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Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. plans to build a four-seat version of its all-electric airplane, the company announced at EAA AirVenture this week. The Sun Flyer 4 will have a payload of 800 pounds for pilot and passengers, the company said. “The four-seat airplane will have operating costs five times lower than costs associated with similar combustion-engine aircraft,” said George Bye, CEO of AEAC. “With four hours of flying time, the versatile Sun Flyer 4 will appeal to both flight schools and pilot-owners.” Spartan College, which has placed 25 deposits for the two-seat Sun Flyer 2, also made the first deposit for a Sun Flyer 4. Spartan plans to develop a complete training system for the Sun Flyer aircraft, AEAC said, including a course for airframe and powerplant technicians that will feature specialized training for the all-electric system.

AEAC has built a proof-of-concept prototype of its two-seat Sun Flyer, which was on display this week at Oshkosh. The company says they plan to certify the airplane under FAR Part 23. AEAC projects the energy cost for Sun Flyer 2 will be only about $1 of electricity for each hour of flight, compared to $25 to $65 per hour for leaded avgas. The two-seat Sun Flyer prototype will soon begin power-on tests at its home station at Centennial Airport near Denver, the company said this week. It began taxi tests last year.

BREAKTHROUGH! - Cubcrafters

The Garmin G1000 NXi integrated flight deck is now available for the Cessna Caravan and Cessna Grand Caravan EX, Textron Aviation said at EAA AirVenture this week. The option has been OK'd by both the FAA and EASA, Textron said. Features in the new flight deck include significant flight-display modernization with faster processing times, improved graphics rendering and enhanced readability with LED backlighting, the company said. Capability improvements include map overlay on the HSI, improved FMS capabilities that include visual approaches and standard ADS-B Out with optional ADS-B In.

Other new features include the ability to view VFR and IFR charts on the moving map and animated SiriusXM weather depiction. As an option, SurfaceWatch can provide enhanced runway situational awareness. The Cessna Caravan fleet comprises more than 2,600 aircraft, certified in 100 countries, Textron said.

FREE ADS-B IN & OUT with the purchase of an IFD550 - Premium GPS Navigator with Syn Vis & ARS

Samson Motors brought its pre-production prototype of the Switchblade flying-car design, which is still under construction, to EAA AirVenture this week. The vehicle “highlights the unique internationally patented wing-swing mechanism,” the company said. According to CEO Sam Bousfield, the company’s goal is “to produce the first commercially successful flying sports car.” The design will fly at 200 mph, the company says, with a 190-HP turbocharged V4 engine, and have a range of 400 miles. It will two carry two people plus 50 pounds of luggage, and will come equipped with a ballistic parachute, the company says. The aircraft design has been in the works since 2008. First flight is expected by the end of this year, the company said.

The Switchblade’s Italian-inspired clean shape is designed to produce a down force in gusty wind conditions, stabilizing the lightweight vehicle on the road, the company says. It will feature Dynon avionics as standard. The vehicle will be sold as an experimental aircraft, and owners will be able to complete the aircraft at the company’s builder-assist center in as little as three weeks, according to the company website. On the ground, it can be operated with a license for either automobiles or motorcycles.

Three years ago during AVweb’s Aero coverage, we reported on a new four-place training aircraft from the Italian company Vulcanair. This week at AirVenture, the company showed the airplane in the U.S. for the first time. The Vulcanair 1.0 looks a lot like a Cessna Skyhawk because it’s intended for the same market: training.

But Vulcanair is aiming to be aggressively price competitive in setting the stick price at $259,000 complete, with a Garmin G500 IR suit. The engine is Lycoming’s 180-HP IO-360 equipped with a constant speed prop, so Vulcanair claims it’s a bit faster than the Skyhawk in cruise and climbs better, too.

Max takeoff is 2446 pounds with a useful load of 882 pounds, according to Vulcanair’s Remo Defeo, who we interviewed for this AVweb video this week during AirVenture. The 1.0 is already certified and selling in Europe and is expected to receive U.S. approval by the end of 2017.

The most widely supported GPS + Dual Band

Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart (Ret.) stopped by AirVenture this year to sign autographs and share his story as a Tuskegee Airman. Stewart is currently 93 and fought in World War II with the United States Army Air Corps and Air Force.

