SEBRING, Fla. — Paradise Aircraft of Brazil has leased a 5,000-square-foot hangar to launch its US manufacturing and distribution operations at Sebring Regional Airport Dec. 1.
By any number of surveys, the P-51 Mustang is one of the most admired airplanes in the history of aviation. Even though that statement sounds bold — on the verge of exaggeration — most readers will surely agree.
Like most aviators, I’ve never flown in an original P-51, although I have flown in a light kit version called the 5151 and a closer-to-original-size S-51. The Loehle Aviation version was made entirely of wood and had a Rotax two-stroke engine. While it had the right basic shape, it was docile to fly … unlike the immensely powerful original, I’m told. The Stewart Aircraft iteration was bigger and bold, powered by a 450-horsepower Corvette engine.
However, while both were close-enough recreations of the original to be desirable, even a non-pilot could tell they were replicas. I see nothing wrong with that, but is it simply too challenging to make one that looks truly like the original? It turns out the answer is “no.” Someone finally did do so.
“Everything you need and not much else,” is the catchy tagline from aviation entrepreneur Chip Erwin.
With those words, he described the Italian Zigolo, which is based on a design by American Mike Sandlin. (In a sign of our global times, Erwin imports it to both USA and China.) One look at the aircraft and you can see what he is describing. Zigolo has everything you need to go aloft to have some aerial fun and, well … not much else.
A similarly simple but well packaged design is made here in the US of A but has recently made its way overseas to Germany and the European Union. Florida’s Aerolite 103 (Aerolite 120 in Europe to conform to its “120 Class”) also has all a pilot needs to see the countryside.
Planning for the 11th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is in full swing, with new and returning sponsors committing their support to the event and exhibitors finalizing their contracts. Closing date for contracts is Sept. 15.
At AirVenture Oshkosh this year, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) mounted a very visible celebration of Light-Sport or Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft. The exhibit drew dense traffic throughout the week by offering a large cross section of the aircraft types and configurations available since the FAA loosened its control over the process of approving new aircraft for sale to the public. It was the 10th anniversary celebration of Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA).
EAA’s collection of aircraft tells only part of the story of what might be expected in a second decade.
The Italian Groppo Trail is now available in the U.S. The high-wing light-sport or amateur-built kit features tandem seating, all-metal construction, and wings that are foldable in less than five minutes by one person.
The word “legacy” is often used to refer to products that are dominant today but threatened by disruptive influences. Legacy airlines, for example, are today’s largest carriers but ones burdened with aircraft bought earlier and with labor contracts negotiated years ago. Legacy connotes power, but also vulnerability.
The same logic can be applied to general aviation. Cessna and Piper are certainly legacy manufacturers. Decades back both become larger corporations increasingly distant from the original work of Clyde Cessna or William Piper. Others have already succumbed to market forces or have materially changed. Think of Beechcraft or Mooney. Both are quite different organizations from what Walter Beech and Al Mooney once created.
All this reflects normal developments that happen over time. Legacies can be good, even great, but one fact is true: Legacy cannot stand still.
SkyCraft Airplanes has declared to the FAA that its SD-1 Minsiport is compliant with all ASTM regulations for Light-Sport Aircraft one year after publicly announcing it would be producing the airplane ready-to-fly.
SkyCraft now awaits an FAA audit, after which it will be able to make its first aircraft deliveries. The FAA has scheduled SkyCraft’s audit for two months from now, company officials report.
Progressive Aerodyne has opened its newly established sales office in Shanghai, China, to support the sale of Searey light-sport amphibious airplanes.