May 2020

Newsletter- May 2020

With the Coronavirus lockdown slowly receding in parts of the country I know many of you are keen to get in the air, or may have already enjoyed a pleasant flight. Although test-flights and final deliveries are currently prohibited in Scotland, I’m hopeful that these regulations will soon be relaxed. Our supply chain and build are unaffected by the lockdown, so lead times for new orders should now be returning to normal. This can be as little as six weeks for a Snake.

Minifox Evo Speed access step

Eurofly have further developed the Evo Speed enclosed cabin to include a simple access step. This makes entry and exit easier, particularly for those with short legs, and is now standard on all Evo Speed orders.

Minifox Evo Speed access step

Avian Puma advanced intermediate wing

Airplay are now offering the Avian Puma dual-purpose wing for use with the Snake trike. Offering higher glide performance and more dynamic handling than either the Fly or Rio wings, the 13.6m² Puma weighs around 28-29kg dependent on options. The maximum take-off weight of 149kg means that the Puma is best suited to lighter pilots.

The Puma can be converted back to free-flight mode (in a supine configuration) in a matter of minutes using only simple tools. The effective Variable Geometry system is now included for free on all Avian wings, including the Fly and Rio.

The Avian Puma in free-flight mode. This takes around 5 minutes (with simple tools) to convert to trike use.

Wyvern concept vehicle

Shown first to the public at last year’s Freedom Rally event, the Wyvern concept vehicle has undergone further development over the winter. Designer Mick Broom has finessed the suspension system and is now looking for interested parties who might be able to offer help or advice on developing a hybrid electric power system for the trike. This is a logical next step toward a fully road-legal version.

For those that don’t know much about the Wyvern, with it’s bold reverse trike (or “tadpole”) layout, you can read a short introduction to the aircraft here or in next month’s Microlight Flying magazine.

Wyvern concept trike
Wyvern concept trike

If you have any experience or knowledge of applicable electric motor or control systems (or for more information on the project) please Contact Us.

G-MFUX Test Flight

Newsletter- G-MFUX flight test

With a recent gap in the unflyable weather (and before the current Coronavirus lockdown), I finally managed to take our new Minifox demonstrator for its maiden flight!

G-MFUX is the first Minifox in the UK with the Evo Speed enclosed cabin option, so I was keen to see how this would transform the aircraft. The cabin is supplied as a single pre-formed composite structure that nestles snugly over the existing Minifox frame. A polycarbonate screen is sealed securely from inside and supported by twin gas struts during entry. The Evo Speed option also includes two detachable side panels that fair in the rear of the aircraft and provide smooth airflow to the propellor. A hatch in the starboard side allows access to the fuel tank and the new composite luggage shelf, which is ideal for storage of more bulky items such as camping gear. The entire package only adds around 20kg to the overall weight of the Minifox, and is retro-fittable to existing aircraft.

The cabin is completely sealed on all sides, with a new backplate behind the pilot and fabric covering underneath- no more worrying about dropping the map! The sealing is excellent, and much better than many microlights costing five times as much. No draughts were evident during the flight and I was comfortable with only a thin jumper in the middle of winter. I’ll most likely fit an air vent for summer flying.

Visibility is excellent, and at 5’10” I still had plenty of spare headroom above me. There is also generous elbow room on either side, giving a very spacious feel to the cockpit. I genuinely found it to be the roomiest enclosed cockpit of any single-seat, or shared two-seat, aircraft I have ever flown.

Minifox G-MFUX with Evo Speed enclosed cabin
Minifox G-MFUX with Evo Speed enclosed cabin

Starting the Cisco Bull Max engine is straightforward with the electric start positioned within easy reach on the carbon dashboard. Although there is some resonance felt through the cabin at lower rpm, overall the noise levels were much lower than being in the open air. The Evo Speed would undoubtedly be more comfortable for extended flights.

Take-off and climb performance is little affected by the extra weight of the cabin. In fact, the aircraft is noticeably more efficient, requiring a good 3-400rpm less in the cruise than the open-air version.

G-MFUX Fly-by
G-MFUX Fly-by

Hands-off trim speed was a little high at 75mph for this initial testflight. I will make some changes to slow it down for subsequent flights. In all other respects G-MFUX flew superbly straight from the production line; perfectly in balance and with no unpleasant side-effects from the enclosed cabin. In fact, having the Centre of Gravity slightly further forward made the stall characteristics even more benign than standard. Holding the stick fully back simply puts the aircraft into a mush state, with all controls fully functional. In this aspect G-MFUX flies much more like a sedate light aircraft such as a Piper Warrior, whilst keeping the Minifox light and agile handling through the rest of the flight envelope.

