Aviation Stories and Aviation News

Christensen Eagle

Frank Christensen Honored at AirVenture on 40th Anniversary of the Eagle Aerobatic Biplane

Oshkosh, WI – The International Aerobatic Club (IAC) rolled out the Red Carpet at EAA’s AirVenture 2017 for Frank Christensen, aircraft designer, kit manufacturer, and aerobatic pilot. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Christen Eagle, an aerobatic aircraft that Frank designed and manufactured as a competitor to the Pitts Special. The Eagle II, a two seat version are still very active in aerobatic competitions around the world. Hundreds of Eagles have been built and flown in the past four decades. Only a few single seat versions have been built.
Having been a successful aerobatic pilot and former US Aerobatic Team Manager, Frank knew what he wanted in a competitive airplane. He incorporated a number of significant innovations in the Eagle. This included his inverted oil system that is now found universally in aerobatic aircraft.
The Eagle has had a profound impact on the world of aerobatics. It also became one of the most revered aircraft in the world of airshows when Frank talked Charlie Hillard, Tom Poberezny and Gene Soucy into retiring the Pitts Specials they were flying as the Red Devils Aerobatic Team and replacing them in 1979 with Christen Eagles. The group then became known as the Eagles Aerobatic Team and for a quarter century they were the primo aerobatic act in the airshow circuit, revered for their boldness, precision, and thrilling routine. The Team and the aircraft had a dramatic impact on the lives of a lot of pilots.
Frank’s greatest contribution to sport aviation, however, may have been in the standard he set for homebuilt aircraft kits. He revolutionized the homebuilding industry with the thoroughness of his kits, the amazing series of detailed, illustrated builders’ manuals he created to go with the kits and the support he provided the people who built them. Many kit-makers have emulated what Frank introduced at the EAA Aviation Convention in 1977, but none have exceeded the gold standard he set.
What seemed to impress Frank the most during the day he spent at AirVenture this year, and in the evening ceremonies where he was recognized for his accomplishments, were the pilots who came up to him all day long and told him “You changed my life.” Whether inspired by the Eagle Aerobatic Team, by building an Eagle, or by flying in competition with an Eagle, there are a lot of people who expressed profound appreciation, respect and esteem after shaking his hand.
It was announced at AirVenture, while presenting the Curtiss Pitts Trophy for Outstanding Aircraft Design, that Frank Christensen will be inducted into the Aerobatics Hall of Fame this fall.

PHOTO CAPTION:         Frank Christensen (left), shared a moment with IAC President Mike Heuer at AirVenture this summer.

America Discovers Sling

AirVenture 2017 – America Discovers Sling Aircraft!
by Jean d’Assonville

Oshkosh is all about airplanes, right? Well this is my third Oshkosh and what rang true for me is that Air Venture is actually all about people who love airplanes! It is the people who dream them, build them, fly them, polish them, sleep in or under them and really just simply love them. Yes, it’s the people!

This year our stand was filled with people. We our team of ten to man the stand, (next year we need some ladies too), was kept very busy sharing Sling facts with the continuous flow of airplane lovers. It’s always enjoyable sharing the Sling story because it is a pilot’s airplane that has been refined by pilots for pilots. This year we also offered demo flights to seriously interested people, which is really nice to do, because the Sling’s best quality is how amazingly she flies.

The master craftsmen from Midwest SkySports’ build center had two of their beautiful Sling 2s on display as well as their professionally-finished panels and a Sling 2 Quick build. There was the legendary Sling 4-4-40 that was built from a kit in 4 days by 40 people plus another three Sling LSAs. Down at the ultralight arena, AeroSport had their immaculate orange and white Sling LSA and received an offer to buy it then-and-there by a husband and wife team!

With all these beauties to show off, a lot of interested people spent a good amount of time acquainting themselves with the Slings and the Team. So we made a lot of new friends.

As a demo pilot during the Air Venture, it’s really exciting (but quite stressful) flying in the extreme traffic with only 500 ft. vertical separation while only listening on the radio. It was worth it though. Almost everyone that went for a demo flight has purchased or is in the process of purchasing a Sling aircraft or a kit.

So after a long and exciting week eventually the last demo is flown and it is time to pack up and say good bye to everyone: all those people, planes and new friends – all going their separate ways with new dreams.

