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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Capetown Racing

Light-sport floatplane that's a joy to fly

The A-22 was originally created in Ukraine by engineers trained at onetime-Communist airplane behemoth, Antonov. Aeroprakt’s youthful chief designer, Yuri Yakovlev, went from working on the largest airplanes on the planet to some of the smallest.

The Capetown’s composite Waterborne Floats were designed and built by FPNA in Sebring and married to an A-22 that had been strategically beefed up to take the punishment that water operations experience.

Using their own business model and introducing modifications for the American LSA market, FPNA receives some assemblies from Ukraine and builds other major components like the wings and float system. After this integration, FPNA is considered the manufacturer of the Capetown.

FPNA’s Capetown is an all-metal airframe with Ceconite-fabric-covered control surfaces. Its cowls and wingtips are composite. The Capetown’s floats are composite with machined aluminum amphibious gear.

As with the majority of light-sport aircraft, the Capetown is powered by the liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 100 hp Rotax 912. Now with a 2,000-hour TBO, Rotax engines have achieved an enviable reputation for reliability.
The sensation has no match in landplanes. Once you’ve flown a floatplane, you’ll forever look at flying through a new lens.
The Capetown—like its wheeled sibling, the Valor (FPNA’s rebranded version of the A-22)—offers more than massive visibility. Both versions boast one of the largest cockpits in all of light aviation at better than 50 inches wide, 10 inches wider than a Cessna 172. Behind adjustable side-by-side seats, you’ll find a fabric baggage pouch that will let you stow some fishing gear and an overnight bag or two.

As in other light-sport designs, the Capetown and Valor use full-span ailerons, often referred to as flaperons because they offer 10- or 20-degree “droop” positions while still serving their function as ailerons.

My experience with the Capetown revealed responsive slow-speed handling and benign stall characteristics. Low takeoff speeds are great for water-based operations, and handling was fluid if not fast.

I prefer a joystick, but the Capetown’s standard yoke control will be quickly familiar to most GA pilots. An optional center stick can be ordered for those who share my preference. The Valor’s and Capetown’s flap levers are centrally placed overhead.

The Capetown is available as a ready-to-fly aircraft that can be used for commercial flight training or rental (S-LSA), or as a quick-build kit (E-LSA).

Photo Mission
I first flew the A-22 with designer Yuri Yakovlev in Ukraine in 2003 before light-sport was even a term. Back in the U.S., I got a chance in the land version in 2007, and since then, I added an hour or so in the amphibious Capetown. Just recalling the experience triggers another smile.

Labels: Piston Singles


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