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

September 2018

Newsletter- September 2018

It’s been an exceedingly busy summer at Airplay, with the unprecedented summer giving almost unbroken flight training along with new aircraft deliveries throughout the past months.

We recently completed the build of the first Minifox in the UK with the NCWS wing-fold system, which makes single-handed rigging even quicker and easier thanks to the alignment bracketry and quick-release pins. The happy customer flew G-CKYZ back to his home where he’s operating out of a 100m paddock.

He also specified a custom instrument layout featuring a Stratomaster Xtreme as a centrepiece. With the appropriate sensors attached this unit is capable of giving a full artificial horizon, GPS and EFIS display, and certainly looked great in the carbon dashboard.

You can see a short video of the testflight of G-CKYZ (including a demonstration of using the wing-fold system to slot neatly inside a flexwing hangar space) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwBkgdxi1EU if it’s not displayed below:

Another happy customer recently flew his first ever flexwing solo on his new Snake/Fox13T. He then flew over 4hrs at Sutton over the next couple of days before popping the aircraft into his car to take home.

The Fox wing with the optional ODL Technora fabric looks great in the air and on the ground. Its light weight also allows fitment of the 33Hp Bull Max engine and still remains within the licence-free weight limit. We opted for a 1.4m diameter Helix prop on this configuration which gives a very low pitched noise profile and climb rates of 800 feet per minute.

We also fitted this machine with an Apco Mayday reserve system, designed to bring the entire aircraft down safely in a feet-first configuration if thrown. This option is priced at £680(+VAT).

The Fox13T (left) in Hot Red, next to the 3DC in Fluo Green & Black.

We’re currently planning on making an extended touring trip with hopefully at least 4 Snakes during the last week of September (weather allowing). Any owners of other aircraft capable of getting into similar-sized strips as the Snake would be made welcome. Please get in touch for details.

July 2018

Newsletter- July 2018

I’m pleased to report that Grif Italia Srl have come up with a couple of new wing designs for the 2018 summer season; the new Zip wing and the HX series of high-speed touring nanolight wings.

The Zip should prove to be of particular interest to Snake pilots who wish to operate within the sub-70kg category of licence-free flying. The Zip carries just enough double-surface to enclose the cross-tubes, so offering improved efficiency over the HS14 wing it is designed to replace. It uses the same basic frame as the 3DC, but omits the four under-surface battens allowing even quicker rigging times.

It sits somewhere between the 3DC and Aeros Fox wings in terms of performance, weight and price. The Zip weighs approximately 28kg and still retains a massive 190kg MTOW (tested at +6G)!
UK retail price is £4,488 (inc VAT), with lead times around 3-8 weeks.

The HX11 and HX12 wings utilize much higher wing-loadings to achieve hands-off trim speeds of up to 60mph, and are aimed at competition and touring pilots. This extra energy takes the combination outside of the stall speed limit for sub-70 operation, and so will require an appropriate licence to operate. Please contact me if you would like more details.

After working closely with Avian over the past few months I’m happy to say that I have recently completed the initial testflight of a Rio2 on the Snake trike. With a detachable hang-bracket (compatible with existing Rio and Fly wings) this wing can now be free-flown in supine configuration or used on the Snake nanolight. The conversion only takes a matter of minutes, and the handling and performance of the wing is little affected by the addition of the trike.

The Rio (I flew the 15m² version) is a docile beginner/intermediate wing, and probably has the lowest sink rate of all the wings available for the Snake. Optional extras include laminate sail options and Variable Geometry to allow in-flight adjustment of the sail tension. Due to the slower stall speed the Rio also has a truly spectacularly short take-off and landing roll!

The Fly single-surface wing uses the same basic frame, and so can be upgraded to a Rio cost-effectively. Prices for the Fly start at £3,940, with the Rio from £4,667 (inc VAT), complete with the hang-bracket for trike use.

All of these wing options are now on the website at https://www.airplayaircraft.co.uk/snake/wing-options/ and the price list has been updated accordingly.

