Monday, June 28, 2010

Propsam and Wingsam

Some odds and ends to share with you:
1.  If you're going to Oshkosh AirVenture 2010, EAA announces that their online ticket discount is extended through the end of this month...but that's Wednesday! 
You'll save $5 on weekly tickets and $2 on daily tickets.  Every little bit helps, here's the link. 
If you love airplanes, you've got to go to Oshkosh at least once in your life.  Anything and everything that flies is represented in some way.
Some highlights of this year's events:
* Week-long Salute to Veterans - WWI, WWII, Korean-era, Vietnam-era, and modern-day military aircraft, forums, presentations, and daily air shows.
* 75th anniversary celebration of the DC-3/C-47 and the B-17.
* Opening Day Concert by Chicago (Monday)
* Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band (Friday)
* Night air show featuring the "Wall of Fire," (don't miss this!) with concert by Asleep at the Wheel and fireworks to follow (Saturday)
* Mass balloon launch (Saturday and Sunday)
* Electric aircraft displays, forums, and demo flights (with an all-day World Electric Symposium July 30)
* 500-plus forums and workshops, and nightly movies at the outdoor Fly-In Theater 
* Daily afternoon air show with top aerobatic performers and Spirit of Aviation aircraft auction.  
This year is my 30th visit, but Oshkosh never fails to excite.

2.  Also up:  Michael Combs has now flown more than 13,442 miles on his Flight for the Human Spirt odyssey that will eventually carry him  and his Remos GX more than 19,400 miles.  He's currently in Denton, TX (40th state so far) after a maintenance stop.  Michael experience delays Saturday and Sunday from high winds aloft and today (Mon) due to a persistent headache...get well, dude!

In the photo, Michael's Remos GX, dubbed Hope One, is tucked under the wing of Flagship Detroit - the oldest flying DC-3 in the world. 

3.  And finally for us wattheads, the Paris Green Air Show just wrapped up and tech webzine Gizmag was there with some tasty coverage of electric powered aircraft.  I'll cherry pick the LSA-centric items
tomorrow but here's a couple teaser photos: the flight of an electric paraglider trike called the e-FunFlyer and the Green Cri-Cri mini-electric airplane with four electric motors, a joint project of EADS Innovation Works and Aero Composites.   More tomorrow!

   ---images courtesy EAA, Michael Combs and Gizmag

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPad Comes To The Cockpit!

If you want to have a rocking good time without ever leaving your seat, check out this video clip of an upcoming film titled No Second Chances.  Billed as “an Alaskan bush adventure on steroids” if this teaser is any indication, ho shee mama, this ought to be some flick!   

The bigger news, as Dan Johnson covers today with some interesting historical perspective, is the
announcement by SportairUSA of the Bush iCub.
Dan points out that the new LSA isn’t another Cub Clone a la the Legend or CubCrafters versions, but an evolution of the Savage Cub, Cruiser and Classic line of light sport airplanes put out by the Czech Republic’s Zlin Aviation since 1999.
I’d like to get my hands on the Bush version and go do some dirt-whompin’.  It’s got a 7" extended landing gear, 1.25" axles, big fat bush wheels and other mission-specific enhancements.

Some of the interesting specs (you'll find the full Monty on the website) include:
* Short field performance: take off run as little as 147 ft., landing run 249 ft., depending on configuration
* 36 mph stall speed
* 565 lbs useful load (515 with extended gear and 26” balloon tires)
* A price under $100,000 (Other versions are priced as low as $77,900 complete).
And of special interest is the panel-mounted addition of an Apple iPad “Information Center” (the iPad has already sold 3 million copies in its first 80 days!)  The display comes pre-loaded with several aviation and navigation apps.  Very curious to see just how useful this aviation application of the iPad turns out to be.
The software that comes with the electronic tablet includes:
* WingXPro7, a GPS-Enabled Terrain-Aware moving map with touch screen interface
* ForeFlight Mobile HD, which displays VFR/IFR charts, radar, flight rules, approach plates
* Topo Maps
* digital version of the Ultimate SAS Survival Guide
and lots more.
And yes, it docks in the panel so you can take it with you after flying.

SportairUSA, run by Bill Canino, will distribute the bird, which is powered by a 100 hp Rotax engine.  The outfit already markets the lively composite Sting low wing cruiser and the new Sirius high wing beauty which I flew at Sun ‘n Fun and will be writing up in the next few days for the magazine.
Meanwhile, check out the iCub, from a company that’s been around more than a decade and has managed to sell enough airplanes to keep it in the U.S. top 20 since LSA began, even though it’s not one of the better-known manufacturers this side of the pond.
But since 20% of all U.S. LSA registrations are Cub-a-like aircraft, perhaps the iCub will help change all that.
    ---photos courtesy iCub

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flying Car Weight Bump; Electric Motorglider!

