Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Light-Sport Chronicles: Prop-Pourri
An “All Things Considered” approach to aviation innovation
• The Bamboo Curtain opens wider as Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce group, is selling LSA and GA aircraft online in its eBay-style auction site, Taobao. Last fall, a Jabiru J160C sold for $170,000. www.taobao.com.
• Old pal Randy Schlitter of Rans Design is finishing up flight testing on his new S-20 Raven taildragger/tricycle gear "convertible" (that takes a few hours). The two-seat kit LSA is a bit of a hybrid of the S-7S Courier and Coyote S-6S, and brings side-by-side seating to the Cub-like format.
• 3-D print your own airplane! A group of pilots and design engineers are working an open source (and crowdfunded) light-aircraft kit that will utilize available components, composite construction, CNC mills and 3-D printers. Projected cost: $15,000! www.makerplane.org.
• Skycraft's new SD-1 Minisport, near ASTM certification as I write, offers something completely different: a single-seat LSA that burns just 1.8 gph, can take ethanol-laced mogas and is insurable, says the company, for less than $20/month. www.skycraftairplanes.com.
• Another kit LSA about to debut as an S-LSA, the SAM LS claims to be spin- proof, using normal control inputs. The greenhouse cockpit-style low-winger is a throwback to classic military trainer designs. www.sam-aircraft.com.
Looking at avionics, dynamo innovator Dynon has a new Pocket Panel addition: the D2 attitude indicator, with Wi-Fi connectivity for viewing GPS flight data on iPad, smartphone and tablet apps.
IFly GPS by Adventure Pilot continues to serve up sophisticated, super low-cost devices, such as its new ADS-B dual-band transceiver, dubbed SkyGuardTWX Vision-Pro. The small unit couples to the iFly 720 display to offer both ADS-B IN and OUT weather and traffic data—at $1,399. www.iflygps.com.
And now one from the heart: The inspiring Able Flight organization continues its good work awarding scholarships to help disabled people achieve their dreams of flight. Headed up by Charles Stites, it recently received a grant from the Wounded Warrior Project to train injured U.S. service members returning from combat as pilots and for other aviation careers. Please consider them for your charitable donations.
This little column is just the tip of the iceberg of what's going on out there in electric and flight innovation. Quoting from Solar Impulse's website: "The ultimate goal...is to express a humanistic vision which devotes a major place to the pioneering spirit, to the questing mind and to innovation in our everyday lives."
Let's raise our glasses to the power of dreams, big and small, wherever you may find them.
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