Thursday, September 24, 2009


So what do you do for a break from your regular airline gig? Fly around the world, of course!
These two airline pilots plan to circumnavigate old Terra in 2010 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Swiss pilot license holders.
In April, 2010,
Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo will launch in two, not one but two, Flight Design CTLSs from Switzerland, fly west down the coast of Africa and hop the Atlantic to Brazil. They've even named their planes: Dreamcatcher and Celine' (for a daughter, not the singer.)
The motivations are the "usual suspects" stuff of aerial adventure: to commemorate aviation milestones (Swiss) and inspire young people.
What the hey, for me the inspiration is imagining making such a journey myself! And flying in formation for 25,200 miles? Now there's a concept.
The intrepid pioneers plan to visit 18 countries, span five continents and cross two oceans. That's quite a challenge for any airplane, and will surely add boffo street cred to the image of LSA, eh?
Bonne chance et bon voyage, mes amis!
---photos courtesy Azimuth 270

Monday, September 21, 2009

#101 LSA Approval Continues Record Aviation Surge

South Africa's Rainbow Aircraft quickly stole the limelight from the Vans RV12 - the 100th LSA to achieve ASTM approval - by earning the first approval of the next hundred - SLSA # 101.
The aircraft, dubbed Cheetah XLS, is imported and distributed by Midwest Sport Aviation of Wisconsin.
Taking a page from the X-Air school of affordable sport aircraft, the Cheetah is listed at just under $53,000.
You can have one in either taildragger or tricycle-gear flavor. Powerplant options abound too: Jabiru 2200, Rotax model 582 or 912S, with horsepower ranges from 65 to 100.
Congratulations to this latest contender!
--photos courtesy Midwest Sport Aviation

Friday, September 18, 2009


Last weekend, under popcorn-cloud, clear blue skies, the Greater Boston EAA Chapter 106 put on a doozy of a local LSA air show that drew several hundred folks.
By my count 11 LSA models represented the industry, including the FPNA Valor (left), Flight Design CTLS (cockpit, right, with a guest and FD rep John Lampson looking on), and the Terrafugia proof-of-concept Transition “roadable” aircraft, in it’s final public appearance as work has begun on the Beta version. drove in. ;-)
The show was held at the lovely Lawrence Muni airport (good name) in Andover, MA, just north of Boston.
The chapter created an enthusiastic, well-attended event that will stand as a good model for how to make it happen on the local level: pilots talking to pilots, not a big splashy corporate thang. Some demo flights, a local biplane ride vendor, and terrific food (bkfst or lunch, all you could eat for $5 or $7 - now we’re talking!)
In addition to those shown and mentioned here and below, LSA that flew in included the
Vans RV12, Sport Cruiser, Aerotrek A240 and Highlander Sport.
There were informative seminars too - a great idea for any gathering. Joe Monaco talked about LetsFly, a shared ownership program that I’ve written about for my Light Sport Chronicles column in dead tree Plane & Pilot (two issues from now). Carl Dietrich, CEO of the Terrafugia Transition roadable car project, updated us on that program.
And Lou Mancuso of Mid Island Air Service gave a thorough talk on buying and flying LSA. His FBO on Long Island is actively engaged in training and rentals with several LSA models.


Many of the top-selling LSA were there and they couldn’t have picked a better day for it. Clockwise from top: John Lampson (white shirt), Flight Design rep, flew out with me in the same CTLS I got my Sport Pilot ticket in last year. Guess I didn’t scare him enough...yet.
Sportair brought a Sting S3, Dave Jalanti flew out from Chatham, NY with his Jabiru J-230 SP that I did a story on last year, and Dave Graham of Gobosh made sure the lovely G700S was present.

Of WWII Heroism, Wiener Dawgs and Hot Planes

Ken Godin of Remos (top) brought in a lovely GX, which got a lot of attention at the show. Ken is the hard working Director of Sales and Service for Remos in North America.
During the show I had the great pleasure to speak with John Katsaros, (bottom left) a wonderful gent presenting the book he wrote of his harrowing ordeals (plural) during World War II. Shot up by an ME-109 Messerschmitt over Germany on his 11th mission, the B-17 gunner bailed out, badly wounded, was hidden by the Free French Resistance, was arrested by the German Gestapo - twice! - but still made it back home. I bought his book and urge you to do the same if you love a cracking good first person narrative. Title - Code Burgundy: The Long Escape. You can find it at the publisher here. Our country is still free thanks to the indomitable bravery of the young patriots like Mr. Katsaros all those years ago.
Speaking of Germany, these two wiener dogs lobbied for piece (of burger) in our time at the foot of the Six Chuter powered LSA parachute’s owner.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sad news today that the father of hang gliding, Francis M. Rogallo, who I had the distinct pleasure to meet at Kitty Hawk a few years ago when I flew a competition on the dunes, has passed away at 97.
That's a nice old age for all to aspire to, but his passing will be marked by every "diver driver" who ever took foot-launched flight.
"Rog" was universally beloved within the community, and stayed in touch with industry leaders and pilots who lauded him for his gentle good nature and indisputable place as the person who's aerodynamic engineering creativity directly led to hang gliding, ultralights and todays light sport aircraft.
Rog invented what came to be known as the Rogallo Wing as a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) project engineer in 1948. He got patents for the flexible v-shaped fabric/frame Parawing in 1951.
NASA became highly interested in a capsule-deployable version in 1958 for bringing astronauts back home, but dropped the complexities of deploying the steerable design in favor of the round parachutes we know, which were deemed adequate for the mission.
When photos and drawings of the Parawing hit the media, foot launched hang gliders were born, and the rest is history.
Rest in peace, Rog. Your imagination brought personal, affordable flight to so many who would never have had it otherwise.
---Photo Credit: NASA Langley Research Center


The highly anticipated #100 SLSA to receive ASTM approval is now history, as reported in depth by Dan Johnson, Pres. of LAMA (Light Acft. Mfg. Assoc.), on his industry-oggling website.
Drum roll's the sexy Van's RV-12!
Van's has been selling kits for its immensely popular RV homebuilts for decades. The RV-12 (there are several models: RV-4, RV-6, RV-9 etc.) is a low-wing all-metal airplane that is also approved as an E-LSA (experimentally constructed). More than 250 kits are already being built worldwide.
As Dan notes, no other aviation movement in history has ever achieved the diversity of 100 models in a similar time period (under 5 years). That's testimony not only to the ASTM process but also to computerized design and manufacturing, where smaller quantities of parts can be made efficiently and with a high degree of consistent accuracy - an engineer's dream.
---photos courtesy Van's Aircraft