And so what is in store for the TAF stand next year? Well, there are a lot of possible surprises coming off the drawing board in Africa. So come join all the people at the Greatest Aviation Celebration July 23 – 29, 2018 and see!

RAF Auction

RAF FUNdraising Auction

All items were donated by our friends in the industry,

so the Excess Goes To Access!

It’s short, online, and easy!

Preview auction items by clicking on the link below:


Bidding opens 8 am MDT , Oct. 1 –
Ends 10 pm MDT , Oct. 10!

One Aviation

ONE Aviation Receives FAA Approval Pertaining to Eclipse 500/550
Extended Tip Tank Configuration

Oshkosh, WI – Wednesday, July 26, 2017 – ONE Aviation announced today, at EAA AirVenture 2017, FAA approval of an unrestricted increase in the structural life limit of the Eclipse 550 and the Eclipse 500 in the extended tip tank configuration to 20,000 flight hours or 20,000 cycles, whichever occurs first. Previously the life limit had been 10,000 cycles, 10,000 hours, or 10 years, without enrollment in a life extension maintenance and inspection program. Completion of long term fatigue and damage tolerance testing of the aircraft structure and materials resulted in this change.

When maintained in accordance with the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM), the completion of the full-scale aircraft level testing, and the large scale material coupon testing, demonstrated the aircraft structure has fatigue and damage tolerance life, in excess of 20,000 cycles.

The increase in the life limit is automatic to existing and future Eclipse Jet owners, with no additional action necessary beyond continuing to perform the AMM required structural inspections.

“The FAA approved changes to the aircraft life limits greatly simplifies the ability of Eclipse Jet owners and operators to benefit from the extensive investment made by ONE Aviation in structural life testing,” said Brent Christner, Senior Director of Engineering at Eclipse Aerospace.

Currently these life limit changes are applicable to United States “N” registered aircraft. Eclipse is working to get the new life limits accepted by other civil aviation authorities.

Contact: Debbie Backlund
Email: Debra.backlund@oneaviation.aero
Website: www.oneaviation.aero

About ONE Aviation
ONE Aviation is a global manufacturing corporation, which markets, produces, and delivers the Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet, as it develops the Eclipse “Project Canada” and the Kestrel K350 single-engine turboprop. In addition, ONE Aviation will design, acquire, and build additional aircraft complementary to its core product line. ONE Aviation also provides engineering, maintenance, service, and support for the Eclipse 500 and Eclipse 550 fleet.
For more information, please visit www.ONEaviation.aero.

Day 1

The September issue will be available to you with your subscription for the online version of our FLY-LOW.   It is the same issue that will hit airports and your home.  This is our second issue to go online on day one of the month.  It is a real bargain.  Just $13 per year to read it in the comfort of your living room before most all the other readers gets one.

You will notice the change in our online service of news application to our online news.  We have way too much to print in our thirty-two page aviation magazine… so we bounce it off you here on this site.

Thanks for reading and being a visitor/subscriber

Ralph McCormick, Publisher

Nall Safety Report


FREDERICK, MD – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Institute (ASI) released the 26th edition of the Joseph T. Nall Report, a review of general aviation accidents for 2014, the most recent year for which reasonably complete data are available.

The results indicate that the significant improvements and historically low accident rates registered in 2013 “proved not to be a one-time statistical anomaly,” wrote AOPA Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden in his Publisher’s View in the Nall Report. “Across the general aviation community, we can take pride that our collaborative efforts appear to be having a positive, sustained impact.”

Accident causes tend not to vary significantly from year to year, a trend the new report confirmed, noting that pilot-related mishaps continue to account for about 75 percent of all accidents—20 percent of which were fatal.

“The overwhelming majority of these accidents are avoidable, so if we can convince more pilots to access safety information, we can drive the accident rate even lower, and save lives,” he said. “That is why numerous industry leaders and type club presidents are joining the Air Safety Institute in a push to reach more private pilots with safety information in a program we call ‘Find one, bring one,’ which encourages pilots to find a pilot not accessing safety information and bring them to safety.”

