Nexaer Took Low-Altitude Route To Expo

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One of the first high-tech American-built light sport aircraft (LSA) made the trip to Palm Springs for AOPA Expo on a trailer, but it should be flying freely soon. The Nexaer LS1, with its distinctive swooping fuselage, has flown a couple of hours at home base at Meadow Lake Airport near Peyton, Colo., but its experimental research and development designation with the FAA prevented it from being flown to the show, said spokesman Scott Belliveau. The plane, which is surprisingly large for an LSA, made its first flight in October but then the emphasis switched to getting it painted and in show condition in time for Expo, Belliveau said. The aircraft is only being flown a few feet above the runway at first to assess its flying qualities and the FAA restrictions will keep it within a few miles of Meadow Lake when it does put some air under its wings. Belliveau said the unusual shape of the fuselage was incorporated purely for styling. "We call it ramp presence," he said. But initial tests have revealed the shape actually contributes lift and has positive aerodynamic influences. "We got lucky," he admitted. The plane is currently flying with a six-cylinder, 120-hp Jabiru 3300, but numerous engine options, including some certified mills, will eventually be available. Useful load with the 3300 engine is 570 pounds, including up to 167 pounds of fuel.