When Sun ‘n Fun 2022 starts, a signal can be heard ’round the world. The message? It’s time for a new season of recreational flying.
After we got the LSA Mall set up to receive a flock of airplanes, I was able to get around the sprawling Sun ‘n Fun campus to see what else I planned to cover as the show begins. It starts Tuesday the 5th and runs through Sunday the 10th. I hope you can make it but if not, I’ll be reporting on the aircraft that I think may interest you.
One extra treat — for me and for you: my YouTube partner, Videoman Dave has been able to escape Canada and turned up at Sun ‘n Fun. We’ll return to our usual drill of roving around doing video interviews. I’m happy as Dave is highly knowledgeable about the same kind of aircraft I report and we’ve learned to work well together, making somewhere approaching 1,000 videos. You are happy as his YouTube channel is popular and loaded with content you want. Now he’ll get fresh material.
In this preview, I’ll show you the airplanes that caught my eye on pre-opening day. I’ll get more details on each as the week unfolds. This was the day before opening and some aircraft had not yet arrived.
Now represented in the USA, Bat Hawk travel traveled half way around the globe to get to Sun ‘n Fun. This side-by-side two seater has well established itself in South Africa but will now test interest from Americans. Based on rave reviews from those with experience, the odds look promising.
Some say this is looks like a… fill-in-the-blank, usually a reference to an ultralight such as Flightstar or Quicksilver. It is neither, having been developed over some years in the Southern Hemisphere nation but it is born of an earlier generation.
We’re hoping to interview Bat Hawk America’s Gary Saitowitz or one of his team at Sun ‘n Fun and then I’ll have more. Meanwhile, here’s a recent article that went over very well.
One company has focused for years on creating replicas for famous designs harking back to World War I, a time not long after the Wright Brothers first flew their Flyer on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk. We’re talking century-old designs, created with slide rules and drafting pape and not much prior art on which to rely.
In this earlier article, I covered many of the fascinating earlier-era designs put out by the amazingly prolific designer and builder, Robert Baslee. The example shown was merely in position with no supporting information. We’ll go try to collect some for the vintage — truly vintage — builders and other enthusiasts.
Robert’s sheer volume of output is impressive but add the authenticity of these designs and the matter of them flying and behaving well. These are not show pieces you keep in your hangar to show your friends and fellow aviators. Robert has often built aircraft for use in movies. After looking at this, are you surprised?
Pipistrel of Slovenia
If you read other aviation magazines or online sources, you may already be aware of some rather big news to those of us who love light aviation. Pipistrel has made a global name for itself as a builder of sleek composite aircraft, many of which can be used for soaring flight.
That same efficiency lended itself perfectly to adapting electric propulsion. Pipistrel has done this well enough to win large cash awards in early design contests. Later they parlayed these skills into a whole electric production. They’ve sold more electric trainers than any company and have actively pursued green dreams to great success. How successful?
The news I mentioned above regards Pipistrel being bought by Textron, a major coup for founder and boss Ivo Boscarol. He has boldly run his manufacturing business and was willing to take big strides. It appears to have paid off. The rumor mill at Sun ‘n Fun was active and some are hoping this acquisition turns out better than Cessna’s purchase of Columbia Aircraft. Time will tell.
Replicas are big business in cars, boats, and, of course airplanes. Some like Airdrome cater to one era of history enthusiasts. Others cater to a later war period. Scalewings goes to great effort to make these designs as authentic as possible while building at around 50% of original scale. The task is impressive, enough so that most of us have no real idea of the detail that is goes into something like the model in the photos.
I have written about ScaleBirds, their P-36 project, and the radial engines they enjoy using. However, I probably cannot do them the justice they deserve. I hope you can swing by their space in the main or “core” are of Sun ‘n Fun but this article will bring you up to date and includes three videos.
We’ll hopefully make a fresh video in Lakeland. Look for it on Videoman Dave’s YouTube channel.
One of my favorites to come along in the second decade of Light-Sport Aircraft is the Texas Aircraft Colt. Here is a brilliant job of bringing a thoroughly modern yet conventional general aviation look to the world of Light-Sport Aircraft. Getting Colt so right is less difficult to believe when you realize the designer has a long track record in Brazil, that aviation-crazy nation in the Southern Hemisphere.
