When I wrote about TrueLite a little over one year ago, readers loved the concept pushing the article to one of my best-read pieces of the year. That story had lots of detail, different from what follows.
Now the story is the start of production and preparation of import to the US for final assembly.
Francesco Di Martino is the man behind Zigolo, a superlight Part 103 entry. Zigolo looked so light in construction, relying partly on cable support, some pilots were hesitant about the design. A few years passed and sales were made but behind the hangar door, Francesco was busy with his Aviad company.
As a follow-on to the earlier project, Francesco created the all-metal, much-updated Mg21 as he called it; Zigolo was called Mg12.
When Francesco linked up with Part 103 impresario Chip Erwin of Merlin Lite fame, things started to move quickly. Chip smartly rebadged Mg21 to TrueLite, much better for marketing. However, although production had been promised earlier, addressing the number of inquiries demanded a better facility and completion of engineering work. In the last year, Francesco finished all the engineering software files as seen in nearby images. Ultralight designs from 1982 until recently went through no such elaborate process, but those pioneer ultralights were not sophisticated, all-metal creations like TrueLite.
When early interest became clear, Francesco realized he needed a better production facility and he relocated to Spain.
Quick Description — TrueLite is a three-axis aircraft with a high wing, tail boom, and metal tail in pusher configuration. Wings are constructed of 6061-T6 aluminum sheet. The longitudinal fuselage structure supports the wings and tail. Main landing gear are made from 7075 aluminum with two conical legs. Components are joined with AN bolts and/or rivets. Wings can be folded in two minutes by a single person. Flight controls are operated by cables or push-pull cable.
TrueLite is modestly priced and will be affordable to a large group of pilots. While prices are subject to change in a world dealing with high inflation rates, a quick-build kit remains priced at $25,000 in late 2023 while a ready-to-fly TrueLite is $29,500. Most pilots recognize this as a good value, especially for an all-metal airplane, a price further sweetened by an included emergency airframe parachute system and EFIS.
“Quick-build kits will be shipped direct to the customer,” Chip clarified, “while ready-to-fly TrueLites for American buyers will be assembled at M-Squared.”
New & Improved
Chip Erwin recently wrote, “I happen to be here in Viladamat, Spain at Francesco’s workshop getting my hands dirty. I can use a coffee break so here is your update.” Those who know Chip recognize he writes exactly as he speaks.
“TrueLite is a fresh new ultralight design with a very nice feature that the wing can be folded for transport in only two minutes. This feature is huge as hangars are not only difficult to find but very expensive.” Any pilot seeking hangar space almost anywhere is aware Chip is right. “TrueLite owners can roll their aircraft up on a small custom trailer for transport to their home garage,” Chip finished.
He identified that TrueLite’s folding wings open up many possibilities like:
- Trailing your aircraft with you behind your RV or car when traveling
- Park on your boat lift when on Aeromarine’s 750 floats
- Share a hangar with several TrueLites
- Store in a shipping container or Harbor Freight-style portable garage
“To better meet the Part 103 parameters, Aeromarine has commissioned Aviad to build a longer wing with large slotted flaps incorporated. This new wing will also increase the endurance on our planned electric-powered version,” Chip ventured.
“I am here working side-by-side with Francesco to make this first prototype wing. Francesco has completed the design in SolidWorks 3D software,” Chip observed. “We are then cutting and bending and assembling the parts to assure perfect match-hole fit and finish. We have just completed the new flaps and now are preparing the wing and spar parts. In the next few days the wing will be assembled.”
“Then we will install the new wings on the original TrueLite for a series of test flights. Once verified and proven, we will build a new airframe for the wing. This completely new TrueLite will be the first production model and will be shipped to Florida in time for flight demos and display at Sun ‘n Fun in April 2024,” concluded Chip.
Francesco added a few thoughts of his own, after deciding to relocate his facilities.
“Exciting news at Aviad! Orders are now open for our newly renamed TrueLite (formerly Zigolo Mg21),” said Francesco. “We are thrilled to announce our new operational location, complete with a state-of-the-art factory and assembly space.” He added that this better facility has let him test the new longer wing Chip referred to above.
“In addition to our aircraft kits, we now offer fully assembled aircraft,” he finished.
TrueLite can meet common European regulations such as Germany’s 120-Kilo Class or UK’s SSDR. Many European nations handle what they call ultralights (with gross weights about 1,000 pounds) via country-by-country regulation, where LSA types increasingly follow EU-wide EASA regulations.
In the USA, Florida-based Aeromarine-LSA will assemble TrueLites in their collaboration with Paul Mather’s M-Squared operation in Alabama (earlier article about the business cooperation).
At these prices and with these looks, I’d bet we’ll see more TrueLites starting in 2024.
- Aeromarine LSA, U.S. representative for TrueLite, contact info and content on this website
- Technical Information on TrueLite, much detail on Aviad manufacturer’s website
- M-Squared Aircraft, assembly enterprise for TrueLite, Merlin Lite, and Zenith CH-750.
Here are unedited views of Francesco flying TrueLite, which is now preparing to enter production. NOTE the sound is natural. Noise-sensitive readers may want to reduce the volume. No narrative is included.