Saturday, 1 May 2010

Popham pictures

Reality Escapade fitted with the UL206i engine. This (gorgeous) example belongs to Galaxy Microlights and is undergoing testing for its Permit.

Sonex, efficient and fast. I can't say that I find it pretty though.

FlyMaps Synthetic vision - twin screens for £7k

The Eindecker SSDR looked and sounded great. This one comes in at 114.7kg.
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I still need convincing

I was going to say that I like aviation, but it would be more accurate to say that I love flying. I've done a bit of gliding, a (little) bit of microlighting, a bit of twin flying, some helicopter flying and a fair chunk of single-engine piston flying. I've even taken a dozen or so hot air balloon rides, but I've never been in a gyrocopter.

I know that I should try it, I know that the MT-03 is a decent-looking, well-engineered aircraft and that its Rotax 912 pushes it along at a decent speed for a gyro, without making the same noise that you get from the Subaru-engined machines, but, well, to be honest, I just don't get the concept.

They may be faster now, but if it's speed you need then there's better. They may land in next to no distance, but if you really need that much STOL capability then you need a helicopter. They offer open cockpit fun, but there's plenty of aircraft that do that, and quite a few of them also offer aeros. So just what do they offer?

Judging by the queues at Popham, they appeal to a lot of people, so I guess I'm missing something - perhaps it's just 'because they're there'?
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Thursday, 29 April 2010

I've been unfaithful (to GA)

I recently went to Germany on business. As soon as I found out where I was heading, I drew a line on a map and looked at the numbers. The return flight would take between seven and eight hours, and seven or eight hours means about £575 in fuel costs alone.

I checked commercial flights and found that Ryanair flew to the exact same airport, and that I could get a flight for £150 including taxes, checking in fee, credit card fee and basic being alive fee. Add in a generous £75 for petrol for the car and another £18 for parking, and the airline alternative worked out at about half price.

I'm sad to say that in a moment of weakness I booked the flight and subjected myself to Ryanair's service. As it happened there were only two things that made the flight unpleasant - firstly the other passengers, or more accurately their desire to stampede the check-in desk as soon as someone in a blue uniform made their way towards the gate, and that stupid bloody music that they play whenever a flight arrives on time.

Having been unfaithful, I'm now suffering from feelings of guilt. I may have saved some money but I certainly didn't save any time - and even though the Ryanair experience wasn't at all bad, it certainly wasn't anywhere near as good as the Cessna experience.
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Sunday, 25 April 2010


I'm not an aeroplane salesman. There are lots of people who know a lot more than I do about selling aeroplanes, but I still find myself wondering what they're doing sometimes.

Every year for the last eight years hundreds of Cirrus owners have flown to Duluth (the home of Cirrus) for a social event - known as 'Migration'. It's a great opportunity for past, present and future owners to get together and talk aeroplanes. This year, the eighth Migration, they're not going to Duluth, but to Dayton, Ohio, instead. The birthplace of aviation rather than the birthplace of their aeroplane.

So given that many Cirrus owners have a habit of buying a new (Cirrus) aircraft each time there's a significant upgrade (turbo, avionics, FIKI, etc.) how come the Platinum sponsor is - wait for it - Piper, while Cirrus itself is listed as a silver sponsor?

A smart move for Piper, given that many Cirrus owners seem to be see the PA46 as a natural step up. I were Cirrus, I'd be figuring out how to make silver look better than platinum.

Piper may have been smart with that move, but I don't understand what Piper is doing with some of the marketing for the Sport Cruiser, sorry PiperSport in the UK. They sign an exclusive agreement to sell the PiperSport worldwide, and at the same time cancel the kit version (the Sport Cruiser started life as a homebuilders' kit before becoming available as a ready-to-fly LSA). I can understand that decision, but I don't understand why they're spending money advertising the aeroplane to a group of people who are defined by the fact that they're homebuilders! But like I said, what do I know? Perhaps they'll persuade builders to buy a factory-made aircraft at two or three times the price they would have paid for the kit.