Archive: August 1991


Nat Puffer’s Cozy Mk IV was the cover subject of our August 1991 issue. Don Downie caught up with Nat and wife Shirley Puffer to review the new four-place plansbuilt canard. Bigger than both the original Cozy and the three-place Cozy 3, the Mk IV had more wing, larger wing roots and a relocated nose gear. Baggage could be carried in the voluminous wing roots, though the fuel capacity was kept at 26 gallons a side. Puffer felt that no one wanted to sit in an airplane for more than 4 hours, so that was sufficient. Using a fixed-pitch prop and a 180-hp Lycoming O-360, the factory demo produced a best cruise of 200 mph (174 knots true) at 8500 feet, albeit with the engine humming along at its 2700-rpm redline. Puffer estimated that his prototype airplane took 2000 hours to build from plans, using Burt Rutan’s moldless composite techniques, and cost $20,000 before avionics.

Dave Martin, in his Around the Patch column, highlighted Rich Trickel’s KIS two-seater, which debuted with a Limbach L2000, VW-based engine. The KIS would grow quickly and soon outgrow the Limbach.

We also highlighted the 1991 edition of Sun ’n Fun, which was the 17th edition of the event in Lakeland. Such a curious, pre-internet time when we’d reveal what happened at airshows months before as though it was newsy news. It was, we noted, a record crowd of more than 280,000 and nearly 3100 campers. At the show, the Questair Spirit debuted. That was the fixed-gear version of the Venture, the egg-shaped two-seater with big power and plenty of performance penned by Piper Malibu designer Jim Griswold. The Spirit was still in primer and had had just enough time flown off to make it to the show. Questair was struggling to come out of bankruptcy that year, but the Spirit did little to help because, as always, the market was always hungry for the fastest example of any given design.

Along with the airshow, Sun ’n Fun ran the Sun 100 speed race. Lancairs dominated, with Dave Morss putting in the best speed overall (300.48 mph) in the factory Lancair IV (it also won its power class of 251 hp or more). Lancairs took the top two spots in the 161–200 hp class. It’s worth noting that Rich Gritter, in the factory Questair Venture, was right up the Lancair IV’s tailpipe with a 297.6 mph run. RVs had their own class, with Frank Smith’s RV-3 posting a 220.29 mph speed for the win.

Bendix/King, then the dominant avionics manufacturer and still fond of the slash between the names, highlighted bringing its brand of avionics into homebuilts with the tagline “because it’s yours, give it the best.” All of this predated GPS, so the green-screen navigator in the ad is the KLN 88 “IFR-certifiable Loran.” We chuckle now at the stylized image of a man working on his finished RV in a leather jacket. If only.

An ad introducing the 912 had Rotax proclaiming: “You supply the plane. We supply the power.” Testimonials from Dan Denney at Denney Aircraft (the Kitfox), Chris Heintz of Zenair and Robin Dyck of Murphy Aircraft helped promote this radical new four-stroke engine from a company best known for its ring-dinger two-strokes.


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