Sherwood Scout

Sherwood Scout

A couple of years ago I visited the UK Light Aircraft Company (TLAC) factory in Norfolk to look at the single-seat tail-dragger Sherwood KUB aircraft. At the time I noted the high degree of engineering professionalism at the factory and very nearly decided to become the Australian dealer for the KUB. However, when we worked out prices, the A$ vs UK£ exchange rate put an end to my plans. I believed that the retail price for the KUB – great little aeroplane though it is – would not attract many buyers.

Sherwood KUB

While I was at the factory, I also looked at the Sherwood Scout, a 2-seat high wing Rotax 912ULS powered tail dragger. This aircraft, if you go back far enough, has its history in the Kitfox, although now seriously re-engineered to be stronger and fly (much) better than the older design. Apart from the excellent standard of engineering in the manufacture of this aircraft, it is almost unique both in being covered with UV-proof Oratex and having a (very) easy folding wing, allowing it to be stored in about 25% of the space needed for a fixed wing aircraft.

The aircraft is not the proverbial ‘tube & sailcloth’ aircraft but has a welded 4130 tube fuselage with aluminium spars and wooden ribs.  With the Rotax 912ULS/100hp engine, its performance figures are very attractive too. As well as the easy folding wing, add side-by-side seating, a good weight carrying capability, a genuine 95 knots TAS and you have the makings of an excellent bush plane – some might say it would eat Big Cats for breakfast! You can even swap between nose dragging and tail dragging in a better of minutes…

I am an avid subscriber to ByDanJohnson’s Blog – his is one of the top websites covering Light Sport and Recreational aircraft worldwide. And just the other day, one of his contributors, the well-known Dave Unwin,  published a flight review of the Scout. Once again, my interest was piqued…

Apart from commenting on the ‘very honest’ flying characteristics – ie very good! – the reviewer also reminded me of the easy folding wing option, making the aircraft much easier to store. Here’s his summary:

“I honestly feel that TLAC has got a winner here! Obviously care needs to be taken with the weight and balance of the lightest version, but with a typical useful load in excess of 517 pounds [235 kgs] the larger Scout [vs KUB] is a very practical machine, with good numbers for speed, range and endurance, and the ability to carry a good load into and out of rather short strips. The folding wings are a big plus, while the ability to reconfigure from a nosewheel to a tailwheel quickly and easily could also be very useful. I liked it, a lot.

You can read the full article here: Review of the Sherwood Scout

What do you think?

Dan Johnson tests the A32 Vixxen

Light aviation’s guru blogger Dan Johnson grabbed the opportunity to test fly the newest FAA LSA-approved aircraft, the Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen.

Click the photo above or here to see the article and accompanying video: Dan flies the A32

You can read more – much much more – about all manner of light sport, recreational and ultralight aircraft on Dan’s blog: ByDanJohnson.

Measuring the LSA market

Rotax 912 ULS engineI found an interesting article in General Aviation News about the growth of the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) market, both in the USA and worldwide. Click HERE to read the article.

Written by Dan Johnson (see his aviation blog at ByDanJohnson.com) it concludes that Rotax is by far the world’s biggest aviation engine manufacturer, with well over 50,000 four-stroke and over 120,000 two-stroke aircraft engines delivered to date. As a result, their annual engine sales can be used as a barometer for the recreational/LSA market as a whole, as other manufacturers like Lycoming and Continental are not really players in this market.

Dan makes some interesting remarks around the different proportions of LSA versus GA registrations in the USA in comparison with the rest of the world. In the USA, the GA-LSA ratio is 80-20, while in the rest of the world the ratio is reversed: 20-80 in favour of LSAs. He comments that this is probably because GA is relatively cheap in the USA and perceived to be very expensive elsewhere. (Tell me about it!). Although USA is the biggest single LSA market, nearly twice as many LSAs are actually sold outside the USA.

Other influencing factors in the USA may be that many aircraft service centres are unfamiliar with Rotax engines and some don’t even have access to the metric tools needed on the engine. Contrast that with Europe – and even Australia – where the Rotax is now a familiar engine.

More single seat ultralights

aerolite_103_7The second single seat ultralight Rob writes about is the Aerolite 103 – so named after the Part 103 regulations in the USA under which it’s built and flown. In Germany it’s known as the Aerolite 120, reflecting the maximum empty weight allowed in Europe.

This aircraft is a more traditional ultralight than the Sirocco NG (see an earlier post) in that it’s constructed from aluminium tube and dacron fabric covering. It uses a range of 2-stroke engines with electric and maybe 4-stroke propulsion in the pipeline. Favourite engine is the Hirth F33, a 28hp 2-stroke with electric start. With this engine, the aircraft sells in the USA ready to fly for under US$17,000, making it a very affordable way to get in the air. Main options include a ballistic rescue system, wheel spats and lift strut fairings. A range of dacron colours and patterns are available.

The Aerolite 103 will carry 140 kgs including 20 litres of fuel. Cruise is a gentle 50 knots maximum, take off and landing are in the 30-50 metres range.

There’s more information about this amazing little aircraft on byDanJohnson – a major USA website/blog covering a vast range of light sport and ultralight aircraft. His posts are quite frequent, particularly at this time of the year, with not only Aero Friedrichshafen but also Sun ‘n Fun in Florida. So have a look now while the Aerolite post is current.

What a pity CASA and RA-Aus do not permit these beautiful and relatively inexpensive factory built aircraft to be registered in Australia.