Sun ‘n Fun is a mixed bag

Another Sun ‘n Fun is history. As always, I look forward to Sun ‘n Fun and Oshkosh each year for many reasons, such as seeing what’s new, catching up with old friends and meeting new aviation people.


Another Sun ‘n Fun is history. As always, I look forward to Sun ‘n Fun and Oshkosh each year for many reasons, such as seeing what’s new, catching up with old friends and meeting new aviation people.

This year Sun ‘n Fun was a mixed bag. Under new products, there were several new aircraft introduced for the Light Sport Aircraft category. I think that these new light airplanes will be fun to fly and may help revitalize general aviation. However, being 6 foot, 5 inches, I had a little trouble trying to get into some of them. I hope someone introduces a sport airplane in a 48 extra long size.

Under new powerplants, Sun ‘n Fun was definitely a mixed bag. The Innodyn turbine group was there with several engines. The concept of a true turboprop engine for under $30,000 is very interesting. An Innodyn turbine-powered RV-4 flew at Oshkosh last year and, according to the company’s reps, engines will be available later this year.

The diesel engine is still alive in general aviation. SMA has produced and sold 22 engines to date. Thielert was also showing its Centurion engine in both 1.7L and 4.0L versions. These are highly supercharged, water-cooled diesel engines that produce 135 hp and 310 hp respectively. Both engines are for certified aircraft and have been in the works for a number of years.

One of the big disappointments was the news concerning the new Honda and Rotax engines ? there was no news. The Honda engine has gone through seven or eight revisions, but now all the parts have returned to the inner workings of Honda with no word of future plans. News on the new Rotax engine was harder to find. All I could find was a rumor that the company had some problems to fix, so it is “”working on it.””

But Sun ‘n Fun is not just about new equipment; it is also about catching up with old friends and meeting other interesting aviation people. Here again this year was a mixed bag. For most people 2005 has been a normal year with a few ups and downs. However, there were a few friends who have gone into other businesses or have passed on. It is hard to face the reality that many of the people in the general aviation community are getting older, and that we are losing a lot of expertise by natural attrition.

But the best part of Sun ‘n Fun is the new people you meet each year. Many of them stop at the booth or attend one of my forums. I always enjoy the quality and number of questions I receive. At most non-aviation shows, the questions are simple: “”how much is it?”” and “”where is the best place to buy it?”” At shows like Sun ‘n Fun, I get quality questions such as “”how does lead in gasoline work?”” On second thought, those simple questions may not be too bad after all.

Ben Visser is an aviation fuels and lubricants expert who spent 33 years with Shell Oil. He has been a private pilot since 1985. You can contact him at Visser@GeneralAviationNews.com.

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