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James R Thomas
Homebuilder or Craftsman
48
Posts
10
#1 Posted: 1/30/2010 09:12:36 Modified: 1/30/2010 09:15:31

I'm always amazed to hear EAA members talk with such disrespect concerning ultralights and light sport aircraft and any experimental with any engine other than a Lycoming or Continental. I've listened so many times from GA pilots about how all Rotax engines, even the 912's are nothing but cheap junk. Eliteism is alive and well in the aviation community. I recently made a new friend of such a pilot. Like all the others with opinions but no experience with light sport aircraft and Rotax 912s he had his mind made up. He's also an A& P. I took him over to a local airport that use Allegro aircraft with Rotax 912, 80 hp engines. After a long talk with the owner about the 2000 hour engines with never a single drop of oil added, 2.8 gph during training average and no major engine problems with any 912 ever, one of the CFI's offered to take him for a free demo flight. I had tried to convince him about how much smoother, quieter and more powerful these little Rotax engines are and how much better the planes handle than his Cessnas all without effect but one 30 minute flight did it. His 1st words when he opened the door, "I'm a believer". All the way  home he talked about how smooth, quiet and powerful that little Rotax was and how responsive and manuverable that little Allegro was. He sounded just like me. James Thomas- Kitfox IV Speedster-Rotax 912

 



Alice Cornwell
65
Posts
29
#2 Posted: 1/30/2010 19:33:35

 James, I couldn't agree more.  I have seen the same elitism whichalmost certainly comes from the ultralight connections of Rotax and LSAs, plus some ignorance of the fact that the Rotax 912 is a GREAT engine.  I don't know what Cessna were thinking of putting the Continental 0-200 in their new LSA.   It is gving up about 70lbs weight to the 912, which is also quieter. smoother and more economical.  The Cessna is struggling for useful load compared to the 912 powered LSAs.



James R Thomas
Homebuilder or Craftsman
48
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10
#3 Posted: 1/30/2010 21:35:45

Thanks Alice. I was afraid I had opened a can of worms but the critical attitude by pilots who are totally ignorant of light sport aircraft and Rotax 912 engines is a sore spot with me. I've known a fairly large number of pilots who were once very negative, especially toward the 912's who now, after becoming experienced with them, are now firm believers. Without exception, every pilot who I have known that had a negative opinion of the Rotax 912 had no experience with them. Since we are the "EXPERIMENTAL" Aircraft Association, you would think we would be more open-minded toward new technology. Light Sport aircraft with Rotax 912 engines are the light and agile sports cars of aviation. If you turn a blind eye toward them, you're missing out on the most enjoyable type of flying. James Thomas



Jim Heffelfinger
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#4 Posted: 2/1/2010 15:49:49

 

I agree,  I know of a chapter of just short of 90 members has only one non Cont or Lycoming powered craft flying. There are 2 more in the build. .   Most members are flying certified aircraft.  Even the mention of VW based engines are cause for head shaking and clucking sounds.  

 



Bill Greenwood
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121
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#5 Posted: 2/1/2010 16:13:59 Modified: 2/1/2010 16:21:13

James, I have not built, owned or flown a Rotax 912, but I have ridden behind some.,So I am not completely without expeience of this type.

I was a partner in a Starlite, which is a small homebuitl, about 250 lbs or so empty and powered by a Rotax 447. It is the single seat version that came from designer Marc Brown, before the Pulsar.It is too fast , well over 120 mph to qualify as an LSA, but fits otherwise.

I did the test flgihts, and while the Rotax performed ok, it sure did not inspire condience at first. It rattled and shook at low speed and began to smooth out above 3000 rpm. It never failed us.

I think the 4 stroke 912 is a big step up, but I would not necesarily say it is better than a good Continental O 200 etc.  The samlll Lyc and Con have powered good planes for decaeds, and the O200 even pushes racers at Reno to 250 mph.If I am correct and not out of date the Rotax had a TBO of about 1200 hours vs. the 1800 or 2000 on the Lyc or Con.. Of course the Oh on the Rotax is much cheaper.

