Experimenter

APR 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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26 Vol.4 No.4 / April 2015 THE GROPPO TRAIL WHAT IS A GROPPO TRAIL? Nando Groppo SRL is an Italian com- pany active in aviation since 1982. Nando is the designer of the plane, and his company is named after him—Nando Groppo. The Trail has been available in Europe for several years and was fi rst shown in the United States at the 2013 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. In April 2014 the company shipped its 100th Trail, and the aircraft was presented at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo by Steve Bensinger of Lone Palm Aero LLC, which imports and assembles the aircraft. Groppo has completed one model as a special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA), so he's able to of er both experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) and experimental amateur-built (E-AB) kits. Groppo's U.S. dealers are not currently of ering an S-LSA model. The Trail isn't just any LSA. It is an ideal aircraft for advanced students and pilots who would like to experience a basic, fun-to-fl y aircraft and/or obtain the skills and endorse- ments necessary for taildragger operations. If you think of the Trail as a modernized, 80-percent-scale, folding-wing, all-metal, Rotax 912–powered version of an Aeronca Champ, you will have a pretty good understanding of the aircraft and its capabilities. You might also think of it as a little Cessna L-19, if you chose to add larger, 8-by-6 tires. Don't take that to mean the aircraft is not suitable for larger pilots and passengers. There is ample cabin space. The typical Trail is on a conventional (tail wheel) landing gear, but like the Champ it is also available with a nose wheel for those who need or want one. Several flat-four engine options are also available in the 80- to 100-hp range, including Rotax, Jabiru, and VW-derived engines. The well- designed (quick and easy), trailing-edge-up folding wing allows several aircraft to be stored in a relatively narrow space, or it can share a single-car garage with lawn mowers and other yard equipment. The all-metal Trail is sturdy and more suitable for rough- fi eld operations than the typical composite LSA. The Grove-type main landing gear and elastically supported and steerable tail wheel, coupled with dif erential hydraulic, toe- actuated disc brakes, make ground handling, crosswind landings, and tail wheel training standard operations. The 4130 chromoly steel tube cockpit area and strutted light alloy wing box and D-spar form a strong, light, and maintenance- friendly structure. All fl ight controls and fl aps are aluminum alloy covered and well balanced and operate freely. The elec- trically operated fl aps are ef ective and allow a 35-mph stall speed with a 100- to 115-mph max cruise speed, depending on engine and propeller choice. A 13-gallon fuel tank is located in each wing, and the tank vent location allows fuel to be carried while the wing is folded. Fifty pounds of baggage can be held in the large baggage com- partment behind the rear seat. With an empty weight of 720 pounds and a gross weight of 1,300 pounds, the Trail's useful load is 580 pounds. Returning to the Champ analogy, visibility from the rear seat is as good as or better than from the Champ. Although the Champ did not have the option of fl aps, the Trail has very ef ective electric fl aps, and the rear-seat view of the front seat instrument panel is adequate. The Trail is suitable for sport pilot or initial private pilot training or for advanced students who value learning stick and rudder skills, want a tail wheel endorsement, or just want to fl y for fun in a reliable airframe with the traditional train- ing aircraft confi guration. Prices vary depending on the kit and engine selected, but start at $24,900 for the E-AB kit and $74,900 for the ELSA model. It is fair to say that the Trail is one of the more affordable E-LSA or E-AB kits on the market. Learn more at www.GroppoTrail.com . Photography courtesy Steve Bensinger A Trail panel with traditional round gauges. The Trail kit on display.

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