AN AMERICAN two-seat side-by-side trainer aircraft, powered by a British engine, the De Vore Sunbird, made its first flight on 5th October 1987 and promises to be the answer to the need for inexpensive flying training throughout the world. The Sunbird projectbegan in 1983 but delays in financing put the first flight back until last year. In February it was undergoing taxi-ing trials but was accidentally damaged and had to be rebuilt.
Gil De Vore, President of Verilite Aircraft Company Inc., which builds the Sunbird, says that he already has 32 firm orders and expects about 100 by the time the type enters production in 1989. Selling at $24,000, the Sunbird should be coming off the production lines at a rate of about 1,000 per year by the mid-1990s, De Vore says.
The British engine is the 70-h.p. Emdair CF 092B, developed in Rye, Sussex, by the company that has taken over the Weslake designs. This is an air-cooled four-stroke two-cylinder opposed-piston engine which is designed to run on Avgas or premium grade motor gasoline. Mounted above the wings it drives a pusher propeller.
Working closely with NASA’s Langley laboratory, De Vore has given the Sunbird a long section of drooped wing leading-edge which, it is claimed, will make the aircraft virtually unspinnable. The Sunbird is built up on a basic rectangular section aluminium keel and bulkheads with fuselage, wing and tail unit skins moulded from glassfibre/foam core sandwich. - Tim Wrixon.