Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Pilot Briefing

New LSAs create a stir at Oshkosh Cessna Aircraft and Cirrus Design both put their stamps on the light sport aircraft (LSA) movement by unveiling new aircraft at EAA AirVenture in July. Cessna filled a gap in its sequence of aircraft with the introduction of the 162 SkyCatcher.

New LSAs create a stir at Oshkosh

Cessna Aircraft and Cirrus Design both put their stamps on the light sport aircraft (LSA) movement by unveiling new aircraft at EAA AirVenture in July.

Cessna filled a gap in its sequence of aircraft with the introduction of the 162 SkyCatcher. The reaction? Cessna took 400 orders in just the first two days of the show. Customers were putting down $5,000 deposits for the airplane, which carried a $109,500 introductory price. It's supposed to go up to $111,500 after the first 1,000 units, according to Cessna's contract. The airplane is expected to make its maiden flight in the first half of 2008 with first deliveries later in the year. Cessna displayed a proof-of-concept version at Oshkosh last year.

Garmin International designed a new glass cockpit called the G300 exclusively for the SkyCatcher. It will feature a single split screen showing flight instruments, engine instruments, and a moving map. The SkyCatcher will be powered by a Continental O-200-D, a lighter variant of the popular engine. Options include a ballistic recovery parachute, a 406-MHz ELT, auto-pilot, wheel fairings, and exterior graphics to personalize the aircraft for individual owners.

Cirrus, meanwhile, will be importing and "Cirrus-izing" a German microlight built in Poland. The airplane that will become the Cirrus SRS was designed by Peter Funk, founder of Fk Lightplanes. Known in Europe as the Fk 14 Polaris, the two-place canopied airplane is powered by a Rotax 912 engine. To bring the airplane into compliance with U.S. LSA rules, Cirrus must slow it down to 120 knots from the current cruise of about 130 knots.

As it exists today, the Fk 14 is a sporty-handling airplane and it must be made more appropriate for the training market, according to Cirrus officials. Among the changes anticipated is converting it from finger-actuated brakes to toe brakes, making it similar in function to the Cirrus SR20 series of airplanes and most other U.S. castering nosewheel aircraft.

Cirrus founders Dale and Alan Klapmeier stressed that the SRS would allow Cirrus to bring the fun and kids back to aviation. The airplane will be built in Poland and reassembled in the United States. First deliveries should occur in about a year, and the price will be about $100,000. The airplane already includes a ballistic parachute, a signature item on the SR20 models.

For more Oshkosh news, see AOPA Online. - Alton K. Marsh and Thomas B. Haines

Eclipse develops V-tail jet in secrecy

Eclipse Aviation surprised AirVenture media at Oshkosh when company founder Vern Raburn taxied up to the Eclipse tent during a press conference in the new Eclipse ECJ - the concept jet. The single-engine four-place jet features a dramatically swept V-tail with the engine sitting on top of the aft fuselage. Raburn said the concept airplane is just that; the unveiling was not a product announcement or decision to move forward, but simply the company testing the market for its reaction to such an airplane. The ECJ has about 27 flight hours on it, including flight up to 25,000 feet and 250 knots. It was built in secret at the NASA Wallops Island facility in Virginia by a team of engineering companies selected by Eclipse. Design of the airplane was done by Eclipse staff. - TBH

Morgan Freeman merges acting and flying

Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman, whose roles have ranged from playing God in Bruce Almighty to the narrator in March of the Penguins, started flying in a twin-engine aircraft with a friend, and when it was apparent he had the skills to be a pilot, he took the traditional path.

First came a Piper Archer trainer in July 2002 with an instructor he later hired as his pilot; then he flew Cessna 172s and 182s. His job requires travel, so he received instruction at schools from Mississippi to Hawaii. The multiengine rating came aboard a Piper Seneca. He bought a Cessna Citation jet in September 2005. Freeman hopes to own a Sino Swearingen SJ30-2. "I want to be able to fly with sea-level cabin pressure to 41,000 feet, and fly at Mach 0.879, and I want to be able to fly coast to coast nonstop," he said.

The hardest part of learning to fly for him was talking to air traffic control. He said controllers reading a clearance sounded like, "Ahrightsodieightjojotransitionwhat. Readback?" And he would answer, "I need everything after 'clearance.'" He was inspired to fly by aviation movies as a child, and the desire never left him.

One day Freeman had the opportunity to reenlist in the Air Force and leave his avionics repair slot for pilot training. On his own, he sat in the cockpit of a T-33 to see what it was like and realized at that moment he "didn't want to kill people" - he wanted to pretend instead. If he shot someone down, he wanted the defeated pilot to get back up when the scene was over. He left the Air Force for acting. - AKM

What's in AOPA Flight Training this month?

