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Thoughts on LightWing 'Mark 2" version???


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Thoughts on LightWing 'Mark 2" version???


Hi 'team', I wrote a brief few comments in the Training section of this forum about some views on what would be nice if Howie was to bring out a Mark 2 version.... Anyone have constructive ideas here?


Yours in recreational aviation,





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Guest TOSGcentral

OK – some views to get several potential lines of discussion going (some of which should probably not be ‘tainting’ the Lightwing Users Group area!). This is not as simple as asking ‘should there be a Mk2 Lightwing’!


I love the Lightwings! They look unremittingly ‘right’ and fly extremely well as sports aircraft, trainers or on floats! I have flown about 150-160 types now and the Lightwing is very high on my list of preferred aircraft – particularly as a trainer.


A Mk2? Why? The aircraft had a fair bit of design input from Bill (RSG) Whitney so is built like a tank. They have been around for ages and are well service proven. They are good as a taildragger but nowhere near as savage as the Thruster can be in the wrong hands, yet beat the Drifter to it’s rightful position – a very tame pussycat that cooks you in the sun while freezing your nuts off in the slipstream – plus has appalling appeal to the majority of the major student age group (assuming they do not anyway suffer from agoraphobia!).


So what would a MK2 be? Something that looks a bit sexier or goes faster or….?


Why? Getting design and more performance costs hugely in development and reflects in market price. I will tell you a couple of stories.


I was ferrying one of the ‘Super Thrusters’ up to Watts Bridge from Grafton. A Lightwing 2000 took off just after me and was also heading for Evans Head (that was my turning point). Eventually it crawled past me going an estimated 5 kts faster. I was cruising comfortably at 70 kts with a 582 engine.


I pondered quite a bit! I had as much or more fully enclosed cockpit room, probably larger fuel tankage, equal or better weight carrying and was flying an aircraft I had just paid (second hand) $18,000 for. The Lightwing was probably an $85,000 machine and my reaction was really ‘WTF!’ That was $13,400 per knot – is it worth it? It is an expensive exercise for someone who is not prepared to spend an extra $1000 to learn to safely fly what I was flying and become a real pilot rather than a second generation de-facto ‘car driver’ that the current nosewheel trend is about and GA has a long established track


record of proving!


As a second example: The probable major future influence on AUF/RAAus responsible training for the next 20 years did reside in the Thruster T600/Vision 600 series in both nose and tailwheel versions (I had actually cooked up a convertible version so a school could offer both forms of training with a single aircraft and less than an hour’s work!). That would not have been difficult to do at all!


While the Oz Thruster factory went further into decline and Wade Maho’s new Vision factory ran aground on the CASA reef – and has now gone no further – the ultralight movement lost its new affordable, easily repaired, traditional rag and tube type trainers with 70 kts performance! There was no question the market is/was there! Michael Coates demonstrated this with the success of the X-Air. Put out a dependable, affordable and robust aircraft and there is a market there for it! Unfortunately the X-Air cannot be used as a trainer because it is kit built. If it had been different then the present circumstances


would also be different! But now there are no others!


But is there a market for that kind of gear now? The answer is both yes and no! The market is still there because that is what founded the ultralight movement. But the environment no longer suits and that is important! Is what is left predictable to spend the development costs on for a low end trainer?


Environments can be created! They change thinking, they change expectancy and therefore they change buying trends! That in turn changes what is produced for sale. The high cost of development ensures that the finished product must be able to be sold to a waiting market with sufficient income to cover the development, build and then make a profit!


What we have at present is a very obvious, high level push to take the ultralight movement firmly into the low end half (or more) of GA (Do not get tense – I will put this all together in a moment or two and it is very relevant to the Lightwing Mk 2 issue).


Look at the latest RAAus Calendar! It looks what it is – a glossy advertising blurb for GA style aircraft. That is what funded it! There are no other manufactures there because there is no perceived market for them any longer! If that thing had come out ten years ago it would have been unrecognisable as an ultralight calendar. That is not lack of actual market it what the market is made to appear to be!


Where the wheels came off with the Lightwing was as I said in the ‘Training Aircraft’ thread. Howie was too slow and too late getting the Lightwing into 101.55 so lost the market the aircraft so richly deserved. Times were already changing and in retrospect we can now see exactly where they were heading (as I have been quacking about for years) – LSA and the bottom half of GA!


That is a big and more wealthy market, ticked off with expensive and aging GA stuff, ticked off with regulation and wanting freedom! Come in spinner! Have your freedom but realise there is a very real cost! It is not just the membership and rego fees it is the penalty of ‘irresponsible freedom’. You can go and do it but you also wear it! Nobody in RAAus will take responsibility – you can read can you not?


My very firm conviction is that we are looking down the barrel of a far larger disaster than the pre HORSCOTS Commission! The accident and incident rate WILL increase to alarming proportions and is already doing so! There is little or no responsible development in member support in either ops or airworthiness training! Yet we take on heavier and more complex aircraft and just turn people loose on them? Do some of the ‘powers that be’ be so blind as not to see that we have decades of aviation lore, written in blood, behind us now and we simply will not be allowed to carry on this charade?


But while the charade continues the schools will buy the de-facto GA stuff because that is what the newly attracted customers want. So the manufacturers and dealers will supply only that equipment. Quid Pro Quo – change expectancy, stifle comment and change the entire environment!


How does this affect the Lightwing Mk2? There are two answers to that – the practical one (in other circumstances) and the realistic one.


