AUSTIN, TEXAS, FEBRUARY 12, 2019 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today a customer-built, and flown, Bearhawk 4-Place aircraft took top honors in the premier New Zealand STOL competition. Jonathan Battson, in his Bearhawk NJB, outperformed all entrants with a combined score of 229 feet (74.1 meters), landing plus takeoff.
Battson’s Bearhawk competed in the Heavy Touring Category (greater than 2,550 lb.) at the 2019 STOL competition. The event’s official title is the “Healthy Bastards Bush Pilot Championships” and is held annually at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim, in New Zealand across the Cook Straight from Wellington. This seventh annual competition, run by the Marlborough Aero Club, was held on Saturday, February 2nd.
Battson built his Bearhawk from a quick-build kit in 2013. It is powered by a 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540 with a Hartzell Trailblazer propeller. The Bearhawk won this year’s competition by about a 43-foot margin. “This is our fourth season at the contest, and we’ve worked hard to get the best out of the pilot and plane,” said Battson. The trophy has been in his field of vision for some time. In 2014, Battson took 3rd place at Omaka. STOL modifications to NJB include 31-inch Alaskan Bushwheels, vortex generators by Stolspeed, and Hoerner wingtips.
Worldwide, similar STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) competitions pit specialized aircraft head-to-head. STOL aircraft are designed uniquely for backcountry flying where landing on unimproved strips, and in often difficult conditions, requires short takeoff and landing capabilities. Pilot skill also plays a major role in operating these aircraft in such environments.
Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality quick-build aircraft kits for the Bearhawk 4-Place, and two-place tandem Bearhawk Patrol and Bearhawk LSA. Designed by engineer Bob Barrows, the Bearhawks have in common excellent performance and superb flying characteristics. Bearhawks are known for their short field capability, higher than expected cruise speeds, and very gentle slow speed manners. For utility and recreational use, customers around the world fly Bearhawk aircraft.
For more information on Bearhawk Aircraft, visit www.bearhawkaircraft.com, or contact Bearhawk at email@example.com or 1-877-528-4776.
It was at AirVenture 2017 when discussions about an engine swap on a Jabiru-powered Legend Cub took place between myself, Darin Hart, owner of American Legend Aircraft Company, and aircraft builder/owner/operator Rand Siegfried. One year later, I followed up with Rand about “Mickey’s Cub,” nicknamed Ziggy, and its 180-horsepower Titan installation. His reply: “Fantastic! Runs wonderfully, performs amazingly. Only thing wrong is that she is still in Illinois. We have been moving and didn’t have a hangar out here. Planning on some backcountry work next season, stay tuned!”
Rand built the Legend Cub at the company’s facilities in Sulphur Springs, Texas back in 2008 with his daughter McKinley. They took part in the factory’s KwikBild program. While a gift for “Mickey’s” 16th birthday, Ziggy has been flown by many members of the Siegfried flying family.
I was curious of the whereabouts of Ziggy and suggested a new photo shoot with its plumped-up engine cowling. The Titan engine is a derivative of the Lycoming O-360. Its four flat-set cylinders deliver an additional 60 horsepower over the formerly installed, and narrower, 6-cylinder Jabiru block.
Rand provided an incisive synopsis of the engine swap effort: “At Oshkosh a while ago, Darin told me that I’d love the performance of the Titan in a Legend, ‘It is spectacular,’ he said. Our Jabiru powered kit-built Legend, Ziggy, was ready for a change, so I called to ask if we could buy a full firewall forward kit. The answer was something like this: ‘Well we don’t really have a kit, but we could probably make up some parts for you, but you’d be doing a lot.’
“During a subsequent call he was obviously thinking as he went along. Legend had never mated their Titan cowling to the Jabiru boot cowl and firewall, so although he didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t fit, there may be some mating issues and building to do as the boot cowl and firewall are a different shape. He then thought about the elevator, more specifically that they have always had a balanced Super Cub style horizontal stabilizer mounted with the Titan and cautioned there might be some issues there. We agreed that since Ziggy is Experimental and as long as I was aware, the evaluation flights should be fine. If there was an issue, I could do something then.”
Mindful that the Siegfrieds had been more than pleased with their amateur-built Legend Cub for many years, the need for speed, in a metaphorical sense, was but one of the reasons a change was necessary. A Cub’s wing will only go so fast, but the excess power of the Titan is stunning on takeoffs and climb to altitude. The gentle nature of the Cub and its balanced flying surfaces provide pleasantly slow approaches and landings.
