Chris Christiansen: Homebuilt Hero

I'd love to build my own airplane. The performance, efficiency and fun available with experimental aircraft seems to double or triple what's available in the certified aircraft market at equivalent prices. The avionics (like Dynon's new Skyview system) do practically everything the most expensive stuff from Garmin or Avidyne at a fraction of the price. What's holding me back? Time and expertise. At least, that's what I've always told myself..."I'm just too busy to build the aircraft of my dreams and enjoy amazing flying..."

For better or for worse, Chris Christiansen just blew that argument out of the water.

X2 vs X3 vs V-22: Battle of the High-Speed Helicopters

One thing a pilot can never get enough of is speed. With airplanes and rockets, you can get about as much speed as you long as your bank account is fat enough. With helicopters though, there has been an upper limit...until now.

Retreating rotor stall happens at the point where the vehicle is moving forward faster than the rotor is spinning. It causes all kinds of problems and has limited the top speed of helicopters for years. (See for a good discussion of the phenomenon.)

Several companies have been working on ways to overcome this limitation and get faster helicopters. The first one to hit full production was Boeing's V-22 Osprey. It rotates the rotors so that they'll act more like propellers. It's a decent solution, but it involves a lot of moving parts...including rotating a pair of huge turboprop engines 90+ degrees. Other companies have other ideas.

Will Klapmeier and Kestrel Become the Next Cirrus?

I don't think anyone can argue that Cirrus co-founder Alan Klapmeier is an aviation genius. He started an airplane making company from scratch that with only two main models has dominated the piston single market for years. That company is currently working on a very promising VLJ prospect with several hundred pre-orders. Though Klapmeier is no longer with Cirrus, they are still going strong. The Duluth News Tribune mentioned Monday that Cirrus sales are up 5% this year. That's a stark contrast to sales being down overall worldwide.

Klapmeier came up with a great product and had the vision and leadership to bring it to market. Now, he's set his sights on a new aircraft: the Kestrel. This 6-place composite turboprop is a great next step for an SR22 owner and boasts performance numbers that beat a major competitor, the Socata TBM-850, and threaten to leave most of the VLJ fleet in the dust. It looks like this aviation genius has another great product and is posed to turn Kestrel Aircraft Company into the next Cirrus.

Another "Roadable" Aircraft?

Looks like the folks at Terrafugia might have a competitor entering the marketplace. Albeit with a slightly less refined solution. The Maverick is essentially a dune buggy attached to a powered parachute, and is targeted to make life easier for those folks working in hard to reach places. I admire the simplicity of the design, not a lot of creature comforts, just what you need to get yourself downrange.

It probably won't go head to head against the folks at Terrafugia, but it's nice to see some more innovation in this whole drive it and fly it space...

Azimut 270 - Around the World Dream Flight

This isn't just a cool video. It's the final landings of something very special. Exactly 100 years after the birth of Swiss Aviation, two friends decided to honor aviators of the past with an around-the-world odyssey...

...and what pilot doesn't at least toy with the idea of flying around the world? It's been done before and it'll be done again, but I think it's an impressive accomplishment every time. A couple Swiss pilots recently completed one of these amazing adventures. They flew around the world, in formation, in a pair of Flight Design CTLS LSAs. What a blast! 44,000 kilometers from April 30th to June 19th. They called their adventure "Azimut 270."

2010 May Day Fly-in

Alaskan bush pilots just finished their annual May Day Fly-in, where they come together for everything from hot-topic discussions to flour bombing and STOL competitions! The STOL competition is no doubt the highlight, though. Here are some highlights from last year's competition:

Icon Updates

The development of ICON's A5 is still going full-tilt. They've released a video of further testing that includes amphibious operations. It looks like things went pretty smoothly to me. I especially enjoyed the formation taxiing with jet skis.

The Definition of Short Field

I'm sure we've probably posted this before... but I just can't get over how short this Super Cub lands!!

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