Both engines have their place as do both types of planes. But I haven't found any lite or LSA plane that I'd trade for my Cub.

To me, what is improtant is to get more folks out flying , not so much what they fly. As long as it is fun and safe.

I have very little experience in LSA,s , not that many around here; but I always try to beg borrow or buy a flight when I am at EAA.

 



Rod Witham
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#6 Posted: 2/1/2010 20:51:36
 Bill Greenwood wrote:
I was a partner in a Starlite... It is too fast , well over 120 mph to qualify as an LSA, but fits otherwise.
Bill, you may be confusing ultralight and Light Sport. The Part 103 ultralight (IIRC) is limited to 63 mph, while the LSA is limited to 138 mph. Your Starlite would be well within today's LSA limit.
But I haven't found any lite or LSA plane that I'd trade for my Cub.
Actually, your cub qualifies as an LSA. (Less than 1320 lbs, less than 138 mph sea level cruise, no more than two seats, etc)
To me, what is important is to get more folks out flying , not so much what they fly. As long as it is fun and safe.
Spot on, there. That is the attitude that might give personal flight the chance to continue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Joel Cox
35
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5
#7 Posted: 2/1/2010 21:26:33
Bill Greenwood wrote:

I think the 4 stroke 912 is a big step up, but I would not necesarily say it is better than a good Continental O 200 etc.  The samlll Lyc and Con have powered good planes for decaeds, and the O200 even pushes racers at Reno to 250 mph.If I am correct and not out of date the Rotax had a TBO of about 1200 hours vs. the 1800 or 2000 on the Lyc or Con.. Of course the Oh on the Rotax is much cheaper.

 

 

Just wanted to correct you on the Rotax 912. Its up to a 2000 hour TBO, for the new engines. Even some of the older ones qualify with a few modifications. With and equal TBO to the O-200's out there, its looking like an even better engine now. Granted, the new O-200D will have a 2400 hour TBO. Still, I think I'd rather have the Rotax, just on cost alone.



Joe Norris
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
328
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#8 Posted: 2/2/2010 10:11:27
James Thomas wrote:

Eliteism is alive and well in the aviation community.

 

 

James,

Your point is well taken, but I have to say that this issue isn't at all limited to the aviation community.  This type of thing goes on in all special interest groups.  In motorcycles it's Harleys vs. Honda vs., well, you get the idea.  In sport shooting it's automatic vs. wheel gun (revolver).  In cars it's Ford vs. Chevy vs. Mopar, etc.  Motorboat vs. sailboat?  Skis vs. snow board?  This stuff is all over the place!

I think it all boils down to basic human nature.  Many of us support our own choices, and often look down our noses at those who have chosen to go a different route.  I like what I like, you like what you like, and someone else has a different idea all together.  In the final analysis, that's what makes the world go around and what makes life so interesting.  It would be pretty dull if we all liked the same thing!

And sure, it would be nice if everyone was truly on board with "live and let live", but again human nature gets in the way.  We are basically a competitive lot.  It can't be "I like mine and you like yours".  It always ends up "mine is better than yours"!  Such is the life we lead.

And I wouldn't miss a minute of it!!

Cheers!

Joe

 



Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
175
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69
#9 Posted: 2/3/2010 09:54:16

I think Joe has a good point about human nature and how it applies to airplanes.  I have not flown any light sport aircraft yet, but hoped to own one someday.  I think the Rotex engines have been around long enough to have proved their worth.  The best example I can think of is the RV-12.  Van has always been a big fan of staying with what works.  There are over 6000 RV's flying, mostly with Lycoming engines, but Van chose to go with the Rotex for his light sport model.  