When addressing type club leaders in July at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, McSpadden’s call to “join together for a call to action” received strong support as he outlined a three-part safety-building strategy consisting of having pilots bring the so-far “unreachable” members of the aviation community into the safety-awareness fold under the “Find one, bring one” plan; get more pilots to join type clubs; and encourage all pilots to focus their training and study on the specific flight realms that continue to cause the most trouble: landings; takeoff and climbs; low-altitude maneuvering; and fuel management.

The Air Safety Institute also released the 2015-2016 GA Accident Scorecard, a brief statistical summary that supplements the Nall Report’s detailed examination of 2014 data. It notes that after arresting a seven-year decline in 2014, noncommercial fixed-wing flight time increased more than five percent in 2015, while the rate of accidents remained at the low level achieved the previous year. The number of fatal accidents declined by two.

In 2016, there was a three-percent increase in accidents, but fatal accidents declined from 20 percent of the total to 16 percent. For the fourth straight year, 2016 had fewer than 1,000 noncommercial fixed-wing accidents, of which fewer than 200 were fatal, “levels not previously seen in the post-World War II era. There were 156 in 2016, 6 percent below the previous record low of 167 recorded three years earlier,” it said.

Read AOPA’s story.


Since 1950, ASI has served all pilots and aviation enthusiasts—not just AOPA members—by providing free safety education, research, and data analysis. ASI offers award-winning online courses, nearly 200 live seminars annually throughout the U.S., flight instructor refresher courses, safety videos, accident case studies, and other materials to keep pilots safe and well informed. To learn more, visit ASI at www.airsafetyinstitute.org.


Fly frequently, travel safely, land on (most) runways, and operate economically: such are the guiding principles for 21st century spaceplanes, cargo-carrying aerospace workhorses routinely launching to low-Earth orbit for space station resupply and crew transfers. Fans disconsolate after retirement of NASA’s shuttle fleet can take heart: The next generation in reusable space vehicles is set to debut.

Artist’s concept of an HL-20 at a space station.
Artist’s concept of an HL-20 at a space station.
Credits: NASA

A new spaceplane stage has been set by decades of NASA work done at Langley Research Center on horizontal-landing, or HL, lifting bodies. Sporting a design reminiscent of the upward-flexing pectoral fins on breaching manta rays, HL vehicles feature rudimentary wings. As the craft settles through Earth’s atmosphere from orbit the chubby, cigar-like fuselage generates lift from more air pressure on the bottom than on the top.

Flying Wingless First championed for flight testing by NASA engineer H. Dale Reed in the early 1960s, the HL concept went through a number of design changes and improvements, eventually resulting in a series of experimental piloted aircraft. The Northrop HL-10 – referring to the tenth design evaluated by Langley engineers – was built to assess specific structural refinements. Langley laboratories and wind tunnels hosted a variety of early studies on scale models before any full-scale craft were constructed.

Model of Sierra Nevada Corp. Dream Chaser spacecraft inside NASA Langley’s Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel.
Credits: NASA

The HL-10 would be one of five “heavyweight” lifting body designs flown at NASA’s Flight Research Center (now known as Armstrong Research Center) from July 1966 to November 1975 to demonstrate a pilot’s ability to maneuver and safely land a wingless vehicle. The information the lifting-body program generated contributed to a database crucial to the genesis of the space shuttle program.

A New Kid Spurred by the Soviet Union’s development of its subscale, unmanned BOR-4 – a testbed for the country’s would-be Buran space shuttle – by the 1980s Langley had set to work on a HL-10 successor, known as the HL-20, or “Personal Launch System (PSL).” The effort’s goals were straightforward: to assess the feasibility of low operational costs, make improvements to flight safety, and evaluate the possibility of conventional-runway landings. Yoked to the PSL research was wind tunnel testing and human-performed landing scenarios created in Langley simulators.

By 1990s, a 29-foot full-size, non-flying HL-20 model was built by the students and faculty of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A & T University to study crew-seating arrangements, habitability, equipment layout and how best to enter and exit. Although never flight-tested, the PSL did ultimately deliver: its design would be the basis for development of Sierra Nevada’s Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser.

Mission Flexibility In January 2016 SNC was one of three companies awarded contracts to ferry cargo from 2019 through 2024 to the International Space Station (ISS). Under the terms of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and as part of a Space Act Agreement, SNC is able to use agency wind tunnels for Dream Chaser studies and experiments. That’s where Langley came in, mounting a Dream Chaser scale model in its Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel for extensive aerodynamic data gathering, which was subsequently added to the spacecraft’s performance database.