After taking a few days off to boat around Lake George, NY and shoot the Red Bull Air Race in NY City, it's time to catch up on the the haps.
The Transition “Roadable Aircraft” (I can’t help but prefer the chummier “flying car”) just got a weight exemption nod from FAA for an additional 110 pounds of MTOW (max takeoff weight).  That nudges the vehicle up to 1430 lbs.
Terrafugia’s request for the bump is meant to provide “...the structure and equipment necessary for compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) which are not found in other Light Sport Aircraft.”
They’re talking about things such as airbags, energy absorbing crumple zone and protective safety cage.
Interestingly, Transition’s maker Terrafugia initially asked for an MTOW of 1,474 lbs.  FAA in effect said “You can have what we gave the amphib makers, but no more.”
This evokes the ultralight days, when the original 150 lb. ultralight spec kept growing...and growing.  Looks like that accretion process is less likely this time around.
LSA motorgliders seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days as I’ve been noting here with prior posts about the Lambada, Phoenix and Taurus Electro et al.  Now comes exciting news from Pipistrel, Slovenian maker of elegant composite aircraft including the Sinus and Virus (guess they forgot to translate those words into English.)
The new composite (Kevlar-reinforced cabin) Taurus LSA, based on the European UL-standard motorized glider, is in production and presumably headed for ASTM certification.
The double-dose of good vibes here is the side-by-side two-seater self-launching glider has also had its first flight as an electric-powered aircraft and will also be available as an LSA motorglider! 
The Taurus has all the chops to attract soaring enthusiasts: 1210 lb. MTOW, 550 lb. payload, a whopping 41:1 glide ratio, retractable propeller pylon and a roomy cockpit. 
And the Electro ought to catch the interest of electric-powered fans, including Yuneec, maker of the two-seat, 45-foot span electric cruiser e430.
The Taurus Electro design team was tasked with designing a system that:
* enables climb to 6000 feet or more on a single battery charge
* costs about the same as the internal combustion-powered Taurus (roughly $110,000)
* maintains the current take-off distance of 560 feet
* keeps the empty weight comparable to the internal combustion powered Taurus with fuel - 704 lbs.
* keeps the current climb profile of the aircraft (560 fpm under power).
An impressive and challenging manifesto.  We’ll hope to catch up with the company and both versions of Taurus at Oshkosh.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New LSA From Czech?

For just over $60,000 at the current Dollar/Euro exchange rate of 1.22:1, (around $63K and change) you may see an LSA version of this airplane in the U.S. market soon.
The company Skyleader has been on the European aviation scene since 1996, and produces various aircraft for the overseas market, including the Skyleader 600 (formerly the Kappa KP-5) which is already an ASTM-certified LSA (the 9th one to earn the sticker). 
We got a sneak peak at the GP ONE, which is in development for the Euro market...with a possible LSA version in the future.
Scant details yet, but you can glean a sense of the airplane from the pdf here.  And look at those sculpted composite lines...impressive.
The GP ONE just had it's maiden flight on May 26 - congratulations to the company and its Sales Manager Miroslav Boubela, who affirms the carbon-fiber composite construction airplane will be offered in Europe in Sept. of this year for 52,000 Euro or $63,500.
That's an attractive number if they can pull it off: similarly-priced U.S. LSA like the Rans S-6ELS and X-Air are ultralight-style construction, whereas the GP ONE is all composite.
Skyleader also intends to market the airplane with a Rotax 912 UL 80 hp engine, Galaxy ballistic parachute, 3-blade ground adjustable prop, and other features as standard equipment.
Not sure how the company will meet such ambitious goals given production cost realities, but come September we'll be looking for more news of this beautiful new LSA.

