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Bits and Pieces

'Sam' 'n Fun-New Canadian AULA Now Flying

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159


You couldn't miss the Canadian-built and designed SAM-LS at Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo last month. Named after the founder's son, the SAM is approved in Canada in the advanced ultralight class and is being marketed as a kit or completely built. Transport Canada has approved it, but it can take up to a month for it to appear on the list. Its distinctive styling had onlookers stopping and taking lots of pictures.

We had mentioned having seen it at Sebring in February, and we have an update for you this month. At that time it had not flown, but it had done some taxi tests. Two months later, 30 hours of flight time have been recorded and Thierry Zibi, owner of Sam Aircraft, says that its flight characteristics are excellent, with a very gentle stall and no unexpected behaviours. Thierry expects to file with the FAA for LSA approval shortly, but you can already buy the kit in both countries.

SAM at Sun 'n Fun

The engine cowl has the recognizable appearance of a Chipmunk. The canopy is reminiscent of a Harvard. As with many kit and ultralight aircraft, the SAM is available on tricycle gear or as a taildragger. What is quite uncommon, though, is that the aircraft is available with a selection of three wing lengths for a choice of applications. Pilots up to 6 feet, 6 inches tall can be comfortable in the tandem seating with the pilot in command in the front seat. Another feature not often seen is the ability to fly with the canopy closed or fully open.

As with any small start-up company, finances are tight. With what looks like an excellent aircraft, the next few months will be challenging for Sam Aircraft in bridging the gap between having a great idea and moving to successful production out of their location at Lachute Airport, QC.

Welcome Nora Hague to our list of contributors this month. Nora and her partner recently acquired an iPad explicitly so that they could run ForeFlight, with a DualGPS Bluetooth device to give them real-time position information. As you will see, Nora has done an excellent job of summarizing the significant strengths and a few weaknesses of ForeFlight. I think she has convinced your editor that the annual fee for using the software is actually a good deal! If you have something to contribute to our "Electronics Corner," why not do it right now, or at least make a start by sending me an e-mail.

New Zenith CH 750 Cruzer
Canadian legendary designer Chris Heinz founded Zenair in Midland, ON, in 1974. Next year he will celebrate 40 years in business, and the company shows no signs of slowing, having introduced the latest design, a departure from the "jeep of the air" style we know so well. The CH 750 Cruzer will compete head-on in the USA LSA market. Interestingly, the Cruzer is not yet showing as an approved AULA in the Transport Canada list either, but as mentioned, it can take time. The kits will be manufactured out of the Ontario factory beginning this month.

This is a high-wing design with wheel pants and no aspirations to perform as a STOL off-airport aircraft. This will appeal to those pilots who are looking for a more conventional cross-country ride between airports with paved runways, according to Sebastien Heintz, the president of the Mexico, Missouri,-based U.S. Zenith Aircraft Co. operation.

By using the same firewall-forward design as the STOL CH 750, the same engine choices are available, and the instrument panel has been slimmed down to improve forward visibility. You can read more about this new design at www.zenithair.com.

Aerobatic display between an Eagle 580 and an RC biplane
We were treated to another exciting display at Sun 'n Fun. For the first time ever, an aerobatic champion flew his competition aircraft in formation with a remote-controlled (RC) model biplane. Quique (pronounced kee-kay) Somenzini was born in Río Cuarto, Argentina, but he now makes his home in the United States. In 2007 he won a world RC flying championship. He first competed at this championship when he was only 12 years old. He was the pilot of the RC model and was standing on the ground in radio contact with Matt Chapman, pilot of the Embry Riddle Eagle 580. Matt is an RC enthusiast too, with several models of his own, including a beautiful 35 percent scale Pitts. Watch a video of the flight.

Visitor Badge
Sun 'n Fun visitor badge

International visitors were again invited Friday night to a celebration with free food and a cash bar. There were Air Cadets from the UK, lots of attendees from Brazil, and a fair sprinkling of Canadians.

The threatened closure of ATC services at Lakeland-Linder regional airport due to the sequestration of federal funds was averted when funding was extended by the FAA until June 15. Even if the local city council raised the funding for next year's event, believed to be around $250,000 for ATC services, it raises the question of the logistical difficulties of opening a defunct tower once a year for Sun 'n Fun. Another option is for local agencies to opt for the nonfederally funded contract tower. About 50 airports of the 149 facing closure have declared an interest in doing this.

The weather was hot all week with no signs of the tornadoes of two years ago. Friday was overcast but with high enough ceilings to allow the air show to proceed unhindered. The calm winds earlier in the week favoured the wing-walking folks a bit more than the sometimes blustery conditions later in the week.

Pilot Falls from Zenith 601 - You may have read about this already. A 77-year-old pilot in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was having a lesson with an instructor in his newly purchased aircraft. What seems to have happened is that the canopy (hinged at the front) opened up during flight. We can only speculate as to how the pilot fell out, but apparently the aircraft had gone into a nose dive. Without appearing redundant, where others are much more capable of reporting the latest on this incident, my personal take on this is, "If something goes wrong, fly the plane!" If a door, window, or canopy unlatches, or was never latched in the first place, it's almost certain that the designer knew of the risk and made sure you could still fly back to your departure point safely. This video makes this point very elegantly:

Have you ever noticed that May comes along about the same time every year? Well of course it does, but the significance for us is that we have a whole new fly-in season opening up. At home we have new tenants at my local airport restaurant in Bromont, QC. I've heard good reports about the Saturday morning breakfast, so look us up. We'll be the folks at the long table with an eye on the runway and at least one comm tuned to the MF.


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