Lightweight elevators

lightweight elevatorsThe Skyleader factory sent out a set of lightweight elevators for the GP One microlight. Made of carbon-fibre with a foam sandwich skin, they are torsionally-stiff and have a very smooth surface. The 6 hinge pins were very challenging to fit because of the narrow aperture along the hinge line. But with some ‘needle-nose plier’ ingenuity  and plenty of patience on my part, they went together nicely.

The new elevators, and last year’s vertical tail unit upgrade, mean that the GP One can avoid any possible flutter up to 195 knots (360 kmph). A lot faster than I’d want to go!

Carbon-fibre radiator louvres

cooling intake 2 - grilleTo help reduce the coolant temperature of the Rotax 912 UL engine on the Skyleader GP One light sport aircraft, I fitted a series of carbon-fibre the cowling air intake. They proved to be very effective at scooping air and directing it through the side-mounted radiator, reducing the temperature by over 20 degrees C.
They work a treat and look great.

Wings on and start the engine

GP One @ Southern Wings flight school 2015-11-08 1500pxBack in June, two staff from the Skyleader factory traveled to NZ and updated SkyFreedom Aviation’s GP One to the latest specs. This included making significant changes to the exhaust, radiator and cowling layout.

As they left to fly back to the Czech Republic, they asked me to look after the assembly, engine run and initial flight. After completing some unfinished tasks and adding some extra features such as storage compartments, a friend and I transported the GP One to the Invercargill Airport where we assembled the light sport aircraft in the Southern Wings hangar.

On a miserably wet afternoon, I tied the GP One down and did an engine run. The temps and pressures came up OK.

I had to wait a couple of days for the weather to improve before flying the GP One.

Luggage space for LSA

GP One cockpit 2015-11-08 1500pxThe Skyleader GP One which is SkyFreedom Aviation’s NZ demonstrator only had a single storage compartment, so that it was a challenge to pack and access all the items required for long cross-country trips. I have designed and manufactured a series of additional storage spaces to make the GP One more user-friendly.

First up was a lightweight carbon tray in the centre console. This is handy for mobile phone, pens, sunglasses, etc.  The headset sockets are also recessed into this tray, so that the plugs are less likely to be bumped.

The second addition is a 50 litre luggage locker below the existing locker. It fits bulkier items such as jackets, daypack, lifejackets, etc. I used the hi-tech epoxy resin infusion process to manufacture it, which means that the new carbon/foam locker only weighs slightly more than the original fibreglass locker.

New exhaust, cowling and radiator for GP One

GP One radiator mount 2015-11-08 1500pxWhen the Skyleader factory staff returned to the Czech Republic in late June (after a very busy 10 day visit), there were a few unfinished tasks on SkyFreedom Aviation’s GP One demonstrator. Over the next few months, I worked steadily on completing these tasks.

Since the new exhaust has been re-located further aft, the under-slung radiator had to be shifted. It is now mounted vertically on the right side of the engine compartment, with ducting built into the lower cowling. It took some interesting welding and fabrication to align the radiator with the ducting and available mounting points.

carbon VTU upgrade

VTU transition piece glued (GP One 8005005 S) 2 smlThe Skyleader factory asked me to fit an upgrade to the VTU (vertical tail unit) of SkyFreedom Aviation’s GP One demo aircraft.

The beautifully-made carbon and foam sandwich parts duly arrived after New Year. I fitted them under the supervision of Bill Barber (of Snark fame) and Callum Smith (Twenty24 Aircraft Maintenance). The extra ribs and the transition piece connecting the boom to the leading edge of the VTU have hugely stiffened the whole tail.

Skyleader GP One

I’ve been unloading, assembling and generally preparing a carbon-composite Skyleader GP One microlight aircraft for its initial Permit-to-Fly and CAA certification.

This aircraft is owned by SkyFreedom Aviation, a company that my wife and I set up in June to import and sell Skyleader light sport aircraft from the Czech Republic. We hope to sell the GP One trainer to flight schools, aero clubs and individuals.

Over a period of 3 weeks, we calibrated fuel tanks, measured lots of things, checked control systems, ran the engine, etc. The Czech registration marks were removed and the new ‘WLB’ New Zealand registration applied to the tail boom.


I was very relieved when CAA inspected and approved the GP One to fly.