Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fire Fighting LSA

The LSA movement may have struggled along with the rest of civilian aviation over the last three years. 
Still, there's no stopping folks who see how useful Light Sport Aircraft can be for work at a lower cost than traditional aircraft.

Overall U.S. LSA sales leader Flight Design (1,500 now flying worldwide) just told us about a fire fighting department (situated at 8,300 feet MSL) in the Andes mountains of Ecuador that is using a CTLS as an aerial support unit.
John Hurst and Jeremy Endsley of Sebring Aviation went to the South American country to assist the Basin Fire Department at Mariscal La Mar Airport.
Hurst and Endsley trained fire department employees in the assembly, maintenance, and flight training of the CTLS.
The group operating the LSA is called the Air Volunteer Fire Department of Basin.
Hugo Cobo, the head of the department, said: "Using the CTLS...our Fire Department has an effective tool to help in search functions, recognition and support of ground operations by providing a better service to the community of Cuenca."
Mr. Cobo adds, "The decision to buy the CTLS was made after studying different information of other aircraft manufacturers including experimental, LSA and other general aviation (aircraft). The CTLS was the only aircraft that meets the safety operation and performance requirements for the Fire Department."
Low cost ops and training were important factors in his final decision. 
The CTLS is the first and the only aircraft used in all Fire Department operations, including search and ground operations support.
Cobo estimates average monthly flight hours will be around 25, with greater use expected during wildfire season.
The department's pilots received five hours of training at Sebring and another five hours in Ecuador.
This one aircraft will not only provide quick response and accurate surveillance during emergencies but will also be used as a kind of LSA showcase of the aircraft's usefulness to other fire departments in the region.
Typical mission profile, even given the 8,300 foot altitude at takeoff, will not limit flying top only one person due to the CTLS performance, which includes a climb rate above 1,000 fpm at sea level and a top cruise of 120 knots.
Here's a couple videos of the Ecuadorian operation.
Take off -- notice how the high altitude and thin air make for a long takeoff roll...wonder what the density altitude was? --

And landing...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Bright New Year!

To our readers and all Light Sport pilots and dreamers, we thank you for your enthusiasm and support in this year of both challenges and triumphs.  
The dream is alive, and all of us together will carry it forward this year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all!
           ~ Jim Lawrence

Friday, December 17, 2010

Maverick Goes Mega-Viral!

The dark horse, literally, to claim the Flying Car throne is the all-black I-Tec LSA-certified Maverick Sport.
We've talked about it here a lot, and now the "airable" dune buggy seems to really be catching on with the public.
I-Tec turned the flying car concept design on its head by designing a lightweight off-road car first: the ability to fly it was always the 2nd priority in the design phase.
The result is a lightweight, off-road-sturdy, flying car that will -- and this is straight from I-Tec's Steve Saint -- accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
Holy flying Jaguar XKE, Batman!
To prove it's road chops, Steve and the I-Tec crew drove it 1,500 miles to Oshkosh last summer with the paraglider-like wing tucked into its roof pouch.
In a preview of the 18-hour days they would be swamped by a fascinated public at Airventure, the crew never made a fuel stop en route that took less than an hour -- everybody had to know everything about the Maverick.
Production (already approved by FAA) is scheduled to begin by Airventure 2011).  There would seem to be no shortage of orders to drive the tooling up, either -- manna from heaven that most LSA manufacturers wish would come their way.
Now, EAA announces that its video, put together by Brady Lane from footage partially shot by I-Tec during its trek from Florida, has received more than 1 million hits!
You can see the video and several more on the Maverick video page.  Photos are here.
And there's a CNN video here.  Yep, even the MSM (Main Stream Media) is in on the action.

Is there a lesson here for airplane companies?  I-Tec has proven that money spent innovating rather than big-splash marketing can payoff in a more reasonable cost ($89,000 for the Maverick), and people will still beat a path to your door.
I'm hoping to fly it next month around the Sebring LSA Expo.
Here are a few more details:
  • speed 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds (just had to say that again)
  • top speed above 95 mph (they haven't driven it any faster but it's got plenty muscle left)
  • the 27 foot high structural mast keeps the ram air wing off the ground and helps with crosswinds
  • mast also good for multiple takeoffs and landings
  • Dual Drive System with one engine and two drive systems is patented
  • prop drive will also be ideal for water (on pontoons, like a swamp boat) and ice/snow (skis?)
  • in-flight operations in the 40 mph range
  • Miles per gallon: 25-30 highway.  And it burns car gas, not $5/gal avgas.
  • landings and takeoffs in football field length...with enough altitude to clear the goal posts!
  • created to support I-Tec's mission to help people in roadless remote and jungle habitats, where raw survival can literally depend on the ability to fly.
  • FAA classifies Maverick as a Powered Parachute
  • Itec has tested early prototypes in African and South American frontiers
Steve Saint likes to tell the ogglers, "If you can drive a car with an automatic transmission, you can fly this."
Of course, it requires full Sport Pilot training, but I'm eager to see just how easy it is to fly -- and drive.

