Our February 1999 issue teased a summer’s worth of aeronautical splash-n-dash with a “Water-Flying Special.” In it, we covered amphibious aircraft and floatplanes as well as “water gliders,” which look like the product of an amorous kayak and a willing hang glider. (How do you explain that to the parents?)
The Seafire amphibian on the cover was the subject of a lengthy feature by Ron Wanttaja, who described how two builders undertook their Seafire projects in parallel. The Seafire was Dave Thurston’s exploration of a hull amphibian with a tractor, pylon-mounted engine. (His other notable design evolved into the Lake amphibian, which has a pusher configuration.)
Elsewhere in the issue, we had a survey story on all the amphibious or float-equipped kits for sale at the time. Names included the Aventura, the Vollmer Sportsman, the Osprey 2, the Seawind and the Italian Sky Arrow. We also explored the Zenith CH 701 on floats and provided a listing of some 19 companies offering amphib kits or floats to be fitted to popular utility designs.
Dan Johnson’s Light Stuff column looked into Robert Combs’ water gliders, float-equipped hang gliders intended to be towed behind a boat. Combs offered a full turnkey operation for resort owners that included the boat and a modified Wills Wings Falcon 225, considered a training hang glider of the time.
Speaking of light, we were very much involved in the superlight end of the market in 1999 and featured seven full pages of trikes and powered parachutes for sale. Many of the full kits were near or slightly less than $10,000.
In his Around the Patch column, editor Dave Martin praised the AOPA show of 1998, which was held in Palm Springs, California. Although primarily a certified-GA event, there was still interest in homebuilts among the members and showgoers, and Dave reported that his seminar was well received. (Our current editor in chief was there, working for AOPA at the time, and recalls sitting in on that seminar.)
Finally, this magazine contained one of our multipart features looking back at our earlier issues as part of our ongoing 15th anniversary celebration. (The fact that this very column does the same is not lost on us.) Contributor Don Downie looked through the 1994 and 1995 issues for gems and found our review of the BD-10 jet and Dave Martin’s flight report on the tandem-seat Omega II, which debuted to high hopes but faltered after 13 kits were sold. We reported that all got their money back for the kits.