The Junkers A50 Junior, a new special light sport aircraft from Germany, is set to be a big draw at the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida.
Junkers (pronounced “Yoonkers”) is a brand more than a century old that was relaunched in 2016 with the first flight of a painstakingly crafted replica of the original Junkers F13. The Junkers of today shares a common corporate parent with Waco Aircraft Corp, which revived the Great Lakes and YMF-5 designs decades after the original Waco ceased operation in 1947. Junkers began building its line of aircraft in the 1920s, including transport, military, and general aviation variants. One of them, the A50 “Junior” debuted in 1929. It faded during Germany’s 12 inglorious years of the Third Reich, then vanished from the scene.
It’s a remarkable airplane in many ways. Its signature Junkers corrugated airframe certainly draws the eye, as do the large, spoked main landing gear and two tandem open cockpits. All these features—and a few more, like the wooden wing walk, and the leather coaming around the cockpit sills—are faithful to the 1929 design. So is the exemplary attention to detail in the execution of its construction details.
In other, major ways the new A50 differs radically from the original. Instead of the 1929 airplane’s 80-horsepower Armstrong Siddeley radial, there’s a 100-hp Rotax 912iS powerplant with dual-channel FADEC (full authority digital engine control) modules, two alternators, Garmin G3X touch-screen avionics, and a Galaxy ballistic recovery parachute. This blend of traditional style and modern avionics makes the A50 a standout in the LSA field.
I had a chance to fly the A50 just before Sun ’n Fun and can testify to the airplane’s great handling qualities, docile stall and, well, its tricky crosswind landing behavior. Those big-diameter, narrow-tread Avon tires look like they belong on a bicycle, and keep you busy on the rudders. But you could say that about any taildragger, let alone one at the LSA maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds.
We flew over a swamp north of Lakeland, where the background was free of clutter. At 1,000 feet, with power set at 28 inches of manifold pressure and an engine speed of 4,800 rpm or so, indicated airspeed was 85 knots. True airspeed came in at 88 knots true airspeed. So no, the A50 isn’t exactly a speed demon. Its forte is giving you the sensations and feel of open-cockpit flying, cruising low and slow in a retro-modern exemplar of what we could call an art-deco expression of the Roaring Twenties.
The view ain’t shabby, either. Central Florida sure looks better from 1,000 feet!
Interested? The aircraft starts at $199,500 and will go up to about $220,000 with options.