Australian International Airshow 2019

Seems such a short while ago that we were enjoying the 2017 Australian Airshow – and yet it’s already 2019 and the bi-annual show is almost upon us again!

Foxbat Australia will, as usual, be exhibiting in the static aircraft area. We are planning to have our new A22LS Foxbat demonstrator there, which is fitted with an AirMaster in-flight adjustable propeller, plus a nice red, highly specified A32 Vixxen. The exact site details have not yet been confirmed but we will publish them as soon as we have them.

Location for the 2019 Airshow is Avalon Airport, south west of Melbourne.

Dates for your diary are: trade days, Tuesday 26 February-Friday morning 01 March 2019; public days, afternoon & evening of Friday 01 March – Sunday 03 March. We will have a limited number of trade day tickets available, with a priority given to existing Foxbat Australia owners – please contact Ido or me if you are interested.

PS – we are expecting a brand new (to the Australian market) low-wing all-metal, 2-seat LSA aircraft to be on display right next to us. This aircraft has a number of unique features and will be available at a very attractive price…

New Foxbat demonstrator flies over 13th beach

Here are a few short seconds of our new A22LS Foxbat demonstrator in flight. After less than a month in the air, it’s already completed 25 hours’ flying and is currently having its first maintenance check.

This is the first Foxbat demonstrator we’ve had which is fitted with an AirMaster in-flight electrically adjustable propeller – this one with Whirlwind blades. We are evaluating the propeller before formally offering it as an option – our first impressions are that take-off distance is shorter, and climb is significantly better than with the standard KievProp; economy is slightly better. We will also evaluate this propeller on the A32 Vixxen in due course, where in addition to take-off and climb performance, we are predicting an improvement in cruise speed.

The demo Foxbat aircraft is also fitted with a glider tow hook and we will be undertaking towing trials in the near future in Victoria, Australia. This aircraft has oversize wheels, a 30kgs ‘Kelpie’ metal luggage compartment with a side door and a ballistic rescue system. The icing on this demonstrator cake is a 2-axis Dynon autopilot which will be connected with a GPS as soon as we can keep the aircraft on the ground long enough to fit one!

Come and see this aircraft along with the A32 Vixxen at the Australian International Airshow, at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport from 26 February to 03 March this year.

As usual, either click on the image above or here to view the video: Foxbat over 13th beach

Avalon Airshow wrap

Avalon 2015 02Well, the 2015 Australian International Airshow, subtitled ‘Heroes of the Sky’ has come and gone.

As usual, the trade days – Tuesday to Thursday and Friday morning, were dominated by suits and uniforms, as the heavy end of town came to look at, marvel and maybe even buy some of the amazing hardware on offer. The weather was reasonably co-operative and Word War One monoplanes, biplanes and triplanes carried out mock dog fights followed by modern day big noisy fighter jets, afterburners lit up and dropping decoy flares as they climbed vertically through the cloud base.

On the ground, the static aircraft numbers steadily built during the week as more exhibitors and organisations arrived for the public days – Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday. On one of the trade days, while things were quiet, I had a chance to wander round the three big display ‘halls’ – huge marquees joined together with coffee shops and cafes – and the outside static exhibits.

This year’s show seemed quite a contrast with the last one, in 2013, in that here seemed to be far fewer civil and military drones on display this time round. They were there of course but last time they seemed to be everywhere you looked – small ones with less than a metre wingspan/diameter, right up to the huge US Airforce drone with a wingspan longer than a Boeing 737, which this year was flown in (remotely of course) from Guam. Maybe drones have gone top-secret or perhaps most of the wannabe’s couldn’t be, and only a few remain in business?

There was a thin sprinkling of Light Sport Aircraft – Tecnam, Sling, Brumby, Evektor, Flight Design and Foxbat, plus a few other specialists like powered parachutes. But most of the Recreational and Light Sport importers/manufacturers stayed away….as there is no ‘NATFLY’ this year, I’d expected to see many of them with a static display – the price to put a couple of aircraft at Avalon isn’t so different from NATFLY and certainly a lot less than the cost of an advert in some of the flying magazines.

At Foxbat Australia, we had a static display of three aircraft – all co-incidentally yellow – quite close to the main entrance. This year the usual questions: ‘how much?’, ‘how fast?’, ‘how high?’ and ‘what’s the engine?’, were supplemented with ‘can you get another colour than yellow?’ Apart from the quiet trade days, I’d say the attendance was up on 2013, particularly on the Saturday, when I and my helpers were kept busy with visitors who genuinely seemed to be looking to buy. The proof of the Avalon sales pudding is usually over the 6 months following, when people have had the chance to reflect, research, fly and decide.