Rand continued in detail on the project, “A complicating factor for me was that the aircraft was located in Oshkosh, I live in California and we needed a new engine prior to Ziggy flying. We dismissed dismantling her and trucking as she has a beautiful Legend paint job and no matter how careful, there always seems to be some damage doing this. My dad, Old Bob, mentioned that they used to pull the prop off of Cubs, attach a tow hook and tow them with another Cub. This sounded like a grand adventure with my family especially as we are all glider rated and have worked as tow pilots. I also found an Oshkosh hangar that was available to work in and, being that I have been involved with the EAA on a volunteer basis for over 20 years, I know a lot of local folks who volunteered to support the effort with tools, etc. Practicality won out and we decided to do the swap in Oshkosh.
“First we had to gather the material from Legend and other vendors. The guys at Legend put together most of what we needed for a firewall forward install. At that time, the Titan was a new installation for Legend. They were still improving something with each new install and Ziggy had the Jabiru firewall/boot cowl to complicate the effort. It worked out that I could swing by Sulphur Springs to pick up the ‘kit.’ There, I was able to review and photograph some existing installations and, more importantly, talk to the folks who were developing the installation. This proved to be well worth any additional expense as I am sure that it shaved a bunch of time off the install.
“The kit consisted of an engine mount, untrimmed carbon cowling pieces, an exhaust system, hardware, control cables, etc. and some roughed out aluminum for the baffling and plenum. I purchased the Titan engine and Cato propeller separately as Legend could not get any better price.”
As I’ve mentioned, the Siegfrieds are a family of flyers, and adventurers. Their presence at AirVenture Oshkosh is a longstanding annual event and a reunion. In 2018, while attempting to track down Rand for more on the story, he was sailing to Nuku Hiva in the middle of the Pacific with his son. Then, back in the U.S., I caught him trailering to Wyoming for hiking and, later, making multiple flights to Wisconsin in preparation for the Oshkosh family gathering.
Rand filled in with more details from a year prior, “Once we got to Oshkosh with the Legend package it was time to strip Ziggy of everything firewall forward. By the end of the day we were bolting on the engine mount. It felt good to be moving forward with the new engine. My brother, Bob, had recently retired and was able to take the time to be up there and help. It would have taken much longer without him.
“We spent some time trying the get the engine in just the right place with an engine hoist and, in the end, we were glad it weighs only 250 pounds as we were able to lift it into the final position. Here is where patience really helps as you don’t want to force anything, but at times you have to push pretty hard. I was glad to have Bob helping as he never pushed to get it done, and rushing may have led to tweaking something wrong. Once the engine was in final position, then came positioning and mounting the cowl.
“Here is where we get to put the ‘experimental’ into the amateur built category as this engine cowling had never been mated with this firewall and boot cowling. A trip to Harbor Freight (one of many) yielded a multitude of clamps. The carbon-fiber cowl has the nose bowl molded in and is split top and bottom with two large side doors, a la Super Cub. I drilled and mounted the top and bottom half together and started laying it on the engine. It felt good to see it looking like an airplane, but daunting as I had to get it straight to have it look right in the end. I started with the prop shaft and centered the nose bowl on and behind the propeller flange. Clamping temporary bars on to the engine/flange helped to keep the nose bowl in place.
“Next came fitting the aft edge to the existing boot cowl, again with clamps and temporary stand-offs. I spent plenty of time measuring closely and then taking several steps back to review how it looked visually and making small adjustments. When I thought it was right, I took a coffee break and bothered some of the EAA mechanics with questions about their projects. When I returned, I did the same process all over again. Once I was satisfied I grabbed my roll of painter’s tape and applied it edge to edge and then cut along the edge of the tape. This proved to be a fast and easy way to get a straight edge where I wanted it.
“Next came the mounting. After making up four small brackets, I clamped them onto the cowling and marked where they landed on the firewall. Soon we had the cowling mounted and were ready to position the doors. I clamped them on and used the tape to lay out the first edge where the hinge would go on the top. After making that cut and mounting the hinge, the rest of the trimming went well. The only trick left was to position the quarter-turn fasteners along the bottom. I was able to mount the receptacles where I wanted them, close the door and use a pick to transfer the position to the door. None of this was hard, but I took my time so that it came out looking right.
“My brother was busy researching the electrical system differences and, especially, what would be required to support the new Light Speed Engineering electronic ignition. I did pull him away many times to take a look at the cowl fit. There was a good bit of rewiring required to support the change from the Jabiru electrical system to the more conventional system used with the Titan. The installation of the electronic ignition system was well documented, but there were a number of new components to find places for and some choices to be made to minimize any potential single-point failure modes. A few calls to Light Speed quickly addressed the questions that we had. I am very glad that Bob was there to work through this as he was better suited to it than I.
