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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sebring 2011: Rays Of Hope Ahead?

The planes and people came...and light-sport keeps on truckin’

Touch-Screen EFIS. Levil Aviation’s EFIS-1831 drew a lot of attention in the display booth hangar. Does anybody doubt, with the paradigm shift brought about by Apple’s iPhone and iPad, that touch-screen cockpit displays are the future? This 10.4-inch touch-screen computer ties in all EFIS engine and navigation monitoring functions into one MFD that’s software-customizable.Voy-ager,APIC, Anywhere Map and other navigation programs will run on it just fine. Use it for the Internet, as a PFD, for weather, moving maps, engine data and more—all at the touch of a finger tip. There’s also a smaller AHRS screen (6x3x1.5 inches, 12 ounces) for separate attitude/heading reference and engine monitoring. Contact: www.aviation.levil.com.

Freedom Flight 2011. A very different venture than the LSA tour had a parallel purpose: to raise money. The goal here was to fund scholarships for wounded and disabled veterans who want to learn to fly an LSA. It was set up through Charles Stite’s Able Flight organization and Crowdrise, a web-based donation site. What’s even more commendable: the 2,000-mile round-trip mission was flown by a quadriplegic and a paraplegic in a specially outfitted Sky Arrow tandem LSA from Hansen Air Group—and solely with the pilot’s hands. The two rated sport pilots, Heather Schultz and Sean O’Donnell, are previous scholarship winners. They wanted to pay forward their opportunities, and this is how they chose to do it. Pretty special. Contact: www.ableflight.org.

FK9 ELA. One S-LSA I’ve been wanting to fly and report on (look to an upcoming issue) is this pretty, comfortable, solid-performing cruiser from Poland’s Fk Lightplanes, which has been producing quality microlights overseas for some time. The ELA (the name will probably change to avoid confusion with E-LSA kitplanes) is the fifth version of the popular carbon-fiber airplane, and it’s a real looker, with handsome lines and stable, comfortable handling. A redesigned engine cowl for the Rotax 912 ULS reduces drag and improves cooling: nice trick! New winglets reduce fuel burn and improve stall handling for U.S. LSA requirements. The many options include folding wings and wing or fuselage fuel tanks. Contact: www.hansenairgroup.com.

Alto 100. Vowing at last year’s Sun ’n Fun to deliver an Americanized, and more affordable S-LSA to our shores before a year was out, Ron Corbi and Dan Coffey did just that with this retooled Czech design, which is now S-LSA certified. The idea was a kind of preemptive maintenance approach: Corbi and Coffey hoped to eliminate those things that tend to fail in LSA. American-made Matco wheels and brakes, bucked rivets instead of pop rivets in high-stress areas, a Vertical Power electronic electrical system, Approach Hub avionics wiring and a Dynon SkyView glass panel, all for under $100,000, should bring raised eyebrows and closer looks. Contact: www.corbiair.com.

A/V-ATOR HD GPS Camcorder. I spoke with Light Sport Group’s Dave Kotick about the latest feature of its hot-selling, lightweight, aircraft-mounted HD camera system with GPS data tracking. The unit records in-flight video at 1080p resolution and also records noise-reduced audio for excellent application to flight-training operations, media creation and other applications. The new GPS version encodes speed, altitude and position data along with the video. Software included with the unit lets users play back flights, edit video and share videos online. Data also can easily port over to apps such as Google Earth for mapping flights. A highly useful unit that keeps evolving, for under $600. Contact: www.lightsportgroup.com.

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