flew one around the world solo, in 80 days, and with zero ground or air support (see “Microlight Motorglider Flies Around the World,” April ’05 UltralightFlying! magazine).
What’s In a Name After All?
Let’s consider that name. U.S. dealer Robert Mudd says Pipistrel – the manufacturer – prefers to pronounce it “seen-us,” not “sighn-us.” They say this refers to a perfect sound wave or sine wave rather than a head cold.
One thing ByDanJohnson.com can do to introduce more people to aviation is to attempt to distribute news of recreational flying and Light-Sport Aircraft to a wider audience, preferably to a potential community of non-pilots many tens of millions strong. Our goal may sound ambitious but we want to do our part, bringing the message of more affordable aviation to the interested public. *** More than any other, we believe, ByDanJohnson.com concentrates on LSA news, reporting almost daily on this dynamic new sector of aviation. We can more widely circulate this news… to power sports enthusiasts, tech fans, and sportsmen of many stripes. *** In a related, parallel development, more and more folks are getting their news online or via mobile. Major drivers for this shift from print magazines are giant news-gathering websites like Google News. To be considered by this Internet leader a website must be a genuine news organization, not simply a blogspot.
Have you missed the great debate raging over the impending demise of 100LL? Many leading groups — including AOPA and apparently EAA plus others such as the Green 100 Octane Coalition — have endorsed a one-size-fits-all solution. *** But, hey! One size does not fit all. Light-Sport owners are aware their aircraft can operate just fine on 91 octane (premium) ethanol-free gasoline. The same can be said for 70%-80% of all piston-engine aircraft in the U.S. Indeed, more than 60,000 Autogas STCs have been granted from EAA and Petersen Aviation but such added approvals aren’t needed by LSA powered by Rotax or Jabiru. *** Leading aviation alphabet groups show little support for the installation of ethanol-free Mogas pumps at GA airfields. One wonders why? Several benefits follow increased use of E-zero (E0) Mogas: * It’s ideal for the vast majority of American aircraft including virtually all new LSA designs; * It would lead to an immediate reduction in the use of leaded fuels and its impact on the environment; and, * Switching from 100LL to Mogas would dramatically reduce the cost of flying for sport aviators and to flight schools adding LSA to their fleets.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Spring has nearly arrived marking the start of a new season. ••• Last time I mentioned a new gizmo from Japan competition-bound Chris Arai… in the Orient on assignment for Wills Wing. Named the Tangent Flight Computer, Arai calls it a "radical departure" from standard instruments, coming closer to what sailplane pilots have on board. After three years of development Arai flew with the TFC in the ’93 Owens Worlds. Since he came in Second, you might imagine it augmented his skills. The Tangent includes all the regular vario/deck features such as airspeed, altitude, rate of climb, and barograph. However, its specialty is implementing speed-to-fly theory (which mystifies many of us). Using audio tones — instead of clumsy speed rings — the pilot is told to speed up or slow down (no need to look at a dial). You won’t need math theory to run the Tangent.
ST PAUL, MINN — Several recent calls and letters referred to rigid wings presented here. Are we experiencing an upsurge of real interest? Or just another bubble of enthusiasm that will burst with the announcement of some new hotter-than-ever rag wing? No one knows. ||| Meanwhile in response to several inquiries, you can contact the Owens Composites Swift people at 10000 Trumbull SE, Albuquerque NM 87123. Their February Swift News announced work on an article for Hang Gliding. Watch for it. ||| Two other projects bear mention here: Advanced’s Sierra and the Cloud Dancer ||| The ultralight company Advanced Aviation, is flying their second prototype Sierra ultralight sailplane (42 foot span and greatly cleaned up). I saw #2 flown by towplane designer Bobby Bailey — who is also the principal designer of this bird — and I flew the #1 machine some months ago. The original prototype had promise which the successor significantly reveals.
In the previous two installments, we’ve discussed you, the pilot, and the many types of aircraft choices you have. As we wrap up this series, we’ll put it all together and try to help you narrow your choices to a few models.
Notice the word “try.” It is important that you understand that it is not possible to direct you to the one-and-only best choice of aircraft. Novice buyers often seek assistance but even experienced pilots can become swayed and end up purchasing the wrong aircraft for their needs and desires. Because aircraft purchases are commonly emotional decisions, it is helpful to gain a “second opinion” to help make a more rational choice.
Many years ago, at the beginning of my career writing articles in light aviation, I made a similar attempt to help hang glider pilots choose the right glider. I compared nine contemporary models to an idealized “perfect” glider and through a series of questions much like those below, tried to steer pilots to the one right glider for them.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Happy New Year, glider fans. Once again a new year brings wintertime
chills, at least for us northerners. So, this month I have some warm-up ideas
to get you in the mood for a new soaring season.
Mexican Flying Tours are in full swing for HGs and PGs. Cold weather flyers take
note of temperatures in the 80s with plentiful thermals and authentic Mexican food.
One outfit calls the experience a “Mextravaganza.”
Super Fly Paragliding Mexico Tours 2004 treks to the famous Valle de Bravo
site in central Mexico. At it for eight years, Super Fly takes you to fly three sites
in seven days during January and February. PG gurus Jeffrey Farrell and Chris
Santacroce are leading two tours in January and one in early February for pilots
with P2 ratings or better and a minimum of 50 flight hours.
They’ll handle the language, pickup and delivery from Mexico City airport, offer
5-star lodging in “a new, secure, classy, and clean hotel,” local club memberships,
XC retreival in air conditioned vehicles, and in-flight coaching by radio.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Welcome to a new era of hang gliding… well, and everything else, I guess. If you’re reading this, the Y2K bug evidently didn’t stop civilization as some feared. At least you got your Hang Gliding magazine. Is something more important than that? ••• As we start a new millennia, it pays to take stock of the state of the art. Topless flexwings are achieving great flights and cost Six Grand. Rigids wings seem to be the new darlings despite breaking the Ten Grand price barrier. We have carbon/kevlar helmets, highly sophisticated electronic navigation and flight performance instruments, and everybody flies with a parachute, sometimes two. Heck, we’ve even got luxury sport utility vehicles to haul it all around. Aren’t we something, cool 21st Century pilots? So I suppose it makes sense that lots of attention seems focused on the harness as we start a new year. It’s the new front line in the relentless drive for more performance.