Click here or on the drawing above for a copy of the bulletin: SA-A32-03 Door Latches
In a life long before aeroplanes, I was involved in the world of corporate and stakeholder communications. As a result, I developed an interest in company logos, colours and type faces. It would be easy to consider this all a matter of superficial ‘look’ and ‘image’ which is the obsession only of corporate design agencies and of relatively little interest to actual business users. However, as I have learned, logos, colours and typefaces can have quite an influence on customers and others – particularly if you want to build familiarity and ‘brand recognition’.
When I brought the first Foxbat to Australia in 2001, it was adorned with the logo of the UK distributor – a red star with a stylised fox head and the script ‘Foxbat’ written at an angle across the bottom right corner. But why ‘Foxbat’ and what’s the red star all about?
The answers are simple, if a little mixed up in intent. The aircraft was christened a ‘Foxbat’ by the then UK agent – Gordon Faulkner – in a slightly misguided but in the event very memorable reference to the mach 3+ MIG-25 jet fighter, which the USA military codenamed ‘foxbat’. I say slightly misguided, as our Foxbat is actually built not in Russia, like the MiG, but in Ukraine. The red star is also very cold-war Russia, quite unlike the bright blue and yellow colours of Ukraine, which represent the clear sky and ripening wheat for which the country is famous.
However, I quite liked the original Foxbat logo and Gordon agreed I could use it, so it adorns the tails of all the original 45 or so 450kgs gross weight A22L aircraft delivered in Australia.
When the factory announced the 600kgs gross weight A22LS (Light Sport) version, I wanted to differentiate it from the original lighter weight A22L aircraft. From a distance of a few metres, the A22L and A22LS look pretty much identical, and the signature yellow paint continued, so one obvious way was to change the logo. After discussions with a local designer, I decided to drop the red star and the ‘Foxbat’ script and use only the fox head symbol. In fact, this was subliminally sharpened up to make it look more aggressive and, in a distant gesture to the red star, I changed the colours to red and black.
This new ‘red’ logo was applied to the first few A22LS aircraft – until someone ordered a red one, and the red fox head on the tail just didn’t look right! At the same time, I experienced a couple of misunderstandings about the colour of the registration numbers/letters on the fuselage sides. These are required to be of sufficient contrast to make them easily distinguishable, so I had been using black letters or numerals. All OK on yellow & white aeroplanes but almost invisible on red and blue ones. The designer came to the rescue and we agreed on silver letters and numerals, with a black shadow – which made them easy to see on all aircraft colours. To co-ordinate with the registration colours, I changed the fox head logo on the aircraft to black, white and silver.
In mid-2015 the factory announced the new, fast cruising A32. Many people were happy for this to still be called a Foxbat but, clearly, this was quite a different aeroplane – both to look at and to fly. After much agonising, I finally decided to go with’ Vixxen’ – again, more aggressive, with the extra ‘x’ added to make it a bit more memorable. And so the logo received yet another make over, hopefully to align it with the name. The silver elements were changed for black and the eyes were changed to red, for some eye-candy appeal.
Finally, about 18 months ago, the factory agreed to our suggestions to build an aircraft aimed at appealing to Australia outback landowners and pilots. We added a heavy-duty metal luggage bay with a side door, fat tyres with mud guards, a siren, a UHF radio and a bigger climb prop as well as a couple of other additions. But what to call this aircraft? We decided to be a bit more adventurous than ‘Foxbat Farmer’ and the like. In the end, our sales and service support partners – Cleveland Bay Aviation in Townsville – came up with ‘Kelpie’. This name has a bit more going for it than ‘Dingo’ or ‘Wombat’, suggesting hard work and ruggedness, developed for Australian conditions. And so the latest in a line of logos was born – a bit whimsical but a a bit of fun too. Maybe it’s a combination of the original fox head and a touch of Scooby Doo, ‘well friendly’ as my grandson would say.
So that’s a potted history of our Foxbat Australia aircraft logos. I’ve stayed away from typefaces and, to a large extent, colours, which could be the subject of several volumes in themselves.
And now we are working on a completely new logo…for something completely new in 2018. And it’s absolutely nothing like a fox head! Watch this space.
Yesterday there was a fairly strong and gusty crosswind on Tyabb’s 35/17 runway. The crosswind was made even more tricky as the wind was blowing from the north west over the hills and trees near the airfield, making for very uneven and turbulent conditions.