Currently priced at £3,500+vat, the Evo Speed option transforms the Minifox into a comfortable and spacious flying machine well suited to British winters. Of course, flying purists will miss the feel of the wind in their face, and those extra kilos might not suit heavier pilots, but it’s nice to have the choice. At under £23,300 (inc vat and delivery), a fully enclosed Minifox is still the most affordable fixed-wing on the UK market by quite some margin.

February 2020

Newsletter- February 2020

Engine update

The vast majority of Airplay aircraft have so far been powered by Cisco engines. Unfortunately Francesco has decided to retire from engine manufacturing, and will no longer be producing new engines. This is a great shame as I’ve found the Cisco engines to be superbly reliable, as well as exceptionally smooth due to the counter-balance shafts fitted as standard.

I do have one C-Max E and a number of Bull Max S engines in stock which are available at 2018 prices. Francesco has promised to honour the full warranty on these engines as well as provide on-going support to existing engines in the field. Airplay also hold a stock of most popular spares for the Cisco C-Max and Bull Max engines.

To supplement these discontinued engines, Airplay are proud to announce that we are now dealers for both Corsair and Vittorazi motors. All of these engines are available with wooden or carbon fibre propellors, and recoil and/or electric start.

Corsair are outwardly the most similar to the existing Cisco engines, and offer the Black Devil Pro (25Hp) and Black Bull (33Hp). As they do not use a counter-balance shaft they are slightly lighter than the equivalent Cisco motor, and in most cases are priced more competitively.

Corsair Black Devil Pro.

Vittorazi have a large market share in the paramotor world, and already have a substantial following in the sub-70 category. The most suitable engine for the Snake is the Moster Silent (25Hp). The Moster Plus is also available, but the addition of a clutch generally harms performance on a flexwing trike as well as adding weight and cost, so isn’t normally recommended.

Vittorazi Moster Silent.

Minifox “Evo Speed”

Airplay’s new Minifox demonstrator has been complete and awaiting a test-flight for some time now- I’m just waiting for some decent weather! This aircraft is the first in the UK with the Evo Speed enclosed cabin, which transforms the feel of the machine. Surprisingly roomy inside, the cabin feels a lot more spacious than many two-seat aircraft, and should make winter flying a lot more enjoyable (once the storms die down)! I’ll have a flight test report for you as soon as I can.

The Black Bull is now our recommended engine for the Minifox fixed-wing, although several examples are now flying in Italy using the 36Hp Polini Thor 250 water-cooled engine which may be specified as a special order.

Minifox Evo Speed engine run
The Minifox G-MFUX ready for engine run-in.

Popham show

A date for your diary is the Popham Microlight trade fair on the 2nd/3rd of May, at which Airplay will be exhibiting. I appreciate that the Isle of Skye isn’t exactly local for a lot of people, so Popham represents a great opportunity for a more southerly demonstration and to meet up for a chat.

December 2019

Newsletter- December 2019

Apologies for the delay between updates recently; it’s been a very busy period! My first major news is a change of location. Airplay Aircraft will be moving from our base at Sutton Meadows in Cambridgeshire to the Isle of Skye in Scotland! The new address for correspondence is;

19 Geary
Hallin
Isle of Skye
IV55 8GQ

My phone number (+44 7773 253454) and email address remain the same. This move gives us access to improved workshop facilities as well as some stunning scenery to fly around. Keep in touch if you’re interested in flying around the area; I hope to offer guided tours in the future.

Snake news

Snake and HX11 high speed sub-70 wing
A new customer’s Snake with high speed HX11 wing.

We’ve had a major success with continued development of the HX wing series. Thanks to some hard work by Grif Italia we can now offer the HX11 and HX12 wings as fully compliant with the UK sub-70 category. I have confirmed a calibrated stall speed of the HX11 wing (at a take-off weight of ~165kg) at 22mph. The vortex generator option reduces this by ~2mph so is recommended for heavier sub-70 pilots. This confirms Grif’s position as the very highest performance wings available in this category.

In the same vein I’ve collected some glide data for the three most popular wing options on the Snake. I hope to have data for the HX series and Avian wings soon.

As can be seen, the 3DC is very much the wing to have if glide performance or efficiency is a priority, although the Zip is a surprisingly close second. The Fox wing is still a great choice if a steep landing approach is required.

FAI world record award

The FAI have seen fit to award me the Ann Welch diploma in recognition of the World Record for distance flown without engine power. This was flown on a sub-70 Snake in the summer of 2018. I hope to stretch this distance with another record once I’ve worked out how to use the wave generated by the Scottish mountains!

