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?
Even if you have not sought out this company with a long history, the brand may seem familiar and that sense may bring a recent memory of another sort. Yes, it was an Aventura that probably stalled, claiming the lives of two Aero Adventure team members at the 2015 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. Such a severe event deals a body blow to a small company.
Yet owner Alex Rolinski reported that the team has reassessed and regrouped and is forging ahead … certainly as their departed associates would have preferred.
“It made quite an impact on all of us,” said Rolinski. “You can’t plan for that sort of thing. You don’t imagine, ‘What could go wrong and cause such an accident?'”
Following the tragedy, Rolinski, his operations manager Alex Gutierrez, and their associates rolled up their sleeves even higher and dove into their work. Work can be good therapy.
“Over the last year we completely redid the assembly manual,” said Rolinski. He reported that all drawings have made the transition to Solid Works, a high-end computer-aided design program that provides engineers with scalable drawings that can be examined in fine detail to assure better fit and finish of completed kits. Builders also benefit, he noted.
“Our kit build process is better than it’s ever been,” Rolinski said, noting it uses construction of sub-assemblies that build upon one another.
He noted that the kit instructions today are a major improvement from those from earlier producers of the designs, which date back to the Buccaneer.
“We fixed many flaws in the early designs and their assembly instructions,” he said.
Rolinski also stated that all the redesign and Solid Works efforts were done in conformance with ASTM standards for Special Light-Sport Aircraft.
“We may do an SLSA version one day,” he said, noting that meeting ASTM standards now will prove very helpful to that goal. It can also assure buyers of the kit-built present-day versions.
Aero Adventure promotes the Suzuki AM-1300 and the 117-horsepower AM-1500 engines from AeroMomentum (see more about this engine in a video with supplier Mark Kettering).
Full kits with all airframe components, engine, and basic engine instruments provided through an EIS start at $48,700 in early 2015.
“Typical owner-customized models run $55,000-56,000,” added Rolinski. The company is working on a configurator for its website to help prospective customers price exactly what they want.
Rolinski reported that 166 airplanes are flying under the Aventura model name. In 2014, the company delivered a dozen kits and he adds interest is growing.
When I asked about all variations in the airplane, dating back to the earliest Buccaneers, Rolinski said he believes around 1,000 kits have been completed, although he observed prior company records were not as complete as he’d prefer.
An Aventura kit seaplane can do real duty. For example, Tanille DeLair has flown her Aventura — which she named “Juliette” — more than 1,000 hours. A Florida resident, she has often flown her seaplane to and from New York and helped her boyfriend obtain his Sport Pilot certificate in her Aventura. They’ve made several flights over to the Bahamas. Her airplane uses the Rotax 912 and can achieve lift off from water in just six seconds. By any measure, that’s a terrific performance.