   ---photos courtesy Skyleader

No Trouble In Paradise

Paradise Aircraft, based in Florida, joins the Facebook crowd with its own fan page here.  Chris Regis, U.S. rep for the Brazilian-based company which has certified the airplane in the United States, Brazil, Australia and South Africa, tells me the company is moving ahead after a good spring sales performance with some company and product updates.
On the Facebook page you'll find an a aerial view of the new 75,000 sq. ft. factory for producing the Paradise P1.  The design just celebrated its 10th anniversary at the end of 2009.
Carbon-fiber float maker Mead and Paradise have teamed up to offer amphibious floats for the P1.
The camping picture from owners Neil and Karen Salmi shows the "stuff" carrying ability of the P1.  Not a lot of LSA could carry that volume of gear.  Of course the total 1,320 lb. LSA weight limit still prevails, but that large "backseat" area is attracting buyers, as cargo is one of the consistent limitations among many models.
And check out the interior of the P1.
The U.S. model is essentially an LSA-legal version of a general aviation-certified aircraft, with the two rear seats removed as LSA can only carry two people total - but all that space remains!

   ---photos courtesy Paradise Aircraft and Neil and Karen Salmi

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Midwest School Gets First Skycatcher

Here’s a spot of welcome news for all those who've been waiting to get their hands on a Cessna 162 Skycatcher: Kansas Aviation, Inc. gets first honors for putting the long-delayed S-LSA into service for flight training and rentals.
An interesting note: the school is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yingling Aircraft, Inc., one of three domestic sites Cessna picked to assemble and test fly the Skycatcher once it arrives from the Chinese factory where it’s fabricated.
The airplane was first delivered to a retail customer, Bravo Sierra Group, which leases the aircraft to Kansas Aviation for use in its Cessna Pilot Center (CPC).

Rental rate harkens back to the day when sub-$100/hr rental rates were common: the Skycatcher is available at $98 per hour wet.
Dave Tiday,
the school's manager and Chief Flight Instructor, believes the Skycatcher “will be key to developing the next generation of pilots.”
Powered by a Continental O-200D, 100-hp air-cooled engine with a fixed-pitch propeller, the Kansas Aviation C-162 has a Garmin G300 avionics system with a single, split-screen PFD (primary flight display) and an MFD (multi-function display).
The school will also offer a Light Sport Aircraft Transition Course to train certificated pilots in the differences between conventional GA single engine planes and the Skycatcher. 
Congratulations to Kansas Aviation!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Electricity In The Air!

All-electric airplane fans, this'll stand your hair on end!  Next month's 2010 EAA Airventure at Oshkosh, WI - easily the biggest air show in America every year - will feature activities focusing on the most exciting developments in electric flight all week long.
Visitors to the show will find display booths, daily forums and demonstration flights out on the flight line.  Can you say...Zap!?
And on July 30 there's a major event: Airventure's World Symposium on electric-powered flight.  The day-long discussion will cover all aspects on the future of electric aviation.
Check out who's on the panel of moderators of aviation industry leaders:
* legendary Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan
Electric Aircraft Corporation founder and electric flight pioneer Randall Fishman (currently working on ElectraFlyer-X two-seat S-LSA
* Yuneec International founder Tian Yu (Yuneec made a sensation at Oshkosh '09 with its two-place E430 electric LSA),
* FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt
Sonex Aircraft founder John Monnett
* Earthstar Aircraft founder Mark Beierle, whose eGull ultralight displayed at AirVenture '09
* Erik Lindbergh, who launched an Electric Aircraft Prize through his Lindbergh Foundation at Sun 'n Fun this year.
There will also be forums every day at the Aviation Learning Center (like the Symposium, presented by GE Aviation Systems) on safety and airframes, motors, fuel cells, propulsion, advanced batteries and controls and regulations. 
Expect to see all-electric concept mockups, displays and flying prototypes.  Yippee!
To register for the free symposium or participate yourself in the forums or presentations, contact Kelly Meyer at EAA headquarters at or 920-426-4800.
AirVenture runs from July 26 to Aug. 1 this year at Wittman field.
Be there or be reciprocating-spontaneous-combustion-powered square!
    --- photos courtesy ElectraFlyer and Sonex

Monday, June 7, 2010

So Cal Flyin'

For all you LSA California Dreamers out there, one of the oldest LSA schools in the southwest is worth a closer look.
San Diego Sport Flyers has been rolling the LSA dice for more than two years now and reports it has grown to 50 members and claims to get "several calls per day pertaining to the Sport Pilot license."
AOPA recently praised the LSA school for its "right stuff" - and that was an unsolicited rave.
The school just added a Legend Cub to the fleet and plans to bring on the Icon A5 once it's through testing and development too, sometime next year.
Already online are the Gobosh 700, SportCruiser and Sting Sport shown.
Tom Ellery, President of the operation, told editor Jessica Ambats recently that two high school students just got their Sport Pilot tickets and a 70 year old student will solo soon.
"I have to say," says Tom, "that we didn’t know what to expect when we first opened our doors, but it has been a great experience. We are working on putting a Remos plane in our local mall for Christmas."
The school operates out of Gillespie Field (KSEE) in El Cajon, CA.
Got a thriving LSA operation in your local area that you'd like to tell readers about?  Help me get the word out with a comment below or send me an email at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Phoenix Correction