Plans for 2020

2020 promises to be an exciting year for Airplay Aircraft. I should have news updates soon with more information on the Wyvern reverse trike concept vehicle, new engine options (including an all-electric drive system), and flight tests of our latest Minifox demonstrator with the “Evo Speed” enclosed cabin. The Minifox will remain at Sutton for demo flights for the time being. Please contact me if you’re interested in a Snake demo as I may be able to bring the aircraft close to your current flying site.

April 2019

Newsletter- April 2019

Earlier this month I flew the first UK example of the HX11 wing from Grif Italia. This was originally planned as a replacement for the venerable Chaser wing that has dominated international competitions for the last 30 years. Unfortunately the Chaser is no longer in production, and the design team at Grif thought they could offer improvements in handling and efficiency to competition and touring pilots. However, they might have accidentally created something special for the sub-70 market- see below!

If the above video fails to load click here.

At 11m² (there is a 12m² variant also available), the HX11 is a small wing, but thanks to the lighter trikes and engines available now compared with the early days of the Chaser that translates to a much lower wing loading. This gives the wing a softer ride in turbulence and a much lower sink rate. I was even able to stay airbourne in the early spring thermals- something I’d never even contemplate on my old Chaser!

Flown on the Snake trike (at around 155kg all up weight), hands-off trim speed was around 45mph, with a top speed of 55mph. However, this was flown near the rear hang-point position, and didn’t seem anywhere near the pitch limits of the wing. I’m confident that a further forward hang-point or heavier trike would allow higher cruise speeds.

The efficiency of the wing was such that I had ample power (from a 27Hp C-Max engine) to climb even at full speed. On a heavier trike or faster trim setting more power may be advisable.

Grif HX11 wing as fitted to the Snake nanolight trike.
Grif HX11 wing fitted to the Snake nanolight trike.

The handling was typical of Grif wings- very light in both roll and pitch. This allowed flying in turbulence with only a couple of fingers on the bar. The wing also exhibited very little adverse yaw- which is something the Chaser used to suffer quite badly.

The stall break was reasonably pronounced, and quite often ended up with a wing drop of no more than 30°. In its current guise this is a wing best suited for experienced flexwing pilots.

However (and this is where it gets interesting for the sub-70 market), the stall occurred around 25mph calibrated airspeed. This means it *may* be possible to comply with the 20knot (23mph) stall speed requirement of the sub-70 exemption when flown with the vortex generators installed. The vortex generator option has the effect of reducing the stall speed on the 3DC wing by 3-4mph, as well as changing the stall characteristics to a very benign mush. If the same effect can be realised on the HX11, then we have the potential for a much higher speed wing within this category than has been achieved before.

Grif HX11 top surface
Clean top surface on the HX11 wing.

Understandably, the customer for this wing (a very experienced microlight pilot) was keen to get it home to fit to his existing trike, so I didn’t get much time to play with hang-point adjustment or fitting the vortex generators. A lot more testing needs to be done by myself and Grif before we can be confident this wing complies with the sub-70 category. However, even as an SSDR microlight the HX11 represents a great balance between performance and handling, and would be my choice if I were still competing on the British team.

The HX11 wing weighed in at 29kg, and retains the 190kg MTOW of the nanolight frame it’s based on. This was based on a “no-worse-case” calculation as some of the parts have been beefed up for the HX series, so it’s possible Grif may be able to test to a higher loading in the future.

At £5,520 including VAT this wing comes in at over £1K more than the delightful Grif Zip, so it won’t be for everybody. I’ll be sure to keep you informed of any developments throughout the year, but please contact me if you have any specific questions.


Don’t forget that it’s the Popham Microlight Rally on May 4th & 5th. Please come and say hello! You’ll also have the opportunity to sit in the new “Evo Speed” enclosed cockpit of the Minifox, and see the new tundra tyre concept fitted to one of our Snake demonstrators. We might also have one or two special show offers available, so bring your cheque book!

March 2019

Newsletter- March 2019

A new UK dealer has been announced for Cisco Motors Srl, and it’s Airplay Aircraft Ltd! We will be taking over from Skydrive for all future orders and warranty claims (including existing engines), effective immediately.

After building up substantial experience of the Cisco Motors range over the past two years with the majority of our aircraft powered by either the C-Max or Bull Max 2-stroke engines, we’ve been very impressed by their reliability record and power output. The counter-balance shaft included as standard also makes them an ideal choice with benefits to pilot comfort and airframe fatigue.

