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Solar Impulse II completed a 56-hour leg from Hawaii to Mountain View, California just before midnight local time on Saturday. The aircraft, which had to undergo a refit in Hawaii after the epic leg from Japan wrecked its batteries, reportedly performed flawlessly on the trip, which ended with a dramatic entrance over the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to Mountain View just south of San Francisco. "WOW. A normal day as an explorer," the organization tweeted as it sent out an iconic photo of the aircraft over the bridge shot from a chase aircraft with founder Bertrand Piccard at the controls.

"It's a new era. It's not science fiction. It's today," Piccard told CNN from California after landing. "It exists and clean technologies can do the impossible." A big window of benign weather, rare for the North Pacific, helped the effort and the landing was under clear skies. The Mountain View landing was a diversion from the scheduled U.S. arrival point of Phoenix and it's not clear what route the aircraft will take as it crosses the U.S. It has a major challenge ahead with a northern Atlantic crossing on its way to finishing the circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi.

photo by Bob Berlyn

Powered by a custom-mixed 50-50-blend of aviation biofuel and Jet A, schoolteacher Ross McCurdy, his 12-year-old son Aedan and a rotating crew of second pilots are spending school break flying across the U.S. east to west in a diesel-powered Cessna 182, to promote the potential of eco-friendly fuels. "We achieved a milestone for the flight today, flying over and along the mighty Mississippi river," McCurdy wrote in a blog post on Sunday. The crew launched from Rhode Island on Saturday morning, landed in Dayton and then continued on to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. The next planned stop is Grand Prairie, Texas, the U.S. headquarters of SMA, which manufactures the diesel engine in the 182, but according to the latest reports, the crew is still in Arkansas, awaiting better weather.

The aviation biofuel is made from Camelina plant seed oil and blended 50-50 with regular Jet A to meet ASTM D7566 standards, according to McCurdy's website. "The biofuel was supplied by the Air Force in order to obtain additional aviation-diesel-engine test data," McCurdy wrote. "The aviation biofuel blend is run through over 20 lab tests to ensure it meets or exceeds the required specifications. This aviation biofuel blend is a drop-in replacement for Jet A that can be used in jet engines, turboprop engines, and aviation diesel engines. With 50 percent of the fuel made from renewable Camelina plant seed oil, the emissions are reduced, the carbon footprint is significantly lower, and there is no lead in the fuel." The flight will continue to Santa Monica, California, to celebrate an Earth Day event, then head back to Rhode Island. McCurdy and his partners are participating in educational and outreach events at every stop along the route. The aircraft is owned by Paramus Flying School, in New Jersey. Updates and flight tracking are posted at Bioplane.us.

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Engine manufacturers and airframers have long worried that the FAA would like the authority to declare the replacement fuel for 100LL as applicable for fleetwide use. But at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, Lycoming's Michael Kraft told AVweb that the FAA reauthorization bill currently snaking through Congress has specific language giving the FAA administrator power to declare a fuel suitable for the entire GA fleet.

"It has language in there to actually give the administrator the toolkit to actually throw the switch on the unleaded fuel transition," Kraft said. "It's rather dull language to read through, but it's incredibly meaningful because … the stumbling block has always been how do you implement the transition," Kraft said. One big worry manufacturers had was that the new fuel, while having the correct octane, wouldn't be an easy drop-in fit for 100LL and would require modifications to some or many engines, raising the question of who would design, certify and pay for such mods.

"It's a big deal. The logistic picture on a new fuel never ceases to amaze me on how hard changing the world over to a different fuel actually is," Kraft added. Two fuels recently emerged from the FAA's Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative, one from Shell and one from Swift Fuel. The second phase of testing now begins, to include more test cell work and actual flight testing. A fuel is expected to be approved by 2018. Hear more on the subject in this exclusive podcast with Lycoming's Michael Kraft.

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, Lycoming's Michael Kraft told AVweb the FAA reauthorization bill currently snaking through congress has specific language giving the FAA administrator power to declare a fuel suitable for the entire GA fleet.  Hear more in this exclusive podcast.

Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

Visit AVweb.com to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

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Even at a price north of a million dollars, Diamond's new DA62 twin is finding strong demand in a new aircraft market most describe as tepid. Diamond CEO Christian Dries told AVweb this week at Aero that production will rise to more than one airplane per week and that he believes a volume of 60 to 62 airplanes a year is sustainable. (For reference, GAMA reports that 110 piston twins were sold worldwide in 2015, including 46 from Diamond, which currently dominates the piston-twin market.)

