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Single-Seat Dreamin’ Excerpted from AVweb

Single-Seat Dreamin’ Excerpted from AVweb

If there’s a great untapped resource in general aviation—other than unsold airplanes—it must be empty seats. Four-place airplanes rarely fly with more than two people and if we had data on it, I suspect most piston aircraft flights have one body aboard. And once this autonomy thing comes together, we can dispense with him/her and get on with the task of clogging the skies with remorseless robots.

Until then, we can continue to contemplate the rising challenge of lofting just a single stalwart butt into the sky. One way I’ve been exploring this is through the little Merlin PSA I reported on during our Sport Aviation Expo coverage last January. Chip Erwin of Aeromarine LSA is bringing this in as an EAB kit from the Czech Republic. It’s still a work in progress, since the FAA hasn’t done its formal kit review of the aircraft yet and Erwin isn’t sure he’ll go the LSA route with it. We’ll see.

So for the time being, I’m looking at this conceptually. Is there any appeal for a single-seat airplane that’s fun to fly, cheap to operate and fast enough to fly modest cross-countries in?

Based on my reaction to flying the Merlin, I’d say maybe. As a kit, it will sell complete for about $35,000 and to that, add another $5000 for paint and avionics. How much would an LSA version cost? Erwin’s not sure, but my guess of $60,000 struck him as reasonable. For that, you get a 100-MPH airplane with sprightly takeoff performance, sport-like handling, two- to three-hour range and enough payload for 25 pounds of baggage.

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Chip W. Erwin
South Lakeland Airport
Lakeland, FL

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