Airplay have invested over £20K in stocks of engines and spares to provide support for our past and future customers. This should ensure the minimum of downtime if a parts order is necessary, as well as potentially speeding up delivery times of new aircraft.

David Broom of Airplay Aircraft taking delivery of a Cisco C-Max engine from previous dealers Skydrive.
David Broom of Airplay Aircraft taking delivery of a Cisco C-Max engine from previous dealers Skydrive.

In other news, our introductory offer for 5hrs of free training for qualifying Snake customers will come to an end on April 30th, with all training to be completed before the 16th May. This has historically proven very useful even for experienced pilots, and represents a saving of over £600. Act quickly if you want to bag a bargain!

We have stocked up a number of Snake trikes and wings to eliminate Brexit uncertainty. These will be fitted with a variety of Cisco engine options to demonstrate the aircraft versatility and will be on display at the Popham microlight rally (4/5th May) assuming they’re not sold first.

A number of Snakes being produced before Brexit.
Stocking up before Brexit!

We’ve also ordered a new Minifox demonstrator with the “Evo Speed” enclosed cockpit. If at all possible it will be at Popham, although that is likely to involve building and test-flying an entire aircraft in about a week!

Eurofly Minifox with the EvoSpeed enclosed cockpit option.
Eurofly Minifox with the EvoSpeed enclosed cockpit option.

We hope to see you at Popham, if not before!

Grif Zip Flight Test

Newsletter- Grif Zip Flight Test & World Record Ratification

Last summer’s flight for Distance Without Engine Power has now been ratified as both a British and World Record. I flew the Eurofly Snake and Grif 3DC wing over 34km engine-off, and the take-off was powered by the Cisco C-Max 175 engine.

To get world-beating performance out of an aircraft compliant with our “sub-70” SPHG exemption really demonstrates the advantages of Grif’s modern double-surface wings. I’d like to thank Dario, Italo, Tino and the team for producing such a nice wing, as well as everyone at Eurofly for their continued support.

I’m really pleased that CIMA have ratified my record documented with video & GPS proof, as the previous arrangement was difficult and outdated. This should make it a lot easier to set further records and improve on my distance!


The Grif Zip nanolight wing.
The Grif Zip nanolight wing.

Building on that success, I recently flew Grif’s latest wing design, the Zip. This has been produced specifically with the UK’s sub-70 class in mind. I weighed it on bathroom scales at 27kg in the bag, which includes all the packaging materials and “stinger” keel extension tube (not required for flying). This light weight will allow a bit more leeway for bells & whistles for sub-70 pilots. For example, using this wing should allow fitment of the 33Hp Cisco Bull Max engine whilst still retaining full fuel.

The Grif Zip captured during a wing-over.
The Grif Zip captured during a wing-over.

The Zip is a 14m² wing which uses the same basic frame as the 3DC, with a Maximum Take-Off Weight of 190kg. This gives the Snake/Zip combination the highest payload available. It also allows a quick short-pack without tools to only 3.57m length.

Illustrating the saving from short-packing the Grif Zip wing.
Illustrating the saving from short-packing the Grif Zip wing.

The Zip features enough double-surface to enclose the cross-tubes, but eliminates the nosecone and under-surface battens used on the 3DC. My performance tests show that it’s nearly as efficient as the 3DC wing, and offers much higher glide performance than any single-surface wings I’ve tested.

Snake/Grif Zip on a fly-by.
Snake/Grif Zip on a fly-by.

In terms of handling, the Zip is very similar to the 3DC, with a touch more positive feedback in pitch. Both wings respond very well to a light touch and are incredibly pleasant to fly.

The Zip had to be provoked into a very gentle stall at around 20mph indicated air speed. This example didn’t have the optional vortex generators fitted, yet still exhibited a very benign nose-down mush with no tendency to drop a wing.

Hands-off trim speed was 35mph, which coincides nicely with the best glide ratio of the wing. As with all the Grif wings, this cruise speed could be increased if desired by moving the hang-point (I generally fly on the rearmost-but-one position).

Rigging the Grif Zip and Snake trike.
Rigging the Grif Zip and Snake trike.

As can be seen from the photos, the test-flight took place after the snows began to melt. Hopefully that can put to bed any lingering doubts over the use of the standard light weight wheels on boggy ground. The new alloy drum brake on the 2019 Snake works very well, with a more progressive feel to the brake pedal and better overall stopping power.

The Zip is priced very competitively for a double-surface wing, so fits nicely into our range of wing options. Any immediate orders should still be delivered before Brexit, but you’ll have to be quick!

As always, if you have any questions about the Zip or other aircraft in our range please get in touch.