Who's buying the airplanes? For now, Dries says it's private buyers who will fly the airplane themselves. "But we are working on a DA62 for charter operations with an additional belly pod which can accommodate additional luggage," Dries told AVweb in a podcast we'll link to later this week. Dries also said the DA62, which has a gross weight for North America of 5070 pounds, may see an allowable weight increase in the future.

And despite its typical $1.3 million price tag, Dries believes the DA62 will find some buyers in the flight training segment. "The DA42 is still highly recognized and valued for flight training. The DA62 could be a flight training airplane, but it is not so cheap. There are some high-profile flight schools in the world where performance is a very important part," Dries said.

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, Diamond CEO Christian Dries told AVweb in this exclusive podcast that demand is unexpectedly strong for the new DA62 twin.

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Airline crews should have more training on go-arounds, under recommendations issued this week by Russian investigators probing the March 19 crash of a Boeing 737 that killed all 62 people on board. The Interstate Aviation Committee's interim report (PDF) on the crash at Rostov-on-Don airport details the FlyDubai jet's flight path during the crew's attempts to land in high winds and severe turbulence that had forced other flights to divert to alternates. After a first go-around due to a wind-shear alert, the jet entered a hold before a second approach to the airport. On final, data recorders indicated sudden changes in airspeed and acceleration as the pilot flying applied forward pressure on the control column then back pressure, then forward pressure. The jet was in a 50-degree nose-down attitude when it smashed into the ground at well over 300 knots, the report said.  

The report also recommends additional analyzing of reports from previous accidents in Russia during go-around attempts, specifically the Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crash in 2013 at Kazan airport and the 2006 crash of an Armavia Airbus A320 at Sochi airport. It also recommends looking at the findings of a 2013 study (PDF) by the French air safety investigation agency BEA. The study examined accidents related to go-arounds and called for enhanced training as well as improving simulators to make them more effective in such scenarios.

Some Boeing 787 Dreamliners must undergo immediate repair or replacement of at least one engine, under an airworthiness directive issued this week by the FAA. The AD, issued without a comment period to speed up compliance, affects 43 U.S. 787-8s and 787-9s flying with General Electric GEnx-1B engines, according to the AD. The directive stems from an engine failure incident due to ice accumulation and shedding that caused fan blade rubbing, the FAA said. The agency is requiring that at least one engine on affected aircraft be reworked or replaced in 150 days. The FAA noted that a worldwide fleet of 176 aircraft could be affected.

The AD also requires flight crews to revise their ice prevention procedures within seven days, using periodic increases in power to prevent ice buildup, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday. "Work mandated by the AD is already well underway with more than 40 engines complete," a Boeing spokesman told Bloomberg. Icing problems in the Dreamliner's GE engines also occurred in 2013, when GE addressed an issue in which airlines were told to avoid high-level thunderstorms by at least 50 miles due to several incidents of ice buildups causing loss of thrust.

The Hawker jet that crashed in Akron, Ohio, in November, killing all nine aboard, was not flying a stabilized approach, as indicated by the cockpit conversation just before the accident. The NTSB released its investigation records this week as the probe into the cause of the crash continues. The voice recorder indicates the copilot was flying the Execuflight charter jet and had discussed with the captain that the weather at Akron Fulton International going to be at minimums for the Localizer 25 approach. They were also waiting for a piston aircraft arriving before them to cancel its flight plan when the captain seemed concerned about the airspeed indicating 140 knots. About a minute later, he said, "You're going 120. You can't keep decreasing your speed, because (we're) gonna stall." There were seven passengers from a Florida real estate company on board.

A couple of minutes later on the localizer, the pilot said, "You're diving. You're diving. Don't dive" and repeated "two thousand feet per minute" before telling the copilot to "level off." Radar returns confirmed the descent rate, according to the NTSB reports. A sound similar to the aircraft stick shaker was heard twice, followed by the ground proximity warning system alert to pull up. The jet clipped power lines and hit structures and an embankment, its left wing striking the ground first, as shown on a surveillance video from a nearby business. Investigators also found that the jet had full flaps on the approach, although pilots in the aircraft were trained to use partial flaps on non-precision approaches until a landing was assured. The NTSB's documents also show that both pilots had been fired from their previous jobs for not attending training sessions. The copilot's former employer said he had struggled with ground and simulator training for the Boeing 737 before being terminated.

