Category Archives: News from the web

News from various sources around the web.

The Groppo Trail: The LSA world’s best kept secret

Photo courtesy Lone Palm Aero

If there is a Light-Sport Aircraft that can be put in the “best kept secret” category, it might be the Trail, designed and manufactured by Groppo Avio of Italy.

The high-wing, tailwheel airplane with the foldable wings is still somewhat unknown in the United States, said Steve Bensinger of Lone Palm Aero in Bushnell, Fla., the southeast distributor for the Trail.

During this year’s SUN ‘n FUN, Bensinger was on duty next to the orange and white taildragger and eager to answer questions about the airplane, which he describes as the evolution of a European microlight design by Nando Groppo.

Photo courtesy Lone Palm Aero

Photo courtesy Lone Palm Aero

“Groppo’s designs are well known in Europe. He has been designing aircraft since the 1980s, starting with ultralight aircraft,” Bensinger said. “The Trail was designed to fit into the European Microlight class of airplanes, which is sort of the European equivalent of Light-Sport Aircraft. Although the Trail is not very well known in the United States at this time, there are over 115 of them flying in Europe right now.”

BensingertrailBensinger would know. He is a 2,100-hour Sport Pilot, having come up through the industry as an ultralight pilot.

“I started ultralight flying in 1984. I naturally gravitated to Light Sport when it came along,” he explained, adding that after he retired from the computer industry in Michigan he migrated to Florida where there is a better climate for year-round aviation.

The airplane has a compact appearance. The wing span measures 27 feet, 11 inches. (For comparison, the wingspan of a Cessna 152 is 33 feet, 4 inches.) The wingspan itself will likely make the airplane easy to hangar, but as an added bonus the wings can be folded for ease of storage.

benisngerrepositioning wing“And you don’t have to drain the fuel to fold the wings,” Bensinger said, then proceeded to demonstrate the process, which took less than five minutes. “There are two lock pins on the spar and there is a single lift strut that they rotate around. It is a one-person job. And once the wings are folded, the widest part of the airplane is the tail, which measures about 8 feet across.”

bensingerrepositioningwing2Bensinger said it is not uncommon for owners to fold just one wing to store the airplane up against the wall of a hangar.

The Trail also can be loaded on a trailer and towed with both wings folded against the fuselage after the owner has installed a few braces on the airplane for transport.

The plane features a 4130 chrome moly steel frame skinned with 6061-T6 aluminum.

“People really like that it is an all-aluminum airplane,” said Bensinger. “The only cloth on the airplane is on the seats.”

The airplane has tundra tires and one piece 2024 aluminium landing gear designed for STOL operations.

The choice of engine is up to the purchaser, said Bensinger, as motor mounts and cowlings are available for the amateur builder who wishes to use either the Rotax 80- or 100-hp engines, the Jabiru 220 or the European Sauer engine, which is a Volkswagon derivative. The Trail on display at SUN ‘n FUN was equipped with a 100-hp Rotax 912 S.

“It really depends on what the purchaser wants,” said Bensinger. “But if the purchaser wishes to fly the airplane in the Light Sport category, the engine is limited to the Rotax 912S right now.”

Bensinger himself is in the process of building a Trail. He had the frame on display next to the finished airplane at SUN ‘n FUN.

trail wide shot“The factory tells me that it will require about 500 hours,” he said.

The kits are shipped in a large wooden container. Step-by-step assembly drawings and digital pictures of the assembly process are included.

“The front fuselage area is all pre-welded and powder-coated when you receive it,” he noted. “There are no special skills required to build it, you just need basic sheet metal skills, so you need to know how to pull rivets and trim metal.”

trail cockpit

Don’t want to build it yourself? “The distributor can assist with the build process and the aircraft can be certified as an E-LSA,” he noted.

Two instrument panel options are available.

“One is strictly analog with a radio and transponder,” said Bensinger. “Eventually we will be adding ADS-B when we are required to have it. The second panel is all electronic and uses MGL Avionics. We have that one spec’d out so there is a small AHARS on the left side of the panel for flight instruments and an engine monitor on the right. There is an iPad mini in the center for navigation. Add to that a radio, transponder and the ADS-B and you have one cool panel.”

Options for the Trail include leather seats, rock traps for the tundra tires, and a ballistic parachute.

The Trail is available as a ready-to-fly LSA with the Rotax 912 ULS. Price with the standard panel is $74,900, while it is $77,900 with the electronic panel.

If you’d like to build it yourself, “firewall-back” kits start at $28,250.


