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How long does it take to build your own experimental airplane? A Zenith CH 750 normally takes about 500 hours, but next year the company plans to build one in just 160 hours -- seven days -- with help from EAA AirVenture visitors along Celebration Way, at the center of the show. "You've heard of kissing booths?" asked Chris Heintz, of Zenith Aircraft. "We plan to have a riveting booth, where people can pull one rivet on the project. And with about 7,000 rivets in the airplane, that's about 7,000 different people who can be a part of this." The goal is to show visitors that homebuilding can be accomplished with everyday tools and skills that are easy to master.†

"With the kits today, anyone who has the desire and who knows which end of the screwdriver to use can learn the skills they need to build an aircraft," said Charlie Becker, EAA's homebuilt community manager. Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Co., agreed. "This is an all-metal construction," he said. "There is no gluing, mixing compounds, or having to use special equipment. We want to show people just how easy it is. These are really homebuilt planes in that they can be built in your home workshop or garage." Heintz said he hopes to get as many people involved as possible. "For people who have never built an airplane, this will show them how easy it can be," he said. "And if we can do it in seven days at AirVenture, they can do it in six months or a year at home."

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The retro-look Sam LS, from Canada, which first flew in March, was on display at EAA AirVenture this week, and copies are for sale as a kit. Company president Thierry Zibi told AVweb the aircraft is available as a kit or as sub-kits, for those who prefer to work on the project in smaller chunks -- the wings, fuselage, and empennage can all be purchased separately, at prices ranging from $2,600 to $7,300. All those kits together cost $29,000, and the cost is the same whether they are purchased all at once or piecemeal.

A complete kit with a Rotax engine and Dynon Skyview avionics is about $65,000 and takes about 900 hours to build.†"There is really no construction, it is more assembly," says Zibi. The all-metal airplane features tandem seating and a canopy that can be removed for open-cockpit flying. It also can be configured to fly with either a nosewheel or tailwheel.

Thierry Zibi, president of Sam Aircraft, brought the light sport kit aircraft to EAA AirVenture and talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the options available for builders.

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Angle-of-attack indicators have become a hot safety-of-flight market item, and at AirVenture 2013, we're seeing more competition in the field. †Bendix/King announced its entry into the AoA market with the new KLR10, which uses differential pressure to infer angle of attack and then presents this on a color-coded display in the cockpit, equipped with audio warnings. †Initially, the KLR10 will be for experimental aircraft only, but it will soon be certified for all aircraft.

Boston area NexAir Avionics offers partial and complete refurbishment and customization programs for Piper Saratoga aircraft, including the retrofit of Avidyne's R9 integrated avionics suite. †Pricing starts at roughly $90,000 for the R9 alone and can top nearly $500,000 for a complete refurbishment. †Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano took a look at the NX aircraft at AirVenture 2013.

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At AirVenture 2013, Lightspeed Aviation unveiled a surprise product, a new ANR headset using adaptive noise-canceling technology. †In this podcast, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli interviewed Allan Schrader of Lightspeed using the actual headsets through an intercom. †Take a listen at the results here.

AirVenture 2013 Photo Gallery #6

Can't make it to AirVenture this year? Photo galleries of the people, products, and planes that make Oshkosh a pilot's paradise will pepper our coverage throughout the week, courtesy of eagle-eyed aviation photographer Mariano Rosales.

AirVenture 2013 Photo Gallery #7

Can't make it to AirVenture this year? Photo galleries of the people, products, and planes that make Oshkosh a pilot's paradise will pepper our coverage throughout the week, courtesy of eagle-eyed aviation photographer Mariano Rosales.

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Berringer, which produces wheels and brakes, including an anti-lock system for Cirrus aircraft, is currently acquiring worldwide patents for a new tailwheel that the company believes could greatly reduce the possibility of ground-loops in taildragger aircraft. The system is built as a drop-in replacement for Scott tailwheels, which it matches in weight and attachment configuration. Where the Berringer differs is in its use of two pivot points. With the tailwheel "locked" (fixed with springs, but steerable within limits), the system provides a pivot point that is in-line with the wheel's axle. Because there is no caster in that configuration, side loads do not translate into forces that would cause the tailwheel to turn, says Berringer. So, when locked, the tailwheel should track straight in any side load condition that does not cause the tire to skid. But the same tailwheel also has a castering feature, and that's where the patent comes into play.

