Promising New Ultralight Engine

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Not all the innovation is taking place in the very light jet and other ivory-tower sectors of aviation. One of the great things about EAA AirVenture is that recognition is given those whose more homegrown tinkering can result in technological advances for those whose flying is a little less complex than some. Take, for example, the Custom Power Plant Award winner at the 2006 fly-in -- the Big Twin. Valley Engineering, of Rolla, Mo., has come up with what appears to be a viable four-cycle alternative to the noisy, smoky two-cycle engines in the 30- to 50-hp range that power a lot of ultralights. The company adapted a 990-cc V-Twin motorcycle engine for aircraft use and came up with a package that weighs a maximum of 117 lbs. (depending on configuration) and puts out a maximum of 38 hp. It's available as a direct drive setup or with a reduction drive. The company claims the engine "will virtually eliminate all the problems associated with two-cycle engines and still deliver the same performance."