MEMBER ALERT: AOPA is closed today, March 5, due to inclement weather. We will reopen March 6 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
March 27, 2012
By Jim Moore
The warbirds, so proliferous that Sun ‘n Fun organizers had to turn some away for the first time this year, command plenty of attention—vintage warriors turned time machines that ignite the imagination. Much the same can be said for the 90-percent scale, all-aluminum Spitfire kit offered by Supermarine Aircraft, an aerobatic two-seater that is nearly the match of its inspiration, according to company founder and CEO Mike O’Sullivan.
“It flies and operates nearly identical to the original,” O’Sullivan said, noting the kitbuilt experimental can pull 6 positive and 4 negative Gs—with a responsive touch and a look that says both “lethal” and “fun.”
The price tag—$168,000 for the airframe kit and about $46,000 for the engine—is far short of the multi-million-dollar asking price that would be attached to any full-scale, vintage Spitfire, one of the most famous fighters of World War II.
“My aim was to have an aircraft that was true to original as possible, not just a painted up look-a-like,” O’Sullivan reports on his website. “I really did want to fly and realize what our forefathers experienced.”
With a build time of about 1,200 hours, the all-aluminum aircraft made its first appearance at Sun ‘n Fun this year and drew plenty of attention. The fuselage and wings come largely assembled, and a builder assistance program is available.
Sun ‘n Fun veteran attendee Bernie Jager said the kit, and other products like it, are the main draw that keeps him coming back.
“Something like this,” Jager said of his main interest. “What’s new, what have you not heard about.”
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Sun n Fun,
AOPA has joined the “Know Before You Fly” campaign that seeks to educate users of unmanned aircraft systems about safe and responsible operations, including where and how high unmanned aircraft may be flown.
New Zealand helicopter company Composite Helicopters is moving from kit to certified carbon fiber rotorcraft.
An ice runway that has become a New England destination tradition continues: 2,600 feet of Alton Bay have been scraped clean by dedicated volunteers.
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