Soldiers in our country’s service too often sustain combat injuries that cost them the use of their limbs. What if they still want to learn to fly. Able Flight is one resource for such aspiring pilots. Another national project is Wounded Warriors and Renegade Light Sport Aircraft has worked with European LSA manufacturers B.O.T. Aircraft to create a hand controlled airplane for use in training such students. We interview Tommy Counihan about his experience in flying the B.O.T.
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Last summer, when EAA AirVenture Oshkosh exploded with news that FAA released Mosaic, nearly all the attention was on increased weight and speed, and capabilities like retractable gear, controllable props, even multiengine or turbine aircraft. Christmas in July, I called it, so plentiful were FAA’s gifts to pilots and industry.
While all these items will add capability, they also increase prices. Is that what you want? Let me guess not for most readers. This website thrives on affordable aviation. Features that add substantial cost limit affordability.
Mosaic will trigger a bifurcation within the LSA community and it goes something like this: If you like the airplane you have now, you probably will not like the price of a Mosaic LSA. However, if you feel constrained in weight-carrying capacity or speed or if you want multiple engines, then Mosaic may address your wishes.
The great news? You can have it both ways.
Continuing our tour of the Top 50 videos from Videoman Dave’s popular YouTube channel, we come to Earthstar Aircraft’s Thundergull. My interview with Mark about his electric project garnered 236,000 views and ranks at #11 among the Top 50 of Dave’s more than 1,500 videos.
This remarkable small aircraft, a single seater until their Odyssey model came out, was ahead of its time. Over a successful run dating back into the 1990s, Thunder Gull evolved into several variations and developer Mark Beierle experimented with various propulsion systems. A gifted designer, Mark pursued development more than production so the total number of ‘Gulls has never become large.
If you are looking to buy, getting a current owner to part with their pride and joy could be challenging. The Earthstar website is functional but does not appear to have been updated in some time.
Thunder Gull owners or pilots may be purists insisting nothing compares to their Gull, yet some interested buyers are aware Titan Aircraft makes a very similar aircraft.
As the recreational flying season slows and northern states button down for winter, one Florida LSA supplier is headed further south, much further. As he prepares for the upcoming 2024 season, Deon Lombard is headed to South Africa where he will work with the Whisper factory for three months as manufacturer and importer prepare to launch the product in the USA.
Deon is not the first to go after the Whisper prize in America but he is taking a different approach. Here’s the update on Whisper, which looks remarkably like an RV made out of composite.
As spring arrives, look for Deon and Whisper at Sun ‘n Fun 2024 when the famous Florida event celebrates its 50th anniversary.
With wait times exceeding a year for most fully-built LSA and even for many kits, Whisper looks more interesting with faster delivery predicted plus Mosaic-rule top speeds.
Article Updated 11/13/23 — see area captioned with **
This is not a battery electric aircraft so why call it Whisper?
Is a Showcase an airshow? Or is it a trade show? Is this the same as an event once called the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase?
To these questions, you could reply, “Who cares?” This year’s Aero Showcase displayed a worthy selection of handsome airplanes. What more do pilots want? Entry and parking were free. Amenities were good.
Aero Showcase 2023 was like that fantasy where a rich friend with a collection of cool airplanes gets them all out for you to look at and perhaps fly.
Interested pilots could and did take demo flights at DeLand 2023 in one of the aircraft for sale. This is a very easy and welcoming airport to such flight activity. Aero Affinity and Aero Showcase partner Doma Andreka took several prospects aloft in his Magnus Fusion 212. This is the lone LSA model that offers aerobatic capability (article), assuming you select the UL Power engine approved for inverted flight.
You know this airplane and you know this company, although a refresher might be in order.
You can be excused if this one slips you mind. The airplane in the nearby images was from years ago when you probably first saw it with an electric motor developed by Randall Fishman, one of the original pioneers in the electric aircraft space.
He was so far ahead of his time that a market for electric had yet to develop. When Randall flew his first battery-electric-powered trike 16 years ago at Oshkosh 2007, no one was using the terms “air taxi” or “multicopter.”
Electric Aircraft Corporation didn’t complete many sales but Randall’s developments were ground-breaking.
Now the handsome Song returns with a new producer, Future Vehicles. Earlier I wrote about the charming biplane Dingo, a modern-day follow-on to Hovey’s Whing Ding and worthy entry in the Part 103 space.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? Summer is over, we’re into fall and looking at winter. Surprisingly, that means that in a couple months the sale of boats and other watercraft begins to ramp up. Marine shows are commonly scheduled for the dead of winter. If that seems odd, think of it this way: When it’s cold and ugly outside, why not think about boats and bikinis?
Being pilots, of course, we think about seaplanes.
This article focuses on two bits of good news for relative newcomers to this aviation sector, shifts to challenges facing two longtime suppliers of LSA seaplanes, and ends on a positive note. Let’s get into it…
Icon Aircraft — “We have some exciting news in the Icon world today,” started a news release from the A5 LSA seaplane producer. “Our 200th production just rolled off the assembly line!” The Vacaville, California company reported starting deliveries to customers in early 2018.
Nine years ago, in 2014, electric aircraft were mostly experiments and the beginning was challenging. Several ill-fated projects attempted to electrically power airplanes that were inappropriate for such a powerplant. Batteries of the day had lousy power-to-weight ratios. Enough juice to lift and fly a two seater, much less a four seater, by an electric motor made for very short duration flights, measured in minutes not hours. An electric Cessna 172 project never succeeded; hardly a wonder.
Similar challenges face more than 350 air taxi start-up businesses. Sure, someday you might zip around big cities using UberAir but I think that remains years in the future. Range anxiety felt in electric cars becomes much more intense in an aircraft.
On the other hand, electric Part 103 aircraft enjoy two enormous advantages: (1) they only need to fly 30 minutes to an hour to deliver all the fun their owners have in mind; and (2) since Part 103 aircraft are the lightest in powered aviation, lifting them by electric power and batteries is far more achievable with today’s technology.
We are awash in bad news from Ukraine. Some is honest reporting of the extremely difficult circumstances for many in the war-racked nation. Yet media does not always grace itself, always finding the worst of the news to report in somber tones.
Amazingly, it’s not all bad. While heads of state send troops into harms way, most of a nation’s citizenry merely attempts to live a normal life amid the chaos of war. Doing business and living your life while bomb warning sirens shriek is something most Americans can’t grasp, thankfully.
Aeroprakt, builder of the very successful A-22 and A-32 series of Special LSA, suffered directly when a missile hit their flying club building (report here, scroll to last video). Their main factory remains in the central city of Kyiv, where it has been for many years. I visited this location back in 2003 so they’ve been stable for more than 20 years.
I write about affordable aviation whenever interesting material is available. This website will eventually (probably by August or September) move to the AffordableAviation.com domain that I purchased many years ago. It’s important to me that pilots can actually afford to own and fly their own aircraft because I am one of you.
I maintain you’ve always been able to find affordable new airplanes but you had to accept something other than a 150 knot four seater.
Part 103 has always been a choice — no medical, N-numbers, or pilot certificate needed — yet not everybody wants that. A great many pilots desire a two seater, even if they nearly always fly it solo. You usually pay more for a two seater, making it less likely to be affordable.
One modestly-priced two seater is available, fortunately.*
A Genuine Bargain?
One flying machine made flying affordable some years ago but it rather quietly slipped from the American market.