Many thanks to owners Chris Plumstead and Bob Medwell for loaning their aircraft for display; and Mike Rudd and Rob Goodman for ferrying them into and out of a busy Avalon. Thanks also to Soar Aviation for adding one of their school aircraft to the display and to Koushik and Damien (both Soar instructors) for ferry duties.

There is already an amazing number of Avalon 2015 videos on YouTube, one or two of which are reasonably well produced including a short clip from Black Sheep Productions, but many of which are either too long and boring or badly shot and edited – or both.

Fox Formation2Finally, this picture was taken by Mike Rudd (in a Foxbat) on the way back from Avalon to Tyabb. The formation Foxbats are being flown by two experienced formation-endorsed pilots – Rob Goodman and Damien Nott – as they crossed Port Philip Bay in the evening sun.

As usual, click on the photo for a bigger version.

Avalon Airshow Trade Tickets

Avalon Trade DaysAfter distribution to ‘official’ visitors, I have a limited number of free entry tickets for the Avalon Airshow Trade days – Tuesday 24 February-Thursday 26 February plus a few for the Friday morning, 27 February. Please note – Friday Trade attendees must depart the show before 1400 when the public show begins.

Each ticket allows entry for one person on one day. Minimum age limit is 16 and visitors should be dressed in ‘casual business’ attire, whatever that means.

Gates are open 0800-1700 Tuesday-Thursday and 0800-1400 on Friday.

Please contact me as soon as possible if you want tickets – maximum two per request. First come, first served.

PS – the dates shown on the photo are for the public days!

NATFLY Easter 2015 is no more

NATFLY headerIn case you hadn’t heard, Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) has decided to postpone – to a yet undisclosed date and place – the 2015 Easter NATFLY event, which in recent years has taken place at Temora Airfield in New South Wales.

The October 2014 RA-Aus newsletter says: “The decision was made with a view to re-invigorating NATFLY to attract a wide and varied audience”. RA-Aus is expecting to make a further announcement in January 2015 and refer you to a link on their website for more information – but don’t bother, the link just takes you to the NATFLY 2014 site, with nothing about the RA-Aus decision to postpone/cancel next year’s event.

The announcement has been greeted with both joy and sadness in our home.

Joy because for the first time in over 20 years, we can enjoy the Easter holiday weekend like normal(?) people. Before coming to Australia 15 years ago (and attending every NATFLY since then) we used to take our hot-air balloon to a big Easter ballooning festival in southern England. Getting up at 4.00 in the morning for the dawn lift-off was not my forté but taking part in a mass departure of 50+ balloons did make up for the early start. But preparation, planning and attendance at these big events costs a lot of time and money. Because of job and other constraints, I was often separated from my partner at a holiday time when we would prefer to be together relaxing.

And sadness because I remember when NATFLY attracted 500 or more aircraft from every corner of Australia. I recall often meeting people who had flown to Narromine (the NATFLY location in those days) from Darwin, Perth, Cairns and all manner of other distant, and no doubt more exotic, locations. The club of which I was a member – the Gold Coast Sports Flying Club (GCSFC) based at Heck Field, just to the north of the Gold Coast, always flew several aircraft down – as many as eight, I recall one year. We didn’t necessarily fly together – some took close to six hours in the slower planes, and others maybe only four hours. But we all got together after arrival and walked round looking at all the planes and chatted to their happy owners.

But, alas, attendances at NATFLY (and for that matter Ausfly, a similar event) have decreased markedly in recent times.

Contrast this situation with ever increasing attendances at air shows & fly-ins overseas – Sun ‘n Fun (Florida, USA), EAA Airventure (Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA), The Flying Show (mainly British Microlight Aircraft Association, Shropshire, UK), the Light Aircraft Association Rally (various locations, UK), Blois Airshow (Blois, France) and last but not least, Aero-Expo (Friedrichshafen, Germany). Due to visitor and exhibitor demand, they have recently doubled the frequency of this last event to make it annual instead of bi-annual.

So, what’s happened to the joy of flying recreational and sport aircraft in Australia? Why don’t people attend NATFLY any more? (See my earlier post/report about the 2014 event). Have people fallen out of love with flying? Are the aeroplanes too expensive to buy or fly? What effect have all the shenanigans at RA-Aus had over the last few years? Is the heavy hand of CASA – rightly or wrongly – blamed for recent low turn-outs? Has Easter just become the wrong time to hold a fly-in event? Or is it something else?

We need to get our mojo back and start enjoying our national fly-in events again, whether RA-Aus, Ausfly or whatever!

PS – Here’s a date for your diary: the Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport, south west of Melbourne, 24 February to 1 March 2015 inclusive. See you there!!??**