“The ignition power and control boxes were all to be mounted in the cockpit area, along with additional circuit breakers, switches and indicator lights. Bob was able to do all that while I continued in the engine compartment without us getting in each other’s way. Between the ignition and engine installs, daily shipments were arriving from McMaster-Carr, Aircraft Spruce and other suppliers.
“The engine baffles were the next project I tackled. There were several flat pieces that were blanked out from Legend that I spent some time piecing onto the engine to figure out where they fit. The Legend guys really wanted me to truck Ziggy to their factory as they told me they would have raw pieces, not a kit and no documentation. It was a fun part of the project, kind of like a puzzle made much easier by the photos I took of aircraft at Legend. Soon I had the blanks figured out, and rough dimensions of what aluminum I would need to complete the project.
“Luckily I had access to brakes, a shear and even a roller for the cylinder baffles. Once started, the work went surprisingly fast. I was able to squeeze all of the rivets by thinking through the sequence of setting them and having access to a very deep squeezer. What slowed me down were the parts I had to design for the front of the cowl which directed air from the cowl openings into the plenum. This required figuring out how to support the pieces and many trial fits. I had to remove the cowl to get everything in and out, so it was not fast. In the end, I think I got a pretty good fit and the silicon baffle material has laid down well without getting ‘punched through’ by the air pressure in flight.
“With the cowl fitted and the baffles in place it seemed like we would be flying in no time. As it turned out, we still had all those little things like fuel lines, control cables, oil cooler, engine monitoring probes, electrical, and ignition to finish. All of this took a good bit of head scratching as everything was different than the Jabiru. Bob was busy wiring on the new ignition when my other brother, Rick, headed up for some EAA Warbird meetings and had some free time. We put him on the job of mounting the ignition power units in the cabin.
“During this time the EAA’s Ford Trimotor crew was doing their training in Oshkosh. Since we had beer, they all came over after meetings and had a look. We were deep into routing the throttle cable which was not obvious (made more so with Jabiru battery placement, etc.). As you might imagine, there were many opinions on how to do this, some emphatic suggestions, and finally the one and only correct conclusion, marked on the firewall with a sharpie. I listened intently, absorbed the knowledge, and in the morning did just what I was going to do before this hops-fueled design session. It was great fun, and all had good ideas and experience to learn from. As it turned out, I ended up rerouting the cable later after seeing a later Legend install at Oshkosh. The ‘turns’ in the cable are now in the engine compartment instead of the cabin which is much cleaner, and something none of us suggested that evening.
“The FAA approval was straight forward. I very carefully read my operations specifications and, after the third reading, I realized that a major change required me to submit an updated ops spec to the FAA. With that completed, we were ready to move on.
“By plugging away at one system hook-up at a time these many tasks were soon done, and it was time to fire up the engine. We couldn’t believe how quickly she made great airplane sounds with that hot spark from the Light Speed ignition. We had decided not to install a priming system and that has proved to be a good call with this ignition, as she starts immediately.
“After ground runs and checks, it was time to fly. Boy the acceleration with 180 horses and the Cato prop was really something else followed by amazing climb. The weight and balance ended up about 100 pounds heavier and at the forward limit. I mounted a tool kit in the tail and have small brakes to keep the nose off the ground. The fuel flows at full power seemed less than what you would expect out of 180-hp, which led to higher cylinder temps than we wanted at high power settings. Darin at Legend finally figured out that the engine from Titan was spec’d with a size smaller carburetor than needed. After the carb swap, the installation has worked excellently.”
While an engine swap may be one of the most complex of all aircraft upgrade projects, it’s more common than one might think. The classic Cub is commonly recognized by its emphatically harmonious sounding Continental engine. Alternatives were tried, including Franklin, Lycoming and a 3-cylinder radial Lenape. The Legend Cub has traditionally sported a 100-hp Continental and it’s been fitted with 115-hp Lycomings, 120-hp Jabiru, and now the 180-hp Titan engines. Bigger is better seems to be the operative.
Rand summarized his delight with the changeover, “Ziggy, with the small, J3-size tail and large engine flies just fine. She is controllable throughout. Although I do feel I’d like a little more nose up control authority, I have flown other aircraft with less. I would like some more up trim and intend to change the incidence of the elevator when she is back in California.
