New Aircraft Keep Coming


A Jet For Your Canard…

What some people might consider the ultimate personal aircraft is now being built under the watchful eye of its creator. Les Shockley, best known for making jet-powered trucks the feature attraction at many air shows, has come up with a jet kit for canard homebuilts, like Long EZs, Velocities and Cozy aircraft. Shockley said the adaptation of a General Electric T-58 helicopter turbine, which he calls the Shockwave 800+, weighs just 300 pounds and can be set up to provide a range of power, up to about 840 pounds of thrust. The engines cost about $30,000, plus installation (and a liability waiver), and Shockley said he believes the combination of jet power and the canard design is a good one. “I don’t see any problem with it at all,” he said. “I think it’s a hell of a concept.” Les is currently finishing up his own 2.5:1 power/weight jet/canard combination. (more) The Shockwave Firebird looks like a Long-EZ but with a beefed-up airframe, a 32-G (we assume that’s ultimate loading) wing and two afterburning turbines that can pump out 1,500 pounds of thrust each on an airplane that weighs only 1,200 pounds. Shockley said that’s almost twice the power-to-weight ratio of the hottest military jets and, when combined with the maneuverability of the canard aircraft, should result in a spectacular air show performer. “I just want it to be the neatest airplane I can build,” he said. Although he’s spent much of his life in more earthly pursuits, such as drag racing and the jet trucks, Shockley’s no stranger to airplanes. He designed and adapted the jet engine addition to Jimmy Franklin’s Waco biplane, which is one of the hottest air show acts in North America. He’s also converted an SU-26 to turbine power and regularly flies his own Yak. He said he’s had lots of help from some of the best aviation people in the U.S. to build the new jet and he hopes to have it flying by the end of the year.

…Liberty Nears Certification…

For those of us who prefer a more traditional approach, the latest spin from Liberty Aerospace is that it’s nearing type certification on its XL2. The sporty two-seat FADEC-equipped sport touring airplane has been undergoing spin tests recently as the last item on a long checklist leading to that coveted paperwork. In a letter to customers and prospective customers, Liberty CEO Tony Tiarks said test pilot Leo Janssens has spun the airplane 136 times — some of those episodes have been caught on video, now available through the Liberty Web site. (more)The tests have included full aft center of gravity spins and deployment of a small parachute designed to help the test pilot get out of a flat spin if it developed — which was not deployed in duress. According to Tiarks, the spin testing is almost done and the XL2 has passed all the tests. Assuming all keeps going well, he said the plane should be certificated by the end of July and the first deliveries can start in August.

…Cirrus Holds Reunion Fly-In

Maybe, in a few years, Tiarks will be sending out news releases like this one from Cirrus. The Duluth-based company announced that the (COPA) will hold a fly-in at Duluth June 13-15. “As many as 100 Cirrus aircraft are expected to fly in for this event and we are very excited to have so many of the kids home,” said enthused company spokeswoman Kate Andrews. (more) The Duluth event packs a lot of activities into the three days. After an evening reception Friday night, Saturday will feature a mini trade show, factory tours, demonstrations, seminars and “private pilot instructions.” Saturday night’s the banquet and Sunday will see a repeat of Saturday’s daytime events. The day will wrap up about 1 p.m. Earlier this month, about 75 of the 100 Cirrus aircraft sold in Europe so far gathered in Groningen, Netherlands, for the European COPA fly-in. About 800 of the aircraft are flying.