Friday, July 31, 2009

Pix From The Big Show

Today was a beautiful, beautiful day. I kept saying, "This can't be Oshkosh."
Low humidity, balmy 70s temps, lovely breeze...oh yeah.

Here are some noteworthy pix from the day's events.

First up: The Icon A5 flew a very impressive series of demo takeoffs, landings and fast taxis at the Sea Plane Base. An impressive debut performance, with a lot of attendance from folks who motored over from the main event 10 miles away.

The Airbus A380 wowed the crowds with amazingly quiet, nimble performance turns over the runway. It still amazes me that anything so huge can fly.

Diamond's DA-20 has a new panel with Garmin's G-500 EFIS display. Look for a pirep in a P&P issue soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rain Dance Works!

After enduring a goodly downpour most of the day, stalwarts were rewarded with a sunny late afternoon and fresh, cool winds. This is not typical Oshkosh Airventure weather: usually we're melting into puddles of goo from the heat and humidity.
Strolling through the vast Airventure "campus" I ran into Dave Graham, hardworking Gobosh principal who shared the new Garmin G3X panel he's installed into the Gobosh 700. Such a nice panel, and with dual Garmin vertical EFIS screens right in front of the pilot, and backup steam gauges and other avionics goodies, it's an impressive panel.
Also noteworthy is Dave's automobile iconic symbols on the console stack that add colorful, easy-read labeling to control switches such as carb heat, fuel cutoff and choke.
A Zaon PCAS XRX collision avoidance system is another welcome feature on this lovely tricked out G700.


Knocking around the grounds after dark was a kick. I shot the Virgin Galactic White Knight spacecraft launcher, one weird bird indeed, and the Airbus A380, the monstrous double-decker transport airplane that carries 525 passengers in current configurations and will be modified in future to carry 900 people! Holy sardine can, Batman!

Caught up with Dan Johnson and spousal unit Randee at their LSA Mall in its newly installed location. Very impressive, good support from LSA manufacturers and lots of foot traffic. It's a great way for folks to see many of their favorite LSA aircraft all in one place...and at a huge show like Oshkosh, anything that saves you walking time and grows enthusiasm is welcome indeed. Well done!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I have seen the future and it is electric. Lots more to say about this than I have time, space or energy here, after my first day at Oshkosh, but this much is clear: electric flight is a reality, just as the Wright Brother's Flyer made heavier-than-air flight a reality.
I spent an hour talking with the Yuneec E-430 people.
* Made in China
* The company just built a new 250,000 sq. ft. factory. That's right: 1/4 MILLION square feet!
* Company has initial plans to produce 6 different electric flying craft: ultralights, trikes, powered parachutes, hang gliders...and the sleek, beautiful, 45-foot wingspan E-430 (above) that went from light bulb idea to flying prototype in 4 months!
* Getting FAA to amend LSA reg to admit electric power will take some doing. But you can't stop a flood tide.
Also saw Flight Design's Tom Peghiny wow the crowds in the waning light at the Ultralight flying area with his E-Spyder, also powered by a Yuneec prototype electric propulsion system.
It was so quiet, you could barely hear him...honestly! My electric RC models make more noise than this electric ultralight.
I looked at these aircraft and realized I was looking at future history. These are no one-off, "maybe-it'll-work" oddities. These aircraft will be produced for sale sometime in the next year or so.
Aviation will never be the same: believe it!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Two "Lookie what we can do!" stories - one accomplished, one getting under way this week.
Avweb reports two chommies (Afrikaans for friends) expect to fly their modified D6 Sling light sport airplane around the world! These adventurous lads modified their South Africa-produced, metal LSA (not ASTM certified in the US) to carry up to 118 gallons in each wing for long legs. Long, as in more than 2,000 nautical miles over water. Holy Lucky Lindy, Batman! And people think I'm nuts flying a hang glider.
Mike Blyth and James Pitman are the pilots. They hope to launch from Johannesburg this Thursday and make a stop at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. I'll try to snag a shot of them. Bon voyage, guys!
To follow the adventure Click here.

in the Let's Rock LSA Dept. comes from my next-issue column, Light Sport Chronicles.
The short tell: Two enterprising pilots showed off the long-reach viability of LSA by flying from Florida to California - in one day!
In June, Jessica Scharle and Matt Hansen flew a lovely Peregrine FA-04 (German-designed carbon fiber low-winger) 1,813 nautical miles, setting a transcontinental speed record in the process. Since The National Aeronautical Assn. doesn’t have a category for LSA records yet, the pair applied to Guinness World Records for recognition.
Total time including five fuel stops was 19 hours 21 minutes. Average groundspeed: 110 knots. Purpose of the flight: demonstrate LSA's long legs potential, and promote a nonprofit that gives free flight training to people with physical disabilities.
Hansen Air Group supplied the FA-04. Able Flight sponsored the flight. It offers scholarships to disabled people who are new to flight, returning pilots, or want to fly but are not seeking a license.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Watt’s Up!

Getting ready for Oshkosh, and my first in-person look at an exciting new electric airplane which you'll be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead.
The Yuneec International E430 electric-powered two seater is in Phase 2 test flight mode.
The bird is fitted with a 54 hp electric motor that weighs only 37.5 lbs., uses six lipo (lithium polymer) batteries and is capable of 1.5 to 2 hours of flight.
And that’s with a 400 pound payload! A 10-battery configuration should bring duration to 2.5 hours. The sleek highwinger sports a 45-foot wingspan. Could that mean motorglider cred too? It gives the LSA a 25:1 glide ratio. Handling in strong winds could be a challenge with that wing and V-tail, but we'll have to wait and see.
Should motorgliding be enabled in future, perhaps with a folding prop, restarts would be a breeze. There are only two moving parts in the engine - the bearings! - just a flick of the switch and the prop is spinning again.
And think about charging time - three hours - and energy cost: around $5. Wow!
Check out this video. It wouldn't open in Firefox, but Internet Explorer worked.
Sure, it’s early yet to get too amped up about this (pardon the pun). But we'll be watching to see how this Chinese beauty and other electrics like the ElectraFlyer C and Waiex play out in the scheme of things.
Plans are to certify the E340 first as an experimental homebuilt, but commercial production is the ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, check out these flight test runs: durations of 15 minutes, max height = 975ft, take off in 265 feet at 40 mph, climb rate: 1320 fpm, cruise speed: 55 mph, top speed level flight: 93 mph. Are we dreaming electric yet, chilluns?
- photos courtesy Yuneec International