Hundreds of people visit the AOPA Aviator Showcase

Among the more unusual planes was the VL3 Evolution, a European two-seat carbon fiber sports plane. David Pauly, Alion Aviation’s Midwestern salesperson, flew it from Wichita, Kansas to Fort Worth for the event. The yellow and white plane was surrounded most of the day by curious people.

Pauly said the 141-horsepower Rotax 915iS-powered aircraft cruises at around 200 knots of actual speed at about 9 gallons per hour. At the lower end, the aircraft stalled at just 34 knots indicated airspeed with split flaps that can be deployed up to 55 degrees. The VL3 can also be purchased with a 115 hp Rotax 914UL turbocharged engine or a 100 hp Rotax 912UL, all capable of burning high octane unleaded automotive gasoline. In addition, the fixed gear model with a ground adjustable propeller can be built as an SLSA approved model in the factory in the Czech Republic. Higher horsepower models with retractable gear can be built as experimental aircraft if the builder goes to the factory and completes a quick build option.

Pauly said the aircraft with its flight controls and carbon fiber shaft was a pleasure to fly and very responsive. Prices range from $ 230,000 for the low-end aircraft to around $ 330,000 for the top-performing model with an IFR panel. To find out more about the VL3 in a future issue of AOPA pilot magazine.

While the VL3 is sporty and fast, Vashon Aircraft was at the showcase with its Ranger, a rugged LSA built as a trainer and light pilot for the backcountry. Vashon’s Kurt Robertson said the company has more than 50 all-metal high-wing models in the field. Several are used in flight schools, including the one on display at the show. However, most are in the hands of people who appreciate them in the backcountry. With a cruising speed of around 110 knots, the Ranger is no competitor to the VL3 in cruising, but with its ability to take off at just 315 feet and land at 475 feet, it can go where many others. can not. For those who want an IFR platform, Vashon now offers an IFR equipped version for $ 160,000. With this, a flight school can train sports pilots and those heading towards private, commercial and ATP certificates. Less equipped models can be purchased for $ 128,000 or $ 135,000.

Dr. Brent Blue is another pilot more interested in utility than speed. The Cessna Caravan he drives belongs to the Dog is My Copilot organization. The non-profit organization transports dogs from shelters in the southwest to permanent homes in the northwest. Blue is one of six pilots who pilot the trailer, which has transported up to 120 dogs at a time. He left the window the next day to fly 85 dogs north.

“They’re pretty quiet once you take off,” he said. “The sound puts them to sleep. The smell, however, can sometimes affect you. Flights usually do not last more than four to six hours. Driving the dogs this far can often be a three-day event, requiring a lot of dog care along the way. Blue brought the plane to the event to demonstrate the usefulness of GA planes and to shine the spotlight on the organization’s goal of reducing euthanasia rates in overcrowded shelters. To date, the group has transported some 20,000 dogs to new homes.

Inside the exhibition hall, pilots could learn everything from new avionics to how to buy and insure their planes. John Rutter was busy showing off the latest features of the Seattle Avionics FlyQ electronic flight bag. The company recently merged with Rocket Route and Aircraft Performance Group when it was acquired by AFV Partners in 2020. In addition to increasing the number of countries where it provides navigation data, Seattle Avionics is working to develop new features for FlyQ, notably an Android version of its electronic flight bag, which will be released next year.

Right next to the exhibition hall, showcase attendees could participate in a series of seminars throughout the day, all designed to educate pilots on purchasing, upgrading and maintaining their aircraft. .

AOPA designed the Aviator Showcase events for 2021 to be scalable in a year where the uncertainty of COVID-19 mandates has made event planning a challenge.

“We are pleased with the results and our feedback from members and exhibitors is that they enjoy the small one-day events focused on the purchase and modernization of aircraft,” said Elizabeth O’Connell, Senior Director of Events . AOPA will announce its 2022 event plan in the coming weeks.

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