“After flying her 30+ hours with some cross country all I can say is that Ziggy is great fun again. I flew from Illinois to Rogers, Arkansas and then on to Alpine, Wyoming. During that trip it seems I was getting at least 10 mph more true airspeed on the same fuel compared to the Jabiru. Having a mixture control sure helps, as does the Cato prop. Next spring I’ll bring her back to California and do the final finish work and paint on the cowl so she is pretty again.
“As I think back to the install, I feel it went very well. One thing I might do differently is figure out how to route the mixture control to the left side. Since the Jabiru did not have one, we had to install one. The most straight forward installation was on the right side of the panel. I find myself hitting it with my feet as I swing my legs into the cockpit (60-year-old legs don’t bend the same as they used to).
“My takeaways are those which working on aircraft keep reminding you. Take the time at the beginning to really think things through. It helps speed the project up. Having my brother Bob there to do the electrical install was invaluable. It is good to recruit help to fill in where your skills are weaker. In conclusion, this was a fun project that ended up taking two trips, each a bit more than a week of long days. Not being at home, we were able to spend full time on the project with few distractions. There were times when I missed some tools we have at home, but the support from the folks at Oshkosh was fantastic. Now I can’t wait to fly this beast, the performance is spectacular.”
American Legend Aircraft Company official logo items are now available in the VoloFly Collection on Etsy. Customized and volume production is also available, contact Connect Communications at 210.695.6905 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In building your business, keep in mind the opposing forces of Creation and Construction. While construction is fixation on the end game, creation is about how you play the game. Success will depend on both.
The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists, as the mother can love the unborn child.
Looking back in anger, or forward in fear, you’re sure to miss the awareness around. Try instead, living in the moment.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past, which I often did not fully enjoy because I was comparing them with other moments of the future. – Andre Gide
When we can’t access our inner resources, we come to the flawed conclusion that happiness and fulfillment come only from external events. That’s because external events usually bring with them some sort of change. And so we’ve learned to rely on circumstances outside ourselves for forward or backward momentum as we hurtle through life. But we don’t have to do that any longer. We can learn to be the catalysts for our own change. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
AUSTIN, TEXAS, OCTOBER 22, 2018 – Bearhawk Aircraft announced today the first flights of two Bearhawk Patrol aircraft built by customers from Quick-Build kits. Owner/builders Scott French of Iowa and an Australian threesome comprising Alan Arthur, Doug Harrington and Avon Furphy have completed, certified and flown their Bearhawk Patrols in September 2018.
A Bearhawk Patrol, VH-TUC, made its first flight in Perth Australia last month. This aircraft joins two other Patrols currently flying in Australia. “Another in Perth was built from a Quick-Build kit. There is also scratch-built Patrol flying in New South Wales, Australia,” according to Mark Goldberg, president of AviPro who manufactures Bearhawk kits. VH-TUC is powered by a Mazda rotary engine.
A second Bearhawk Patrol, N862SC built by Scott French, flew for the first time in Iowa last month. This aircraft was partly fabricated from scratch and kitted assemblies. Bearhawk Aircraft plans are available from designer Bob Barrows. N862SC is powered by a more customary Lycoming O-360 engine assembled by Superior Air Parts.
“The latest Perth Patrol was built from our Quick-Build kit,” Goldberg added. “One of the builders had many years’ experience racing Mazda rotary powered cars, so they went with the Mazda rotary engine and an IVOPROP propeller.”
Alan Arthur of the Patrol builders’ threesome in Perth, told of the story behind the VH-TUC registration and its Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds name: “Narrogin Gliding Club (of south west Western Australia) has a Piper Pawnee tow plane with the registration VH-TUG [as in tugboat / tow plane]. When it came time to pick a registration TUC was available. So, with no other preferences, other than it is easy to say in the circuit calls, we picked that one. One of the girls in the gliding club that I am associated with came over to look at the aircraft in the early stages of the build. She has a practice of naming everything and said to me, ‘She looks like a Lucy.’ We all said okay, but it has to have a subtitle. Reminded of the Beatles hit Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, all of the partners agreed.”
The Perth Patrol has an extended exhaust system and it is very effective according to Alan, “All the noise now comes from the prop and gearbox; and not much of that. Mazda Rotary engines have a reputation for being very noisy and it certainly was when we first ran it up with only a small homemade muffler. Desperate action was called for, so I ordered a custom 3-inch racing exhaust system for a Mazda RX-7 from Racing Beat in the U.S.
“The Mazda engine is water cooled with a large radiator each side of the engine and an oil cooler in the top scoop. Rotomotion Engineering of Perth did the engine build and provided lots of advice. It is a bit different than their usual street racer customer.” Target horsepower is 210-240 which the builders are working on by more tuning. The engine spins an IVOPROP 76” Magnum three bladed propeller that is ground adjustable.
