by Jim LaMalfa
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2018 issue
EAA’s 2018 AirVenture opened Monday, July 23rd with ideal weather and large crowds. EAA had announced its 2018 event as honoring the year of the tanker and the Royal Air Force (RAF). Both were much in evidence. So were made in America Piper, Cirrus, Cessna and Beech aircraft, although Cessna merged with Beech, Hawker and Textron.
Piper displayed its line of general aviation aircraft including its trainers – the Archer, Arrow and Seminole; and its executive M series aircraft – the M350, M500 and M600.
During AirVenture, Piper announced that sales of trainers in the second quarter of the year increased 126%, compared to the same period in 2017. Both their single and multi-engine trainers have solid backlog orders into Q3 of 2019. The twin-engine Piper Seminole leads the increase with a 150% growth in deliveries, followed by both the single-engine Arrow and Archer, which showed a combined growth of 85%.
For 2018, Piper is on track to deliver more than 100 PA-28s – a combination of single-engine Archers, and single-engine, complex Arrows. In addition to the success with Piper’s PA-28 products, sales for the twin-engine Seminole will reach their highest level in more than 15 years.
Piper says that the increase in demand for its trainers can be directly attributed to the looming pilot shortage and the resulting demand for pilots. Among its clients are many aviation campuses throughout the country.
The Archer TX and Arrow feature the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics package, which incorporates modern processing power that supports faster map rendering and smoother panning throughout the displays. In addition to the standard 180 hp Lycoming O-360-A4M powerplant, an optional fuel-injected Lycoming IO-360-B4A engine is available, as well as a diesel option utilizing the Continental CD-155 engine. The Piper Arrow is the only complex single-engine training aircraft built today, and features a 200 hp Lycoming engine.
The Seminole is also configured with the G1000 NXi, and comes equipped with two 180 hp Lycoming engines. The Seminole has a maximum takeoff weight of 3,800 lbs, cruise speed of 162 ktas, and ceiling of 15,000 feet.
Piper’s growth in both aircraft deliveries and revenue was across all segments during the period with M-Class deliveries growing 11% in Q2 2018. The M-Class consists of the M350, M500 and M600. The M350 has a top speed of 213 kts, a range of 1343 nm, and is the only current production pressurized piston-engine aircraft available today with the ability to cruise at 25,000 feet. The M500 turboprop with a 500 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A engine, has a top speed of 260 kts, and a range of 1,000 nm. The M600 has a top speed of 274 kts and features the new clean-sheet wing, providing slick aerodynamics that helps extend its range to 1658 nm. All three M-Class aircraft carry six people.
Cessna displayed a mockup of its new high-performance Denali, a single-engine turboprop. Textron expects to have FAA approval by 2019 and sales interest shows they intend to fill a niche in the corporate/utility category. The 1240 hp FADEC-equipped jet engine, using a five-blade constant speed McCauley carbon fiber propeller, propels the Denali at speeds of 285 kts with a full fuel payload of 1100 lbs. The Denali will have a range of 1600 nm with one pilot and four passengers up to 31,000 feet, and will feature the Garmin G3000 glass cockpit.
Parked nearby was Textron’s Cessna Grand Caravan EX with a cargo pod and a range of 912 nm at a maximum cruise of 185 kts. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140, 867 shp engine, the Grand Caravan EX carries 10 to 14 passengers, with a useful load of 3,532 lbs.
I stopped by the Cirrus Aircraft display where I chatted with Ryan Klapmeier, son of Cirrus cofounder, Dale Klapmeier. Cirrus Aircraft has factories in Duluth, Minnesota and Grand Forks North Dakota, and its Vision Center in Knoxville, Tennessee with its new training facility and full motion flight simulator.
The SR20 and SR22 continue to be top sellers for Cirrus, but I wondered how sales were going for the new Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet.
“This year, 60,” said Klapmeier, “and we hope to sell another 20 or 30 more!”
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to take dual instruction in an unpowered sailplane at San Estrella near Phoenix, Arizona. Flying over the rangeland in states like Arizona with a chase crew on the ground is fine, but in more populous areas like Wisconsin, sailplane enthusiasts might look into “powered sailplanes,” which are very popular in Europe.