Quite by chance, Mike Rudd, our video producer, was there trying out a new video camera, capturing a couple of aircraft landing – but due to the conditions, there weren’t many up and about in the skies! However, my colleague Ido Segev was flying an A32 Vixxen demonstration with a prospective owner. (Thanks to Stuart for the loan of his aircraft).
This very short video (click the photo or here to view on YouTube) first shows a landing by a Beech Travelair twin, piloted as it turns out, by Roger Merridew, a very experienced pilot and owner of Lilydale Airfield. He is followed closely by Ido and his passenger (who was sitting in the left seat) in the A32 Vixxen.
It’s interesting to note the different techniques used to land each aircraft in what was a 12-15 knot gusting crosswind. In many ways, as you can see, the A32 Vixxen handles the conditions better than the Travelair. The secret to making a successful crosswind landing in the A32 Vixxen is speed management and the minimal use of flap. The aircraft was down safely and exited at the first cross-taxiway, about 70-75 metres from the threshold of runway 35.
Good demonstration Ido!
PS – the prospective customer placed an order after the flight!
My colleague Ido Segev and his friend Shaun just got home from an almost 1,000 nautical mile ferry flight of a new shiny Ferrari red Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen, registered VH-ACL, to its new owner Will Graham.
The aircraft is fitted with a Dynon SkyView system, including a 2-axis autopilot, transponder and fuel computer. In addition to the standard dual-watch VHF radio, the aircraft also has an 80-channel UHF radio, operating through the headsets.
Their flight took them from Moorabbin Airport, near Melbourne, via Temora and Parkes in New South Wales, to an overnight stop at St George in southern Queensland. Most of the flight was made at 8,500-9,500 feet AGL, which at times translated into a density altitude of over 11,000 feet. Said Ido: “Even at 7,500 feet were were still climbing in excess of 500 feet a minute – not bad with two of us, full fuel, luggage and some spare parts on board.” The next day, the weather wasn’t so kind, with strong headwinds and a 2,000 foot cloud base. Nevertheless they made good time and arrived at Emerald, Queensland, before lunch, after a short wait at Roma while some weather passed through.
Total flight distance was about 950 nautical miles with and average ground speed of slightly over 95 knots. Average fuel burn was a shade under 17 litres an hour. In metric fuel economy terms, that’s about 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres – not bad for an average speed of over 175 kilometres an hour! Ferrari and co, eat your hearts out!
This bright red aircraft with a chequerboard rudder design looks great – click on the photo or here for a short video explaining the controls: A32 Vixxen with Y-stick controls
The 5th Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen in Australia is on its way to its new owner in Broken Hill. Painted beautiful Pumpkin Orange – which looks particularly brilliant in the sun – the aircraft departed Tyabb on Saturday morning, ably piloted by Rob Hatswell, flying instructor at Gawler SA. Accompanied by his brother Peter, they made Horsham in double-quick time, cruising at 110 kts. After re-fuelling, they continued to Gawler, where the aircraft will be based while its new owner – Luke Mashford – does his conversion flying course.
Rob comments: “I’m amazed. The A32 only burned 33 litres from Tyabb to Horsham. That’s 17 litres less than the A22LS and an average of 20 knots faster. Yuriy has clearly waved his aerodynamic genius over the A32.”
Two more A32s are arriving at Moorabbin next week – another one for Broken Hill, plus a school aircraft for Coffs Harbour. More in due course.
Response to the Aeroprakt A32 ‘Vixxen’ has been nothing short of phenomenal, since the first demonstrator arrived in July 2015. No less than 12 have been ordered through Foxbat Australia, including one to an Australian subsidiary company operating in South Africa. The surprising thing is that sales of the A22LS ‘Foxbat’ have remained unaffected.
The most recent A32 arrival – serial number 011 – is in ‘Pumpkin Orange’, a colour which is becoming more popular as an alternative to the more common yellow, white, red and blue. The lucky owner lives out Broken Hill way and after familiarisation training – courtesy of Rob Hatswell at Gawler (north of Adelaide) – he will be flying the A32 largely on farm duties.
The aircraft is due for some sprauncy decals in the next couple of days and will hopefully be signed off sometime next week for test flying. Although weather around Melbourne has been a bit tempestuous lately!
After the very first A32 arrived here in Mazda Spirited Green Metallic (have a look at the pre-delivery flight test video here: A32 check) it seems that A32 owners like their colours – the next two A32 deliveries, due later in May, are yellow and white, with a bright green one (but not metallic) due early in June.