“Scott French, the builder in Iowa, built his Patrol mostly from scratch but using finished wing spars and ribs ordered through AviPro,” informed Goldberg. “Scott had previously finished a plans-built Storch replica which he described as a difficult build in comparison. He flies off his 1500-foot grass strip.”
McElhoe Best Homebuilt Award at Blakesburg
Bruce McElhoe won best homebuilt at the recent Blakesburg Fly-in for his Bearhawk LSA. Bruce’s Bearhawk LSA was the first customer-built aircraft of the Bob Barrow’s design. En route to Iowa, Bruce stopped at Mark Goldberg’s Texas ranch/strip. “I built my Bearhawk LSA from an AviPro kit. I covered the fuselage with Poly-Fiber, and installed a new Continental O-200A,” stated Bruce. “With paint on my clothes, skinned knuckles and a big grin, I finished the job in three and one-half years. Empty weight was a satisfying 821 pounds.
“After 50 hours of flying locally, I decided to try a 5,000-mile trip from California to the Midwest. My favorite fly-in is the Antique Airplane Association event in Blakesburg, Iowa. In addition to antiques, they welcome homebuilts, especially the old-time high-wing style of the Bearhawk. Apparently, the members judging liked my airplane and awarded a trophy for Grand Champion Homebuilt. The Bearhawk performed and handled wonderfully. Average speed was 110 mph. Fuel burn was six GPH. Of course, I could have reduced my fuel burn by flying slower, but chose not to. I especially enjoyed landing on grass runways. We have so few of them in California.”
Bearhawk Aircraft manufactures high quality Quick-Build aircraft kits for the Bearhawk 4-Place, and two-place tandem Bearhawk Patrol and Bearhawk LSA. Designed by engineer Bob Barrows, the Bearhawks have in common excellent performance and superb flying characteristics. Bearhawks are known for their short field capability, higher than expected cruise speeds, and very gentle slow speed manners. For utility and recreational use, customers around the world fly Bearhawk aircraft.
Being away from the big shows for months on end, I recently pondered the increasingly popular pastime of collecting warbird aircraft. What’s the big appeal? Then deliberating further on the replicas and remakes I stumbled on 2017 and 2015, I asked where have all the modern warbirds gone?
It was 18 months ago I last visited AERO Friedrichshafen. There, in the Old World I was surprised to see the same fascination for vintage aircraft that Americans embrace in the New World. Observing up close many European takes on the warbird I detected life left in the aero combat veterans and their impersonations. Is the warbird story still remarkable today, in a world of adrenaline obsessed and digitally consumed aviators?
Gen-Z Aviation Convenes in the Old World – A Rebooted Report from AERO Friedrichshafen
The main event in the Old World for people in aviation is the annual gathering on the shores of Lake Constance in the south German Burg of Friedrichshafen. It’s called simply AERO and is the one European show all about all facets of aviation. AERO gathers the continents’s boldest and the brightest, and if aviation is resolute in reaching people, ordinary people who dream, here they can discover and enjoy flying from its base to its boundaries of speed and attitude.
At any aviation event these days, whether focused on commercial flight, showcasing military hardware, or exhibiting the best of recreational flying, one is likely to find vintage aircraft and the mother of all collectible aircraft, Warbirds. These standouts add an indispensable vigor to the ambiance of being or knowing a pilot. AERO invariably obliges in putting these once volitant veterans in the spotlight.
Held since 2002 at Messe Friedrichshafen (see blockquote), AERO has showcased the exhibits of hundreds of airplane manufacturers and multitudes of suppliers. The show has become an essential stopover for aviators on the Old World side of the Atlantic. While not alone, and vigorously attempting to keep pace with big events such as AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun, there are stores of vintage aircraft and warbirds to be seen at AERO if one keeps their compass pointed and calibrated.
Messe Friedrichshafen is a stylistically and functionally modern airport-based expo center. It offers a charming ambience amid profuse natural lighting. The indoor exhibit space is large, accommodating events over 900,000 square feet—on par with a show the size of NBAA’s annual convention.
While the 12 grand halls of Messe are divided among categories of aircraft, finding vintage aircraft and warbirds at AERO is surprisingly simple. They stand out. This is after all why we love them.
Before chronicling the warbirds spotted at prior AERO shows, it’s important to remember that here in the Old World, Germany in particular, is where aviation’s greatest expansion took place—one charged with innovation and development. Aviation literally took off and accelerated, in large part, on the WWI and WWII stages of Europe. It then played out worldwide on a massive scale.
