American shores have been blessed with a number of innovative and sleek light plane designs from the Czech Republic thanks to the bankruptcy and demise of the Soviet Union. Truly talented designers and engineers from this Eastern European enclave of aeronautic excellence have been cranking out beautiful designs for years. Enter Jihlavan Airplanes, a Czech firm that gives us the Skyleader 600, a two place aluminum and composite light plane with beautiful lines, a unique canopy and a surprising amount of room in the cockpit.
The Skyleader 600 is mostly constructed with aluminum components and pull rivets. The cockpit coating is all composite, with a carbon fiber canopy structure bar running overhead. The complex design of the canopy is both impressive and functional, allowing entry and egress of the cockpit with relative ease. The wide cockpit fits two beefy (American) pilots without the dreaded shoulder fraternization. The sleek lines of the fuselage, along with the substantial wing root fairings, suggest something designed in Italy by an engineer in red leather Valasca shoes and eggplant colored glasses. The landing gear is an elegantly simple trailing link design. Clearly, the artistic designers and the performance engineers got along nicely when they begot this love child of the air.
Jihlavan has been manufacturing this little Lambo with altitude since 2006. There are over 250 in the air, 10 in the U.S. and the rest in Europe. Now, they want to get Skyleaders into the hands of home builders by developing an all inclusive quickbuild kit, to be powered by a Rotax 912 ULS. Jihlavan’s U.S. contingent, based in California, has already designed the kit structure and developed the detailed plans. They anticipate a construction time of 400 hours. Jihlavan anticipates submitting their request for a 51% kit status ruling from the FAA “soon.”
The Skyleader 600 American flag ship is now nestled in the sacred turf of Paradise City. We can now see for ourselves what this ship will look like at the end of 400 hours. Hopefully, the FAA will approve.