June 2003, Lake Varese,
Chip W. Erwin, flying a
ZODIAC XL on amphibious floats
has won the Piccola Schneider Cup held on Lake Varese, Italy on the 16th
and 17th of June. The Piccola Schneider Cup is a seaplane
race similar to the famous seaplane races starting about 75 years ago
which lead to considerable advancements in aviation.
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 ZODIAC
CH 601 XL with the Rotax 912S (100hp) and a new 2-blade carbon,
in-flight adjustable, and reversing prop made by Woodcomp. "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 parking place."
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 and distances ranging
form ½ to 1 mile apart. Five laps are raced per heat. The time is
then compensated 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 ZODIAC XL aircraft won in both classes.
The ZODIAC XL is the newest ZODIAC aircraft model from designer Chris
Heintz, and has been
designed to meet the FAA's proposed Sport Plane category. Amphibious
floats add to the versatility of the aircraft.