Cisco Motors & Grif Zip partnership

January 2019

Newsletter- January 2019

Wishing all our customers, past, present and future, a very happy new year!

Eurofly have been busy over the winter period, and have come up with a solution if your airfield suffers from heavy waterlogging! We can now offer the adventure Tundra balloon tyre option for both the Snake and Minifox aircraft.

Snake with Tundra balloon tyre option
Snake with Tundra tyres; shown here with the Adventure luggage bag for serious touring potential.

Weighing 6kg more than the standard tyres (which would take the Snake outside the sub-70 definition in all but the lightest configurations), I’m assured that this option has no noticeable affect on the aircraft performance in flight. They do however, give a very soft pliable ride over rough ground and look very cool!

Minifox with Tundra tyre option
Minifox with Tundra tyres.

This option is priced at £930+VAT, which includes the revised forks, axles and braking system (nosewheel on the Snake, main wheels on the Minifox).

In other news, you may have seen elsewhere that Nigel Beale of Skydrive is looking to retire in the spring of 2019. Rest assured, I’m confident that there will be on-going UK support of the Cisco engine range, and this is still our recommended engine supplier for all of our aircraft. A second line of support will remain in Italy with the manufacturer Cisco in any case, which is still the default position for almost all other paramotor engines sold in the UK.

Some dates for your shiny new 2019 diary; Airplay will be exhibiting at the Popham Microlight rally again this year on the 4/5th May, and the Paramotor Club (PMC) Fly-In at Cheltenham racecourse on the 12-14th July. I hope to have some more personal time for flying this year, so if you think members of your club would be interested in having a demo day of either the Snake or the Minifox at your airfield please get in touch!

November 2018

Newsletter- November 2018

Free Christmas gift offer- see below!

It’s been a great 2018 for Airplay Aircraft, which I think has been nicely summed up in this promo video (in case you haven’t seen it already):

We have the first UK examples of the Grif Zip and HX11 wings currently being manufactured, which should be delivered early next year. I look forward to giving you a full flight test report once they arrive!

I’m also pleased to report continued product development for 2019; with the Snake trike receiving a new nosewheel. This is primarily to improve braking efficiency and, with a weight increase of only 200grams, will become the standard wheel option for the Snake. Note also the new capped keel tube to improve aesthetics and strength.

New Snake nosewheel for 2019

Eurofly have also finalised their design for the enclosed cockpit Minifox, as well as sourcing a lighter pneumatic tyre option. Pricing for the enclosed cockpit will be confirmed soon. I think it looks great, and having sat in the prototype can confirm it’s very roomy inside. It even has an access panel in the side to facilitate stowage of luggage and inspection of the aircraft!

Minifox with enclosed cockpit option

I hesitate to bring it up, but the imminent Brexit may require me to adjust prices at short notice to accommodate fluctuations in the exchange rate.
This can of course work in your favour even if there is a weakening of the pound. The last time that happened I had a customer who sold his brand new aircraft after two years of flying and made a profit!
If you’re keen to make a purchase before any potential turbulence please remember we have a finance option in place to help out. Feedback from our customers who’ve used our finance partner has been very good.

Finally, as a special thank-you to our subscribers, the first ten people to email me with their address will receive a free Airplay Aircraft 2019 Calendar! Just reply with a few lines to tell me if you’ve got a sub-70 or SSDR aircraft (of any design) what you like/dislike about it. If you haven’t got one yet, just let me know what’s holding you back?

October 2018

Newsletter- October 2018

I recently conducted a guided tour to the east coast for a couple of our Snake customers to help build pilot confidence and have some fun! Three aircraft (two with Grif 3DC wings and one Aeros Fox13T) saw much of the Suffolk countryside before overnighting at Great Oakley. Our return trip took in the port areas near Harwich and around the river Deben before heading back to Sutton Meadows in the fens.

Airplay Snake flying over the Felixstowe docks.

The Cisco engines performed faultlessly for a combined total of over 18hrs. I averaged around four litres per hour even whilst fully loaded with the 3DC wing and smaller C-Max engine.

3 Snakes parked up at Great Oakley

The Adventure luggage bag allowed me to carry a 2/3man tent, sleeping bag, spare clothes & toiletries, spare batteries for my camera gear and a couple of litres of 2-stroke oil for extended touring. Whilst the more sensible members of our group checked into a local hotel I decided to camp, and woke up at 4am with ice on the wings!

Camping out at Great Oakley

Overall it was a fantastic trip, and a nice excuse to fly the Snake for something other than a product demonstration. I look forward to organising some more in the future, although I’ll probably wait until the weather warms up before attempting camping again!

Snake flying over the River Deben