Sub-titled The Global Show for General Aviation, if you want to see what's happening and what's coming down the pike, you'll not find a more intensely focused representation than at Aero.
The show spreads displays from many big names and newcomers alike, up through bizjets, across its 14 big hangar-style display areas.
I like this show, although lamentably I've yet to go, because it never fails to draw cool new stuff, in particular Microlight/LSA developments and electric and solar powered birds. Thousands of visitors flock to the "e-flight Expo" at Aero, in its third year as part of the show.
Two big events will highlight the show this year: the Berblinger Flight Competition and the awarding of three LEAP prizes from Erik Lindbergh (Lucky Lindy's grandson).
The Berblinger event involves 36 teams, most of them from Germany (23), although none from the U.S., and two parts: a technical award (and €100,000 prize) to be awarded today at Aero; and a flight competition later this year in the city of Ulm in which teams fly a specific course while being judged by several environmentally significant parameters including noise level, energy use and overall performance.
The Lindbergh LEAP prize will award the most notable electric advance, best electric design, and best electric systems and technology, similar to its Oshkosh 2010 awards.
And now for Something Completely Different: Flynano, a kind of...well, stay with me here. Look at the pic. Now, do you agree with me that it looks like a personal flying watercycle?
This no-cargo, one-person, fun-flying, joined-biplane ultralight will take off and land in the drink. Wow! What a hoot this thing could be...or a complete boondoggle.
Call it Icon-Light:
 Empty weight (it's mostly carbon fiber-built) will be under 155 lbs.,
 gross weight 485 lbs.,
 wingspan 15.7 ft., nose to tail 12.4 ft., height 5 ft.,
 cruise 87 mph, landing speed 43 mph, nearly 600 fpm climb rate,
 18,000 foot ceiling, and a range of 21 miles.
Power comes from a pylon-mounted 20kW electric motor (24hp and 35hp gas motors also available.
Deliveries projected for summer of this year. Prices range from € 25,000 to €27,000, around $40,000 USD.
I'll be watching to see how this takes off in Europe, where you don't need a license to fly because of its weight.
Could this be the market-killer fun-flying jetski concept that Icon's much-ballyhooed amphib, still in development after three years, has yet to deliver to the market? (Latest delivery projection from Icon: late this year)
If Flynano does what it claims, even though it only carries one pilot, heck, people could buy four for the same price as one Icon and have money left for gas...a lot of gas.
And in the U.S., it would qualify as an ultralight -- no sport pilot license needed as with the Icon, since it's well under Part 103's max 254 lb. ceiling -- except for a couple things old friend Michael Bradford pointed out that I'd, ahem, kinda forgotten about: ultralights have a top legal speed of 55 knots and must stall under 24 knots. Used to know that. So Flynano, and this is of course a good thing, just sayin', would require a Sport Pilot License.
Of course, these are two decidedly different aircraft...but Icon's stated mission -- to create a fun-flying, easily portable flying water craft -- well, that's kinda the same.
Stay tuned on this one. I want to see one of these puppies fly.
Tomorrow, I'll have a report on the Elektra One electric monoplane I blogged about a few weeks ago: it's at Aero also.