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Two airplanes (almost) anyone can afford

Two airplanes (almost) anyone can afford

“Everything you need and not much else,” is the catchy tagline from aviation entrepreneur Chip Erwin.

With those words, he described the Italian Zigolo, which is based on a design by American Mike Sandlin. (In a sign of our global times, Erwin imports it to both USA and China.) One look at the aircraft and you can see what he is describing. Zigolo has everything you need to go aloft to have some aerial fun and, well … not much else.

A similarly simple but well packaged design is made here in the US of A but has recently made its way overseas to Germany and the European Union. Florida’s Aerolite 103 (Aerolite 120 in Europe to conform to its “120 Class”) also has all a pilot needs to see the countryside.

Both aircraft are single seaters and they share one characteristic that ought to intrigue for you two reasons. Their singular quality is their surprisingly low cost. You could own your aircraft for pennies on the usual aircraft-buying dollar. Newcomers to aviation may also enjoy this fact.

Every pilot to whom I’ve spoken in recent years wants more people to share our pleasure of flight. Aerolite and Zigolo can appeal to younger pilots on tighter budgets and each costs less than the average price of a new car.

Zigolo Is Made to Soar

General aviation pilots are apt to look at either airplane and think, “Why, these are just ultralights.” If you said that, you are right, but these ultralights aren’t like those from the early 1980s when the FAA created that category. In those formative days, ultralights were very basic aircraft with little history. They’ve come a long way since.

Zigolo is incredibly light, only 225 pounds empty even with its standard airframe parachute system. This means at least three things. It can easily make Part 103, which limits empty weight to 254 pounds. Zigolo has enough weight margin to allow ideas like electric power (more below).

Aerolite Around the World

Since its creation in the mid-1990s Aerolite has been a solely American phenomenon. That last word seems appropriate given Aerolite retails for less than $16,000 completely assembled and ready to fly. It is no bare bones airplane.



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Chip W. Erwin
South Lakeland Airport
Lakeland, FL

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