Sebring – Trying it on for Size


Paul Dye trying on the BD-17 for size.The US Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring, Florida began on Wednesday, and we found that its a great opportunity to take a look at potential new airplane projects and try them on for size. Almost everything here qualifies as a Light Sport Aircraft (except for the big transport jet who’s tail sticks incongruously out of the door of a hangar) so its a neat place to try on a few airplanes that are quite personally sized, like the BD-17. Originally designed nearly 15 years ago it is a simple, single seat airplane that we plan to fly soon for a review in Kitplanes.

There is a lot of innovation evident at the Expo, with many of the popular vendors in the experimental showing off their products, and new designs – like the single-seat, high wing Merlin PA from Aeromarine making its debut. Recently brought in from Europe and intended for the kit market, the small high-wing – and single seat – airplane will be available with tricycle gear or amphibious floats (with retractable gear). Aeromarine also has an electric motor and battery pack on display that is intended to replace to current small Rotax engine, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on that as it develops.

Sebring has a different feel from the big shows that attract so many people later in the year – with a wide open ramp that makes it easy to get demo planes in and out (so that they can actually fly), and fewer crowds, it is easy to talk with the factory representatives in detail, to sit in the airplanes for fit checks, and to do a quality job of researching the various models. If you’re serious about the shopping for a Light Sport kit or project, Sebring is a great destination to help with your search.


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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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