This category of aircraft is not really designed for a lot of long cross-country use, but is certainly capable of getting you out for short hops and lots of practice activities.  They are cheaper to operate, and will certainly replace the training fleet.  I think the main objection is the high RPM and gear reduction drive which is not common in most GA aircraft.  Most of our experience with high RPM engines comes from the auto conversions used in experimental designs over many years.  These can and do work, but their evolution includes a lot of off-airport landings.  Today we have a lot of information on how to do auto conversions and the engines manufactured today are much better then those built 20 years ago.  The rotex has a lot of flight years in it's log book and has evolved into a solid performer.  Shell is now offering motor oil engineered specifically for the rotex.  I suspect they made the investment in R&D, because the market is growing for that engine.


Joe

 



James R Thomas
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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#10 Posted: 2/3/2010 12:31:00

Hey Y'all, My origional point being that my friend's  mind was made up that light sport and ultralight were almost the same and anything other than a Continental or Lycoming is cheap, poorly made junk. Let me give y'all some more info. My friend is an experienced private pilot but non-current. He is also an A&P with a background on light certified aircraft and engines. He's looking for an Ercoupe either one flyable or to restore to flying condidion. During his conversation with the CFI he learned that he could easily become current as a Light Sport pilot and many Ercoupes fall into the Light Sport catagory. What really won him over was the ride. The performance was superior to Cessna 150 he had owned, the engine much quieter and the take-off and climb had him shaking his head. He did maneuvers that in his words "would have pulled the wings off my 150". His open mind allowed him to discover that Light Sport was exactly what he wanted. He only wanted a 2 place airplane, the weight and speeds were ok, and the only thing he couldn't do under Light Sport is fly at night and that was not a problem either. Since he is an A&P with much certified type experience, I'm sure he'll stay with GA types he's familiar with. I don't blame him. I'd do the same thing in his shoes but he has a new-found respect for light sport aircraft with 912 engines. I hope to help a lot more GA pilots see the light. (Light Sport that is) James Thomas



Bill Greenwood
Warbirds of America MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
121
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#11 Posted: 2/4/2010 19:51:04

I am aware that my Cub qualifies as a LSA, so let me reword my sentence, I have not seen any new ultra light or LSA that I would trade for a good J3.

My Starlite might slip through as an LSA. That speed limit is actually 120 knots, not mph. That's 138 mph and believe it or not that little Starlite will probably exceed that even with a 447 as it is so streamlined, and light.

I believe that Rotax had a TBO of 1200 or 1400 for years, the idea of 2000 hours is brand new , is it not?

Some of pride of ownership, to me is simply appearance. Most of the high wing 912 engine planes just don't look right to me.The new Piper Sport looks pretty good in photos, I haven't seen it in person. 

James if you compare the better LSA s only to a C150 , then that is sort of the bottom of the normal plane team and not a very high mark to exceed, except perhaps in safety record where I think the 150 is pretty good.

One area where the Cub or Champ or even C150 is superior to the new LSA s is price. The standard planes can be had in excellent shape for under $50,000 whereas it seems that the new LSA s, good though they may be in some ways like milage or OH cost, are certainly not cheap. They seem to be up there over $125,000 in price, of course for a new one.

 




James R Thomas
Homebuilder or Craftsman
48
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10
#12 Posted: 2/4/2010 21:27:03

Hey Bill, I agree with a lot you're saying. I can't say anything against the older LSA types, the Cubs, Luscombs,Taylorcrafts, Champs and Ercoupes. But what you're comparing is apples to oranges. Try comparing your Cub to a new Cub Crafters Cub clone at $140,000. Also if your compare performance, the new type LSA's outperform the old types by a huge margin.I flew a new Cub Crafters Cub with an O-200. It is a beautiful airplane but is nowhere close to any 912S powered LSA I've been around. Climb at maybe 900 fpm and about 90 mph top cruise. I know, performance ain't everything and flying a classic carries a lot of weight with me too. I can't just go out and buy a new LSA myself and if I were looking for a flying, LSA legal airplane, I'd be looking at one of the classics. I chose a Kitfox IV Speedster with a 912. It has the classic styling similar to old Monocoupes, performance like a Super Cub, low maintainance  costs, handles like a sports car and best of all, I can do all my own work on it. Since I'm the builder, I'll be able to do my own annuals and if I want to make any changes, I don't need FAA approval. Best of all, I'll have under $30,000 when I'm finished.(I got a bargain)There are all sorts of pros and cons. The Rotax 912S is over $20,000 now and overhaul is over $12,000. On the other hand 2000 hours for a 912 is a piece of cake. One such 912 I'm very familiar with just reached its 2000 hours. Compression and performance are just like the 1st  day it flew and I wouldn't be surprised if it wouldn't go another 2000 hours. Rotax keeps raising the TBO because 912 keep meeting TBO with no problems. I've read about 3000hour plus 912's and I wouldn't be surprised to see TBO increased again in a few years. I appreciate the old classics as much as anyone but I also like the conveniences of electricity, things like electric starters, radio and intercom. One of the great things about LSA is that there is such a broad range of choices and none are wrong. The Kitfox is my preference at this time but my next interest may be a classic. I can love the old 60's muscle cars but still appreciate the new Shelby GT 500's and Z06 Corvettes. It's the same for airplanes. I like them all. James Thomas



