April 2004. The culmination of 4 years in the workshop, the Australian Ultralight Federation’s annual national fly-in – Natfly 2004.
For the previous two months I had been spending all my spare time flying the bugs out of the system. Not that I had many problems. My main concern was engine temperatures which were higher than I wanted, but this sorted itself out with a combination of cooler weather and break-in of the engine.Before I knew it I had completed the required 25 hours testing period and all was running well. I was confident enough to make the trip to Narromine for Natfly 2004. Quite a few Sonex builders were going to be there so I didn’t want anything to go wrong at the last minute.
I was a little unsure, not certain of the exact fuel consumption I would get over a long distance.I needn’t have worried, I could have made the 520 nm from Adelaide to Narromine with one fuel stop. Flight time was 5 1/2 hours pushing a 5–10 knot headwind. Typical cruise was 110 knots at 3100 rpm and 14 lt/hr with the Jabiru 2200 engine.
After arriving, the response was incredible.I talked myself hoarse with all the questions and copped a bad case of sunburnt ears! The whole fly-in was an experience I had not expected.I had emerged from the workshop after 4 years building, and seeing the change in light sport aircraft over that time was astounding. The Sonex has stood the test of that time and stands out as a remarkable design for the amateur builder. All the better now with the laser cut and drilled easy-build kit.
Next day I took some Sonex builders for a ride. I was a little hesitant at first due to the heavy traffic but need not have worried. Everyone has to be commended for the orderly and professional flying during the event. So the flights went well and at last I was able to share the experience with fellow builders. If only I could have had that opportunity when I started. I would have built the thing in half the time.
Well you know the rest. I was honoured, humbled, excited, embarrassed and overcome by receiving the Natfly 2004 top award of “Best Overall Aircraft“.T here were many other beautifully built aircraft there that should be mentioned. Recreational Aviation in Australia has come a long way.
So thank you to everyone who has been part of my project over the years and now. I hope to meet many more in the future.
Cheers and happy flying
Lynn Jarvis’s Sonex project