On the experimental side of European aircraft design, several manufacturers have introduced relic aircraft as offerings in the unbelievably slight ultralight class. For example, the UL-39 Albi, JH Corsair, and Stampe SV4-RS each borrow from the namesake and likeness of their predecessors. The recreations are astounding and each of these builds drew steady crowds at AERO.
A typical AERO show designates four or more halls of the event to the rapidly growing segment of aviation in Europe that includes Ultralight (UL, called microlight in some countries), Very Light Aircraft (VLA), and Light Sport Aeroplanes (LSA, the European equivalent to America’s Light-Sport Aircraft). Here again is where much of the innovation in European aviation is taking place. It is happening due to simpler licensing requirements. The light aircraft pilot community is henceforth growing decidedly faster than the private pilot licensing (PPL) segment. And within this class—where pilots still dream—one finds a fascination for vintage aircraft, warbirds and their replicas.
Warbirds as Ultralights
The Aero L-39 Albatros is a military jet trainer still being built today in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody. It dates back to the 1960s when Czechoslovakia still existed, under communist rule. The Albatros is said to be the most widely used jet trainer in the world. In addition to serving as a basic and advanced pilot training platform, it has flown in light-attack combat missions.
Despite a number of notable crashes, the L-39 remains popular among collectors. Many former military specimens have been sold publicly. Specialized flight schools offer training in the jet. Since 2004, the Defense/MRO Division of Aero Vodochody performs demilitarization of these aircraft, supports civil registration and certification, offers life extension programs, crew training, logistics, inspections and other expertise.
In contrast, or perhaps sameness, the UL-39 Albi is a svelte carbon-composite clone with a non-conventional “jet-drive” powerplant. Albi is offered by SkyLeader Aircraft also of the Czech Republic. The aircraft’s BMW S1000RR engine is a power bike derivative whereby a reciprocating internal combustion engine drives a fan. Thus equipped, the UL-39 flies with around 193 hp (142 kW). A completely new airplane concept, conceived by the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Czech Technical University Prague, proposes to offer the properties of a jet airplane in the ultralight category.
Construction of the UL-39 is compliant to CS-VLA (an EASA Certification Specification for Very Light Aircraft). According to Radek Filip of SkyLeader, “The UL-39 Albi is a longtime project. One prototype was built three years ago. At this time, we are developing a second prototype with a better engine and modification of the fuselage and wings. V(ne) will be more than 350 km/h [189 knots] and cruise speed will be around 320 km/h [173 knots].” Expectations are for the aircraft to be finished in 2020, and the airplane ready for sale.
Another warbird replica in the ultralight class is the JH Corsair by JH Aircraft. It offers an example of experimenting in lightweight construction with recognizable styling on the exterior. In outward appearance, this aircraft resembles the Vought F4U Corsair, an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War.
Original F4U Corsairs were in high demand following their debut. They were built by three different manufacturers over an 11-year run, the longest production run of any piston-engine fighter aircraft in U.S. history. More than 12,500 examples of the F4U were built, comprising 16 separate variants. Countries operating the Corsair included Argentina, El Salvador, France, Honduras, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. An estimated 45 F4U aircraft are now privately owned in the U.S.
Today’s JH Corsair complies with the SSDR (Single Seat De-Regulated) microlight initiative in the UK and the FAA’s FAR Part 103 ultralight class. Target design weight is an unbelievably low 254 lbs. (120 kg.) empty.
During the Second World War, Stampe et Vertongen built the SV.4 as a trainer and touring airplane. However, only 35 of were built before the company was closed. After the war, a further 65 aircraft were built as trainers for the Belgian Air Force. Later, under license, the SV.4C was built in France and French Algeria where a combined total of 940 aircraft were completed. It was widely used by French military units as a primary trainer and many SV.4 examples served in French aero clubs then later sold in the UK and other countries.
Today, the highly prized SV.4 is available in replica form as the Stampe SV4-RS. Working off original drawings to maintain a 1:1 airframe scale, the Stampe SV4-RS was developed from scratch by Ultralight Concept of Belgium. The SV4-RS is significantly lighter at 290 kg, versus 560 kg previously. Four engine options are offered. Approvals of the SV4-RS have been granted in Belgium, Germany and France with six aircraft presently flying.
If a true warbird is what one treasures, at least one firm is producing replicas for the nostalgia-minded private pilot. The original Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann served as a basic trainer in Germany and first flew in April 1934. The all new T-131 PA Jungmann is being built today by parts supplier Air Res Aviation of Poland. It is intended as a recreational flivver, and a bonus logbook entry for those who perform training in it.
