Do you want to be involved in the most exciting sector in general aviation? We are looking for enthusiastic aviators in the UK to support and promote our aircraft; the Snake “sub-70” flexwing and/or the SSDR Minifox fixed-wing. High demand (particularly in the sub-70 sector) means we would like to focus on manufacturing, whilst allowing local dealers to concentrate on promotion and initial sales enquiries.
We’re confident we can offer the best financial arrangement in the industry. Further potential benefits include spin-off training, servicing and maintenance.
Please come along for an informal chat at the Popham show this weekend. It’s also a great opportunity to inspect our world-beating aircraft and see for yourself their competitive advantages.
Just a reminder that the Popham Microlight Rally will be held this year on the 14th and 15th of August. Airplay will be exhibiting on the flight line, with the Evo Speed Minifox and Snake aircraft. Some show special discounts will be in place on a number of machines- get there early to guarantee yourself a bargain!
Electric Minifox revealed!
In collaboration with Avio Engineering Srl, Eurofly have recently unveiled a Minifox proof-of-concept vehicle powered by an all-electric propulsion system. More details will follow soon, but you can see an interview with the creators (in Italian) by following this link. The future is here!
New for 2021 we have an alloy wheel and pneumatic tyre option for the Snake flexwing trike priced at £400+VAT. Similar to the wheel option already in place for the Minifox fixed-wing, these alloy wheels offer a more traditional appearance and slightly increased contact patch over the standard undercarriage. The total weight of the aircraft is increased by only 2.5kg, so still perfectly suitable for sub-70 operation in the UK if paired with a lighter wing or engine option. See below for a great deal on the first alloy wheel demonstrator in the UK.
Fox13T wing lightened
In a happy coincidence, Aeros have managed to further reduce the weight of their Fox13T wing. Using the thinner cross-tubes from the Adam, the weight of the wing is now only a claimed 25kg when fitted with the optional ODL technora sailcloth. MTOW remains at 180kg- quite an engineering feat!
The Fox13T was already well suited to heavier options such as the 33Hp Black Bull engine or electric start, but this weight saving allows even more flexibility whilst remaining legal under the sub-70 limit.
Vittorazi Moster Silent discontinued
Vittorazi have decided to no longer offer the Silent version of their popular Moster 185 engine from March 2021. The Moster Plus will remain in production; the main difference between this and the Silent version is the addition of a centrifugal clutch which weighs around 400grams and costs slightly more. If you would like to get hold of one of the last Silent engines please contact me asap as Vittorazi only have limited stock.
Vittorazi have produced a new Moster variant for ultimate performance, known as the Factory R. Available only with recoil start, the Factory R claims a total weight of only 13.7kg and an improved power output of 27Hp. This engine should retail around £3500+VAT and will be available for special orders only. For more details, follow this link.
Vittorazi have also collaborated with Helix to produce a specific propeller matched to their engines. Unless otherwise specified, all carbon props ordered through Airplay with a Vittorazi engine will be these branded versions.
Unfortunately due to the above news, along with increased complication for all manufacturers affected by Brexit, there are going to be a number of price increases implemented soon. I’m working hard to keep the price calculators on the website up to date, but please contact me for a final quote before ordering. If you are considering placing an order in the next few months please get in touch- there may be significant savings to be had.
Stock sale at pre-Brexit prices
Having purchased and built a number of aircraft for stock prior to Brexit with delivery costs already paid, I can now offer the following;
Snake trike: £5,808 inc VAT
Snake trike in metallic silver (free upgrade). Corsair Black Devil (25Hp) recoil start engine and quick-release prop attachment. Helix carbon propeller. Alloy wheels.
Ready to pair with a wing of your choice. A potential candidate is a previous customer’s Avian Rio15 in Hot Red, already converted for use with a Snake (customer is upgrading to the Puma). Approx 80hrs use, but in very good condition. Asking price £2000, resulting in a total aircraft for an unbeatable £7,808 including VAT.