  • Get Me Some Green: The allure of grass runways - Put that short- and soft-field landing practice to good use, and have some fun while you're at it.
  • Glass Class - The High-Tech Checkride: It's time to show the examiner everything you know about flying a technologically advanced airplane.
  • 10 Ways to Improve Your Flying: Easy methods to incorporate a little extra discipline into your regular routine.

The September issue mailed August 1.

Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.

Mechanic sees art in broken parts

Chuck Russell, 46, is a heavy structural mechanic on Boeing 737, 747, 757, and 767 airplanes for Pace Airlines in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He sees things in all those broken parts that come his way - animals, flowers, key chains, necklaces, paper towel racks. Broken oil lines, jet engine parts, and cargo stanchions follow him home and emerge as art. There's no Web site or catalog. If you're interested in what he sells you'll have to e-mail him: [email protected]. Perhaps something created from a 757 wing rib or air conditioning duct will suit you. His work is sold in Winston-Salem at these local businesses: Mary's Of Course café, Urban Artware, and the Electric Moustache art gallery. He got the ultimate compliment from a customer at Mary's Of Course - his artistic toilet paper rack was stolen. - AKM

Dept. of R&D
The skinny on fat fuel

North Carolina State University engineers have developed technology that has the potential to turn almost any fat source, from vegetable to algae oil, into jet fuel. The technology is called Centia, meaning "green power" in Latin, because it uses no petroleum-based products. It also can be used to make cold-weather additives for biodiesel fuels. Researchers say they can take low-quality feedstock like cooking grease, which costs 30 percent less than corn or canola oils, and turn it into fuel. It also doesn't compete with the food supply like corn-based ethanol. The four-step process begins with high temperatures and water pressure; then the free fatty acids are placed into a reactor to perform the decarboxylation step. During the last two steps, scientists monkey with the molecular makeup for the desired type of fuel. The school has received provisional patents for the technology. It's being licensed by Diversified Energy Corp., of Arizona.


Samuel L. Broadnax was enamored with flying and enlisted in the military at the age of 17. He trained as a fighter pilot and became one of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen. That experience inspired him to study other African American pilots. Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation chronicles those who fought against oppression on the ground so that they could fly. The book covers the likes of Charles Wesley Peters, who flew his own airplane in 1911, and Eugene Bullard, an ace who fought for the French in World War I. The book has a list price of $44.95 and is available from

AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest
'Chilkat Lake Vista' wins June photo contest

Dave Palmer loves flying and the Alaskan wilderness. That is why he built a cabin at Chilkat Lake, located in Alaska's southeastern panhandle about 30 miles from Haines, Alaska. The lake is accessible only by airplane or riverboat, so Palmer transported most of the cabin's building materials, including power tools, a generator, solar panels, furniture, and even the kitchen sink, in his Cessna 180 on floats. The photo, taken from the cabin's deck, reflects spectacular mountains, which reach a height of 5,000 feet. That same vista often includes brown and black bears, mountain goats, and moose. On one occasion, a moose swam between the right and left floats of a Cessna 206 moored at the cabin's dock. Palmer is a longtime AOPA member and the airport manager for Juneau International Airport. Go online to see a full-size version of the photograph and to find out how you too can become a contender for cash prizes totaling $9,500, including the grand prize of $1,000.

AOPA ePilot Headlines

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter

A victory for Victory jet
Epic Aircraft on July 6 made the maiden flight of its second very light jet model. The single-engine Epic Victory flew out of Redmond, Oregon, just 202 days after design work began.

Columbia recalls employees
The last of the Columbia Aircraft employees who were furloughed in March are back at work, and production is up to three aircraft per week, the company announced June 25.

Piper still home hunting
Piper Aircraft has narrowed choices for its new headquarters to three: Vero Beach, Florida, the current plant location; Albuquerque, New Mexico; or Oklahoma City. Each of the cities has prepared an incentive package to keep or lure the company.

Avgas sales pitch up
Despite fuel price fears at local FBOs, pilots are continuing to fly. First quarter sales were up one percent when compared to the same period last year, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Triple ace dies
Air Force Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a triple ace with victories in World War II and Vietnam, died June 14 at his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He died of heart failure following prostate and lung cancer.

Now you can receive a customized version of the free AOPA ePilot e-mail newsletter tailored to your interests. To customize your weekly newsletter, see AOPA Online.

Related Articles