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At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, the giant electrical concern Siemens surprised the show with an Extra 330 powered by a 350-hp electric motor. In this video, the company's Frank Anton explained the goal to AVweb and fliegermagazin's Thomas Borchert.

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Cirrus president Pat Waddick in this exclusive podcast gave AVweb an in-depth decryption of testing for the new SF50 Vision Jet that Cirrus will soon begins shipping.

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week, GAMA president Pete Bunce said the association's research has revealed there are many more GA aircraft in Europe than were originally though. In this exclusive podcast with AVweb, he said knowing the accurate count has safety implications.

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Keith Wilson/SFB Photograhic

Engaging in aerobatics—moving dramatically in the third dimension above our planet on a gloriously clear day—ranks right up there among the most delightful things a human can do. If flying represents freedom and an escape from the mundane of beetling across the surface of life, aerobatics is painting that escape and freedom with the broadest brush and most vivid colors imaginable. Those who have flown akro know this viscerally and happily spread the word. It's fun at a level that is hard to imagine.  

Hold that thought for a moment because we're going to move from a hugely enjoyable niche of aviation to look at a corner that is not nearly as pretty, our lousy rate of landing accidents, and consider how learning the former might improve the later.

If you are one of those pilots who feels the need to justify spending the money to learn to fly aerobatics, reducing the risk of a landing accident is another reason beyond the age-old "if I get flipped by wake turbulence, I'll be able to recover from it" rationale. By the way, that one may well be true.

It's no secret that we general aviation pilots are not exactly adept at dealing with the time between we touch an airplane's wheels to the ground on landing and decelerate to taxi speed, especially if a crosswind is involved. If you want numbers, take a look at the accident data in the Used Aircraft Guide (UAG) published each month in our sister publication, Aviation Consumer. Each month you will find a breakdown of the 100 most recent accidents for a given type of airplane. Over the years the data have shown that accidents connected with landings make up 20-40 percent of all prangs for nosewheel airplanes and 20 to 65 percent for tailwheel machines. The vast majority of those crunches are runway loss of control (RLOC) events; a few are crashes during a go-around after running off the runway and some involve going off the end of the runway and hitting something.

The common thread among them is that the pilot was able to touch down on the runway and rolled for some distance before losing control off the airplane (pilots almost never lose control and/or stall prior to touchdown).

RLOC accidents have been analyzed, in depth, for years. The conclusions have been consistent in showing two major causative factors: an approach speed greater than 1.3 Vso and/or a reluctance or delay on the part of the pilot to make control inputs necessary (often to the stop) to overcome a wind gust or swerve.

It's really pretty basic—extra speed on final means more energy to be dissipated during landing and rollout, and energy is a squared function. When you double the speed, you quadruple the energy; increasing the risk of loss of control. The lowest risk landing involves touching down as slowly as possible so as to have the minimum amount of energy to deal with on rollout.

Energy Management

The problem is that keeping the energy down to a manageable level means flying the airplane slowly, which means the controls feel sloppy on final and that scares pilots, so they add speed to get crisper control response—which substantially increases their risk of rolling the airplane into a ball after they put it on the runway. And that's on a calm day. When turbulence or a gusting crosswind is added to the equation, the discomfort with the "sloppy" control response combined with the fear of an inadvertent stall causes pilots to tack on as much as 20 or 30 extra knots as they come down final—too often with unpleasant results during rollout.

Let's be honest—how much did you like practicing slow flight and stalls when you were getting your rating? Instructors tell me that the pilots they fly with on flight reviews generally haven't done any slow flight since their last FR.

Back when we were working on the private rating, we were told to continue flying the airplane throughout the landing roll, to progressively increase aileron deflection into the wind to help keep the wind from picking up the upwind wing and to use adverse aileron yaw to help with directional control. By the time we were rolling slowly, we were to have full aileron deflection cranked in. We dutifully did it until we passed the checkride. After that. . .

Next time you're at the airport in a position where you can see control deflection of airplanes rolling out on landing, see how many or few pilot make use of aileron deflection during rollout or even land on the upwind wheel in a crosswind.

Unless you use the crab-and-kick-it-out method of crosswind landing (very few pilots do), the final portion of a crosswind approach involves a side slip coordinated to keep the airplane pointed and tracking straight down the runway, which means touching down on the upwind main wheel. It also means keeping the downwind main wheel off the runway for some time with increasing aileron deflection. Yet, that requires significant finesse and a willingness to eventually go to full aileron deflection, something pilots are reluctant to do. If the airplane is hit with a gust during rollout, it may be necessary to immediately go to full rudder deflection, something else that is uncomfortable for many pilots.

