One area of light aircraft flight — Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA), kits, or ultralights — that gets less attention is aerobatics.
“Oh, we can’t encourage that from Sport Pilots,” some lament, but those who say that are not considering one aspect of flight training that also gets less attention than it deserves: Upset recovery training.
Some call it unusual attitude recovery, but the purpose is to prepare for potentially threatening positions where the pilot should promptly execute practiced control actions to restore normal flight.
When I did conventional flight instruction many years ago, we always included spin recovery training, even for the private pilot certificate. In those days, before any student was signed off for a checkride, he or she had likely done full spins to recovery. We thought it made good sense for pilots to at least know how to perform when they find themselves in unusual attitudes.
Built for Aerobatics
The handsome Fusion 212 was not initially conceived as a LSA. It was first built to perform in a Red Bull flight demonstrations series for two years. When that Red Bull pilot retired from performing, the Magnus team wanted to create an aerobatic trainer and, as they said, “Fusion 212 was born.”
Magnus Aircraft in Hungary developed the Fusion 212 as a training aircraft because while having a very strong wing, it also exhibits predictable flight qualities. When I flew it I found the controls brisk but not overly sensitive, a good combination.
I also clearly recall, when maneuvering in the Fusion, that it felt extremely solid. Later I learned that this aircraft uses a single-piece wing (as does the Cirrus SR series). This no doubt aided the tight feel I experienced.
At that time the man in charge of Magnus in the USA was not stressing its aerobatic capability.
In a 2018 article when the Fusion became the newest Special-LSA in the U.S. market, company officials noted: “This low-wing monoplane has a symmetrical wing profile that provides it with superb aerobatic capabilities.”
However, the company also advised: “While the aircraft has aerobatic capabilities … as a Normal Category SLSA aircraft, Fusion 212 is presently limited to a maximum of 60° of bank and a maximum pitch up or down of 30° when operating in the United States.”
In 2021, Magnus in America is employing a different approach and it appears to be working.
The company’s new representative Doma Andreka reveals the Hungarian company is pushing flight school sales when upset recovery training is offered. Fusion certainly looks the part.
Perhaps it was a different (and striking) paint job on the 2021 model I examined at Midwest LSA Expo, held Sept. 9-11 at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport in Illinois, but I was immediately caught by the flatness of the upper wing surface.
Looking at the also-flat underside, I recalled that the Fusion 212 uses a symmetrical airfoil, not uncommon on high performance aerobatic aircraft. Fusion’s span is also tight at just 27.3 feet, plus it employs a dual-taper planform. Fusion’s cruciform tail is placed higher to be in clear air all the time.
As head of Magnus Aircraft’s U.S. operation, Doma is an ideal candidate. He has worked in the factory in Hungary for some years, as head of communications and marketing. As the Hungarian company sought to pursue business in America, the leadership sent Doma to Texas to help Fusion 212 earn its SLSA Special Airworthiness Certificate.
In 2021 alone Doma reported selling seven aircraft and expects to log a couple more before the year ends. That’s a solid start to the refreshed Magnus America enterprise in the USA.
Although this sturdy aircraft may be optimized for aerobatics, it is a comfortable traveling machine as well. Going cross country knowing an aircraft can handle turbulence is reassuring.
As Doma next plans to promote Fusion 212 in the uberactive aviation state of Florida, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more Fusions. And if some of them appear to be upside down…perhaps they are!