Those hard-working stalwarts at Legend, the number one U.S. producer of LSA, keep finding interesting things for folks like me to write about. • Trish Jackson is an Ohio native who flies Airbus freight carriers all over Europe. She learned flying from her mother at age 13 and still remembers a memorable quote mom made on a flight: “Look at these rivers. It’s like God carved them out with his finger.” *** Trish owned a vintage Cub at one point in her career, but a couple years ago felt the urge to own one again — a brand new one. She kicked some tires and lit some fires for a year or two, then took a Legend Cub demo flight. *** Last April she joined the annual Legend rite of spring gaggle — a trip I had the distinct pleasure of making in 2008 — to fly formation with a bunch of Legend Cubs from Sulphur Springs, TX to Lakeland, FL for the annual Sun ‘n Fun spring flyin.
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The light-sport aircraft industry hangs in there, although sales numbers, as with general aviation, still struggle to gain safe altitude in the stormy economic skies. Encouraging item: LSA sales in 2009 represented nearly 25% of all GA piston purchases. Another surprise: Most of the 107 models available for sale here and abroad are still in production with more new models in the pipeline! Nobody’s getting rich (this is aviation, remember?), but most makers believe the turnaround will come. That’s the spirit!
And with the Euro taking heat against the dollar lately as Europe goes through its own econoclysm, U.S. prices for foreign-produced LSA could drop. Many airframe makers lowered prices, but the industry still faces challenges: ongoing dyspepsia imbued by the sluggish recovery; market recognition… many people still aren’t aware of what an LSA is, maybe that’s why 20% of all U.S. sales in the U.S.
This week’s Dallas AEA (Aircraft Electronics Assoc.) Convention has tons of cool new electronics. Of note to sport pilots is the G3X system from Garmin. It’s a PFD (Primary Flight Display) and MFD (Multi Function Display) system that’s built around Garmin’s GDU 370/375 displays. Intended for LSA and Experimental category aircraft, the non-certified system can display information across one, two or three screens. The single screen version with all capabilities lists at $3995. The full G3X system that will include ADAHRS (Attitude/Heading Reference System), EIS (Engine Information System), magnetometer and temperature probe, once available, will go at an estimated price of $9,995.00. *** Garmin will display the system at Sun’nFun in two weeks. Be there or be square!
I was lucky enough to get Matthias Betsch, Flight Design’s CEO, all to myself for a few minutes and here’s what he had to say: *** General update: “A hard year but better than we expected. In the last two to three months, we’ve had quite a pickup. Here in the States dealers sold their stock so they have to buy more airplanes…they have to buy more so I think that is good!” *** The year ahead: “I don’t think we’ll get back to 2007-2008 this year, but I do think it will be a 30% recovery. The rest we will do in 2011.” *** On the new Flight Design MC: “It’s a different character. The LS is more sporty, speedy, responsive. The airplane feels much heavier than it is. That’s what we wanted: an airplane for flight schools which is very forgiving, easy to land, to fly. It’s also ideal for older pilots who are used to very stable airplanes.” *** MC vs.
Sebring is off and flying… well, like a homesick angel! It appears the sixth running of the show is as strong as it’s ever been. Tim Casey — head guru of Garmin‘s division for aviation portables plus avionics and radios used in nearly every LSA on the market — told me this evening, “I think traffic is nearly double last year [a record year for Sebring]. We completely ran out of literature on the second day!” The giant producer reported solid sales of equipment including their lovely new touchscreen Aera and their complete info glass screen package, dubbed the G3X. *** My pal, Jim Lawrence has been pumping out the blogs as you’ve seen right here (does this guy ever sleep?!) and more will come. In addition, my video partner, UltralightNews, has been working both of us hard to build up a flock of cool video clips. See the highlights here with a coming quick-take tour of the entire show grounds (see below)… followed in the weeks ahead by our continuing review of every Light-Sport Aircraft on the market.
After enduring a goodly downpour most of the day, stalwarts were rewarded with a sunny late afternoon and fresh, cool winds. This is not typical Oshkosh Airventure weather: usually we’re melting into puddles of goo from the heat and humidity. *** Strolling through the vast Airventure “campus” I ran into Dave Graham, hardworking Gobosh principal who shared the new Garmin G3X panel he’s installed into the Gobosh 700. Such a nice panel, and with dual Garmin vertical EFIS screens right in front of the pilot, and backup steam gauges and other avionics goodies, it’s an impressive panel. *** Also noteworthy is Dave’s automobile iconic symbols on the console stack that add colorful, easy-read labeling to control switches such as carb heat, fuel cutoff and choke. *** A Zaon PCAS XRX collision avoidance system is another welcome feature on this lovely tricked out G700. *** ====================================== *** Knocking around the grounds after dark was a kick.