Silouette Air Recreational Vehicle

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BBerson

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Here is a link to a Sport Aviation article about the Silouette composite airplane/ motor glider from 1985.
Silhouette Motorglider
It was to be the future of cheap aviation, the Air Recreational Vehicle (ARV).
The complete kit was $8500.

What happened to this design? How many kits sold?
What happened to the entire concept of the ARV that EAA thought was the future of affordable aviation for fun.
 

BBerson

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Thanks for that link. It answers all my questions except what happened to this idea of the ARV? (An aircraft that was faster and more "airplane like" than ultralights, but was based on ultralight engines)
 

cluttonfred

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If looking for other aircraft designed for relatively high speeds on modest power, the Davis DA-11 is a great example of a one-off design (125 mph cruise on an 18 hp Briggs & Stratton, "Mower power to the people!"). In terms of available plans, you might look at some recent European single-seat microlight designs including the Colomban MC-30 Luciole (106 mph on a 25 hp B&S but with excellent short field performance). The latter has even flown in an electric-powered version (note smooth cowl in last photo).

[video=youtube_share;HpDgeNcQWh0]http://youtu.be/HpDgeNcQWh0[/video]

14992.jpg aa2007_luciole1280x800.jpg MC30E_ph05GD.jpg
 

Hot Wings

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What happened to the entire concept of the ARV that EAA thought was the future of affordable aviation for fun.
I've always thought that there were simply not enough of us that like this kind of plane to make them profitable. Trying to stuff more horsepower into them to make them fly faster, and appeal to more pilots, gets into the whole Hp/weigh spiral thing. Efficiency then goes down and cost goes up.
 

BBerson

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I've always thought that there were simply not enough of us that like this kind of plane to make them profitable. Trying to stuff more horsepower into them to make them fly faster, and appeal to more pilots, gets into the whole Hp/weigh spiral thing. Efficiency then goes down and cost goes up.
Yeh, I just don't know.
Apparently the BD-5 reportedly sold over 6000 kits. (Fortunately, few were finished)

There was another ARV from the same time period (83’-85’) called SOLO. A composite high wing designed by Craig Catto.
It never worked either, as far as I know. (Rienk, did you know about this one?)
 

Topaz

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I've always thought that there were simply not enough of us that like this kind of plane to make them profitable. Trying to stuff more horsepower into them to make them fly faster, and appeal to more pilots, gets into the whole Hp/weigh spiral thing. Efficiency then goes down and cost goes up.
^This.

I know I'm going to get into a lot of hot water from power pilots with this post, but here goes.

Simply flying a power plane is boring. Once you've mastered flying to the point that you're comfortable and it's second-nature, what then? Just circle around? I remember being up in a Traumahawk once, at the base of the Cajon Pass north of San Bernardino, realizing that flying this thing with nowhere to go was about like driving a car around on the world's biggest empty parking lot. Yawn.

So just "flying around" up there, by yourself, isn't really what a lot of guys want to do. It gets old, quickly. I suspect that far more pilots than one might expect feel exactly as I do. So you find something else to do with an airplane. If you want to know what a market is really like, watch what people actually buy. In single-seat airplanes, here it is:
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  • Aerobatic Ships - Here the goal isn't simply to fly, but to actually do something that you can't do any other way.
  • Soaring - Again, flying as challenge. There isn't a moment in soaring that you're not being challenged by the weather and gravity. Want to stay up? You have to be good at it. You can't just push the throttle forward.
  • Puddle Jumpers - Little single-seaters (Pops' airplane is the perfect example) that are just for buzzing over to your friend's house a few miles away, popping up in the sunset to experience the moment, fly to the local airshow or airport café. You're not going anywhere fast, and that's okay, 'cause it just doesn't matter.
  • Ultralights - Here the goal is to fly without involvement with "The Man". Many of these aircraft are being used as the 'Puddle Jumpers' are above, but without that pesky license and registration nonsense. It should be obvious from history that, given their choice, a lot of ultralight fliers would have a second seat if the rules allowed it. Given the lengths so many of them went to in order to justify a second seat under the old "training" exemption, they seem to want it so bad that even bending the rules was seen as acceptable.

