Tecnam: New Programs For Affordable Access »

Like every other aircraft manufacturer, Tecnam has heard complaints about the high cost of new airplanes and its Tecnam North America arm has developed new programs to attack the problem. According to Tecnam North America's Phil Solomon, one new program would offer an affordable five-year lease on the company's basic-priced Echo Classic Light light sport aircraft. Solomon said the lease would be available "to pretty much anyone who wants it" for $15,000 down and $499 a month, plus $15 an hour for reserves. One unique feature of the lease for pilots 65 years or older, Solomon told us at Sun 'n Fun last week , is that should the lessee become incapacitated, the lease can be terminated instantly with no further liability. More

DiamondShare: Blunting the Cost of Sole Ownership »

With new aircraft prices closer to the million dollar mark than not, many would-be owners pass on purchases not because they can't afford it, but because they can't justify the large investment for minimal yearly usage. At least that's the theory behind DiamondShare, an innovative marketing plan developed by Diamond dealer John Armstrong. He told us in a podcast interview last week at Sun 'n Fun that these days, serious owners tend to fly about 100 hours a year, a tiny percentage of the total hours the aircraft is available during the year. "The biggest hurdle for a lot of folks is they don't feel comfortable being able to justify the investment for the 100 hours. If you do the calculation, 100 hours is 1.1 percent of all hours and 2.2 percent of daylight hours. Well, 2.2 percent utilization for a sizeable investment doesn't make sense in certain cases," Armstrong said in an interview at Sun 'n Fun last week. More

Teens-N-Flight: Helping Kids Through Aviation »

Wounded military veterans -- even those with wounds that aren't visible -- get far less attention than they deserve and their families get even less. Jack Howell, a retired Marine colonel, is actively doing something about that. He's established a non-profit called Teens-N-Flight whose sole goal is to offer cost-free flight training to the children of soldiers killed or wounded in combat. In an interview at Sun 'n Fun last week, Howell told us the country has been slow to recognize that post traumatic stress disorder doesn't affect just the military members themselves, but also the families and especially the children. "I really want to use aviation as a conduit for these kids to help them overcome their PTSD," Howell says. "The wizards in Congress have finally acknowledged that the entire family suffers from PTSD, but there's no funding to do anything. Well, I'm not waiting. I've been doing this five years now," he adds. More

Bright Weather, Paradise City Boost Sun 'n Fun »

The weather in Lakeland wasn't perfect every day during Sun 'n Fun -- Friday was blustery, keeping most aircraft on the ground, and a few clouds and showers passed by -- but it was close, with temperatures in the breezy 80s and no tornadoes or mud-storms, and on Sunday morning CEO John Leenhouts was enthused about how things went. "We've had an absolutely superb week, with fabulous attendance," he told AVweb , citing numbers up about 5 percent over last year, except for a 5 percent drop on that windy Friday. "We had more people fly in than we've had in the last five years." Two incidents at the Thursday splash-in left two seaplanes damaged, but there were no serious injuries, Leenhouts said. Some vendors told AVweb the crowds in the main display area seemed substantially lighter than usual most days, with fewer serious buyers, but the revived Paradise City area got more than its usual traffic. More

Sun 'n Fun 2013 Photo Gallery: The In-Flight Feature »

click for photos As everyone packs up and prepares to head home from Sun 'n Fun, we serve up a few last photos snapped during AVweb contributor Mariano Rosales's air-to-air sessions yesterday. Special thanks to Mariano for all the great shots this week. Be sure to check out more of his work at 12OClockLevel.com . Click for photos. More

Brazil's Wega 180 Composite Retractables »

We can't think of many high-performance retractable kits on the market these days -- really any -- but that's where a Brazilian company called Wega wants to go with its products. The company made a surprise appearance at Sun 'n Fun with a pair of Wega 180s whose performance (and looks) are real head-turners. More

Custom Flight Sim From Pilot Mall »

You can custom retrofit an aircraft instrument panel, so why not do the same with a table-top flight simulator? That's the idea behind the new Flight Training Panel Advanced Cockpit from PilotMall.com. Using a clean-sheet, 14-gauge steel instrument panel that accommodates the Saitek flight simulator flight instruments, avionics and hand controls, the training panel allows you to add Saitek components by simply removing the pre-configured instrument slots -- just as a shop builds a custom panel. More

Sun 'n Fun 2013 Photo Gallery: Seaplanes »

click for photos No visit to Sun 'n Fun is complete without a day trip to take in everything floats have to offer at the show's seaplane base. Click for photos. More

Sun 'n Fun 2013 Photo Gallery: Air Shows »

click for photos No matter how fascinating the exhibits and products at Sun 'n Fun, nothing gets the blood pumping like an aerial exhibition. Click for photos. More

Zenair Introduces CH-750 Cruzer »

One of the few new designs introduced at Sun 'n Fun likely looks slightly familiar, but Zenair's new 750 Cruzer has a different mission from its well-known predecessors. Rather than emphasize the short-field capabilities of its ancestors, the CH-701 and CH-750, the 750 Cruzer is designed for comfortable conventional field and cross-country operations. "We've optimized the new design for cruise and typical (airport) operations, while retaining the popular cabin features of the STOL CH-750," Zenair spokesman Sebastien Heintz said. "We've retained some of the most popular features of the STOL CH-750, while optimizing the new design for cross-country flying," As if to punctuate that point, Heintz flew the Cruzer 1,000 miles from the factory in Mexico, MO to Sun 'n Fun. More