This Guy Is Building Up Quite A Trophy Wall...
Chip Erwin oft feels the
need... the need for speed. Last week, he felt the need a LOT.
Erwin, flying a Zenair ZODIAC CH 601 XL on amphibious floats has
won the Piccola Schneider Cup held on Lake Varese, Italy on the
16th and 17th of June.
For those who don't know, it is a seaplane race similar to the
famous seaplane races starting about 75 years ago which lead to
considerable advancements in aviation. One famous winner became the
Spitfire, for instance.
Its A Whole New Race...
Today's race uses
European Ultralight (UL) class aircraft. The limits are basically
UL approval in some European country, and landing and taking off
from the water. The UL float aircraft rules in Italy apply which
means 65 kph stall speed and 500kg max gross weight.
Erwin raced the Zenair ZODIAC CH 601 XL with the Rotax 912S
(100hp) and a new 2-blade carbon, in-flight adjustable, and
reversing prop made by Woodcomp of the Czech Republic. And, of
course, 1150 amphib floats made by Czech Aircraft Works. "I was the
only aircraft with brakes and reverse on the water" Erwin said. "It
is a very nice to be able to taxi up the boat ramp and back into a
The Zenair ZODIAC CH 601 XL has already received Czech
certification of the 601XL as well as PFA approval in Great
Britain. The aircraft is also expected to qualify as a Sportplane
when the FAA announces the new rule -- and amphibious floats will
be permitted as well.
Erwin crossed the Alps to and from Italy from the Czech Republic
at altitudes up to 10,000 feet. "I have often said that getting to
the race can be nearly as challenging as the race itself".
This is evidentially true as 5 competitors did fail to make it to
the race even without a mountain range to cross.
The pilots start the race (2 at a time) from the water. The
course is triangular, with pylons of colored helium balloons set at
50 feet high, at distances ranging from 1/2 to 1 mile apart.
Five laps are raced, per heat. The time is then
computed according to the Pazmany handicap formula. This
allows higher wing-loading ultralight aircraft to compete with the
sleeker Zenair aluminum or other composite aircraft.
A trophy is awarded for the winner in both "compensated" time,
and the fastest aircraft in real time. The Zenair ZODIAC CH 601 XL
aircraft won in both classes.