When the airplane touches down well above stall speed the tires will be rolling, but there is so little weight on them that they are of minimal value for directional control, even if the pilot shoves the nose down to put the nosewheel on the ground. The airplane is still flying and, even at speeds below the stall, the aerodynamic controls are very effective—so it's essential to use them. The problem is that RLOC accidents show that pilots aren't willing to use the aerodynamic controls to their full effectiveness during the period exposure after touchdown—the time between touchdown and the airplane rolling slowly enough that the tires are effective for directional control.

Expanding Your Envelope

One of the most effective ways for a pilot to learn exactly what the controls will do and how to make the airplane go in the direction he or she desires, at any airspeed, is to learn aerobatics—especially in a more modestly-powered airplane such as a Cessna 150/152 Aerobat or Citabria, where sloppy control-handling cannot be rectified with power.

Other than the tumbling maneuvers possible in very advanced akro aircraft, everything in aerobatics is made up of some combination of a loop, roll and snap roll (which is a spin in a horizontal plane). That's it—and if you want a book that explains this clearly and concisely, Conquest of Lines and Symmetry by the late Duane Cole is one of the best ever written.

Aerobatics involves flying the airplane throughout much of its performance envelope, especially at the low-speed end. A pilot learns how to listen as the airplane informs him or her just what is going on, and fairly rapidly figures out how to fly the airplane very near the stall but not to stall inadvertently. To get an acceptable roll rate when doing an aileron or slow roll (an aileron roll is a positive-g event; a slow roll involves one negative g when inverted) requires that the pilot put the ailerons all the way to the stop—something he or she may not ever have done in flight. The pilot rapidly learns about the effectiveness of the ailerons at various airspeeds, that the ailerons are still effective near stall speed and that putting them to the stop is often a normal and appropriate technique used to get the airplane to go where he or she desires.

Stalling When You Want To

A snap roll involves intentionally stalling the airplane, inducing autorotation with the rudder and then stopping the rotation with the rudder and breaking the stall at the moment desired by the pilot. After a few lessons, a pilot knows that a stall is not an aeronautical boogeyman, but something that is understood, can be entered and recovered from at will and rapidly becomes comfortable flying the airplane very near stall speed knowing that it isn't going to stall unless she or he wants it to.

Loops teach stall awareness and recovery as the airplane rapidly changes speed from well above cruise to barely above stall and back. The Immelman is especially effective in teaching control of the airplane at very low speed, as it is a half loop to inverted and then a half roll—at very low speed—to level flight. The combination of getting the airplane to roll as quickly as possible at low speed—discovering how effective the ailerons really are—and finessing pitch to keep the airplane right on the edge of stall speed while maintaining altitude, is a huge confidence-builder for the low-speed end of the performance envelope that translates directly to controlling the airplane on landing.

After doing a few loops, you aren't ever going to be uncomfortable with high pitch attitudes, where the nose blocks your view forward. Part of learn aerobatics is learning where to look to get the information you need as to where the airplane is going—you establish reference points that allow you to make the airplane go where you want it to. If flaring to make a full-stall landing in your airplane means the nose blocks the view ahead, and that makes you uncomfortable so you've been landing in level attitude at the speed of heat, learning aerobatics will rapidly help eliminate that discomfort so you can touch down at a much safer speed. The nose-high attitude won't bother you—you'll simply, and unconsciously, adapt by coming up with reference points that allow you to keep the airplane straight while greasing the landing.

One long-time technique used by aerobatic instructors is to have their students do an exaggerated crosswind landing—touch down on one main wheel and hold the other off until it touches down despite all the student can do with the ailerons. Once the student demonstrates an ability to fly the airplane down the runway on one wheel, the instructor will have the student touch down on one main, hold it there a few moments, then pick the airplane up and touch down on the other main and hold it there as long as possible.

My akro instructor did that with me, and my level of confidence in dealing with crosswinds soared.

Conclusion

Two effective techniques to use to reduce your risk of losing control during a crosswind landing are to make sure you're on speed during approach and touchdown (not faster than 1.3 Vso and near or at stall at touchdown) and that you make whatever control inputs are needed to make the airplane go where you want it to during rollout—which means ailerons to the stop and can mean the rudder to the stop. One of the best ways to become comfortable with those techniques and flying an airplane near stall speed is to learn aerobatics. A side effect is that you'll discover one of the most fun aspects of flying that exists.