The company may subcontract the commercial side of Maverick production.
"We hope to get the cost down," says Steve, "to better serve the humanity missions market: that's our primary goal."

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    CORBI ALTO is #112 S-LSA!

    In my post after last spring's EAA Sun 'n Fun convention in Lakeland, FL, I told you a bit about the Corbi Alto 100, a new, purpose-built S-LSA that entrepreneurs Ron Corbi, a longtime figure in aviation, and Dan Coffey said should be done by the end of the year.
    True to their word, I got an excited email from Ron today that read:
    "It's finally an SLSA!!!!!!!!!"
    Congratulations to all the crew at Corbi Air, an established aircraft sales outfit in Salem, OH that's been a family business for more than 50 years.
    The Czech Republic-designed (Direct Fly) Alto was reworked by Ron and Dan to enhance what they called the aircraft's "maintainability," by including features like American-made brakes, bucked rivets replacing pop rivets, an electronic electrical system and a Dynon Skyview...all for $99,995.
    As you can see, the canopy slides forward for easy entry opening in flight. 
    Lots more to share once we get a peak in January.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Propsam and Then Some

    Time to pick up a few notable quotables from the world of LSA.
    Winter is alas now upon us - here in upstate NY, temps in the week ahead will never crack 30.
    So what better way, fellow propheads, than to scan the skies for things to think about as we don our 'kerchiefs and caps for our long winter's nap?

    Doug Stewart
    Life on the Home Front:  Doug Stewart, 2004's CFI of the year, has donated his time to give an underprivileged young man some free flight lessons in a (pre-PiperSport) SportCruiser.  Good on yer, sir!  And not a bad way to be introduced to flight either, eh?
    Downside of the story is a landing accident involved a renter of that very same ship: The nosegear collapsed, totaling the airplane!  Bummer...but it was insured and nobody was seriously hurt, sez Doug.
    photo courtesy Jabiru USA


    He's a Real Everywhere Man:  Our good friend and Light Sport virtuoso Dan Johnson has been a busy boy lately, fleeing the advancing snowflakes of his longtime Minnesota home with bride Randee to take up fulltime snowbird status at none other than Spruce Creek aviation community: lucky dawg.
    Photo courtesy Breezer Aircraft
    Hardworking Dan also did an excellent writeup on a lovely Rans S-19 we saw at the Midwest LSA Expo.  Neither of us recognized the airplane at first due to cowl mods to wrap the custom Jabiru engine power.
    It's in the latest issue of Light Sport and Ultralight Flying, published by another good friend Tracy Knauss, whom I first met as a contributor to his Glider Rider magazine (for hang glider drivers), back at the dawn of time.  Tracy, a man of many talents and master of them all, puts out a very nice book that sport pilots should check out, expecially if you're also interested in ultralight flying.
    Back to Dan: This guy's everywhere!  He also just completed the first organized international flight of a group of LSA to the Bahamas (our own Publisher Mike McMann went on that trip -- I couldn't make it, boo hoo), and Dan also wrote a nice piece for GA News on Able Flight, a volunteer org that helps disabled folks get air time.
    Mike Zidziunias of Breezer Aircraft put the whole Bahamas thing together and it was a big success.

    Photo courtesy Second Chantz
    Second Second Chantz:  Another old friend and longtime light-flight expert, John Dunham, is going strong again with his Second Chantz ballistic recovery system company.  Rather than rehash John's checkerboard career and latest entrepreneurial endeavor, it's all at the link above.
    Check it out: John's company has produced more than 4,000 chutes and he's back in the game running the company after selling it some years ago.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Electric Waiex Makes Maiden Flight

    Followers of these exciting pioneering days of electric-powered aircraft will be happy to know the  all-electric Waiex just made its maiden flight at Wittman Field, home of Oshkosh Airventure -- and Sonex Aircraft.
    John Monnett, head honcho of Sonex, which built the proof-of-concept version of its Waiex kit aircraft as part of its E-Flight Initiative, took the controls for the flight, tasked primarily with breaking out of ground effect to analyze in-flight system performance.
    After landing, John said, "Whew.  It's different!  Lot of power."
    The program started four years ago, and involves the airplane and Sonex's development of its own proprietary motor, battery and speed controller - all vital parts of electric propulsion technology.
    John Monnett, left, and son Jeremy after 1st flight
    Jeremy Monnett, John's son and CEO/General Manager of Sonex, said the company will test the aircraft over the next several months and has already begun design work on the fourth version of the motor and twelfth version of the motor controller, which will be integrated into the current Waiex test bed.
    Sonex has been building popular kit airplanes for decades, including Light Sport-legal designs.  It also produces its own line of supporting aviation products including the AeroVee engine, which powers many of its designs.
    The standard Waiex kit was modified with an E-Flight 54kw brushless DC electric motor, E-Flight electronic motor controller, 14.5kw-hr lithium polymer battery system, E-Flight battery management system, and E-Flight cockpit instrumentation and controls.
    You can keep track of the E-Flight design team’s progress here.  For a video of the historic flight (these are the Wright Brothers days of e-flight, after all), scroll down the page here.