Roadable Glasair Sportsman?

The Plane Driven web site has announced the completion and flight testing of a fly/drive version of the Glasair Sportsman 2+2 kit aircraft called the PD-1 that will appear at Oshkosh AirVenture this year.

Plane Driven was conceptualized and founded by Trey Johnson after recognizing the potential of a roadable aircraft. Pilots who encounter inclement weather that prohibits continuous travel to their destination have desired a vehicle that could overcome this challenge. Over the past year the Plane Driven build team and engineers have worked on developing the unique design of the PD-1. Continue reading "Roadable Glasair Sportsman?"

Skybike's Telescoping Wings

This AirVenture's key new aircraft designs all seem to have one component in common: some kind of rotating, swinging or folding wing design. Roadable aircraft vehicles are also all the rage.

Sam Bousfield, president of Samson Motoworks, has been working on a three-wheeled roadable aircraft he calls the Skybike that solves the issue of what to do with the wings on the ground in a novel way: The Skybike's wings telescope in and out.

"It's been two years from my original concept of a lightweight, motorcycle-based machine that would be stable on the ground even in high wind conditions," says Bousfield. "Our patent-pending design has a telescoping titanium wingspar and a ducted fan engine with a British Quaife Engineering transmission drive that splits the engine output to the two back wheels or, by way of a harmonic decoupler, to the ducted fan propeller."

Bousfield says that Swift Engineering is currently working on a radio-controlled model for wind-tunnel and proof-of-concept testing, and he hopes to have a flying prototype available for the the AirVenture show next year. The Skybike exhibit booth is located in Hangar E.

For more information, visit Swift Engineering.

You CAN Take It With You

"My son designed this," says David Shelton, father of David Shelton, who was convinced that the best way to use his general aviation aircraft would be to take his ground transportation with him. "He saw the roadable aircraft," says Shelton, " and he thought, there has to be a simpler way."

Shelton purchased a Van's RV-10, and has modified it to accept a 40-pound, custom belly-pod that carries a modified Yamaha ST 225 motorcycle safely and aerodynamically inside. The quick-fitting pod can hold 260 pounds, and attaches via a patent-pending winch system to four reinforced brackets on the RV-10's belly.

Load testing and flight testing of the product are currently in progress, and it looks like there are no handling penalties, and only an 8-knot speed penalty for the pod on the RV-10.

Shelton has incorporated Motopod. He's taking deposits on the RV-10 pods and considering STCs for the Cirrus and Cessna 182. Shelton is giving a forum on the project Friday, August 1, at Pavilion 002, during AirVenture. You can find more information on the Motopod at Motorcycle Pilot.

Terrafugia's Transition Files Folding Wing Patents

Anna Mracek Dietrich, COO of roadable vehicle developer Terrafugia, has exciting news for this show. Just before the start of the 2008 EAA AirVenture she finished filing the paperwork for two patents on the electronic folding wing technology that is key to the usefulness and marketability of the company's Transition roadable aircraft (just don't call it a flying car!).

"There are a couple things that we've incorporated into this design that we have not seen before. One of the big things is the flush lock in the midspan and the root of the wing. It is a t-shaped lock. It is very easy to preflight. You can see it, you can touch it. Being a very tactile preflighter myself, I like that. Of course there are electronic sensors that show in the cockpit, too."

The root lock is an over dead center lock that pivots around itself but never comes apart into two pieces, and when it is flush, it is locked. You do not have to get out of the vehicle to fold or unfold the wing. "Not having to take a wrench to the wings of your airplane in order to fold and unfold the wings is a big plus. You don't have to wonder, did I remember to put that bolt back in," Dietrich explains. "And one of the items on the patent is that the outer wing is moved by the inner wing's motion. There is only one actuator, which means that it is elegantly simple, and also safe. You'll never run a wing into the ground, and it takes a lot less volume of space around the aircraft in order to safely fold or unfold the wings. We think we can meet pilots' needs in terms of both convenience and safety."

The proof of concept vehicle is here for the very first time. It came back from the paint shop just last week, and will be displayed today from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in AeroShell Square. The company is not currently planning to offer a kit version of this LSA aircraft, however, Dietrich is quick to note that she has learned to never say never.

"The opportunity to display our vehicle on AeroShell Square changed the way we handled our design and building the last six months. We really wanted to have a complete proof-of-concept vehicle ready to display on time," she explains.

The company has accepted an undisclosed number of deposits from what Dietrich describes as very patient buyers. It is looking for a production facility in the Boston area, near its Woburn, Massachussetts product development shop is located now. She estimates that the company is 18 months from delivering its first production Transition roadable aircraft to a buyer. "There's a lot of work to do between now and then but it is certainly doable."

For those of you who want to sample how a Transition might fly, you can download an X-Plane module and try it yourself on your PC or Mac X-Plane virtual flight simulator. For more information go to Terrafugia.