Snake trike in metal flake dark blue. Last ever Cisco C-Max 175 (27Hp) engine with dual electric/recoil start and generator coil. Wooden propeller. Adventure luggage bag. FlyElectronics Motomonitor instrument. Grif 3DC wing in Black/Dark Blue dual colour undersurface. PX20 leading edge. Vortex generators. Wingtip fairings and strobe lights. Powder coated A-frame (dark blue).
Awaiting test flight- photos to follow.
Minifox Evo Speed enclosed cabin version: £23,800 inc VAT
Ready-built Minifox with Fluo Orange highlights with Evo Speed enclosed cabin and luggage bay. Cisco BullMax (33Hp) engine with electric start. Helix carbon propeller. Alloy wheel & pneumatic tyre upgrade. Analogue ASI and FlyElectronics Motomonitor instrument suite. USB charging points. Yaesu FTA450L VHF radio, whip antenna and Microavionics powered comms interface with Bluetooth connection. CAA registered as G-MFUX.
List price on this is over £29,000 so represents a substantial discount.
All aircraft will be available immediately once test flights are complete. Listed options may be altered where possible subject to negotiation.
I’m pleased to announce the introduction of a new wing from Grif Italia Srl- the Zoe. A development from the popular Zip design, the Zoe retains the low number of battens (13 in total) to keep the rigging time to an absolute minimum. However, the total sail area is reduced to 12m², which coincidentally makes the Zoe the lightest wing in the Grif nanolight range.
The smaller wing area increases the wing loading and reduces overall drag at higher speeds. This makes it a great choice for pilots who prioritise motoring flight or just enjoy the light and responsive handling common in all Grif designs. The stall break is almost as benign as the very docile Zip, with no tendency shown to drop a wing or other unpleasant behaviour. The calibrated stall speed is comfortably within the limit for the UK sub-70 SPHG definition, even without the optional vortex generators.
All the Grif nanolight wings share the same basic frame (only the sail and outer leading edges are different), and the Zoe features a maximum takeoff weight of 190kg. This also means it can be cost-effective to change/upgrade wing designs in the future, particularly in the case of a sail replacement. The Zoe is competitively priced at £3,950+VAT and shipping. The price list on the website has been updated, along with the Wing Options page.
Airplay are pleased to announce a special offer for all UK purchasers of a complete Snake aircraft. Customers can take their choice of either;
Option A: 3hrs Free Training in a two-seat flexwing microlight with Mark Allan at Sutton Meadows airfield in Cambridgeshire. Mark is a CAA qualified flight instructor so any training will count toward grant of an NPPL (microlight) should you wish to continue on toward getting your licence. Even existing or lapsed microlight pilots should find this training valuable for getting current before flying their new Snake. For more details visit Marks website at http://www.flyingscool.co.uk/
Option B: Free delivery to mainland UK. As an alternative to travelling to our base on the Isle of Skye, I will deliver your new Snake to your home or favourite flying site to carry out the handover. As per usual this will include a full demonstration of rigging/derigging, basic maintainance, flight characteristic briefing etc.
Both of these special offers will remain available until further notice. I hope to work with more instructors in the future to offer free training throughout the UK. If you’re interested in Option A but Cambridgeshire is too far for you to travel then please get in touch!
New Snake colour options
Eurofly are now able to powder coat the Chromoly Steel sections of the Snake in any RAL colour of your choosing (although of course the standard Red, Green and Blue colours remain available). This can be done at no extra cost, and should allow customers to create their ideal colour scheme.
For an extra £100+vat we can add a metal flake to your choice of powder coat. This really catches the light to give that extra sparkly effect! I have two demonstrators in production to show off the new metallic sheen- pictures to follow shortly.
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.
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.
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.
If you have any experience or knowledge of applicable electric motor or control systems (or for more information on the project) please Contact Us.
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 propeller. 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.
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.
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.
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 propellers, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!