Briefing and Flying in Paradise City

Before flight, pilots get their morning briefing for the Paradise City pattern and, as happens, things had changed since last year, necessitating more detail and new instructions for the early birds who showed for the post-dawn session.

Shortly after the green flag went up, the flying began in earnest, with LSAs, Experimentals and ultralights sharing the airspace around the south side of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport as they have since before there was even a category called LSA.

Now This Is More Like It...

Now this is more like what we come to Sun 'n Fun to see--an Apollo Fox LSA and a Lucky 2 ultralight lifting off the Paradise City runway. No splash, no drip and no sweat after things started to dry out a little.

New Insight Engine Monitor and So Much More

A buddy intercepted me on the flight line, and said there was this new engine monitor on display that you could use to balance your prop. After I got my brain to accept this concept, I went to find out myself, and ended up at the Insight Instrument Corporation booth.

The Graphic Engine Monitor (GEM) has been around for almost 30 years now, and most of us have become at least passingly familiar with its operation and uses. But according to John Youngquist, inventor of the GEM line of monitors, just measuring CHTs and EGTs is no longer enough. Enter the new G3, which takes engine monitors to a whole new level.

Along with engine temperatures, the new G3 displays and records engine vibration level, fuel flow, manifold pressure, oil temp and pressure, takeoff G forces, turbulence levels in both vertical and yaw axis, and even has a diagnostic to measure the resistance of each individual lead of each temperature probe. Oh, yes, one more thing: It now features a color display.

The source for many of this expanded functionality is a small silver box that contains an accelerometer and fuel flow transducer and mounts to the spine of the engine. This allows the G3 to measure and record G forces and vibration, which are then duly displayed and recorded (along with the rest of the engine parameters) on a front-mounted, garden variety SD chip.

If you're wondering why you'd ever need this much info while in flight, consider being able to troubleshoot a faulty probe to confirm that out-of-limit indications are indeed valid. And being able to accurately measure and record an out-of-balance prop under the full range of flight conditions is huge compared to the data available from a ground run-up.

Those who have rental aircraft have always wanted to know just how their planes are being flown by renter pilots, and now they can instantly look at the flight data from a particular flight by just popping the data card into a SD card reader. Suspect aerobatics in a non-aerobatic airplane? Or a hard landing? Or excessive G loadings? The G3 will let you know, and no additional software is necessary.

The full six-cylinder model of the G3 lists for $3200 (including probes), and the four-cylinder version is several hundred less. If you already have a GEM 602, 603 or 610 installation, the G3 will simply drop in using the old connector. However, a few new wires under the cowl will be required for fuel flow and accelerometer functions if these are to be added.

More information can be found at Insight Avionics.

Celier Aviation Xenon Shines in Chopper Town

It’s taxicab yellow and bulbous on the bottom, but when Mike Bantum fires up the turbocharged intercooled Rotax 912 on the Celier Xenon gyroplane, heads turn to watch the twin-tailed gyroplane pre-rotate its extruded rotorblades and then roll just a hundred feet or so as it seems to hop into the air. “The Mitsubishi intercooler gives us operating air box temperatures around 89° F. It’s astounding,” says Bantum, who has been demonstrating the Xenon for J&M; Gyros of Port St. Lucie, Florida, here at Sun 'n Fun's Chopper Town. J&M; imports the Xenon as either an ELSA (factory-built) or a kit from Celier Aviation, located Jaktorow-Kolonia, Poland.

Designer Raphael Celier has made several updates to the design for 2008, the most notable being completely redesigned doors with a triple-pin latching system to prevent inadvertent openings in flight. There is also a Dynon “glass” cockpit option available. The Xenon, which weighs 660 pounds empty, can carry its own weight, which is unusual in a gyroplane, explains demo pilot Mike Bantum. It’s French-built Duc-Helices forged-carbon Windspoon propeller helps boost the lifting power of the machine, as does its lightweight composite cockpit, which provides an efficient profile to the wind. Pilots who fly the Xenon can expect the short takeoff and landing capabilities of a gyroplane with a wide, comfortable cockpit for two and space for two 20-pound bags just behind the seating area.

Look for more about this innovative gyro and its prolific designer soon.

Show Shopping Without Stopping

Still, not everyone stops and gawks during the afternoon airshow...some get busy and shop to take advantage of the lighter crowds in displays knowing that their chances of trying on a cockpit are a little better than when the roar of engines and the trails of smoke serve to distract most others in the crowd.

This gentleman, for example, preferred trying on the left seat of the Rans S-19 LSA to rubber necking the solo act screaming overhead -- something any good aircraft exec should appreciate.

Scheme Designers Goes 3-D

Craig Barnett, principal of Scheme Designers, which creates unique paint schemes for aircraft of all makes and models, is beaming like a proud parent. He says that it has always been a challenge working with some customers who have trouble visualizing what a paint scheme will look like on their airplane from a two-dimensional rendering.

“Face it, that’s flat,” Barnett says, “and most aircraft have lots of curved surfaces. It is just hard for some people to envision a design that might wrap around or taper in a certain way. And sometimes it is just figuring how the colors will look from different angles that is hard for people.”

Barnett’s solution to his customers’ problem was to create 3-D renderings of the aircraft for them, all wrapped in variations on the prospective paint schemes. The aircraft, seen in small Quicktime movies, can be rolled and pitched and yawed around their axes so that you can get a clear look at what any particular paint get-up is going to look like.

“We charge a premium for the service, because it is so labor-intensive,” says Barnett, “but people are really happy about how it helps them to make decisions. They are asking for the 3-D more and more.”

Barnett also offers the chance for you to see your airplane in a prospective 3-D still shot, flying in the blue. The rendering is realistic enough, if he has a good picture of your airplane (make sure to photograph any custom bumps or curves so that he can get them in), to fool people into thinking you’ve got your bird flying and had a nice photo shoot done already. “That’s really just a side-benefit,” explains Barnett. The real plus, he says, is that people are finding it easier to choose, and since he charges a flat fee for all the changes you want until the actual full-size templates and paint-shop instructions are printed, the easier it is for clients to make up their minds, the easier Barnett’s job is.