After a damp opening day, the sun returned on day #2 at Sun ‘n Fun 2018. A beautiful blue sky was enjoyed by crowds that appeared to grow quickly. Many likely saw yesterday’s forecast and put off attending for that day. By the end of Wednesday, though, parking aircraft filled the grounds, nearly every one of 58 display spaces in Paradise was occupied, and campgrounds were reported so full that additional area was opened.
The LSA Mall hosted by LAMA also filled up to include quite an eclectic collection of light flying machines from a 140-pound twin-engine genuine Part 103 ultralight homebuilt (Lightning Bug), a one-of-two-in-the-USA motorglider to highly affordable choices, speedy LSA cruisers, and bush-ready aircraft.
DeLand Showcase, the new airshow in early November (1st-2nd-3rd in 2018) sponsored a reception and attracted a large crowd that was fed a wonderful meal, served drinks, and entertained by live music all within clear view of the light plane area turf runway.
Videoman Dave and I were able to collect a fresh batch of seven new videos. One of these was about Just Aircraft’s new Part 103 entry that may be called Just 103 Solo (though the name is still in discussion).
Just 103 Solo Proves Renewed Ultralight Interest
Unveiled only nine months ago, Just’s Part 103 unfinished prototype generated a surprising amount of interest, as measured by Just Aircraft comments and response to my article linked above.
Overall this seems part of a surge in Part 103 interest, for plenty of good reasons: • greater freedom (no license or registration required, • no medical of any kind needed, and • the aircraft can be delivered ready-to-fly. The best news for budget-minded flying enthusiasts is truly • low prices for these single seaters that typically fly 40-55 mph. Companies like Kolb Aircraft and U-Fly-It — maker of the Aerolite 103 — report good sales activity and a number of producers are lining up to offer choices.
Just isn’t quite done with the Solo (or whatever its final name) but they are flying the model, still powered by the Polini single cylinder engine. “It performs quite well with this engine,” said principal developer Troy Woodland. He said he has logged a few short flights of early testing and one hour-long flight. More testing will follow.
Additional changes are likely, for example:
- A boom tube will likely give way to a welded steel structure supporting the tailplane. Welded fuselages are very familiar to Just and they’re sticking with their core competency.
- Earlier plans for spoiler controls gave way to conventional ailerons but spoilers and a slotted wing may come later.
- Simpler brakes will be offered in addition to the deluxe Beringer wheels and brakes on the prototype.
- Troy also plans to fly with a brand-new Rotax 582 he has available; this would give such a light aircraft incredible performance (though it would not qualify as a Part 103 with that powerplant).
The prototype Just 103 Solo doesn’t presently make Part 103’s tough weight limit, but Troy is sure they can trim the few pounds needed to qualify; they will also likely offer a parachute, which can “buy” a few extra pounds according to FAA guidance on the matter (Advisory Circular 103-7).
By the time a new AirVenture rolls around this summer — barely over three months away — Just should be ready to start deliveries to selected customers who will build kits and offer Just feedback on the aircraft. After a short period of evaluation, Just plans to offer fully-built models if the buyer selects appropriate engines and options.
As one who enjoys genuine Part 103 vehicles, I am excited to see this resurgence in aviation’s lightest powered flying machines and I bet Just will sell a good many of their new entry.
Weather looks good for the next few days so come join us at Sun ‘n Fun 2018. If you cannot come to Florida, stay tuned to this website for more updates (even if it does keep me up late to provide these updates). Sure, these shows make for long days but what better way to enjoy life than watching airplanes fly all day and talking to our flying buddies.
Here’s a one and a half minute swing by the LSA Mall at Sun ‘n Fun 2018:
Chris Swan says
Whats the latest on the Just Solo103… stopped by the booth at Oshkosh and the gentleman manning the booth (not Troy) did not seem interested in talking about it at all.
Dan Johnson says
Hi Chris: Sorry, but I got no update on this interesting (potential) entry. It is, as you evidently know, a Troy project so without his input, we are still waiting.
Norman E. Faith Jr. says
Hi Dan, I’ve been professionally involved in aviation for over fifty years and own and operate a general aviation repair shop in El Dorado, Arkansas. (KELD) Sun-N-Fun 2018 was my first one to attend. I built, owned and flew one of two known hang-gliders (Eipper-Formance Quicksilver) in the state of Florida circa 1973, the other one was owned by a friend. (Rogallo Wing) The Ultralights and LSA’s at the show “blew” me away. I should of never went over there to watch and look, as I have (for some reason) renewed my interest in the “light stuff.” I have a Cutlass RG, but the “Just Ultralight,” that was being displayed, would be, by far more fun to fly. I thoroughly enjoyed the flying demonstrations.
Frank Smith says
Dan: Ours was not an isolated incident and some of the LSA vendors share our opinion about the safety concerns. Either a major accident is going to occur or more likely the LSA airplanes will stop flying at Sun ‘n Fun, something I already think is happening because there were far more LSA airplanes on static display than were in the air this year and it was not because of the weather. On one thing we seem to agree there are far better venues than Sun N Fun to shop for LSA aircraft. I will be doing my shopping elsewhere in the future. Sun ‘n Fun is not worth the risk.
Frank Smith says
Hey Dan: With the renewed interest in fun flyers it’s time to fix Paradise City again. The broad range of cruise and landing speeds of the rotorcraft (almost zero landing speed), kites (trikes) and ultralight-based aircraft (both slow) and true airplane LSA (that cross the fence at 60 MPH which is faster than most of the other craft’s cruising speeds) has created a safety issue. Both my son and I experienced a go-around on final because of slow landing aircraft that did not clear the runway in time (a gyroplane in my case and [trike] in my son’s case). In my son’s demo flight another LSA on final did a 360 for spacing because the [trike] was too slow and created a near miss to the demo plane my son was in (which forced the demo pilot to go around). Either the true airplane like LSA need their own runway or their own designated time slot to fly but having every type of light flyer in the air at once is too dangerous! Also the LSA plane people need more time for demo flights. I’m a serious buyer and almost did not get to fly because the time slots were so limited. I hope you can work with Sun ‘n Fun Inc., to make Paradise City safer and more business friendly.
Dan Johnson says
Hi Frank: It’s unfortunate that you and your son had those experiences at Sun ‘n Fun but a full response gets complicated. The volunteer chairman and his team have a mandate to accommodate different kinds and speeds of aircraft. To separate them all would be to put them in rather tight time windows. Even if the majority of LSA sold are fixed wing, those also have differences in speed (cruisers compared to bush styles to seaplanes). Trike LSA vendors deserve time aloft as do the gyroplanes, motorgliders, powered parachutes, and paragliders. A few years ago the chairman and his volunteers were given conventional helicopters to manage (they used to be elsewhere at Sun ‘n Fun). It a diverse group BUT what must be said is that despite the maneuvers you described, flying goes on with a great safety record at Paradise City. When you put up as many airplanes as does Paradise City every day, it’s impressive how smoothly it goes overall. Now let me say that the best places to do serious buyer demo flights are the sector-specific shows such as Sebring, Midwest, Copperstate, and DeLand (all are presented in our lower left column). I highly recommend you compare them for the purpose you mentioned.