Thursday, March 11, 2010

Phoenix Motorglider To Debut at Sun 'n Fun 2010?

Last year, I almost got to do a flight report on one of the most enjoyable airplanes I've ever flown: an Urban Air Lambada SLSA motorglider.

Alas, before the magazine could schedule the story, two (not one, but two) Lambadas broke up in flight, both in very strong soaring conditions.
The design was immediately suspect of course, though plenty of load tests on the Czech Republic design both before and after the incidents had failed to show any structural weakness.
Both pilots used their onboard ballistic parachutes by the way, which saved both their lives. That's yet another strong argument right there for onboard parachute systems: no way would they have survived otherwise.
One breakup was evidently a case of pilot overspeeding - way overspeeding, and during 1500 fpm soaring conditions to boot. Yikes. The other is still under investigation but pilot error is suspect there too.
But the sudden bad news and financial struggles made it look like curtains for the home company, although the picture is more promising now for the Lambada's return.

Meanwhile, the magazine story was postponed.
Now comes news from Jim Lee, who reps the Lambada and the popular Evektor SportStar series of SLSA.
Jim says a new motorglider, the Phoenix, (suitably named) is about to glide onto the scene.
Also produced in Czech land, this new bird as you can see is a beauty.
Jim, a soft spoken guy not given to sales hyperbole, emailed me with this: "The Phoenix will take the US by storm!"

On his blog he's put up some tasty pictures and talks a bit about the airplane, which he hopes to have here

in time for Sun 'n Fun April 13-18.
He also promised me a flight on it for a story for the mag!
Pardon me while I tremble slightly with joy.
I won't repeat everything on Jim's blog, except this:
You could call it a "souped up Lambada". It is a two seat, 15 meter span aircraft which will be certified as an S-LSA.
Sure is a looker, and Phoenix has better performance and ergonomics, is roomier and I better stop now before I get overexcited.

---photos courtesy Jim Lee and Phoenix Air

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