Don’t know where to post this. Probably here..
So while many of you aspire better and bigger things, I’ve decided to go the opposite direction!
DA42 sold, and planeless for now.
I found myself less and less enjoying longer trips. It’s been a fun 10 yrs of hanging at 10k feet in an airway and doing IAP’s but it wore off a bit. My wife liked it even less so. Most of my/our traveling grew into visiting my friend/business partner (winery) in Catalonia, or day trips to the other Balearic isles. Actually, I found myself enjoying going back to sight-seeing. The Diamond is a good traveler and a reasonable sight-seer, but I suppose my evolving mission profile calls for a great sight-seer with some travel capability.
Another factor is that Son Bonet is losing it’s charm and utility for me. In contrast to my expectations, it recently became clear that SR-SS flying will not be reinstated (it was taken away from us a few yrs ago). So, in summer, the place closes at 18:45 LT, and that is when the nice flying starts.. In winter/spring closing time is 16:45 LT. So basically, I can hardly have a proper lunch in Barcelona or Menorca and be back in time. I’m not mentioning Ibiza, because that has recently become a no-go destination for light GA anyway. Well, at least for me. I’m not going to let these people rip me off by paying 600-800 euros for the honor. Add to that that Son Bonet’s cafeteria, the place where we would mingle and tell our war stories, was closed some time ago and it now becomes clear that it will not be re-opened. And the final nail in the coffin is that the school where I used to instruct closed down their fixed-wing ops.
As a result of all this, most private flyers are leaving Son Bonet, and it turns into a useful aerodrome for some ATPL schools, helicopter schools/sightseeing outfits and a firefighter base.
I absolutely love flying, so what’s next?
Thought about getting back into helicopter flying. Obviously the best sightseeing tool there is, and fine for traveling short distances. But a R44 needs avgas, and so I would still be stuck with Son Bonet. I could operate it from home, but apart from the fuel logistics problem, there are a few reasons why this would not be an ideal solution. My wife is always right
So here’s where ULM’s come in.. I started flying them 2 yrs ago and I must say it grew on me. Not just the machines themselves but the whole notion of freedom. Just drive up to a hangar, open a door, pull a plane out and go fly. No flight plans, no reflective vests, no email to the police who my pax is, no nothing. Like getting on a motorbike. Fly from sunrise to sunset. 3 legal fields (and some, ahem, semi-legal ones) on the island to go to and have a cup of coffee or a chat. Or go to San Luis, Menorca. Heck, one could even go to Ibiza again where there is an semi-legal field and a (hopefully soon) legal field. And then I found out that 5 kms away from my winery project in Penedes (Catalonia) there is this great ULM field called Avinyonet! That surely beats going to Reus, email them for a PPR for parking on a deserted massive apron and then drive for an hour..
Add to that the fact that many private flyers from Son Bonet have made the move to ULM-flying and that it is turning into a lively community. My mind was made up. Heck, I can always keep my ratings current and lend a 4-person IFR-capable plane from the few that are left at Son Bonet for the occasion..
So now it’s a matter of finding a nice craft. A nice project in itself. I have been looking at many different ones. Including the tandem-seaters Blackshape, Tarragon, Shark and TL-Stream. But when I showed them to my wife she said ‘jeez, I thought your mid-life crisis was over’! My reply that I heard some rumors about scientific proof of a 3/4 life crisis did not impress her.. And my argument that someone must sit on the bleeding edge of new stuff did not go down well either. So much for these craft then. Anyway, it’s nice to know that what she really says is that she likes to sit beside me, or at least that’s what I want to believe. Seriously, they may be nice planes, but their empty weight is high and with 2 on board you would be excessively over 472,5 kg and they then need quite a bit of runway, more than what 2 of the 3 fields here have to offer. And I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to operate ULM-style retractable gears from the kind of fields we have here. And, finally, it’s about bimbling around and sight seeing and not about speed..
Of course I am aware of the developments regarding the 600 kg MTOW for ULM’s discussed in other threads and that plays a role in my final decision.
Right now, my favorites are the Bristell (taildragger is nice too), FK14 (le mans version is fun in this climate) and the Blackwing.
I suppose I need some serious guidance from Jojo, Jan Olieslagers, LeSving, Europaxs and others here to keep me on the right track and keep my head clear of clouds
Thanks Beechbaby. Yes, these kind of machines did cross my mind! Problem is that the UL fields here do not allow operation of anything like LSA or VLA..
Was your DA 42 the PH reg that found a new home in goucester? Might actually be the one I take to Svalbard!
You better treat my baby well Noe! Did you manage to get permission to go to Svalbard? Damn, Do you have a seat left? ;)
I recently tried the Skylane, maybe you should, too.
It’s looks are attractive to many “bigger stuff” pilots. It does 200km/h. And they weigh noticeably less than 300kgs, so can actually be flown legally with two on board (if little fuel and stuff is carried).
I really wouldn’t wait for the 600 kgs. It’s all very unclear what will happen. Also, any 600kg machine will be 150+k, for what is still, essentially, a toy. I would go for something nice NOW.
The Dynamic WT-9 is popular around here.
Well, since you called on me in person, here I am …
The “standard” ultralight is 80 HP Rotax powered, high wing, fixed gear, two-seat side-by-side. Think Eurofox, Rans S6, Aeroprakt LS22 and many many more. My own bird is in this category too. I think however that, coming from a DA42, you might be looking for something more performant than 80 kts cruise.
The other end of the market have already been named: Bristell, WT-9, and more. Unsurprisingly all these are low-wingers, and some have the option of retractable gear. For myself, I do not trust them. I have once tried my hand at a VL-3 and found it very demanding on pilotage. But then, coming from the DA42 you might find nothing unusual, I cannot compare. Still, those high-performance designs push engineering to the limits of both the rules and the limits imposed by physics.
I would recommend a sensible compromise, and searching for one I came upon the CT range. High wing so good views, reasonable speed. IMHO you should avoid retractable gear, it is too incongruent with ultralight thinking.
Two side-thoughts, however:
Before someone else says: a Europa would be ideal for your “mission profile” but it cannot fit the 450 kg profile AFAIK. Inquire twice, though, it would be too nice if you could make it work!
@aart that sounds like a sensible decision, when the DA42 doesn’t fit your mission profile any longer.
Actually the Europa XS Trigear, which I fly is no Microlight (although almost no one at the airfield can destinguish it from them and it has a Rotax too), so I’m not too much into the Microlight scene. Maybe I’d consider the Virus SW http://www.pipistrel.si/plane/virus-sw/overview , which is from a reputable Manufacturer with a some hundreds flying over the world. It’s great for sightseeing with huge windows, is a highwing with easy entry and is really fast despite having a fixed gear. It also has a very good range. However the weight issue will always remain with a passenger other than a jokey with this kind of machines.
I know a guy from Germany, who stepped down from a Turbo SR22 to the Virus SW and he’s very happy with it.
@aart — do you think your overwater flying with be as enjoyable with an uncertified single engine microlight as it is with your twin DA42? Just asking because after some not so good experience flying behind a single Lycoming, I no longer enjoy flying over open water and other inhospitable terrain.