When the lock is released (via a cable that runs to the cockpit), the tailwheel becomes free to pivot around a different, forward pivot point on the tailwheel assembly. And in that configuration it is a castering, trailing, full-swivel tailwheel. Berringer says the design has already earned interest from manufacturers. We spoke with Aviat Aircraft's Stuart Horn, who said he was interested in the design but must reserve judgment until he has the chance to work with the tailwheel. Horn said his immediate concerns were with any new complications the system might introduce. Those included any potential maintenance issues, pilot/system interactions, and how the design might behave in certain specific conditions and scenarios. Horn's concerns were typical of his approach to any new product. The determining factor, he said, would be whether the new tailwheel delivered demonstrated advantages that outweighed the likelihood and degree of potential disadvantages.

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Brainteasers Quiz #186: Every Day's An Air Show in Someone's Mind

Anyone who's made the annual EAA pilgrimage to pre-sequestered Oshkosh understands the excitement of scanning for traffic while listening with rapt attention to ATC. You can maintain that razor's edge year-'round by acing this quiz.

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Tower controller at Oshkosh 2013:
"Attention, all inbound aircraft: The Oshkosh airport closes in ten minutes. Pedal faster."

Brad Kramer
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

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As usual when walking the grounds of AirVenture in my green AVweb news shirt, I got engaged by a number of readers and interested bystanders. I always take this opportunity to ask where people have come from, what compelling things theyíve seen and what their overall impression of the show is.

I guess Iíd say the consensus is I found no consensus. Nearly everyone I spoke to liked this yearís event and those who noticed improvements that EAA has made seem to approve of the course changes. But honestly, I expected the enthusiasm to rise just a little above a slow simmer. But it didnít seem to.

Iím always asked by vendors and colleagues what I think the attendance is like. Trick question. In years past, Iíve guessed the place is mobbed only to learn that attendance is down by a couple of percent. My impression just from walking the hangars and the grounds is that itís up considerably over last year, if not the last several years. At times, the vendor hangars were unnavigable due to sheer human congestion and the lines at the food booths were 20 deep around lunch time. Yet when I asked a few vendors I know what the booth traffic was like, more of them said just okay, not fantastic. Aircraft Spruce was doing brisk business on the two days I went by their big corner store in Hangar A, but a few other vendors told me things were a little slow. John Moreland from CubCrafters mentioned they were closing in on a couple of sales and add a couple of more to that and the trek to AirVenture is more than worth the effort.

Officially, attendance figures arenít published until near the end of the show, but EAAís Dick Knapinski told me on Friday that attendance was ďon planĒ and that the finance guys were happy. We tend to measure the success of AirVenture by the rise and fall of attendance, but I think we also overstate its importance. You canít read megatrends into what happens in a single week in July, but what happens in the industry after the inevitable connections made at AirVenture bear fruit.

There were clearly more product introductions and innovations at AirVenture this year than since 2008. While many of these related to tablet computer apps, the new innovation center EAA erected where the much-reviled chalets were last year hosted some interesting developments, including a neat little wearable HUDóthink Google Glass for pilotsóand Adept Airmotiveís emerging high output V-6. (Weíve got videos on both.) These arenít just dingbat ideas, but could hold genuine promise for commercial development.

We didnít expect to see any introductions from the major airframers and as Dick Knapinski might say, that went to plan too. But with its buy of Thielert Aircraft Engines, Continental injected a welcome pulse of developmental energy thatís already paying off. Redbirdís Redhawk project is but the leading edge of diesel conversions that I expect to see gain traction within 24 months. Lycoming, itís now your turn.

I keep hearing about the coming trend of decreasing prices on both aircraft and avionics, but itís too soon to say if anything we saw at AirVenture validates this. Yes, the Redhawk project promises lower operating costs as do Continentalís diesels and Bendix/Kingís price on the new KT74 transponder will give Garmin pause. But two datapoints do not a trend establish. Frankly, I remain wary of overreach in claims that the Part 23 revision will usher in a fresh new day with an expanded market and enthusiastic newcomers. Weíll see.

Personally, I like the changes EAA made in this yearís AirVenture. The association has invested in incrementally improved infrastructure and made a measurable attempt to making the show more affordable to attend. The food courts were a mixed bag. Lunch for two at one of the A&W stands still whacked most of a $20 bill, but the quality was better and it was marginally cheaper than last year. Although I tend not to gush, Iím relaxing my normal thoughtful restraint with regard to the airshow. EAA nailed it. I hope it continues the trend of a faster paced show with more variety and more and bigger Jumbotrons. Those things rocked.

Bottom line: Weíre not quite back to 2006 yet, but on the other hand, itís a different world now. My view is that AirVenture 2013 at least points us in the right direction.

Join the conversation. †Read others' comments and add your own.