In the first case there is no need for a MK2. In its original form the Lightwing gave adequate low inertia/high drag training capability that made it suitable even if a bit different from the then traditional ultralights. Later it became more formidable as a trainer and sports aircraft with higher weights, bigger engines and flaps etc. The machine is one of those rare aircraft that really did fulfil a purpose so why change it?


In the second set of circumstances – the Lighwing is (I understand) still in current production so there is really no problem! Point is why are people not buying them – they are proven and great aircraft! So do we need a MK2 just to titillate buyer enthusiasm?


I doubt Howie will go for that when he already has the successor to the Lightwing flying. He does not have all that big a factory and would be insane to waste money on this market sector with the support it is getting!


If it were to be done then it could only be by an adequately supported re-affirmation of ultralight grass roots. Re-support a basic training market for basic flying that was what started AUF. But this time SUPPORT it – not waste ten years on politics to get us into GA!


As a personal conclusion – please do not think the above some form of excuse for a party political broadcast on behalf of Tony Hayes. I put my money where my mouth is! I have had decades of experience as a commercial instructor and manager in recreational aviation. I buy and sell aircraft and have done training and club fleet design. Over those years I have learned (the hard way) to always watch the politics and ask the question ‘Why’ when things


start going against what the average member clearly wants. I am also only too well aware of changing the ‘average member’s’ want by rhetoric!


This one has got nearly too much for me. I am saddened that in attempting to retire with so little flying time left in me, I see an entire movement torpedoed! I resigned my instructor ratings in sorrow and disgust because I will take no responsibility in an organisation where the controllers take NONE!


There will be other similar questions to the ‘Lightwing Mk2’! Many of them! But I am afraid it is too late! And the bottom line is this is an honorary organisation run on majority vote. So if it happens then it was because the members allowed it to happen.


Just had seven years fighting one of those situations – and won! But damn! I really do not want another!



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Wow Tony,I logged off after reading the first post to compile photos for my reply, now I'm not sure what to say?I've battled with the emotions of where our 'Ultralight' direction is heading for many years.On one hand wanting to keep 'Ultralights'ultralight, but on the other hand wanting get into really high performance 'Superlights' (to use an old Western Australian clubs name)Having come from flying high performance sailplanes, the idea of flying in scouts didn't really appeal to me.But now, looking at obviously lightweight G-A planes on the market, at the price they are, and the type of people they attract (Yeah, it's the green eyed monster!) I feel myself in a dilema; I'm happy to keep our club operating with it's two LightWings, flying aircraft affordable to the Joe in the street, and not push to upgrade to some mega-buck hot rod, just to attract the well heeled to our club. At the same time I'm busily working in my shed to produce a kit for a 503 powered single seater that will hopefully do in excess of 120 kts and some time in the future spawn a 500cc racing class!Any-way, back to the LightWing Mk II question...First a quick history lesson on 'contemporary' LightWings.(I'm not going to spell out the entire Hughes history)Production started with the LW-1, powered by a Rotax 532 (yes, the hand grenade) and was often reffered to as the 'BOX'






I first thought it was ugly, but after having flown Scouts, Thrusters and Drifters, to fly something that didn't flap and twist all over the place was very assuring. (sorry Tony)Our first LW-1 had rouond tube struts, no doors, a pull start and two small leaking fuel tanks.After about the third 'grenade' went off, we had to send the airframe back to Howie for a rebuild. It came back with the then new Rotax 582, with electric start, doors, carpet, bigger fibreglass wing tanks, a reduced fin, stronger tail wheel and the all new lowered turtle deck. :-}It's new designation was a GR-582.




We liker this so much, we bought another one!Eventually though, $4!t happens and our new plane had it's front end written off. :-%When it came back from Howie, it was now an all new(ly referbished) GR-912 with an 80hp four stroke Rotax, long range alloy tanks, a stronger (still) tailwheel and a redesigned undercarriage?!




I was never happy with the new U/C, but in the last two years it's all I've instructed in, so I've gotten used to it. While our club stayed with these two LightWings, Howie moved on and had a crack at the low G-A end of the market,and produced the GA-55.




This actually happened before the Rotax 912's were affordable, so Howie, wanting to use a four stroke and keep the G-A types happy, used the Aeropower VW.The GA-55 also featured a totally new wing with less span, a faster wing section, a single strut and flaps!Unfortunately the combination of less wing and not a great deal of thrust changed the LightWing from something that would be airbourne almost by the time you reached full power (if you knew how to treat your two stroke propperly) to a plane that actually needed to build up speed along a runway.I don't think the GA series was ever certified as a factory built (most being kits) and it just sort of died off.I'm sure some GA-55's ended up with 912's, and would be interested to know how they perform?Finally, in the 'GR' line, howie would succomb to pressure and produce the GR-912'T' for trike geared version.




As for the initial reason for this thread.. :-" I think that a GA-912 with slightly longer wings and better designed flaps would give us an aeroplane that, although probably not that much faster than a GR-912, would be a lot more fuel efficient, while still having all those good Lightwing attributes of good handling, cabin space, visability, ruggedness and general utility.

















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  • 3 weeks later...

Tony Hayes makes some compelling points here... Maybe, Tony, you should drop that post (in a revised form) into the General Discussion forum....


I sure found ithelpful in understanding something about the evolution of the RAA; being new to the Assocn,but having beenwith the HGFA for many years, I have to say I wondered about the move to align so closely with GA - and you havehelped explainthat here...







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