For 18 months, the world has been under assault from a bug so small you can’t see it without a big microscope. Plenty of us are hungry to return to what we once quaintly called “normal.” Hundreds of thousands of people at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 started back on that path!
Let’s review: Lots of people. Lots of exhibitors. Perhaps a record number of aircraft flown to the show by visitors. Airplanes were selling, according to many vendors. Weather was good; it only rained at night. No serious accidents. No subsequent reports of any “superspreading.” I’d say it’s all good, except…
I was able to gather lots of material and put up daily posts. That made for very long days and short nights of sleep but it’s what many readers have asked for and I’m happy to oblige. What I did not do was shoot enough video.
In the five days I attended, my Apple Watch said I walked almost 75 miles, nearly 15 miles a day on average. That’s because Homeland Security denied entry to my Canadian video partner, Videoman Dave. He usually has wheels we can use to zoom around the mile-and-a-half-long airshow grounds. Without him I had to plan more efficient use of my time — covering specific areas of the show each day — but I still walked a lot every day. I’m not complaining. I exercise every day at home so this was not particularly difficult but trotting everywhere drinks up a lot of time. For this reason and because I had to carry my video gear, I did not get much video, certainly not our usual full-race pace. Nonetheless…
You’ve Got Video!
For a few airshows now, I’ve had to do my job and Videoman Dave’s job.
Maybe I should clarify: I mean the on-site camera work plus the keeping track of what we’re doing next, handling a load of gear, planning the next day’s video stories, downloading huge video files each evening and placing them somewhere to be used later, and charging up everything you own as you sleep. While we’re shooting a video, Dave takes a director’s view of where we’re going and guides us along. He’s also very aircraft-savvy so if we lack a piece of information, he can often provide it. The show must go on, you know.
Despite the challenges of working at a great distance, I’ve been sending loads of raw video up to Dave in Canada and he has been editing away hour upon hour. In this article, I want to introduce you to four recently released videos I think you will enjoy.
Merlin New-Age Electric / Innovative — One of the most innovative creations I saw at Oshkosh was Merlin Lite with DEP-OD. Huh?
The military-like abbreviation means Distributed Electric Propulsion – On Demand. “Yeah, what does that mean,” you ask? While this electric-aided aircraft was a demonstrator — not the Merlin Lite Part 103 aircraft Aeromarine-LSA is about to start delivering — it could become a Part 103, possibly.
That isn’t important because the two Merlin versions are for different needs. A Part 103 Merlin Lite already needs so little room to take off and land that shortening it is hardly necessary for regular use. Merlin Lite will come with the new Polini 303 that is sweeping championships and, in a surprise outcome, bolting on the new engine resulted in more legroom.
My first introductory article about Merlin Lite was our most-read story for all of 2020. In this video learn the latest changes to this flying machine that attracted so much interest.
Oh-So-Fast JMB VL3 / Speedster — Shooting like lightning across the sky, JMB is now beginning to install and deliver their sleek speed machine with Rotax’s potent 915iS.
How fast can you go on 6-7 gph? Pretty darn fast. In the video below, we saw some of VL3’s impressive speed capability while being propelled by Rotax’s turbo 914. No question remains in my mind that this is one of the genuine speedsters in the LSA space …in fact, it will give a good run to most kit-built aircraft.
At Oshkosh, as at Sun ‘n Fun, importer Alion Aviation — joined at AirVenture by JMB Aircraft boss, Jean-Marie Guisset — displayed their VL3 with Rotax‘s most powerful 915iS turbocharged, intercooled, 141-horsepower engine. This seems to fulfill the prophecy that “if something is good, then more is better, and too much is just enough.” I’d say you should keep your eye on VL3 except you might need to look quickly to catch this one.
Like many airplane exhibitors, Jean-Marie lead his team to protect their smooth birds when hail threatened one night at Oshkosh. No damage was reported but the team got a bit less sleep moving their aircraft to protect them.
Roomy and Well-Behaved Montaer MC01 / Touring — One of the most common questions I get involves payload. How much stuff can you carry and how do big fellows fit?
