Modern technology has come to the rescue of a persistent problem, which, had it been addressed in its time, might have made Molt Taylor's Aerocar more appealing in its day. The aircraft flew to Sun 'n Fun (it's the only flying example of five left) from its home away from home at a museum in Kissimmee, Fla. with its O-360 engine equipped with full authority digital engine control (FADEC). Owner Ed Sweeney said that through most of its life the machine suffered chronic running faults because of the geometry of its old carburetor installation. (Click through for video of Sweeney showing off the Aerocar at Sun 'n Fun.)
As the sun sets on another year of fun in Lakeland, we bid you all a fond adieu. Big thanks to photographer Mariano Rosales for snapping pics for us throughout the show; for more of his work, visit 12OClockLevel.com.
The show's starting to wind down, but we've got two more galleries of great walkabout photos to share, so strap in for final fly-by of Sun 'n Fun 2008.
The WAM diesel-powered IndUs Thorpedo LSA arrived on schedule to a packed news conference at Sun 'n Fun on Saturday and there was a cluster of people around it most of the day. With the numbers IndUS is reporting, it's no wonder. The supercharged and turbocharged three-cylinder, two-cycle inverted cylinder diesel puts out 120 hp. Spokesman Scott Severin told AVweb it pulls the low-wing along at 100 knots on three gph. While the LSA flew for the first time with the diesel only a few days ago, company spokesman Scott Severin said the engine has been extensively tested by IndUS. The engine is undergoing Light Sport certification and initial TBO is 1,000 hours but is expected to go to 3,000 hours. (Click through for video of Severin showing us around the Thorpedo.)
In an industry built on superlatives there can only be one fastest, and Mooney's recently certified Type S model now holds the crown as the fastest production single. It'll do 242 knots at 25,000 feet and it doesn't use extra power to get to those lofty numbers. "There have been a lot of subtle enhancements," Mooney Sales Director Rick Neely told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun 2008. Gap sealing, a composite front gear door and other improvements that have "slicked up the airplane" are responsible for the performance. (Click through for video of Neely and the Type S at the show.)
For the sport flyer who enjoys local fun flights and $100 hamburgers, Electraflyer's new battery-powered airplane may be just right -- and with no fuel to burn, it can cut the cost of that hamburger down to about 60 cents. That's how much it costs to fully charge the lithium-polymer battery pack, says Randall Fishman, president of the Electraflyer Corp. The electric engine is mounted on an old Monnet motorglider that Fishman built from a kit, and the aircraft just this week earned its experimental airworthiness certificate. Fishman also is flying a battery-powered trike, which has about 55 hours on it. The battery pack has an endurance of about an hour and a half on the trike, and Fishman said he is still tweaking it on the airplane, but expects it will last about the same or a little longer. The charging unit weighs about five pounds, he said, so it's easy to take it with you and recharge anywhere. "It's so quiet when you're flying, you can hear the wind going by, and there's no vibration," he told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun on Saturday. He's selling copies of the trike, and engine kits for homebuilders, from his Web site; a complete trike system runs about $17,000.
Legendary pilot Dick Rutan stars in the first volume of the Aviator Series training videos, a new project by Fly Right Films. "Dick tells such great stories, and we use those as a starting point to teach the viewer about safe flying techniques," producer Chris Jules told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun on Saturday. In the first 40-minute video, called "Attitude Flying," Rutan talks about safe recovery from unusual attitudes, how to fly IFR with less fatigue, and more. Clips are showing on a widescreen at Forward Vision's booth. The film captures the feeling of going flying with Dick Rutan and picking up great tips from his extensive and unique flying experiences -- there is no sitting-in-a-classroom or crammming-for-a-test tedium, yet by the end, you'll be a smarter pilot. The trailer is online at the company's Web site. The full-length video will debut at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh this summer, Jules said. The DVD then will go on sale for $59.95.
Carol Ann Garratt has flown around the world in a Mooney before -- taking her time, on a seven-month trip that she wrote about in a book, "Upon Silver Wings." This time, she is taking a co-pilot and aiming to break the round-the-world record for single-engine aircraft, by making the flight start-to-finish in just seven days. The team will fly for 140 hours and make only nine stops. Garratt said it's not just flying time that counts, but total time. "We'll have ground crew to meet us at each stop, to help fill up with fuel, dump our trash, pick up our supplies, stretch, and get back in the air," she told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun this week. "We'll take turns sleeping in the airplane. We're installing a big extra fuel tank behind the seats, so we're hoping we will be able to recline at least a little." Garratt and teammate Carol Foy, a past winner of the Air Race Classic, plan to launch this December. They are paying all of their own expenses, but hope the world flight will raise $1 million for ALS research.
As the weekend arrived down, we finally made time to see the Thunderbirds work their aerial magic and check out a few more vendor displays.
Saturday at Sun 'n Fun, the IndUS Aviation folks, who were the first to get their airplanes certified as LSAs, will show off their latest achievement, an LSA that flies with an ASTM-certified diesel engine. "Now our technology can go worldwide," IndUS President Ram Pattisapu told AVweb on Friday. In many parts of the world, he said, diesel and jet A are the preferred fuels, while avgas and even motorgas are hard to come by. "We're an American company, based in Dallas," Pattisapu said, "but we want to sell to the global market." Here in the U.S., as well, interest in the engine alternative is high; the engine typically burns up to 25 percent less fuel than gasoline engines at the same power setting, and can run on biofuels as well. The WAM-120 is a three-cylinder, two-stroke liquid-cooled engine of inverted configuration with pressure-fed lubrication and an integral sump. It weighs no more than traditional avgas engines, the company says, and is easy to install. (Click through for video of the IndUS LSA in flight.)