Stewart finished his military training at the age of 19. He trained in various airplanes, including a PT-19, a BT-13 and an AT-6. After training, he flew a P-40 known for its iconic tiger shark teeth paint scheme, as well as a P-47. In combat, Stewart flew a P-51 in escort bomber missions. He flew 43 missions total and often escorted bombers from Italy to Europe.

He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after shooting down three German aircraft with the all-black 332nd Fighter Group.

After the war, Stewart attempted to get a job as an airline pilot but was turned away because of his race. In 2015, Delta Air Lines' chief pilot awarded Stewart the title of Honorary Delta Captain, and he was given his Captain Wings.

He went on to New York University’s College of Engineering where he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He held various engineering jobs, and ended his career as vice president of American Natural Resources.

Stewart has seen the popular movie Red Tails, as well as HBO’s The Tuskegee Airmen. He confesses that he prefers HBO’s telling of the story, as he thought Red Tails was “too fantasy” and had too many “elements of Hollywood.”

Stewart flew to AirVenture for the first time six years ago in a motorglider and landed where the Warbirds are stored today. He didn’t fly much after the war, and didn’t really start flying again until he was 82. Stewart gave up flying at the age of 87.

Today, Stewart travels to do public speaking events and to spread his story of perseverance and dedication. “Don’t let difficulties discourage you, and keep your aim high,” said Stewart. “Do your best at anything you decide to do. Education is necessary to progress and make your stay worthwhile.”

Mooney’s Chino, California-based design center, which did much of the work on the emerging M10 line, will move its operations to the Kerrville, Texas, factory headquarters. “We’re going to be consolidating efforts,” says Mooney’s Lance Phillips.

The Chino facility was responsible for the design and development work on the M10 models, a product line that Mooney appears to be rethinking. Last spring at Sun ‘n Fun, Mooney’s then-CEO Vivek Saxena told AVweb that the company didn’t think the market would support a new, clean-sheet trainer and that the company was rethinking the model to be the next-generation piston aircraft. Whether that’s to be a trainer or not, Mooney didn’t say. However, Phillips said the company’s primary investors are still committed to the aircraft and that more information would be forthcoming in a few months.

But consolidating what is essentially a skunk works with production in Kerrville will speed things along. “Getting those two right next to each other and working together is going to be a real benefit. Sharing those resources and that knowledge with the M20 team is going to be invaluable,” Phillips says.

Meanwhile, Mooney continues its search of a new CEO. Saxena left last April, just after Sun ‘n Fun, having served less than a year in the job. He replaced Jerry Chen, who had been hired by Soaring America Corp., the Chinese-backed investment group that bought and recapitalized Mooney.

A remote tower system will be installed, tested and certified at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, a general aviation field in Loveland, Colorado, Searidge Technologies, the vendor that will build the system, announced this week. The project will provide a test site for the technology, and will increase efficiency and safety at the airport, Searidge said. “Searidge is looking forward to working with the FAA and [Colorado] Aeronautics to certify one of the first remote towers in the United States,” said Moodie Cheikh, CEO of Searidge, which is based in Ottawa, Canada. “We are confident in our team and our technology to deliver a flexible solution that will not only meet the needs of [the airport] but also demonstrate how such a system could be used around the country to provide safe, cost-effective control services.”

The remote tower will be the first in the world to integrate both video and radar to provide a comprehensive view of the airport surface and Class D airspace to air traffic controllers working in a remote facility, according to Searidge. The technology will enhance situational awareness of the airport environment and airspace that will be superior to that of a traditional airport traffic control tower, Searidge says, yet the costs of construction, operations and staffing will be about $9 million, much less than what would be required for a traditional control tower. One other remote tower is operating in the U.S., in Leesburg, Va. That system is currently being tested.

