Ian Twombly

Fun, fun, fun

May 2, 2008 by Ian J. Twombly, Associate Editor

My immediate, short-term, and long-term goal in aviation is but one thing–to have fun. Sure, utility is a wonderful thing and is fun in its own right. But give me a tail wheel, floats, or an aerobatic airplane over a fast cross country machine any time.

Up until Wednesday, I would have to say that learning to fly on floats in the shadow of Denali was closely matched with buzzing the South in a J-3 at the top of fun meter. But now, there’s a new contender, and its inspiration comes from a somewhat unique continent–Africa.

The Air Cam is a two-seat, experimental, open-cockpit slow flyer. It is named for its fantastic ability as an aerial photo platform, and was designed in the early 1990s by Phil Lockwood for flying very low and quite slow over The Congo.

Air Cam N119CK

Claudius Klimt and his friend Carlo Cilliers built N119CK in Klimt’s backyard over a period of six years, and the result is extraordinary. After throwing in the full-body motorcycle suit and military-style helmet, Klimt threw me in the back seat of the Air Cam and taxied to the runway. With its twin Rotax engines, the airplane was literally off the ground by the time Klimt had applied full power. We were at pattern altitude by the end of the 3,600-foot runway. Incredible stuff.

Hanging out at 500 feet, the Air Cam gently meandered along. A small rain shower sprinkled us as we flew past. And the smells… The best comparison is probably that of riding a motorcycle. You can feel the wind as it shifts direction, feel the heat and cold as you pass through.

I’ll have much more about this airplane in an upcoming issue of the magazine, but in the meantime if you get a chance to fly an Air Cam, do it! You will not be disappointed.


4 Responses to “Fun, fun, fun”

  1. Gary Budzak Says:

    I just took the survey. How do you publish this to the non-flying community? Can you publish this very small, very to the point article in any magazine? I’m thinking something like a travel or vacation magazine. Or how about putting it visually out on youtube? The kids will love it!! Articles like this that are quick to read and give the minds eye something to ponder is one of the factors that are missing to encourage new members to our GA community.

    Great read!!

  2. Pete Bedell Says:

    I flew Carlo’s Air Cam too. It’s a nice machine and is like sitting in a chair in the sky. I also like the EFIS–required equipment in an open-cockpit airplane! He occasionally brings it to my family’s airstrip on the Eastern Shore. A natural place for an airplane like that to operate.

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