I get it. We enjoy eating our hamburgers and we want to carry our gear with us. Some LSA are rather limited but others, well… how about this roomy choice?
One of the newest entries, Montaer found a good home (and representation) by linking up with Alex Rolinski and his Aero Adventure team at the DeLand airport. They recently moved into new quarters not far from their former location. Once all the inventory and tooling are fully relocated, the Montaer USA crew will sell and service the Montaer in an interesting cooperation with the group at nearby Seamax USA. Aero Adventures already does service work for Seamax LSA in addition to supporting their Aventura line. Now they will have this all-metal, high wing, big-capacity Light-Sport Aircraft, the MC01.
With its cavernous interior, three-door access, and finely-finished wing (just try to find the rivets on this beauty!), Montaer’s new flying machine will start its U.S. distribution. Alex reported they sold the first models at AirVenture 2021.
Affordable and Handsome Ultralights / Affordable — Tri-State is one of those companies that’s been around a long time yet you may still not know of it. Well, that won’t do. You should know about Smithsilvers or Quicksmiths (casual, not official references).
Tri-State Kite Sales, which did not exhibit at AirVenture, remains one of America’s best-kept secrets about highly affordable aircraft. A strong local community has built up around the Mark Smith-created enterprise …a loyal bunch of customers any manufacturer would love to serve. While the model closely resembles the Quicksilver line (represented today by Air-Tech, Inc.) and while Tri-State does make many after-market components for the popular brand, Tri-State has their own whole aircraft as seen in the video below.
The company fabricates all parts in house including the artful job of sewing the Dacron wings used on this line of aircraft. In fact, they do lots of replacement and original equipment part making, enough so that they stay very busy and going to every airshow — even big ones like Oshkosh — have not been a priority. Hopefully, they’ll make a return visit to the Midwest LSA Expo coming up in just a couple weeks. Come check it out; I hope to see you in Mt. Vernon, Illinois September 9, 10, and 11, 2021.
Jay Jorgensen says
I am a big guy, 6 foot, 1 inch and 275 pounds. I was thinking of going to get a Sport Pilot certification, however, all the local training facilities in the Albany, New York area have given up with Sport Pilot due to the lack of confidence in the prior generation of planes. Then when I talk with local pilots about it, being my size and with an instructor, we are already outdoing the the useful load before you put in fuel. So we are not going anywhere.
The useful load for the Montaer MC01 / Touring plane is 465 pounds. Take out my weight (465 – 275 = 190 pounds left).
That wouldn’t really get me to have a passenger and any fuel.
It seems that the Light-Sport Aircraft currently are either for small-framed or -weighted people or one big guy like myself only. Am I correct in my calculations and assuptions?
It looks based on what I am seeing, I would be better to go train for a Private Pilot rating, so I could learn to fly bigger planes. This would then allow an instructor on board and plenty of fuel with ample useful weight over. Again, would that be a fair statement?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Dan Johnson says
Early LSA had ample payloads (the technical term for what you describe). However, over the years, regular requests from customers for more and more equipment and more features drove up the empty weight. With a cap on gross weight, the squeeze play you described is in force. New regulations are expected to solve this by allowing additional capacity. A specific weight will not be called out in the newer airplanes but they will be able to carry more.
In the meantime, you can start toward Sport Pilot in a non-LSA. Training in a Cessna 172 while going for the Sport Pilot certificate will require a knowledgeable instructor and you will later need transition training. Many CFIs who came up through the ranks are surprisingly uninformed about LSA and Sport Pilot. Since they wish to show their expertise and not their lack of knowledge, many CFIs and the flight schools they work for will direct you toward their existing aircraft fleet (usually older, legacy airplanes) and Private Pilot, which they know better. I urge you to keep searching. Social media may be helpful; check many light aircraft groups on Facebook, for example.
Greg Gudorf says
My 2018 Aeroprakt A32 SLSA (www.fly4fun.us) has a 595 pound useful load and it’s loaded with a Garmin G3X plus auto-pilot.
With 3 hours worth of fuel plus reserves, you could fly yourself and still have 200 pounds of passenger/baggage capability.
Not all SLSA’s are the same!
Fly 4 Fun,