Rick Durden holds an ATP and CFII with Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation type ratings, has taught aerobatics over 40 years and is the author of The Thinking Pilot's Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols 1 & 2.

While landing in BOI last week, we overheard this great question from a pilot:

Tower:
"Cessna 123, turn left, heading 210, runway 28L; cleared for takeoff."

Cessna:
"Cleared for takeoff, Cessna 123."

Tower:
"Cessna 123, also: Turn left, heading 210."

Cessna:
"You want that after we takeoff, right?"

Tower:
"Yes, that would be best."

I could barely read back our taxi-off clearance. We and tower were laughing too hard.


Jay G.

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.

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With another Aero behind us—the 24th for the show, I'm told—I continue to be impressed with how this event showcases what's happening beyond what many of us believe to be the center of the GA universe. That's the U.S., in case I'm being too subtle here.

This turns out to be an impressive body of activity and innovation and given the size of Aero, I know I didn't catch it all. As I said earlier in the week, electric propulsion continues to be the front-and-center technological driver. Electrics were big two years ago, but with the appearance of Siemens with several high-profile exhibits, including the battery-powered Extra 330, this trend is accelerating. (Here's a video on that.)

Almost all of the energy is coming from Europe in this segment, with China having a presence, too. There's research in the U.S. and some small industrializations, but nothing like the foursquare commitment you see in Europe. This is because in Europe, there's general acceptance that climate and emissions regulations will increasingly pressure the internal combustion engine. It's simply woven into the fabric of business thinking and planning.

In all of these discussions here in Germany, you hear the phrases "low emissions" or "emissions free." Noise is also a consideration, too. Some airports in Germany prohibit flying on the weekends and electrics will absolutely address this. As I've said before, the U.S. lags the rest of the world in accepting that climate change regulations are coming. It also lags the world in developing products to make money in developing and selling low-carbon technologies.

Nonetheless, electric propulsion is still significantly hobbled against the internal combustion standard. Although cheap to operate, pure electrics lack endurance and hybrids are just reaching the early developmental stage. Even at that, they will be more expensive to buy and will, initially, have neither the speed nor the payload of equivalent gasoline aircraft. But they will have lower emissions and noise signatures and that's what animates the European market, a trend that may migrate to China, given that country's horrible air pollution.

I did an informal poll of a few people to estimate when electric aircraft would have significant market presence. I'll concede that  "significant presence" is an ambiguous metric. I ran into Piper CEO Simon Caldecott in the Siemens booth and asked him for his estimate. He thought about five years and that's the time frame Diamond's Christian Dries also picked.

Frank Anton, who is Siemens' go-to guy on motor and control technology, thought the timeline is more like a decade or a little inside of that. I agree with that assessment and not just because battery capacity is lacking, although that is a drag on market appeal. I just think it will take manufacturers that long to mature basic electric propulsion to the point that buyers accept it as practical and economically realistic and sustainable. And also because historically, energy transitions have always occurred over decades, not years. Coal took a decade or more to displace wood as a fuel and oil similarly eroded coal over many years and a century later, coal is still a prime mover, although in decline.

Later this month, I'll have a video tour of a brushless DC motor with Dr. Anton. This technology is fascinating and is the core enabler for electric aircraft. The power density of these devices is just staggering and I asked Dr. Anton why we couldn't do this 15 years ago. "Two reasons," he said. "We have now better computer simulations of our motors and we have also materials we didn't have 20 years ago." Plus, the world's expanding economy runs evermore on electric propulsion, controls and actuators. If you stripped out the electrics in even a mid-priced new car, you'd be astonished at how much there is. Not that all of this hardware is cheap, either. Mike Kraft of Lycoming told me the most expensive part of the IE2 electronic engine is the wiring harness.

What I'd Like to Fly

I'm often asked this by readers who flag me down for a chat, as though being an aviation journalist somehow conveys steely-eyed wisdom in evaluating airplanes. The reality is, I'm just a guy with a notebook and camera and some questions. (Increasingly, the notebook is empty; the camera does it all and the questions invoke amnesia or an email forward to the legal department.)

This year, the answer was easy: E-Volo's Volocopter. If you've seen one white, composite, two-seat ultralight with a bubble canopy powered by a Rotax 912 iS, you've seen them all and they were at Aero in the dozens. But the Volocopter is something truly different.

The first time I saw it, I realized that these guys really understand the concept of distributed electric power and they used it to rethink the helicopter concept. In essence, the Volocopter is nothing but a scaled-up, man-carrying version of a Phantom Quad copter. But it's a lot more controllable and by dint of multiple motors, it's more reliable and safer. And I like it a lot better than the Ehang 180 dual quad design.