Starr - 'Click to read about Basic Med'
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At AirVenture, the din of airplanes starts early and builds to a deafening crescendo about the time Jeff Boerboon launches his Screamin' Sasquatch jet-powered Waco. It’s just stupefyingly loud, to the point of causing minor trickles of blood out of exposed bodily openings. But I’m pretty sure the B-1 passes were even louder than that and there’s nothing like a touch of four-engine heater to trim out 110 db of skull crushing overpressure.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve always believed that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. However, compared to those noise makers, my contribution was rather more delicate. Wednesday morning, Dan Gryder called up and asked if we wanted to fly his DC-3 for some passes over Wittman. Sure, I’ll sign up for that. What could be more over the top than putting a DC-3 newbie in the left seat and flying 50-foot passes down Runway 18 in the misty morning?

Unbeknownst to me, this year’s sponsor of Gryder’s Douglas, Gold Seal Ground Schools, live streamed the whole thing, replete I suppose with my foul-mouthed cursing. I’ve really got to clean that up. I’ve got some video of the flight that I’ll post as soon as I get caught up.

I told Gryder that flying the DC-3 was about what I expected; it’s a big dump truck of an airplane with control forces that require both hands, both arms and three feet. I thought Gryder was pushing against me on the rudder, but no, it’s just that stiff. We strafed the runway three or four times and Gryder kept hectoring me to push the thing lower. He said we were at 100 feet, but I thought closer to 50. When an airplane that big gets into ground effect, it’s like flying into a big sponge; you have to forcibly push it lower.

In the midst of a busy Oshkosh morning, we were essentially doing pattern work for 40 minutes. Kudos to the tower controller who took all this in stride. We were weaving past the lumbering Tri-Motor, Cherokees and Ercoupes, all the while sweeping the thing inside of Runway 9/27, which had a steady stream of arrivals who I'm sure were wide-eyed at the green-shirted maniac barreling at them in a 25,000-pound classic twin.

From the cockpit, it looks like the airplane can’t possibly turn that tight, but it’s only going 100 knots, so the turn radius is surprisingly compact. If it looks stately and effortless from the ground, it ain’t that way from the cockpit. I’m pretty sure the audio will reveal me grunting to roll the beast over and put both feet on the yoke to get it to dive.

What great fun! And only at AirVenture.

Who Are These People?

Everyone I talk to, but especially the vendors in the hangars and the outdoor booth dwellers, seems to think there are more people at AirVenture this year. I’ve been doing this too long to rely on my own perceptions, so I’ll wait until EAA releases some final numbers.

Nonetheless, as I was driving out of the press parking lot on Thursday afternoon, an absolute sea of humanity streamed in front of the car, pinning me in place for what felt like 10 minutes. They were dragging folding chairs, bags full of food and drink, cameras, funny hats, kids in strollers and all the rest of the paraphernalia people haul to airshows. I was in a hurry, but it was at least entertaining.

Then this thought occurred to me: Who the %$#^ are you people and why aren’t you buying airplanes? If this many people are interested in coming to the spectacle of an AirVenture airshow, why aren’t they interested in participating and what will it take to get them to do that? Or maybe everyone who’s really interested in being a pilot is already here. But that can’t be it, because we’re getting all sorts of wish-I-was-there emails. Hey, it’s not too late. Today’s Friday and there are still three more days left. I was planning to leave today, but no way. There’s still too much stuff I haven’t covered. Today, I’ll hump my camera gear on foot; it’s faster. Maybe I ought to borrow one of those strollers. I long ago got over the fear of looking ridiculous.

Lynx EAA AirVenture show special

At AirVenture 2017, the Italian company Vulcanair was showing its new 1.0 trainer. At $259,000, it's a far less expensive alternative to the popular Cessna 172. In this exclusive AVweb video, the company's Remo DeFeo gives us a tour of the aircraft.

A UPS Airlines 767 with an all-female crew (including maintenance support) arrived at AirVenture's Boeing Plaza on Wednesday to serve as a backdrop for the annual WomenVenture photo. AVweb intern Ashley Anglisano spoke with Captain Alyse Adkins about her work with UPS Airlines, how she got to the left seat of the 767 and how other aspiring females can find their way in aviation.

Jeff Van West interviews Greg Roark, the founder of the Aspen Aerospace Alliance and the Director of Aeronautics for the Aspen School District. Roark leads a program that weaves aerospace into the curriculum from grade three through high school. The most involved students will graduate high school with single-engine, multi-engine and instrument ratings.

Can wi-fi make you a smarter pilot?

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