Posts Tagged ‘ultralight’

The coolest airplane I’ve ever seen

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

90FK Lightplanes, one of the top small-aircraft manufacturers in Europe, has designed a FK51 70-percent replica of the famous P-51 Mustang using whimsy, a passion for flying, and a sense of humor. It weighs only 1,000 pounds (a limit for ultralights in Europe), has retractable landing gear (can’t do that in the American light sport aircraft world), and three very special details. You can see a video about it with designer Peter Funk of South Africa on bydanjohnson.com.

Detail one: the carbon-fiber airplane has 100,000 simulated rivets and screw heads in its molds, meaning the airplane appears to be made of metal. Detail two: when the pilot starts the aircraft, a sound system is automatically triggered playing a recording of the Merlin engine used by the real Mustang. The speaker is on the lower cowl disguised as a cooling vent. Detail three: puffs of smoke emerge from the fake exhaust stacks to add to the impression that this is almost the real thing.

Its aerobatic as heck, capable of plus 8 Gs and minus 4 Gs. Here are some details from the FK Web site. So when can you buy this $130,000 aircraft? You can’t yet. In July final testing and approval will be done in Europe, with deliveries in late summer. Then FK Lightplanes,¬†headquartered in Poland with a branch in Germany, will go to work making the airplane with fixed gear to comply with the American light sport rules, getting rid of the adjustable prop because it also isn’t allowed on light sport aircraft, and getting ASTM approval so it can be sold as a S-LSA light sport aircraft.

Dan Johnson, head of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and owner of the bydanjohnson Web site, reports on this and other models displayed at Aero, the main airshow in Europe for lightweight aircraft. Check his May 8 story.

The not-yet jetpack

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Martin Jetpack has now reached 100 feet, under radio control and with a dummy aboard, in New Zealand. By now, the goal it should have reached is the one where depositers get their machine. When it was shown in 2008, it could rise only six feet. The pilot (the inventor’s son) said he didn’t want to go higher because in his words he didn’t want to crash, meaning the craft didn’t have the stability it needed. Now, a computer keeps forward speeds and climb speeds low to prevent a loss of stability, but it does climb to 100 feet. It’s always been a bit of an odd duck. It uses the term jetpack, yet it is a ducted fan driven by a gasoline engine built with advice from the outboard engine industry. It even sounds like one of those Mercury motorboat engines, although the inventor says he built it himself. Deliveries were to start in 2009 according to my 2008 story, but didn’t. I recall the “managed” press image this machine enjoyed when it was shown at Oshkosh. There were few straight answers for reporters who didn’t have the inside track. I wasn’t allowed to fly it because a CNN reporter was promised the scoop. I couldn’t see a preview flight because only the New Zealand press was invited. Now, I can wait.