Joseph Maynard
Homebuilder or Craftsman
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#13 Posted: 2/5/2010 15:27:15

 

Hi James ......... tickles me to hear such great conversation. Looks like Light Sport is catching on and now proving it's self. I built a two place Hiperlight with an HKS and it way out performs the Baby Ace I restored a few years back. Fuel burn of two and one half gallons an hour and a cruise of 95 mph. Youtube has loads of Light Sport pilots flying all over the US with our new little light engines.  Isn't it great !!   Joe Maynard



Brad Kramer
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
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#14 Posted: 2/10/2010 14:30:45

James, thanks for posting your experience.   I fly an Allegro and have run into some snobs, but then they change their tune once they go for a ride.  The performance and economy are totally different than what many pilots have experienced.  They also seem surprised, that 'yes' I can pass a medical and I'm a commercial/instrument pilot... I fly this plane because its a good fit for my needs and it is FUN!  Buying a used plane and having a 2-person partnership makes the cost reasonable and the maintenance is certainly less expensive than many 40 year classics that are showing signs of aging.

Like most LSA it CAN be used for cross-country and is much faster and cheaper than driving.  I get about 28 mpg, while travelling 115 mph going direct to my destination.  I can't think of any cars that'll do that for you.

Aside from the snobs, I also run into people that are really just curious about a plane they've never seen before.  (happened a lot when I had a Hatz too)  I've had biz-jet pilots looking over the Allegro and asking honest questions while they wait for their passengers to show up.  People are starting to open their minds to a different type of flying, but it takes time.  We'll get there!

 

 



James Hazen
12
Posts
13
#15 Posted: 2/19/2010 18:17:49

I've flown my Allegro with it's 100hp Rotax to 48 states and 115 different airports.  The Rotax has performed reliably on all my trips including crossing the Rockies several times.  It's currently got about 920 hrs on the hobbs and runs great.   A lot of people are curious about LSA but I've never had any snobs.  This year's goals are Route 66 East, Oshkosh and the Lewis and Clark Trail West.  And with the new altitude rules coming in April, Leadville.



Jim Hazen N44469
James R Thomas
Homebuilder or Craftsman
48
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10
#16 Posted: 3/31/2010 10:05:57

I was just reading my new Sport Aviation mag this morning and was surprised to read a quote of a statement I made on page 114 about the Rotax 912's. I was reminded of a remark made by an older gentleman who is a CFI and has a nice collection of  classic taildraggers including a 1930's Cessna, radial powered taildragger. (before the 190's and 195's-I forget the name) A mutual friend had made an emergency landing in a Kitfox 4 after the 912 quit. He had recently bought it after it had sat unflown for an extended period. The fuel filter was the problem. It was almost completely clogged. The new owner didn't  bother to replace it when he when to pulled the plane out  of long term storage, possible just an oversight That didn't seem to matter to the old guy. "Those Rotaxes sure are quiet when they quit" was his jab. I asked him how Lycomings run without gas but I didn't get an answer. It's hard to reason with a closed mind. James Thomas