Texas Aircraft set up shop at the Hondo, Texas Airport in 2019 and won a Special LSA airworthiness certificate shortly after. I went to their inaugural event which was attended by investors, dignitaries, and Texas political leaders. It was quite an event to set the company on its course.
Colt designer Caio Jordao created Colt after previously building more than 400 of his Conquest 180 LSA. That’s a lot of experience. No wonder Colt 100 turned out so well. Here’s a video pilot report to tell you more.
Fresh news at Sun ‘n Fun is that the gang at Aerosport — and now Aerosport South (see this video) — have added a whole new line to their growing stable of flying machines. You know Aerosport for their longtime representation of Sky Reach’s BushCat, a well-developed Light-Sport Aircraft that carries one of the most agreeable price points of all LSA. Here’s more about BushCat.
The news is that Aerosport will now be representing the TL Sport Aircraft line. This includes the very well-known Sting all-composite low wing, one of the first Special LSA to win approval — number 5 in our SLSA List now composed of 157 aircraft models. They had a Sting on display at the core area display (Aerosport is also in Paradise City) as well as the high-wing TL-3000 Sirius, and super sleek tandem-seating Steam model that can be delivered with retractable (though not as a present-day SLSA).
Previously Aerosport represented Sling and that aircraft was also at Sun ‘n Fun 2022.
I didn’t get to visit with anyone from The Airplane Factory on set-up day to hear if they have any late-breaking news — so I’ll go back, of course — but the sharpest paint job I found anywhere on the grounds was the handsome Sling 4 seen nearby. I have reported on Sling LSA and Sling 4 earlier and have to admit I really liked the four seater. I flew it with three adult men on board and it was simply wonderful.
I suppose good flying comes with the territory as the fellows behind the design, including the unstoppable Mike Blyth, have commonly taken one of their models for a literal round-the-world jaunt. Seriously, all the way around the Earth and they’ve done this multiple times. I always wonder what they have planned next.
The company heralded a new high wing model some years back (reported here by video). I’ll see what I can find out about it by visiting The Airplane Factory USA‘s display here in Lakeland.
If AeroSport sounds busy (and they are!), Aero Adventure must be in serious overload. This DeLand Airport company — part of the DeLand Sport Aviation Community that is supporting the LSA Mall this year — is the longtime builder of the Aventura line. Lead by Alex Rolinski, they’ ve done a lot with an airplane that started out many years ago as the ultralight Buccaneer. They’ve also won SLSA approval for the Aventura II model.
Like the old late-night TV ads decried though, “That’s not all!” Aero Adventure has aided the Seamax group (yes, a competitor in LSA seaplanes) with maintenance and other needs. They started assisting the Brazilian design from Montaer (reported here last year). And in a completely different development, they created Wing Bug (video), a nifty piece of gear you hang outside your airplane so it can transmit all kinds of good info to you in the cockpit.
Now Aero Adventure is working with B.O.T. Aircrfaft in Germany to re-introduce their all-carbon fiber SC07 Speed Cruiser model. I hope to go fly Speed Cruiser with Alex soon but we’ll do an interview here at Sun ‘n Fun and learn what we can. Meanwhile here’s an older video with developer Reiner Tauern.
No airshow is complete — at least for those of us interested in affordable, recreational aircraft — without Quicksilver, long the standard bearer of the genuine ultralight sector. The company has arguably the most proven aircraft in the light space (and I know I won’t get much pushback for saying that). Quicksilver also has a SLSA model plus genuine Part 103 ultralights and models in between. Their kits are legendarily easy to assemble.
However, Quicksilver the company has bounced around several owners in the last couple decades. That has finally settled down now that the longest-running dealer of any light aircraft, Gene “Bever” Borne who, with his son Ken, now owns the rights, tooling, and inventory for all Quicksilver models except GT500.
In addition Bever is one of the most interesting people to speak with, given his southern drawl and a very keen sense of humor. We’ll visit and see what’s new with Air-Tech, Inc., the Bornes’ company based not far from New Orleans.