Finally, I will be exhibiting the Snake at the Paramotor club summer fly-in this weekend, as well as Parafest at the end of the month. I hope to see you there!

Kind Regards,
Dave Broom.

Phone: +44(0)7773 253454
Web: www.airplayaircraft.co.uk

World Record Attempt

Newsletter- World Record Attempt

On the 15th June 2018 David Broom successfully flew 34.54km engine-off in the Airplay Aircraft EuroFly Snake/Grif 3DC nanolight sub-70 flexwing.

If ratified by the FAI this should become a new British and World Record. No previous record has been set in the solo flexwing class.

If the above video doesn’t show, click here.

David says “I wanted to show hang/paraglider pilots that their core flying experience can be enhanced by flying a nanolight trike. After self-launching from Sandy, Bedfordshire I used only thermals to fly back to near my home airfield. I even landed out in a small farmer’s field to demonstrate that this is still perfectly feasible with a trike unit, before restarting the engine to fly home and avoid a prolonged retrieve.

The Grif 3DC and Snake combination offers glide performance broadly similar to a good intermediate hang-glider. The supine seating position is very comfortable for long periods and makes keeping an adequate lookout much easier than with a prone harness. Aside from using the engine to self-launch, it’s much more fun flying to/from your favourite site than driving there!

The claim now needs to be ratified by the FAI to become a world record; a process that often takes months or even years. There can be no doubt that the flight took place as claimed; I carried 3 separate GPS trackers and filmed the entire flight in addition to arranging the required official observers. However, the approval document hasn’t been updated for years and doesn’t contain any procedures for video evidence. The quickest way for me to force the point was to do a flight and make a record claim!

34km is actually quite a modest distance and the aircraft is capable of much more. I was a bit late taking off and was racing to keep ahead of some overdevelopment. If I’d been a bit earlier I’m confident I could have easily reached the coast.I’m hoping that the FAI will now update their record procedures and this will make it easier for pilots in all classes to show what they are capable of.”–
Phone: +44(0)7773 253454
Web: www.airplayaircraft.co.uk

April 2018

Newsletter- April 2018

I have some exciting news for the hang-glider pilots among you! Airplay Aircraft are pleased to announce that the Snake trike is now available with the Avian Fly & Rio wings. The intention is to provide a wing that can be both free-flown and used on the Snake trike without modification.

Avian hang-gliders are designed and manufactured in Britain, and exhibit an excellent attention to detail with quality fittings. Avian also have an enthusiastic following of pilots using their wings in a supine (seated) position, and have created a specific geometry to suit. This setup promises to be a great match for the Snake trike.

The Fly is a single-surface wing which shares the same frame as the Rio, allowing later upgrades to the higher performance double-surfaced wing. Both wings are available in 15m² (suitable for pilots up to 80kg) and 17m² versions (100kg pilot weight). Variable geometry and laminate material options are available. Prices start from £3,675 (inc VAT), which drops the total price of a brand new aircraft below the £9K mark!

The first customer unit has just been completed and we await some good weather for final flight testing. A full report will follow, and the website will be updated with details as soon as possible.

A Pilot Operating Handbook for the Snake/3DC has recently been completed, which can be downloaded from our website.

I would be glad of any feedback or suggestions for improvements you may have. Hopefully it will be of use to pilots of other nanotrikes also.

The Adventure luggage bag option for the Snake is now in production, priced at £252 including VAT. Made of water-resistant fabric (which also neatly doubles up as a front mudguard), the Adventure bag provides cavernous storage space accessible from both sides of the trike via two large zips. Especially when flown with the Grif 3DC wing (which features a huge 190kg MTOW), this will allow serious bivouac-style touring trips and also makes an ideal mounting point for a reserve parachute if required.

Finally, we will be exhibiting both the Snake and Minifox aircraft at the Popham Microlight Rally on the 5th and 6th of May. Hopefully we’ll see you there!

Kind Regards,
Dave Broom.–
Phone: +44(0)7773 253454
Web: www.airplayaircraft.co.uk