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.
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.
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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!
Special one-time offer for a discounted Snake- see below for details!
Hopefully by now all of you that are BMAA members will have read the excellent review of the Snake sub-70kg/SSDR flexwing microlight in the latest Microlight Flying magazine. Reviewer Steve Uzochukwu gave a glowing appraisal of the Snake, and was particularly impressed with the handling and performance of the Grif 3DC wing.
Steve has also flown the Aeros Fox13T wing, so was well-placed to give an objective comparison. His opinion (which is mirrored by my own), is that the Fox makes an ideal beginner wing with high levels of stability. It also has a relatively steep glide angle that makes judging an approach into a short field particularly easy.
By comparison the 3DC wing has a far greater glide performance at higher speeds, as well as a slightly lighter, more sporty feeling to the handling. As such, it would be better suited to the pilot wanting more efficiency in the cruise or capability when engine-off soaring. It also suits hooligans who want to get their wing-over picture on the front cover of a magazine!
I also came fourth in the photo competition using my homemade parachute drogue. It’s a good job my niece likes the taste of Fanta!
I mentioned in the last newsletter that our current “Trofeo” branded 3DC demonstrator wing will be available for sale when my replacement wing arrives next month. This is an all-white Grif 3DC with the PX20 leading edge and vortex generator options. The wing was specially built for last year’s European Microlight Championships (“Trofeo” is Italian for Trophy), and has done approximately 35hrs flying time since new. These hours may increase in the meantime as it is used for product demonstration. This wing can be yours for £3,980 (inc VAT), which represents a total saving of around £790 over a new wing in this spec.
If you’d like a trike to go with it, I can sell our current demonstrator Snake trike for a total package price of £9,400 (inc VAT). This green-coloured trike is fitted with the Cisco C-Max 175 recoil start engine, wooden Cisco prop, generator coil, Microavionics strobe and FlyElectronics MotoMonitor instrument system. This represents a total saving of over £1,100. The engine is barely run-in at 8hrs currently, and is running sweet as a nut!
These prices are based on today’s exchange rate and may fluctuate slightly. As a special reward for email subscribers I will not publicise this on any other social media etc for a few days to give you first dibs. The first person to commit to buying will get the deal! Please note this special price will not qualify for our free training offer (although of course training is still available for converting pilots).
If you’d like any more information or pictures please get in touch.
Look out for the excellent review of the Minifox in this month’s Microlight Flying magazine (free to BMAA members) by David Bremner. Dave Unwin has also carried out a flight test for Pilot magazine, which should be available in newsagents very soon. Both reviewers were very impressed with the handling and quality of the Minifox and were left with big silly grins after flying it!
There should be magazine reviews of the Snake flexwing in the next issues of Microlight Flying, Skywings (the BHPA magazine) and an upcoming issue of Cross-Country magazine. Again, the reviewers had a great time and have written very positive reports.
If the above video fails to load simply click here.
These flight tests were carried out with the 2017 version of the Grif 3DC wing. There are a couple of minor design tweaks and a planned higher MTOW test set for the 2018 wings, so I have another demonstrator (in fetching green & black colour scheme) due for delivery in the spring. Our current white demonstrator with “Trofeo” branding (the wing was flown in last years European championships) will then be available for sale at a good discount. Please contact me if you’d like more details.
The 3DC is a double-surface kingposted wing, capable of being rigged flat or on the A-frame in approximately 6-8 minutes. Compared with our other popular wing option, the Aeros Fox13T, the 3DC gives a slightly lighter more sporty feel, as well as significantly more glide performance. Both wings fly hands-off in the 30-35mph speed range, although Grif wings feature a ground-adjustable hang-point that can be adjusted in minutes if a higher trim speed is desired.
A range of dacron colours are available with the undersurface cut in one or two panels. Other options include PX20 trilaminate leading edge (non-porous and wipe-clean), wingtip fairings and LED strobes, and vortex generators (which help delay the onset of the stall and are strongly recommended for sub-70 operation). Powder-coating the A-frame and kingpost is also possible (the aluminium is anodised as standard) to create your perfect colour scheme.
With a 6-8 week lead time for Aeros wings (a little less for Grif wings) now is the time to place an order if you want a full season of thermal fun!
week we carried out the first ever UK flight of a Snake nanolight trike
as a flight test to confirm the suitability of the Aeros Fox13T wing.
pleased (and I have to admit a little surprised!) to report that the
geometry of the Fox13T was an absolutely perfect match for the Snake.
I’ve flown plenty of single-make flexwings that have spent months in
testing and failed to achieve so good a result.
very gentle mush stall is achieved precisely as the bar touches the
front strut, leaving plenty of rearward bar movement for high speed
flight. All the controls are light, but stable, and I was able to
reverse a 30° bank in a touch under 1.5 seconds. I was flying without
instruments, but I would estimate a stall speed in the region of 20mph
and hands-off cruise somewhere closer to 30mph.
single-surface design promises a low sink rate and Flylight (the UK
Aeros importers) claim a glide ratio approaching 10:1, although that
figure drops significantly when flown at higher airspeeds. This would
make the Fox the ideal choice where short-field operation is a priority.
being a kingposted wing the Fox13T retains the ability to be folded
whilst on the trike, although I suspect most pilots will simply detach
the wing for derigging. This remains a very simple process taking
seconds to achieve as (unlike some nanolights) the basebar of the wing
comfortably clears the nosewheel, allowing the bar to sit flat on the
Fox13T retails at €3600 with a £150 shipping charge (both +VAT). It’s
available in a full range of Dacron colours, or with the optional ODL6
Technora covering (as shown in the pictures) as a €430 option. The wing
weighs only 25.5kg, allowing the greatest flexibility of engine options
or fuel capacity for sub-70kg operation. Lead time is generally 6-8
flight test was carried out using the Cisco C-Max 175 engine, which
provides more than ample power. Cisco claim 27Hp, and with a 5-10knot
headwind I’d estimate the total ground roll for takeoff was in the
region of 25 metres.
conducted flight tests with both a Helix carbon-fibre propeller and a
wooden prop provided by Cisco. Early tests indicate the wooden prop
appears to produce slightly more thrust and a nicer sound, although the
carbon prop should prove more hard-wearing. Prices for the Cisco wooden
prop will be on the website following confirmation, but promise to be
even lower than the Helix.
Even without removing the prop the folded Snake still comfortably took less than half the boot of my car.
I also have some news for those hungry for more information on the Minifox fixed-wing microlight. Pilot magazine have recently carried out a flight test of the aircraft; look out for the review in an upcoming issue!
Our demonstrator Minifox and Snake aircraft remain available; please call me if you’d like to arrange an appointment.