Although a quarter of the size of any of the now-retired space shuttles, Dream Chaser can carry as many as seven crew members. Although there is but one basic spacecraft airframe, there are two system variants optimized for either manned or unmanned missions. SNC asserts the Dream Chaser can be reused 15 or more times, more than any other current operational space vehicle. The company also touts the spacecraft’s flexibility in remote sensing, satellite servicing, and even “active debris removal,” otherwise known as space-trash cleanup.

A second round of Dream Chaser flight tests at NASA’s Armstrong Research Center is slated to continue through the end of the 2017 calendar year.

Jim Schultz
for NASA Langley Research Center

First Time Ever!

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New Mako shows off her colors at Lancair’s Oshkosh display
Our first Oshkosh show since launching the new Lancair was an amazing, enjoyable and exhausting experience. Mark, Conrad and the rest of the Oshkosh team spent some sleepless nights preparing for and working at the show. Despite some last-minute scheduling hiccups with the new exhibit trailer, Lancair’s airplanes and people arrived on time, with the rest of the display following after a brief delay.

After meeting hundreds of new friends and visiting scores of longtime Lancair owners and fans, we came away from the show convinced that Lancair and its customers have a bright future.
The Mako was very well recieved, sparking considerable interest and a number of requests to reserve production slots. We expect to have a projected schedule and performance data for the new plane within the next couple of months.

The LOBO Banquet was also a treat, with a spellbinding presentation from guest speaker, Lt Col Chris Rust, USAF. Rust’s stories of flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II in Afganistan has us on the edge of our seats.

Many thanks to all our friends and supporters. If you didn’t make it to Oshkosh 2017, we encourage you to add it to your plans for July 2018.


Piper’s Up!

Piper’s Deliveries and Revenue
Continue Upward Trend in Q2 2017
VERO BEACH, Fla., August 7, 2017 — Piper Aircraft Inc. announced today its aircraft sales and delivery results for the second quarter of 2017, ending June 30. The company continued to grow its new aircraft deliveries and revenue with sales of turbine, M-Class products leading the company’s performance success. Additionally, Piper trainer sales growth is being led by the proven Archer platform with sales backlog into Q3 2018.

The company posted quarterly revenue of $52.1M and deliveries of 32 aircraft. Compared to the company performance in 2016 through Q2, Piper Aircraft sales revenue has increased $10.7M year over year, which represents a 26% increase. Additionally Piper product deliveries have grown by 13 units, when compared to the same period in 2016, which is a 30% increase. Piper Archer deliveries continue to rise with more than three times the units delivered vs. 2016, registering a 228% increase.

“Our commitment to a common sense, made to order approach, has been a key differentiator and is contributing to Piper’s success in this “new normal” market that we are all talking about. Our business model is made possible by our dedicated, experienced workforce, world class /full service Dealer Partners and a stable, long term focused ownership body.” said President and CEO, Simon Caldecott. “As we look forward to the second half of the year, we anticipate continued strong performance across our product line with a strategic focus on both Europe and Latin America.

Simon Caldecott continued, “The addition of the class-leading M600 continues to drive revenue growth. Additionally the demo tour of Europe and Africa has resulted in better than expected sales, with five aircraft sold today and several more pending. Furthermore, Piper’s offering of the only complete trainer product line is helping further augment sales and long-term commitments from some of the world’s leading flight training programs.”

About Piper Aircraft
Piper Aircraft Inc., headquartered in Vero Beach, Fla., offers aviators throughout the world efficient and reliable single- and twin-engine aircraft. The single-engine M-Class series – the M600, M500, M350, and Matrix – offers businesses and individuals elegant performance and value. The Twin Class Seneca and Seminole balance proven performance, efficiency, and simplicity in twin-engine aircraft. The Trainer Class Warrior, Archer TX, Archer DX, Arrow, Seminole, and Seneca aircraft form the most complete technically-advanced line of pilot training aircraft in the world. Unparalleled service and support is offered through a network of 38 dealers and nearly 100 service centers worldwide. All Piper airplanes feature advanced Garmin avionics in the cockpit. Piper is a member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.