AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
We cover homebuilts at EAA's Oshkosh event.
Who would have guessed early in this century--on the birth of powered flight at Kitty Hawk--that Oshkosh, Wisconsin, would eventually become the center of the sport aircraft universe? From our vantage point here in late summer, the fact is obvious: The annual EAA AirVenture convention has grown to be the biggest, and some say the best, sport aviation event in the world, and no one raises an eyebrow.
About 765,000, by EAA's count, made the pilgrimage to Aviation Mecca from July 28 through August 4--by airliner, car and small aircraft, and the accommodation options were many. Staying in a tent or RV at Camp Scholler, or under the wing of your airplane, or in a hotel or rental house, each offered its own special benefits.
A walk along the flight line of Runway 18/36 explains the convergence of aviation fans: Thousands of airplanes were arranged in neat rows, airshow performances and manufacturer and warbird fly-bys occurred overhead, and hundreds of aircraft and product displays were on hand in well-prepared exhibit areas to excite attendees.
Late summer weather in Wisconsin is always unpredictable: "Wait 5 minutes, and it'll change," was one local's prediction when asked about the forecast. This year the temperatures were the news. By mid-afternoon on Friday, the mercury rose close to 100 [degrees] F, which pushed the heat index (that factors in humidity) to 115 [degrees] F! True to form, though, there was a 30 [degrees] drop by Saturday morning as a cold front blew through leaving a few crumpled forum tents and welcome and dry 75 [degrees] - 80 [degrees] F temps. Nearly perfect fly-in weather prevailed for the remaining days of the event.
We scoured Wittman Field and the AirVenture grounds uncovering items of interest to homebuilt enthusiasts: new aircraft (both flying and just announced) and the people and companies backing them, other homebuilt-related products such as engines and avionics, forums for builders and pilots, and an abundance of fascinating people and planes who flew in for the event. We found plenty.
Oshkosh has always been a venue for introducing new aircraft--especially homebuilts--and this year was no exception. Among the several surprises was Xantus, a VTOL tiltrotor machine that uses four 125-hp two-stroke engines attached to stub wingtips. Pointed skyward, they lift Xantus vertically for takeoff and rotate forward for high-speed flight. Duncan Aviation said Xantus flew on a short tether for the first time on July 17. Lack of mechanical connections between the engines raised concern of some observers who visualized loss of power on one engine during hover.
Revolution Helicopter's (816/637-2800) two-seat Voyager heli appears more conventional and demonstrated hovering flight early in the week. Currently in the development phase, the Voyager was not yet flying around. It is powered by a 138-hp U.S. AirPower three-cylinder, two-stroke engine.
Sonex, designed by longtime kit manufacturer John Monnett and aero engineer Pete Buck, has been seen for several years and is now available as a complete kit. Marketed by Sonex, Ltd. (920/231-8397) of Oshkosh, the sheet metal two-seater is powered by a Jabiru engine and can be built as a trigear or taildragger. Dave Martin attended part of a two-day Sonex builder conference in Oshkosh just before AirVenture, and he flew the taildragger briefly with John Monnett.
Burt Rutan's Proteus made its Oshkosh debut. The twinjet, twinboom tandem-wing is part of a NASA-sponsored program that flies communication packages at high altitude and for long duration. Unmanned versions of such aircraft may eventually compete with satellites for some applications. As is often the case with Rutan projects, Proteus was the most unusual aircraft seen in Oshkosh skies during the week, but there's no plan for a kit version.
Not yet produced but described in detail at the SkyStar display was Super Pulsar III, which will be an enlarged version of Mark Brown's two-place composite cruiser. The Pulsar rights have transferred from SkyStar to Pulsar Aircraft Corp. (281/431-6333) headed by Solly Melyon. The new Pulsar's cockpit will be higher and wider and--with a larger canopy--will accommodate more panel space. Plans are to reduce build time with changes including moving to a single-piece elevator and stabilizer.
Much of the buzz at the show surrounded Lancair's (541/923-2244) unveiling of its new Legacy 2000. Said to incorporate the wish lists of builders, the two-seat Legacy boasts a snappier roll rate than the Lancair 320. It's a bit wider, and a different flap system allows the pilot to fly both faster and slower. The Vso is 60 mph.
Although the powerplant on the prototype is a 200-hp turbo-normalized Lycoming IO-360-C1D6, there's room for a larger engine. Estimated performance includes a maximum speed of 287 mph, and max cruise of 280 mph at 18,000 feet. The climb rate is estimated at 2700 fpm solo and 1950 fpm at gross weight of 2000 pounds. Useful load is 550-750 pounds.
Ultravia Aircraft (819/669-3144) was there with its new Pelican Sport, a two-seat, high-wing, aluminum-and-composite airplane powered by a 100-hp Rotax 912S. Managing Editor Keith Beveridge flew with company test pilot Andre Bourassa. The airplane is an upgrade of its Pelican PL, and was designed as a Canadian ultralight trainer. Here in the United States it is offered as a quick-build kit. Beveridge reports that it has good trainer characteristics--a 900 fpm rate of climb at gross weight at 2500 feet MSL altitude, docile stall characteristics, and good slow-speed handling. It has good performance for all-around sport flying, too. Look for a more in-depth article later.
The new Warner Aircraft (727/595-2382) Sportster is a revised version of the Revolution II, which itself was a copy of the venerable open-cockpit, two-place tandem low-wing Spacewalker design. Beveridge also flew this one and says that the new version is bigger and better. With a shorter wing, it flies a bit faster. …