Take part in an air race across China
June 16, 2014 – Yes. China.
Given the tight controls on general aviation in China, news that the country is going to allow – no, actually promote – an aerial race right across the country has got aviators everywhere sitting up.
A qualifying round was announced for September 2014 at the Open Skies General and Business Aviation Leaders Forum in Xian, better known to the world as home to the terracotta warriors.
That round, spanning 2,000 nautical miles, was open to pilots of light piston aircraft. It was scheduled to start in Uzbekistan and end in Xian. Those who completed this course qualified for the main event next year – an epic race from Istanbul right across China to its coast. There is prize money. But the real prize is the chance to fly across what has been till now a “forbidden city” to foreign recreational pilots.
The Chinese government is apparently promising to expedite all permits necessary for participation in what is being called The Great Silk Road Air Race 2015.
Read more here.
Pipistrel’s Panthera hits a roadblock
March 15, 2014 – One of the hottest newcomers to the General Aviation world, the Pipistrel Panthera, needs to go back to the drawing board, delaying its launch.
The company said this was because the engine it had built the plane around, the four-cylinder Lycoming IO-390, has not been approved for auto fuel use by Lycoming. The use of auto gas would have been a major selling point as Aviation Gas is under threat.
The company will now work with the heavier, longer six-cylinder Lycoming IO-540V.
The Panthera made waves when announced because of its sleek shape, and proposed 200 knots speed and fuel burn of 10 gallons per hour. The retractable undercarriage and three doors for a four-seater also were plus points.
It will be the first single engine airplane with a retractable undercarriage under Part 23 certification in decades.
The plane will also be equipped with the Garmin GTN 750/G500.
Pipistrel’s original target date for certification was in 2015.
Its website lists the starting price as Euro 385,000.
Read more here.
Chinese buy another airplane manufacturer
A Chinese mining company in Sichuan has taken a 75 percent stake in Lisa Airplanes for US$20 million. Lisa, a French company, makes the Akoya, a two-seat sports seaplane. The new owner, Leshan Heima Mining Company, has plans to move the production line to China. Read more.
Pioneering Thai aviator Sawaetwong dies in crash
Jan 15, 2013 – The creator of the Pattaya Airpark, Nawaporn Sawaetwong, died after his microlight aircraft crashed in a field last Saturday evening.
Captain Sawaetwong, 55, also known as “Neil” to aviators in the region, was alone in his Kestrel Hawk at the time. An experienced pilot with over 2,000 hours and more than 5,000 landings under his belt, he was a great supporter of recreational flying.
A silver jewelry exporter with a factory in Nonthaburi, he gave up the 20-year-old business, in his own words “to pursue a dream”. That dream was to fly. Having obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence in 1991, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the world of aviation. His subsequent achievements included helping draft the Air law for Ultralights (Kor Bor Ror 43) in 1996,
In 2003, he leased some land to build the Pattaya Airpark, eventually purchasing the approximately 50 acres to create a haven in the area for pilots.
He leaves behind his wife, Potjamarn or “Pao”, and a daughter, Chompoonut, Alexandra, better known to MTV Thailand fans as VJ Alex. Alexandra played a role in the Thai movie “First Flight” about the country’s fledgeling air force.
Merawan extends condolences to his family.
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