Article UPDATED 1/29/24 — See at bottom —DJ
You may have experienced this but I just got sticker shock. A young pilot told me he is facing a $1,000 fee for his Private Pilot check ride. What?! I got my license so long ago I forgot how much I paid but, obviously… “A dollar doesn’t buy what it used to!”
A few sources confirmed $1,000 is a common fee. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying a check ride isn’t worth that much; it’s merely a bigger number than expected, although my young pilot friend still has to come up with that amount of dough. Whew!
When friends and family complain about grocery store prices or the cost of air travel, I shrug and say, “Tell me something that has not gone up by 50 or 100% in the last three years.” No one loves the situation but those are economic facts. The cost of everything is up, a lot. Why would a Private check ride not be subject to the same market forces?
With that expense in mind, a ready-to-fly aircraft built primarily of metal and configured in the usual joystick and rudder way that you can buy for less than $30,000 is some kind of bargain. BTW, no pilot certificate is required.
I’m not saying everyone can afford that, but it’s really hard to claim TrueLite does not have a fair — even “affordable” — price in early 2024.
You read about this airplane before — here’s the intro article. In this follow-up, I want to tell you how Aviad is preparing for TrueLite’s American debut at Sun ‘n Fun 2024. Does that sound far off? It’s not. Sun ‘n Fun starts in just 10 weeks: April 9-14. The finished version of TrueLite has new, longer wings to assure meeting the regulation.
To finish an airplane in Spain for this year’s show in Lakeland, the team must make sure everything is right, prepare TrueLite for shipment, cross the ocean, pass Customs, get it delivered locally, and finally get it checked out and ready for close examination at Sun ‘n Fun. All that needs to happen in 10 weeks. I’m telling you after many years of reporting such developments — that will be a challenge.
Aviad owner and TrueLite designer Francesco Di Martino proceeded this rush of activity with more of his own. He relocated his production facility, established operations at the new quarters and has produced a TrueLite for American debut in his new facility (nearby images).
Responding to questions I sent him, Francesco replied, “I’m assembling and producing all the parts and accessories in my new factory in Spain using the CNC machines (image) and I’ve established solid ties with local suppliers to make sure everything is top-notch and efficient. I have four collaborators here that can support me; this team has assembled all Tecnam aircraft based in Spain.”
“We have already secured some orders for TrueLite [outside the USA],” Francesco said, giving credit to his flights in the new machine seen on YouTube and at European shows.
While Aviad reports good response from European and other non-U.S. customers, Francesco sought to explain his relationship with Aeromarine-LSA and Chip Erwin.
“Chip will essentially buy a ‘kit’ and assemble in the USA plus add some components, such as instruments that are easily sourced locally,” clarified Francesco. “The plan now is for Chip to buy a ready-to-fly TrueLite for Sun ‘n Fun. Afterward, he’ll buy basic kits to assemble in the U.S. This way, he’s also part of the inventory effort and it cuts down on shipping costs.”
Although Aeromarine-LSA’s kit assembly (the arrangement with M-Squared Aircraft is described here) will customize TrueLite for American interests and will better serve the large U.S. market, Francesco wanted to be clear about TrueLite’s design and production. “TrueLite is my brainchild and I’m the sole producer.” He added, “It’s important for our customers to understand that.”
Francesco invites American to send mail directly to Aviad. “I have an automatic system that can forward U.S. mail to Chip.”
Francesco accepted Chip’s rebadging of the Mg21 to TrueLite. “To avoid confusion, I took Chip’s name suggestion, TrueLite. My two models — Mg12 and Mg21 — are so similarly named that I lost time explaining to customers. So, Mg21 is now TrueLite!”
Francesco concluded, “The U.S. market is vast, and I firmly believe that with the right strategy, TrueLite can fully realize its potential.” With prices possibly under $30,000, many will agree with him.
See TrueLite at
Sun ‘n Fun 2024
Chip Erwin noted, “Aeromarine has a long history with Aviad, which is Francesco Di Martino’s aircraft company founded in Italy. We built quite a few of his Mg12 Zigolo (earlier article and video about an electric-powered Zigolo).
On a recent trip to Spain, Chip expressed, “I checked out Francesco’s new long wing with slotted flaps installed on the TrueLite in Spain.” He also noted the improved wing tip, saying, “Francesco is waiting on good flying weather for the test flights.” After this last modification is proved, the plan is for that aircraft to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Sun ‘n Fun.
“TrueLite has electric flaps operating twin teleflex cables,” Chip added. “The control and flap indicator will be on the instrument panel. And, TrueLite’s wings still fold in under two minutes by a single person!”
“Come see this cool ultralight at Sun ‘n Fun this April,” Chip urged!
- Earlier article on TrueLite with more detail and information
- Aviad, manufacturer’s website
- Aeromarine-LSA.com, all contact info and content on this website
- Aeromarine-LSA.com page on TrueLite
- See TrueLite at Sun ‘n Fun 2024
January 29, 2024
“Thanks for the article! Here’s the latest news…
“The new [longer] wing and my flap design are working exceptionally well. The aircraft can now fly both slowly and quickly at the same time! I’m extremely happy.
“The engine is working great! …and I was able to reduce fuel consumption to 5 liters hour (about 1.25 gallons per hour) at a lower cruise speed but I can maintain the same 95-100 kilometers per hour (59-63 miles per hour) at same rpm as before with the shorter wing!
“I’m sure that once people test TrueLite, they’ll love it. It’s incredibly safe at any speed and with any flap angle. It practically eliminates the risk of accidental stall.
“Last, I put [TrueLite] on scales yesterday. It weighed 114 kilograms (251 pounds) so even a parachute is not required to stay legal [although adding the parachute adds no weight penalty].
“I’ll take some time to write a blog post on my page and share all my thoughts (see Aviad link above).”