Sunday, April 3, 2011

Let There Be Light

After the disastrous tornadic storm that blew through the area last Thursday, Lakeland was blessed with warm, then hot, picture book Florida weather and good crowds, right up through final day Sunday, as the fabulous Blue Angels, a stunning demo by the Air Force F22 Raptor, Patty Wagstaff's always-incredible acro routine, and the Aeroshell T-6 squadron doing its thing: always great to see those (noisy but iconic) big old WWII trainers do such graceful, precision loops and rolls in formation through the sky, leaving billows of white smoke to mark their path.
The One, The Only, The Blue: 100 Years of Naval Aviation
Garmin's new touchscreen GPS
I was a bit under the weather last night so no blog...knew I shouldn't have eaten that chicken...but back at it today to fly with Bill Cox as he previewed Garmin's exciting new GTN touch screen technology.
Then pounding the sneaker rubber to finish up the rounds of the five exhibit hangars and survey new products and gadgets.  I even bought myself some oil-filled insoles to calm my throbbing ends up walking miles and miles at these airshows, unless you can pop $60/day or more to rent a small personal electric cart.
And riding around in those little carts invites derogatory digs from friends, so maybe it's better just to suffer.  Manly honor and all that.
Caught up with Randall Fishman to divine the latest on his ElectraFlyer X two-seat LSA, which didn't make it to the show (and a good thing since the tent it would have been in was destroyed by the wind storm).
We swapped old hang gliding and ultralight stories - like me, he flew several Seagull gliders back in the day - and I met his very first customer, an 87 year old pilot, still current, who bought his first prototype electric trike...which Randall told me now gets up to 1.5 hours of endurance with a 70 lb. battery pack.  I had made a slip in an article I wrote a couple years ago saying the trike had "limited" endurance so let me correct that mistake now, and sorry Randall.
Randall Fishman's ElectraFlyer C
I'll be working on an electric aviation article after Aero finishes in Europe next week.  Exciting developments in the electric aviation field to be sure, so stay tuned.
I also met lots of good people who introduced me to their aviation products.  Photos and links of a few below for you to explore.
I'll have more details in the Sun 'n Fun roundup article I'm doing for the mag.
Kannad's XS4 Personal Locator Beacon

Dave Gustafson models the new Lightspeed Zulu headset

All told, it felt like a three-day show.  My late arrival in the Dakota Cub Super 18 due to weather, the storm, 69 (at last count) damaged airplanes and the cancelled show day made for lots of running around playing catchup.
Some disappointing sales results for several LSA companies, not to mention folks like Lockwood Aviation which lost four display aircraft and Aviat's extensive Huskie losses, put a bit of a damper on the hopes of vendors. I'll survey more companies soon for the overall picture.
Now, assuming the weather doesn't have different ideas, it's about time we had some decent spring and summer flying.
On to Oshkosh.
And Sun 'n Fun 2011 be done: Long Live Sun 'n Fun!

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