One such company, Stemme of Strausberg, Germany, was displaying its two-place S12. The S12 is a high-aspect ratio sailplane with a foldable and variable pitch propeller, and retractable landing gear. The aircraft is powered by a Rotax 914 F2/S1 Turbo, 84.5 kw engine. Its 60 ft wings fold up for ease of transport. The prop folds into the spinner for lower drag and the glide ratio is 1:53. The top speed of the Stemme S12 is 161 mph, and it has a range of 1,093 miles.
I asked Wolf Kruhl of Stemme if the rear-mounted engine with the prop up front was more efficient than other designs with the engine mounted on a retractable pod.
“This is more efficient,” said Kruhl. “When you extend the retractable pod type, you have a new CG.”
The S12 has a sophisticated glass cockpit, which includes the state-of-the-art LX8000 soaring computer. But taped to the windscreen, just as my sailplane had in Arizona, was a piece of yarn as a slip indicator. Some things in sailplaning never change!
I stopped by to chat with Dennis Martin of Enstrom Helicopter, Menominee, Michigan. Enstrom was showing off its 280C, turbo-charged, recip-powered helicopter, and their 480B jet-powered helicopter. I asked Dennis if these were Enstrom’s only models:
“Right, in fact we just had a sale of 19 helicopters to Pakistan and six to the Czechoslovak Army. Pakistan bought the 280C, which performs well in their hot climate, and Czechoslovakia bought the 480Bs.” Robinson and Bell are the only other companies which build choppers in the U.S. today.
The two themes featured at AirVenture 2018 were aerial tankers and the birth of the Royal Air Force (RAF), which started in 1918. At Wittman Regional Airport, we photographed several World War II British fighters… the famous dam buster, Geoffrey de Havilland’s “Wooden Wonder,” the twin-engine DH.98 Mosquito, also known as “Mossie;” and the Gloster Meteor, the first British jet fighter and the Allies’ only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during World War II.
For an interesting insight into the history of the Mosquito, look up Edward Bishop’s book “Mosquito, the Wooden Wonder.” Interestingly, Mossie was built with yellow birch veneer harvested in Vilas County, Wisconsin by the Roddis Lumber and Veneer Company. This story is well documented in Sara Witter Conner’s book, “Wisconsin’s Flying Trees in World War II,” Chapter 5, “The British Connection.”
The famous Gloster F.Mk.1 Meteor on display was flown in by the World Heritage Air Museum, located in Detroit, Michigan. It was used from 1944 into the 1950s using Frank Whittle’s jet engine. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce W2B/23 Welland turbojet engines with a maximum speed of 410 mph and service ceiling of 40,000 feet. WA591 came to Oshkosh from the UK. The aircraft was used during World War II to attack Hitler’s vengeance weapons, the pulse jet-powered V-1s, because propeller-driven fighters could not match the speed of the buzz bomb.
Two methods of attack were employed, one by using the Meteor’s cannons or flying alongside the V-1, getting a wing under its wing and rolling. The move would tumble the gyros of the V-1 and it would crash. Other British aircraft on display included the Airco DH.4, Vickers Supermarine MK IX Spitfire, and an Airbus A220.
Touring the north end of Wittman Field, there were two Grumman F7F Tigercats, the only twin-engine Navy and Marine Corps fighters designed for Essex-class aircraft carriers. Other warbirds of note were the B-17 “Yankee Lady,” B-29 “Doc,” a Yak 9 Russian fighter, the Tuskegee Airmen P-51 Mustang “Red Tail,” and the Razorback P-51 “Lopes Hope.” A lone surviving F-82 Twin Mustang was scheduled to arrive, but was not there on opening day. Other interesting warbirds included a Marine Corps 378 Vought Corsair, and two Curtis P40s exhibiting colorful Flying Tiger paint schemes.
Hovercraft and flying cars are back in the news. In the 1980s, Molt Taylor actually built a successful flying car, but it did not become marketable. Others have tried. At AirVenture 2018, the Terrafugia, and the Surefly, basically a human size hovercraft/drone made of carbon fiber and powered by four gear-box-driven propellers on booms, were on display.
As usual, fly-in attendees had to battle Wisconsin’s changing weather; the night airshow was cancelled Wednesday, but weather on Thursday was ideal. And if you are a Packer fan, well folks, the Green Bay Packers just opened a building on Wittman Field across from press headquarters, east of the control tower. Very convenient, as I’m a stockholder!
EAA will be celebrating its 50th consecutive year in Oshkosh in 2019, so the history of the organization, and a half-century of unforgettable highlights at Wittman Regional Airport, will be featured, July 22-28, 2019.