Dave Hirschman

Pure genius! (And other neat stuff that’s not avionics)

April 10, 2008 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

LoPresti Speed PantsEvery now and then, we all stumble across an invention that seems so simple, so obvious, that we wonder why no one (including us) did it before.

Such is the case with LoPresti Speed Merchants’ “Speedpants.”

They’re regular composite wheel fairings–with one key difference. They have a set of clamshell doors on the bottom designed to totally enclose the wheels when an airplane’s in flight. LoPresti estimates the fairings will add about eight knots to an RV-7’s top speed. (And for those of us who miss raising and lowering landing gear, Speedpants will provide us with another lever to move each time we take off and land.)

LoPresti SpeedpantsThe clamshell doors are hydraulic. And if the hydraulic system fails, internal springs will open the gear.

If we forget to open them on landing (and you know we will), the fiberglass scrapes off and the airplane remains on the wheels.

Speedpants are meant to minimize the aerodynamic penalty for fixed gear. And with so many of today’s aircraft manufacturers electing for fixed gear on airplanes that are meant to go fast, LoPresti may be onto something . . .

Nemesis NXTDave’s other faves:

* Nemesis NXT flybys. That airplane makes everything else with a propeller on it look slow.

CAF LT-6* The Commemorative Air Force’s LT-6. The silver “Mosquito” from the CAF’s Dixie Wing is absolutely gorgeous. The pride and workmanship really show through on this historical labor of love.

XP-30* The XP-30 is a German aerobatic brute painted in a scheme that seems to pay tribute to the Great Pumpkin. But it’s got a 450-degree-per-second roll rate, a 220-knot top speed, and more than 1,000 miles range. It’s only doing flybys at the show–not full aerobatic performances. But it looks like the closest thing to a magic carpet since Aladin.

Sport Cub* Sport Cub S2. I want to give it a hug whenever I see it. Cub Crafters is talking about offering a clipped-wing version. If they do, it will fit my notion of The Perfect Sport Plane and Back-To-The-Future Trainer . . .


5 Responses to “Pure genius! (And other neat stuff that’s not avionics)”

  1. Lynn E. Hanover Says:

    I looked closely at the Lopresty closing wheel pants. With a small difference in the trailing end of the pant, they are identical to the Jim Bede closing wheel pants from the 70s. The internal mechanism appears to be identical, although powered by hydraulic pressure, rather than a cable from the instrument panel.
    Still available if you need a set, from Jim Bede. I believe that then employee, Burt Rutan had a hand in the design.



    Lynn E. Hanover
    Zephyrhills Florida

  2. William H. Beckwith Says:

    Jim Bede had the same idea in the 1970’s on the BD-4

  3. Richard Says:

    Question is, do these allow a pilot to log ‘retractable’ time, or count as retractable gear for a ‘complex aircraft’ designation?

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