The Bü 131 Jungmann was used by the Luftwaffe during World War II. Sturdy and agile, it was first delivered to the Deutscher Luftsportverband (German Air Sports Association) and operated in nearly all the Luftwaffe’s primary flying schools. Production licenses were granted to Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Japan. Current owners and pilots prize the Bü 131 for its outstanding handling characteristics when compared to other antique biplanes and even more modern aerobatic types.
Promoting their T-131 Jungmann, Air Res Aviation brought its “brand new aircraft with historical origin” to AERO in 2017. The company built two replicas from scratch using original technical drawings and documentation from 1937. According to Michał Malinowski of Air Res, “A few elements have been changed to achieve better performance.” The T-131 Jungmann is available as a kit on the company’s website with a selection of engines and a variety of options.
Malinowski added recently, “The status of the project is simple: ongoing. We have built five T-131 Jungmanns so far. Three of them were delivered to our customers in Germany and are flying. Two remaining Jungmanns are staying in our hangar. One is just about to see the final flight check as we received the first of two ordered LOM manufactured M332AK engines.”
While today’s trade shows are populated with replicas and remans of warbirds, one can also find true gems of aviation history. Chem-Tools, a German maker of cleaning products for cars, airplanes, motorcycles and boats, had its branded T-28B Trojan at AERO.
The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engine military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s. Besides being used as a trainer, the T-28 was employed as a counter-insurgency aircraft, primarily during the Vietnam War. Though first adopted by the U.S. Air Force, the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard also used these aircraft well into the early 1980s.
The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan has endured in civilian use as an aerobatics and warbird performer. Many T-28 examples are on display throughout the world. In addition, a considerable number exist in private ownership.
Warbirds in Cloak Only
Sometimes warbirds and vintage aircraft only feign authenticity. Modern construction and lightweight materials have given way to bulletproof designs of the past. These new warbirds subsist on inspiration and the predisposition of their predecessors.
The Viper SD-4 is one such example. A two-seat microlight and LSA from Tomark of the Slovak Republic (the other half of the former Czechoslovakia), this aircraft looks conspicuously a lot like a great number of other modern constructions. However, the Viper SD-4 is all-metal while many similar looking aircraft are constructed of polymer and fiber composites. The Viper SD-4 is sleek, and painted in gray it resembles a warbird. With a single propeller, it’s being positioned as warbird trainer.
Blackshape based in Monopoli, at the heel of Italy’s boot, unveiled its high performance two-seat carbon fiber Blackshape BK 160 Gabriel at AERO in 2017. It too is said to be for military training and leisure aviation—a unique combination that makes sense given its sexy appeal. The Blackshape BK 100 Prime had been on the market since 2011. Company CEO Angelo Petrosillo said, “More than 60 units have been sold and are flying in over 27 countries.”
The Blackshape models derived from a Giuseppe Vidor design, the Asso X Jewel. Originally a wood concept aircraft, it later surfaced as the Millennium Master, a carbon fiber product of the University of Turin’s Department of Aerostructures. While the BK 100 Prime is marketed in Italy and other parts of Europe, in the U.S. it appears as the Tarragon (as reported by Kitplanes magazine), yet another design variation by CFM Air of Italy and Pelegrin of Latvia.
Warbirds on the Bodensee
AERO takes place mostly inside the halls and courtyards of Messe. While adjacent to Bodensee-Airport Friedrichshafen (IATA code FDH), the airfield is generally limited to arrivals and departures during the show. Though access remains closed, one may find warbirds alongside the active taxiway Bravo and even vintage aircraft in the camping area situated on the airfield. This differs greatly from the general openness of Lakeland Linder Field during Sun ‘n Fun or Wittman Regional Airport during AirVenture Oshkosh. Despite the separation between exhibition center and airfield, flying in in one’s own plane is very practical and growing in popularity.
Pleasure flights at AERO are likewise limited. Around-the-patch and demo flights are simply not part of the AERO experience. A daytime airshow is a relatively new addition. Taking a ride in a B-17 or B-29, or perhaps a Focke-Wulf or Heinkel, is not part of the AERO experience. The one notable exception, however, is the Zeppelin airship. (see blockquote)
The Zeppelin is a timeless aircraft that seems locked in its origins. It’s an aircraft that never fully developed a purpose despite the grand expectations it promised. Today it is a spectacle, an observation platform for ground gawkers and patrons who ride in it.