LSA Mall and DeLand’s
Sport Aviation Community
To close this preview article so I can go to bed and get ready to do this all again tomorrow, I want to extend a thank you on behalf of myself and LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association that hosts the LSA Mall at Sun ‘n Fun. LAMA has operated the LSA Mall for 16 years! It has become one of Sun ‘n Fun’s attractions and the location appears on the official maps and other documents put out by Sun ‘n Fun. Inc.
This year, like last, the LSA Mall was greatly (massively!) assisted by the DeLand Airport community. This year they outdid themselves, functioning as a new ground called SAC, the DeLand Sport Aviation Community, sparked to life by Jana Filip, the executive director of the DeLand Showcase event at the namesake airport.
Thanks to all the LSA Mall volunteers all these years and especially now. We could not do it without you!
One of the interesting revitalized flying machines I found at Sun ‘n Fun 2021 was this striking CTsw, a superb job of restoration to an older model. Look for more videos from Sun ‘n Fun as Videoman Dave and I resume our post-Covid video production.
Michael Spunich says
Thanks much, again, Dan. I was unable to make Sun ‘n Fun this year. It was nice to see what was there. I WILL be there next year, as I believe the venue will be no longer acceptable once Amazon’s new expansion facility is up and running. I really hope this is not the end, but that they will find a new venue. IMO, there will be no way to mix that many heavy jets with all of the GA aircraft safely. It’s already causing the airshow to become broken up with long delays while waiting for these jets to take off and land.
Dan Johnson says
Don’t be too quick to write off Sun ‘n Fun’s new leadership. A decades-long volunteer at Oshkosh, Gene Conrad is also the former Lakeland Airport manager. Therefore, I would guess he is well positioned to negotiate Amazon and other heavy traffic with the ongoing airshow. Nonetheless, I’m crossing my fingers, too.
Did you see anything new with Seamax, new carbon fiber wing perhaps or other offerings?
Dan Johnson says
I did stop and visit with designer Miguel Rosario and others at their display, but no mention was made of new offerings.
Kasey N Okiver says
I don’t know if there is a rep at the Sun ‘n Fun this year from the French manufacturer of the G1 but I found an article about the G1 and sounded like a remarkable ultra lite fully constructed of aluminum and can take of and land in under 60 feet. If you can find more information on how they are going to be represented in the United States and what the starting prices are going to run? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your informative publication of the assorted planes being represented this year’s Sun ‘n Fun
Dan Johnson says
I have written about the G1 earlier, but I will see if I can get by and find out the information you seek.
Thomas Johnson says
Where is the Merlin Lite? I want to see pictures and stories about that 103 plane…
Dan Johnson says
Did you see what I already have written about this airplane? Video is also included.
Yes I have seen stories you have done in 2020. Great job, but I want to see more current news. I have one on order and can’t wait to get it!
Is there no interest in getting the Quicksilver GT500 back in production?
Dan Johnson says
Wise or otherwise, the GT 500 was not included in the transfer of rights and tooling to Air-Tech, Inc. At this time its future is quite unknown.
Will Green says
Excellent coverage Mr. Dan.
Deland and Sun and Fun are carving more than a niche, soon to be the destination for all things grassroots aviation and truly where the fun is. Quite exciting the amount of engineering going on in this arena, what with the powerplants and the electric movement that’s taking place. Yeah, blue skies.
Donald Cleveland says
A Colt 100 is a one place airplane for a woman or a man and a child; it’s never going to carry two fully grown adults with even half fuel.
If the owners of this airplane can’t shed a hundred pounds off this plane, I see no future for this LSA.
Donald Cleveland says
Let’s not shoot the messenger here.
We want to hear from Bever about his thoughts on engine options for the QS these days.
I agree, Courtney. Would be interesting to hear what’s available. The Aero 1000 4-stroke engine is exciting news! I’ve also always been curious why no one (to the best of my knowledge) has utilized the Polini Thor on single-place Quicksilvers. The older 36.5hp Thor 250DS and newer 38hp version seem like they’d be perfect replacements for the Rotax 447.