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A New Sun 'n Fun Opens in Lakeland


By Marino Boric, EAA European Correspondent

More coverage:
New Products at Sun 'n Fun
Brazilian Airframes Look to Break Into U.S. Market

April 10, 2013 - The 2013 Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo is underway in Lakeland, Florida, proclaiming the new theme, "Where aviation begins ... and never ends!"

That's a change from "Spring Break for Pilots," and Sun 'n Fun President John R. "Lites" Leenhouts explained it's all a part of transforming the event and organization from an annual air show to a gathering of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, and a new, year-round aviation educational facility.

Visitors will notice some changes as they enter Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, like in admission - pilots who fly in get a discount. And, for the first time since 2010, registered exhibitors this year exceed 500, and 100 received a 15 percent fee discount as first-time exhibitors.

Paradise City, traditional home of the ultralight and LSA communities, has perhaps seen the most change. A new paved road runs through the area, giving easier access to the exhibits. A new 2,400-foot grass runway is much friendlier for approach and takeoff at both ends. The new runway also allows flight operations almost the entire day, even during the air show. Experimental and LSA manufacturers are now concentrated in this spot.

EAA invites members to visit the EAA Welcome Center at the same location as last year (NE-039, -040, -063, -064). See an example of EAA's 2013 Aircraft Sweepstakes grand prize, a Stearman biplane, and enter to win it. There's also great merchandise available, and you can ask staff almost any question about EAA, member services, and benefits. While you're there, you can also get your discounted advance admission to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.

Here's a first look at what we saw on opening day of Sun 'n Fun 2013:

Golden Avio F30 Brio
Golden Avio's F30 Brio
  Highlander SuperStol
Just Aircraft's Highlander SuperStol
Golden Avio - Exhibit LP-037
Italian manufacturer Golden Avio is targeting the U.S. market this year. After its first appearance at Sebring in January, the company has its F30 Brio on display in Lakeland. This fixed-gear version designed by Stelio Frati was purpose-built for the U.S. market. The faster version with retractable gear is likely to be shown next year as a kit.
  Just Aircraft - Exhibit LP-010
The company launched its new Highlander SuperStol in late 2012, and just last week announced the 300th kit order for the aircraft. The Highlander SuperStol is on display, so that number is sure to increase this week. The SuperStol has an all-metal redesigned wing with new wing slats, Fowler flaps, and an improved landing gear that accommodates tundra tires. To improve the short takeoff and landing capabilities, the new wing features automatic slats.
  CH 750 Cruzer
CH 750 Cruzer
SAM Aircraft - Exhibit NE-029
The Canadian company presented a static display of its SAM retro LSA last year at AirVenture, but the plane flew for the first time last month and is on display in Lakeland this week. After Sun 'n Fun, interested buyers can test-fly the vintage-looking aircraft that is manufactured with modern techniques. SAM is offered as a ready-to fly aircraft in Canada and as a kit in the U.S.

Zenith Aircraft - Exhibit MD-026B
The legendary American kit manufacturer uses this year's Sun 'n Fun for the world premiere of its new model, the CH 750 Cruzer. The two-seat high-wing looks like the CH 750, but according the manufacturer is an all-new airplane. The aft section is completely new, as is the wing. The vertical tail features a fin and rudder - replacing the all-moving vertical tail design of the Chris Heintz STOL aircraft series. The Cruzer features all-new wing airfoil supported by a single streamlined strut (other models have double struts).

Zenith President Sebastien Heinz flew the CH 750 Cruzer 1,000 miles from company headquarters in Mexico, Missouri, to Lakeland. The Cruzer is equipped with UL-Power's UL350iS fuel-injected engine from Belgium, delivering 130 hp. As equipped, the aircraft weighs 780 pounds, providing a useful load of 540 pounds at the 1,320-pound LSA gross weight limit. Cruise speed is 118 mph, rate of climb is 1,200 fpm, and stall speed is 39 mph. The new Cruzer is optimized - as its name says- for cruise and typical (airport) operations, while retaining the popular cabin features of the STOL CH 750 except for a redesigned instrument panel.

The Cruzer will be sold starting next month in Zenith tradition as a kit, while drawings and illustrated photo assembly manuals will also be available separately for scratchbuilders.

Flight Design USA C4
  Discovery Aviation Discovery 201
Discovery Aviation Discovery 201

Flight Design USA - Exhibit MD-027C
Flight Design USA reported on opening day that sales have improved considerably since the first of the year. Since the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, the company reported 17 aircraft sales - 16 of them CTLSi models. Tom Peghiny announced that the entire production run of 25th anniversary Jubilee Edition CTLSi aircraft (15 in the U.S.) is sold out.

A new series of the Jubilee Edition-like CTLSi named the America will soon be available with a similar options package. Flight Design USA added four new distributors since last fall, in Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Vermont.

The four-place C4 program is being rescheduled to better use the opportunities coming from the Part 23 rewrite and ASTM F-44 committee, said Flight Design's John Doman. And CEO Matthias Betsch announced a first flight was expected by mid-2014, with first deliveries expected in 2015.


Discovery Aviation - Exhibit MD-002
This twin, high-wing, all-metal airplane is not new to European customers as it was certified and first manufactured in Russia. However, the company's Discovery 201 is new to U.S. customers, and according to owner Rick Cunliffe, his company intends to build the airplane in Florida, where the company owns a production facility in Melbourne.

This unconventional cargo and hard-work twin was originally developed in Russia as the Akord 201. It's powered by two 210-hp Continental IO-360s mounted on a wing close to the aircraft centerline and far from the ground. Bulky cargo can easily be loaded either through the clamshell door opening in the tail or through either large side door. The $950,000 hauler is also quite versatile; it can be fitted with skis or floats, and can land and take off from rough terrain.


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