Housed in a large hangar at the airfield’s center, the Zeppelin makes frequent roundtrips allowing passengers a unique tour of the neighboring Alpine region. Flights range from half an hour to two hours with fares priced from €215 to €810.
A requisite sojourn during deployment at AERO is a visit the outstanding aviation-themed, the Zeppelin Museum situated on the waterfront of Lake Constance. The museum is located in a repurposed Bauhaus-era train station building. It houses a collection and chronicled history of, you guessed it, Zeppelin airships. It’s a large space featuring a walk-in section of an airship. The waterfront setting, historic building and exhibits contained within are a thumbs-up and should appeal to all visitors.
Count Zeppelin, as he is commonly referred to, was Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin, a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He was a scion (descendant) of a noble family, hence bearing title of “Count.” His story along with stories of his airships are fascinating. Perhaps this is especially true given that these great aircraft are generally relegated as things of a past era.
The flying Zeppelin resides in the itular hangar next to Messe on the airfield. There, it was accompanied at a gala event at the start of AERO 2017 by another vintage empress, the Rimowa-Junkers F13. These two remarkable aircraft reinforce the grandeur of airships and full-metal aircraft representing innovation and development in aviation.
Despite the luxury of abundant indoor space, some exhibitors set up outdoors at AERO. The first Rimowa-Junkers F13, produced by luggage maker Rimowa, was positioned between Messe and the Zeppelin hangar. This newly constructed F13 is a meticulously accurate replica of the 1920s all metal German passenger aircraft.
Historically fascinating, the F13 project was launched after the Armistice of Compiègne in 1918. The idea was to construct a passenger airplane to link countries peacefully, thereby precluding any possibility of future war. Fledgling airlines worldwide adopted it. The F13 succeeded in reducing long distances and production went on for 14 years.
Rimowa continues the tradition of peacemaker today both with the F13 replica and its line of suitcase products which resemble the corrugated wing and fuselage skins of the aircraft. The Rimowa-Junkers F13 was undergoing flight testing in Switzerland in 2017, when it made an appearance at AERO. It is expected to eventually make is way to the U.S. For true aficionados of craftsmanship and durability, Rimowa has announced the anticipated manufacture of a limited number F13 replicas.
A Dornier Dowry
A trip to AERO and Friedrichshafen would not be complete without a stop at the Dornier Museum. It sits opposite the runway from Messe, though on the same side as the commercial air terminal. Like Count Zeppelin, the name Claude Dornier is synonymous with aviation in Germany.
Dornier Flugzeugwerke created many civil and military aircraft including the astrologically named Comet and Mercury, the aquatic monikered Whale (a flying boat), and the telluric Flying Pencil. The company would go on to form many commercial partnerships with other aviation and space related interests, including U.S. firm Fairchild Aircraft. In true German form, the Dornier Museum does a meticulous job of chronicling the research, development and eventual production of many Dornier designs.
The Electrifying Evolution of Siemens
At AERO 2017 & 2018, Siemens presented the hybrid-electric Magnus eFusion, a unique electric powered aerobatic trainer with a diesel engine for recharging batteries while in flight. The aircraft was specially designed for UL, VLA and LSA markets and built by Magnus Aircraft in Hungary. Siemens is a storied company, one which includes an aviation past. The Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII was a bomber aircraft designed and built in Germany from 1916. Six 300-horsepower piston engines powered the massive biplane measuring over 150 feet in wingspan.
In 2017, the eFusion was displayed alongside the world speed record setting Extra 330LE, also powered by a Siemens electric motor. The prototype eFusion, and its two occupants, were lost is a crash in Hungary in May 2018. One month later, Magnus introduced the Fusion 212, a FAA approved S-LSA powered by a choice of three 100-horsepower engines from Rotax and UL Power. The composite fuselage Fusion 212 promises cruise speeds of up to 130 knots and was designed for aerobatics, stressed to -3/+6g, with its large control surfaces.
Vintage Aerobatic Aircraft
A pair of celebrities, two vintage aerobatic Pitts Specials were also on display at Aero 2017. The Pitts S-1D Special is a light aerobatic biplane designed by Curtis Pitts. The design first flew in 1944. Occupying one corner of the center courtyard at Messe were the diminutive twins. These German-registered aircraft form the Trig Aerobatic Team and have been performing exhibitions for years, primarily in the UK. Trig Avionics had its booth just inside the window.
At AERO one can easily satisfy an itch for vintage and warbird aircraft. One might even open their mind to the modern world where digital instruments, lightweight production methods, and heavyweight regulations are redefining that which is old. There is certainly an abundance of warbird aviation on the horizon. It earnestly represents the past while managing to work in the present.