Although I had been active with RC model airplanes all my life, a retirement goal was to complete a full-scale airplane that my wife and I could travel in. So solid performance was a must. But not getting started with my first kit until late 2018 at age 62, a fast build time was also paramount. The Arion Lightning XS was well suited to satisfy those needs, and availability of factory build-assist at a fair price was added insurance. I started with just a week of build assist up front which got some of the critical structures completed and gave me a jump start. After that, I trailered it home to continue and make the project my own. Even with cold months entirely off, in two years it was ready for paint and finishing touches, which I opted to do back at the Arion facility. Many thanks to the amazing Nick Otterback at Arion, as well as his staff, for good natured support and expertise!
First flight was in July of 2021. My lightning is powered by a Continental/Titan IOX-340 with a Prince fixed pitch prop. We installed twin Dynon HDX panels and a Garmin 650 for avionics. It was built with provision for a BRS parachute, but living in the Midwest, I never installed it (maybe some day?). This airplane flies like it’s on rails and responds crisply to controls without being twitchy. With a relatively high wing load, it’s smooth in light turbulence. Finally done with phase 1, we’re looking forward to some great trips that I’m still young enough to enjoy!