Two recent announcements have aroused spring fever in pilots and they could not be more different.
One comes from Europe. The other was unveiled in Texas. East meets West.
From the East is a flying wing design based on work by Reimar and Walter Horten. While unorthodox to pilots of general aviation designs, the idea has clear appeal that even the U.S. military has used.
From the West, the second new entry is originally a Brazilian creation that will be fully built in Hondo, Texas. The new Colt should be a great fit to those who raise their eyebrows at the Horten wing.
Such diversity is a hallmark of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector that continues to churn out new ideas in many variations. What a great time to be a pilot.
Horten Flying Wing
Old or new? A small number of pilots are familiar with Horten designs — flying wings, aircraft possessing no tail or fuselage structures. These designs go back nearly 100 years, yet many aviators don’t know Horten and have only a sketchy understanding of flying wing stability.
The Horten name has a rich history. As World War II progressed, Germany sought greater advantage as fanatical government leaders pursued their ambitions. The war was dragging on and they needed better fighting equipment.
In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) load over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) at 1,000 kilometers per hour (620 mph) — the so-called “3×1,000 project.”
At the time, no aircraft could meet these goals. Junkers turbojet engines could provide the required speed, but had excessive fuel consumption.
The Horten brothers concluded that a low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals. By reducing drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met. They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber.
The Government Air Ministry approved the Horten proposal. Authorities even felt the aircraft could be useful as a fighter because its estimated top speed was significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft of the day.
Flying wings are lean and make efficient use of the weight of their structure. Those sound like worthy qualifications for any aircraft. With its greater design flexibility allowed by regulation, the Light-Sport Aircraft sector provides an avenue for development of a modern flying wing.
After three years of development, German aircraft manufacturer Horten Aircraft will unveil its prototype flying wing at the Aero Friedrichshafen airshow in Germany on April 11, 2019. The LSA is already undergoing flight testing.
“This aircraft is a highly modern economical two-seat tailless light aircraft without a fuselage,” company officials said.
“Due to its low aerodynamic resistance, the flying wing flies farther and faster than a comparable aircraft with a fuselage,” said Bernhard Mattlener, managing director of the company, which belongs to the Lift Air group. Lift is also the owner of Flight Design and its CT series, plus the Rotorvox luxury gyroplane.
“The design of the airframe makes it easily adaptable for installing new propulsion technologies we anticipate will become available in the future,” he added.
Horten Aircraft plans further developments, such as multi-seat and unmanned versions of the prototype.
The aircraft will be built at the company’s headquarters at Kindel Airfield near Eisenach, Germany, where Lift is headquartered.
At the beginning of the 20th century — in 1910, a mere seven years after the Wrights flew their Kitty Hawk Flyer off the North Carolina sand dunes — Hugo Junkers received a patent for his work on flying wings.
Now, the modern Horten company name honors another visionary aircraft designer, Dr. Ing. Reimar Horten (1915-1994).
“He is regarded as a pioneer in the field of flying wings and made the most significant contributions to the development of the forerunner prototypes,” said Mattlener.
The company is not disclosing any pertinent data about the aircraft or its performance until Aero Friedrichshafen 2019.
Texas Aircraft Colt
In late February, Texas Aircraft Manufacturing invited me to an unveiling ceremony at its new development and production facility at South Texas Regional Airport in Hondo, Texas. As it’s always wonderful to witness the arrival of a new aircraft and sense the excitement and enthusiasm of its developers, I jumped at the opportunity.
Now that they’ve taken off the wraps, I am pleased to offer a first look at the Colt 100.
Our hosts were Texas Aircraft Manufacturing CEO Matheus Grande and company partners Caio Jordão, Diego Jordão, Carlos Barros, and Samantha Almeida.
In his opening remarks Grande said, “Thank you very much for being a part of this special, historic moment. It is our honor to have all of you with us. Today, we are here to celebrate the first important step of this company and we are so very proud to present our new facility to you.”
“Soon we will be launching our new Light-Sport Aircraft into the world market, and we invite all of you to join us at EAA Oshkosh AirVenture in July 2019 for that official introduction,” Grande said.
Barros cut a ceremonial red ribbon officially inaugurating the new building.
“We cannot thank the people of Hondo enough for the loving welcome we have received since coming here,” Barros said. “The leadership and people of Hondo have made this possible. We are proudly genuine sons and daughters of Hondo. We are confident that we will make Hondo deeply proud of us.”
“We are a company with a clear vision and very consistent energy. Our mission is to always keep our values and our solid principles of honesty, integrity, service, love and respect,” Grande stated. “May God give us the reason and humanity to guide us according to His will, so we can really make a difference in this world.”
Founding Texas Aircraft Manufacturing in 2017, Grande, Barros, aircraft designer Caio Jordão, and their team blended new equipment with modern technologies and materials to produce this new-generation LSA, hoping to encourage pilots to achieve their dream of aircraft ownership.
The new Colt 100 will be fully fabricated and assembled at the Hondo airport where many former U.S. military aircraft technicians are available. The Hondo airport was a military field for many years and offers an experienced talent pool, plus qualified suppliers in the area.
Powered by a Rotax 912 swinging a Sterno composite prop, Colt is an all-metal, tricycle gear design based on a previous-generation aircraft that Caio Jordão created at Indústria Paulista de Aeronáutica. While Colt is a fresh take on the configuration, the design brings a successful history to the LSA sector.
Because Colt 100 is just entering its flight test regimen and is completing the ASTM compliance testing and documentation, Texas Aircraft did not release any data about the aircraft.
Below is a video of the unveiling.