Performance of the Trail LSA

Cruise speed: 100-115 mph
Vne: 130 mph
Stall speed (full flaps) 35 mph
Climb rate: 1,000 fpm
Takeoff roll: 400 feet
Landing roll: 400 feet
Empty weight: 720 lb
Gross weight: 1,300 lb
Useful load: 580 lb
G-loading: +4/-2G


Wingspan: 27 ft, 11 in.
Wing area: 109.8 sq. ft
Tail width: 8 ft 11 in
Length: 20 ft 6 inch
Cabin width: 30.7 in
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comThe Groppo Trail: The LSA world’s best kept secret

Picture of the day: October sunset


Bob Martin sent us this photo, with a note: “Fulton County (Illinois) late afternoon October sunset. This intersection marks the location of the lane to my friend’s home. He is a retired United States Air Force pilot who flew and instructed in the F-111 fighter/bomber. I wanted to photograph his home, but it had already been swallowed by the shadows.”


Source: http://generalaviationnews.comPicture of the day: October sunset

Beware bumper sticker politics


My wife and I were having a perfectly lovely time. We were situated in a corner booth at Egg Haven, one of my home town’s more popular eateries, as our waitress whirled through the room with an energy level that seemed impossibly high for a Sunday morning.

We were engaged in an activity long time married couples rarely do. We talked to each other. Face to face, too. I mean, we really talked. Ideas were exchanged, dreams were fleshed out, concerns were aired, and disagreements were but a minor inconvenience.

All in all, things were good. Then my eye wandered away from the restaurant to an abandoned building across the street that has, to be kind, seen better days. There, below a window with 16 panes, only three of which were still intact, were the words, “Optimism can save the world.”

Think about that for a moment, if you will.Optimism

The sentence was neatly stenciled. Proper capitalization was in evidence, as evidenced by an upper-case “O.” The artist had even used proper punctuation, adding a period to the end of his or her thought to signify the completion of an idea. Clearly, great care had been taken to express an idea.

However, I don’t suppose the individual who put it there took much time to explore the depths of their psyche in a search that reached beyond the overt feel-good nature of the line. If they had, they might have realized that as a standalone thought, it’s drivel.

Let’s do a thought experiment. And for those unused to the 21st Century, “thought experiment” is an increasingly popular euphemism for “consider this.”

Let’s say we’re at sea in a small boat. For the sake of argument, let’s say the boat is primarily built of steel. The coastline is only slightly over the horizon. Close enough to be tempting, yet far enough away that even a reasonably strong swimmer couldn’t cover the distance. Now let’s say our boat springs a leak. A big leak. Salt water is gushing in, filling our hull at an alarming rate. The almost magical property of displacement that was so effectively keeping our little boat afloat is now working against us. In a matter of minutes the boat will sink, leaving the inhabitants of the boat, you and me, floundering in choppy seas. The water is terribly cold, too. It is late October, after all.

Now just how optimistic would one have to be for the laws of physics to be reversed, allowing our violated hull to stay afloat? What amount of good humor might prevent our body temperature from plunging toward a dangerous chill? How happy would we have to be in order to stay alive until somebody, somewhere, happens upon us and facilitates a rescue?

Were I in that situation with you — and let’s hope we never are — I would be very pleased to find you being optimistic and resourceful. If you were to pull a raft from a storage compartment and inflate it, attach a personal locator beacon to your life jacket, and assure me that a Coast Guard vessel would be zipping to our rescue in minutes…well, I just might feel a whole lot more hopeful about my short-term future.

But that confidence wouldn’t be a result of your optimism, it would be thanks to your resourcefulness and the fact that you were taking positive steps to make a change in our condition.

Optimism cannot save the world, but it’s a tremendously valuable tool. I certainly wouldn’t want to be without it.

Bumper sticker politics surround us. They invade the landscape and the airwaves, pelting us with ideas so appealingly simple we sometimes don’t stop to consider exactly how shallow and incomplete those ideas may be.

The problem with slogan-driven campaigns is closely linked to their frequent use and occasional success. They misrepresent complex issues. They lack nuance and context.

But like a big fluffy stack of pancakes on a Sunday morning, they look good — at least on the surface.

Let’s face it, they’re appealing on a basic level. But if you gobble up those pancakes on a regular basis you’ll find yourself facing long-term problems that are far less attractive than those light, delectable cakes might have led you to think possible. The same can be said for the risk of swallowing slogans whole.

The world we live in is populated by more than 7 billion people, living on seven continents, speaking more than 6,000 languages, and participating in more than 4,000 religions. The collective troubles that come with those numbers cannot be solved by simply thinking positive thoughts.

Nor can the issues facing your town, city, county, or state be magically fixed by your enthusiastic embrace of a single party, or candidate, or issue. Life is more complex than that.

Optimism alone isn’t the solution and bumper sticker politics often do more harm than good, even though there is often a grain of truth somewhere in there.

So what will save the world, or solve any other problems you might face?

The sun came up this morning. A new day presents to you more opportunities than any previous generation could even imagine. If you’re reading this column, you may take comfort in knowing that you are among the wealthiest, healthiest, best-fed people to ever walk the earth. There is absolutely, without a doubt, a thousand reasons to be optimistic about today, tomorrow, and the future. You’ve got all that going for you. So do something.

Unfortunately, that’s a bit wordy for a bumper sticker.

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comBeware bumper sticker politics