Note that none of these aircraft are particularly fast, with the exception of really top-end competition sailplanes - and that's a function of their ability to race, not some ability to make power-plane-style cross-country trips.

That's the market for single-seaters, as demonstrated by people actually voting with their wallets. Who else buys single-seaters, and much more commonly of a type close to the old ARV concept? Low-time pilots who are first-time builders, that's who. They just want an airplane of their own, maybe cheaper (or at least more interesting) than a used C-152. But when you've got it... Now what? You can fly to get that $100 burger in the next state. Alone. You can take a nice weekend trip. Alone. You can go to the big national airshow 500 miles away. Alone. Range and speed only make sense in the context of going somewhere. Range and speed in a single seater only make sense in the context of wanting to go somewere alone. People are social creatures. We don't generally work that way. So what you see is that, of the airplanes in this class that actually get finished, most of them fly around for maybe fifty or a couple hundred hours, and then they end up gathering dust in the corner of a hangar or garage for years. Then they're either broken up or put up for sale, whereupon another low-time pilot buys it and the cycle repeats. I'd be amazed if any large number of these airframes make it to the first TBO of their engine before fading into dust and rust.

IMHO, the ARV concept makes sense in one context, and one context only: The flying club. Either the club builds a whack of them or you have one so that you can go on the group flights with the rest of the club without having to ride "shotgun". I could see an ARV-style aircraft finding a home in such an environment.
 

BBerson

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Then I suppose EAA failed to market the "flying club" experience to provide a fun purpose for these ARV's.
I think maybe EAA should move to supporting more local fly-ins. Perhaps too much of EAA's focus has been the one week event in Oshkosh per year.

I see AOPA has recently canceled it's one year event and is moving to support more numerous regional events.
 

Topaz

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Then I suppose EAA failed to market the "flying club" experience to provide a fun purpose for these ARV's.
I think maybe EAA should move to supporting more local fly-ins. Perhaps too much of EAA's focus has been the one week event in Oshkosh per year.
I think that's an outstanding idea, but the EAA seems to be headed in the other direction - consolidating everything into one big event. Even some of the larger "outlying" events (Copperstate, Sun-n-Fun) don't seem to be getting as much headquarters support as they used to. Let's face it, EAA has "moved on" from its original mandate of growing sport aviation, and is now all about growing the EAA in terms of corporate and political influence. Lots of little airshows support the old agenda, not the new one. Getting lots of highly-visible big names to the one-big-show supports the new agenda very well.

We used to have the EAA's sole person in charge of their homebuilding activities here on HBA. Haven't seen him in ages. That they only had one person in that position was telling enough. That they can't make a priority of participating in the most-active general aircraft homebuilding forum on the internet says a lot more.
 

Downs

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I'm kind of a loaner. Or at the very least I don't like "taking care" of people when I travel. Have your own vehicle (usually motorcycle in my case) so I actually enjoy having a single seat bird. I have a flying buddy that I occasionally go on flights with but we don't necessarily follow each other we just know where we are going and wind up there at the same time. My girlfriend recently bought her own motorcycle because I refused to give her rides on my bike. Told her if she wanted to participate she needed to buy her own. Didn't work for Ultralights haha. She doesn't want to fly only wants to ride along in the plane. But on the flying alone part I realize that my loaner personality is not the dominant one in our society and I wouldn't expect the market to change just to cover me.
 

TurbAero

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Ok, I’m resurrecting an old thread. This question has one answer and that is “whatever someone is willing to pay for it”, but how much would someone expect or be willing to pay for a Silhouette? Rotax 447 powered, looks to be in good condition. Owner who has a few aircraft has done some restoration on it lately. Assume airworthy and is fair condition.
Is this a $5k, $10k aircraft? I’d appreciate the thoughts of those who may know these better than me. I’m asking for a friend who is not on the forum.
 

BBerson

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There was one at Arlington Fly-in 2018 or 2019. I think the asking price was around $10k, but don't recall.
 

TurbAero

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In today's market $5000-7000 would be about in the middle of what would actually complete a sale. Not to be confused with asking price, initial lowball offer, etc.
Thanks VB. That was my gut feeling as well. I figured around $5-6k for a flying one but I don’t know the single seat motorglider market.

Thanks also Bill.
 
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