Whoopsie.  In my last post on the Phoenix motorglider, I had some incorrect info that Jim Lee set me right on, so here's the skinny:
Urban Air USA which Jim represented and which imported and marketed the Lambada motorglider is being purchased, he sez,  "with plans to return the Samba XXL (composite low wing S-LSA) and Lambada (S-LSA motorglider) to production."
Jim also notes Phoenix Air S.R.O. and his Lee Aviation LLC, dba Phoenix Air USA, are completely different companies with no relationship to Urban Air.  
Also, I'd mentioned Evektor's new direct-sale program, but Mr. Lee also notes that Evektor is still working out the details and may not do direct sale ops but some other program instead.
I've got queries into the Czech company and will update once I hear.
Thanks for the clarifications Jim!

Friday, June 4, 2010

CT Hauls Ash

Here's a hot item that should shake the dust off the notion that LSA are little toy airplanes. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
With all the concern recently over ash cloud emissions from Iceland's Eyjafajallawhatever volcano that disrupted global air transportation (and also revealed how precarious airline business models must if, as reported, they were in drastic financial jeopardy after only a few days of lost revenues), comes this fun and good news:
A specially equipped Flight Design CT Supralite has been called into duty to measure atmospheric volcanic dust levels. 
The Supralite is a version of the European CT line that is popular here as the CTLS.
Duesseldorf Technical University’s Department of Volcanology set up the ongoing study, including rigging the cabin with an oxygen system for higher altitude measurements.
The program includes monitoring sulfur and particulate concentration in levels from 1,000 to 14,000 feet. The objective is to create a clearer picture of the density and dispersal pattern of volcanic ash clouds.
The CT makes a great research aircraft because of its good climb (1,000 fpm) and high ceiling capability over 14,000 feet.  Add in the fast cruise, long legs, roomy cockpit for instrument monitoring equipment and the low cost of operation, and it's easy to see why the University chose the Supralite.
“As the CT series is a perfect survey aircraft,” said Flight Design's CEO Matthias Betsch (who was himself delayed returning to Germany from Sun ‘n Fun 2010 by the ash cloud, “Flight Design believes that more of its aircraft will be used for this kind of purpose.”
Just another example of how LSA are working their way into the mainstream by demonstrating utility.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Phoenix Rising: The Next Big Thing?

Caught up with Jim Lee recently to find out what's up with the Phoenix motorglider I wrote about here a few weeks back.
The good news is his full time devotion to making Phoenix the Next Big Thing in LSA motorized soaring flight.  He's renamed his Urban Air company Phoenix Air USA.

Believe me, if you haven't tried a motorglider, you're missing one of aviation's greatest experiences.
Imagine cruising along as fast as 115 knots on a thermally active afternoon.  Up ahead, a big, white cumie cloud with a flat, gray bottom presents an irrestible invitation.
Here's where the fun starts: as you get closer, you turn off the engine, feather the prop, trim up for minimum sink, and start looking for the lift under the cloud.  In a minute or two your search is rewarded with a good, strong push under the left wing - That's lift calling your name!
You quickly bank the Phoenix left, the vario starts singing, and up you go toward cloud base.  Yee haw!

After an hour or so of working the lift and drifting downrange, you flip a couple switches, turn the key, and the Rotax 912 ULS hums to life and off you go.
For a real (not imaginary like this one) flight report, read Jim's right here.  He compares the Phoenix to the Lambada, which it essentially replaces as that airplane is no longer in production.

Jim seems to like everything about the Phoenix, including it's 15-meter span, excellent sink rate, and the economical long range cruise given its beautiful all-composite streamlined shape.

I'd hoped to fly the Phoenix at Sun 'n Fun last April because I fell in love with the Lambada.  But delivery to the U.S. was delayed.
Now, sez Jim, two are on the boat from Europe, with another coming soon after.
Even with current sluggish LSA sales numbers, there's little doubt this is one airplane to watch: if it's even a bit better than the Lambada I flew, as Jim claims, anybody with a hankering for motorized gliding flight will be smitten too.
BTW, Jim is no longer representing Evektor in the U.S. (more details on Evektor's direct marketing plans soon, as I receive requested details from the Czech headquarters.)

    ---photos courtesy Phoenix Air USA