People fly things for different reasons. For some, it's to go places; for some, it's mastery of a complex machine; for some, it's the speed. But many of us just like to loft above the surface and look down at things, preferably from the lowest practical altitude. The actual manipulation of controls to accomplish this is secondary.

Flying at 100 feet in a Volocopter fulfills that design brief and that's why it appeals to me. It's got superb auto hover and stability so this is an aircraft you could be taught to fly in under an hour.

Maybe it will have an interactive app so you can learn its various systems and safety controls, but it's flying as simple as it's likely to get. Alan Klapmeier once famously said the Cirrus line, with its parachute, was meant to prove you don't need special DNA to fly. I don't think Cirrus quite proved that, but with the Volocopter, I suspect eVolo might.   

Where Are the Chinese?

Not at Aero, at least not in great numbers. When I attended in 2014, there were numerous Chinese wandering the halls, giving the impression that yes, this China aviation thing is really going to explode.

I didn't see that this year, nor did I see as many Chinese companies or organizations represented. Nor do I hear sales people and company executives talking about the bottomless pit of aircraft demand in China for, as well we know, beating inside the heart of every Chinese is the burning need to fly.

A source I know with a good feel for the numbers says that general aviation aircraft growth in China is nearly flat and far below expectations of some. There are fewer than 1500 piston airplanes in China. He said the time necessary to get a flight plan approved has dropped from, on average, a week to maybe 72 hours. Despite the starry eyes, private aviation in China is still an unrealized dream. There's always next year.

Is Aero Expensive to Attend?

Not really. For exhibitors, booth costs are about what they are at Sun 'n Fun. Andrew Barker of TruTrak and Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers both told me Aero costs them just about what other shows do. Add to that the cost of the flight over the Atlantic. That's typically $1100 to $1300, although this year I found a deal on Swiss for $825.

Hotels in Europe can be expensive, but don't have to be. I was just handed my bill for four nights and it came to $90.40 a night, including breakfast. That's exactly half what we paid in Lakeland for Sun 'n Fun, where the hotels don't miss an opportunity to gouge during the show and their idea of breakfast is a binary chemical bond with Styrofoam. I generally don't stay in the Friedrichshafen area, but drive across the border into Austria, where hotels are cheaper.

Meals will nick you a little more. For dinner, I paid between $22 and $32. Lunch will be $15, usually. But the food is just way, way the hell better, so I don't mind paying a little more and it's really not that much more at all. On the other hand, you simply cannot find funnel cake or fried butter. I've had to come to grips with that, but I've managed,

As for the show itself, admission fees are €18 a day or $20.34 compared to $37 for Sun 'n Fun. Of course, there's no airshow at Aero and there is at Sun 'n Fun. At Aero, kids under 16 get it in for free; at Sun 'n Fun, the cutoff is 10 years old, although there is a youth ticket for $15. If all that sounds affordable, it is. It's especially so now that the dollar is down to $1.13 against the Euro. Put Aero on your bucket list. You can afford it. Next year, the two shows will be held during the same week. That sorta sucks. Can't they coordinate these things better, as they have in the past?

Culture Clash

Europe in general and the European Union specifically have a deserved reputation for overregulation and silly rules. For example, they have a profusion of different weight limits for what we in the U.S. think of as light sport aircraft. Why not rationalize that?

On the other hand, Europeans can be quite relaxed about other things. My friend Thomas Borchert of the German fliegermagazin told me there at least two Uber-type aviation ride sharing services in Germany. They're supposed to be cost sharing arrangements, but the regulators don't specify the distribution of that cost sharing. That's refreshingly hands off.

Might not work in the U.S. because of our national ethos of believing if something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing. Would enough would-be charter pilots abuse such a thing to create a real safety issue? Probably. And our distorted tort system would be standing by to squeeze some money out of it, disaster or not.

Europe ought to be grateful it doesn't have to suffer with that.

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At Aero 2016 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, a company called Skyleader was showing a wild scale knockoff of an L-39 Albatross called the UL-39 Albi. It's equipped with a 13-blade ducted fan powered by a BMW motorcycle engine. AVweb shot this video on this unique airplane.

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At Aero, AVweb caught a good long look at the first serious high-output aircraft serial hybrid drive. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli interviewed Tine Tomazic of Pipistrel Aircraft about the Hypstair project.

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