Aero Adventure continuing upward

William Lacomba's Aventura II floats in the clear water near Puerto Rico.

Does the Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) world seem somewhat obsessed with seaplanes? Certainly, it appears that’s where a good bit of the most innovative thinking is occurring.

However, to observe that is to focus only on the newest designs, the most innovative of which have yet to hit the market and may be years away. For pilots who want to fly today, Aero Adventure is one of those companies you should keep in mind.

Besides the available-today quality, the DeLand, Florida-based company has a seaplane the rest of us can afford. Can you believe average kit prices in the mid-$50,000s and starting below $49,000? [Read more…]

Sharing the skies with RPAs

DJI's Spreading Wings S-1000 RPA

They fly, so pilots could love Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) [with other terms also used, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and drones.]

Some pilots are already involved with RPAs. However, RPA pilots remain on the ground. Is that the same? Differences have a way of dividing people, even when they may be “birds of a feather.” How do you feel? [Read more…]

LSA market share for 2014

RV12

When government reports unemployment, GPD numbers, or crop yields, they release some information that is invariably changed. Despite best efforts, statistics are often improved later. With that fact in mind, following is our preliminary report for fully-built Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) in calendar year 2014. [Read more…]

Measuring growth in LSA

The Rotax BRP Factory in Austria

As a new year begins, it seems a good time to attempt to measure how the light end of aviation is doing. As 2014 was the 10th anniversary for Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA), it is doubly useful.

We have various ways to assess growth in aviation … pilot starts, new certificates, new airplanes delivered, used aircraft sales, and magazine distributions (also reported at the end of the year), among other methods.

[Read more…]

Phantom’s one man aircraft factory

With New Engine

By BILL WILSON

The phone rings at Phantom Aeronautics in Three Rivers, Michigan. A customer is calling the kit aircraft company with a request. There is a very good chance he or she is also asking about the new 4-cycle engine Phantom is in the midst of testing.

The milling machines, lathes, inventory control and office functions at the factory grind to a halt and the entire focus of all personnel is directed toward handling the caller’s problem. Talk about customer service! Even better is that the caller is guaranteed to be talking to the one person who can answer all questions from personal experience.

That’s because there is only one person in the factory and he is no phantom. Jim Bennett is real and he knows every nut and bolt in the kit he produces, where it goes and what it does. Jim is a one man airplane factory.

[Read more…]

Sebring’s sweet success story

Tecnam_P2008

Let’s be direct and simply pronounce it a success. It only took a decade of hard work. I refer to the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, which this time of year signals the start of a new season of airshows. Every January — for 2015 the dates are Jan. 14-17 — Sebring Regional Airport (KSEF) in Florida hosts the event many simply know as the Sebring Expo.

But the original goal was not about running an event.

The airport authority and its local support group aimed to build up the enterprise of the airport that sits adjacent to — in fact, is owned by — the world-famous Sebring Raceway. When Mike Willingham took over management of the airport well over a decade ago, I recall a slightly shabby, eerily quiet airport that only seemed to bloom once a year during the 62-year-old “12 Hours of Sebring” race.

[Read more…]