By Rob Stapleton
Living up to its name the Aventura is adventure flying at its best, not only is it fun and an easy aircraft to maneuver, it will take you to places that you could never get in a boat or a conventional aircraft.
This light sport experimental aircraft hales from a line of similar amphibious aircraft, the Lake Buccaneer, the Sea Rey, and the Republic Seabee. Currently the Aventura II is being manufactured as a kit homebuilt aircraft from Aero Adventure in Rockledge, Florida. Originally designed by Arnet Pereyra the Aventura originally started out flying as a single place ultralight.
While visiting family relatives in Florida over the holidays I took advantage of some free time to go see and fly the Aventura. While Alaska has over 1 million lakes and some large enough to put some of the Lower 48 states into and have water left over, it is winter in Alaska and most of the lakes are frozen over or snow covered.
My interest in the Aventura II came after searching online for a Light Sport amphibian aircraft that would be a good fit for Alaska summer flying. After watching the videos of a pair of Aventuras taking off landing and skimming the water on early morning flights, it was my quest to see and fly this airplane someday in the future.
Finding the Aventura
Admiring the ability of others to land and take off on the water all summer while here in Anchorage I started looking at the options of kit building an aircraft that would be both a wheel landing aircraft and a water landing aircraft. Many of the composite homebuilt aircraft take 700 to 800 hours of building time. After discovering the Aventura at Aero Adventures website, and seeing the ease of building the aircraft (200 hours) I became interested.
After years of waiting I finally had the opportunity to go to the Rockledge factory after the 2012 National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Florida this past fall. The Rockledge factory is only about 45 minutes from downtown Orlando so I called and made an appointment to meet with then owner Bob Boswell.
Boswell showed me the one hangar office and parts manufacturing shop as well as his Aventura II. The aircraft stripped of its boat fuselage is a tube and fabric aircraft. The body or boat was originally made from fiberglass. Now a lighter more durable carbon fiber shell is added to the aluminum structure.
His Aventura II was fitted with a Rotax 912 100 horsepower four cycle engine. Boswell showed me the controls, a stick, rudder bars, throttle lever, electronic flap switch, trim lever and re-postionable landing gear levers. The instrument panel was fitted with an electronic monitoring screen with all the engine functions in LED.
This did nothing but added to my curiosity about the aircraft…how did it fly? So before returning to Florida from Anchorage and its sub-zero December weather I called Aero Adventure and found out that the company had been sold. After asking for and getting the new owners cellphone I called him.
Flying the Aventura
After failing to get lined up with some other Sport aviation instruction to complete a flight instructors rating I took the liberty of calling the new Aero Adventure owner Alex Rolinski about getting an introduction flight and instruction to complete a seaplane rating. He offered the name of a flight instructor also located on the Rockledge Airport (21FA) Bill Simmons of Aviation Land And Sea, LLC ( A.L.A.S.). I called and set up an appointment with him to meet, talk, fly, get a tail wheel endorsement and start instruction for the seaplane rating
The thrill of flying this tail wheel (conventional) flying boat is beyond description.
Think turn and you will. This airplane is light on the controls. The seating for this aircraft is side-by-side. Steering the small plane is easy as it is close to the ground has good visibility over the nose and has big open fuselage opening on each side of the fuselage next to the cockpit seating.
Getting in the cockpit is not too hard for big guys and easy for everyone else. You basically step in, sit on the railing opening and slide into the seat. It was a relief to see the four point belt and shoulder harness with the center belt snap down lever. This is the same belt used by aerobatic pilots and installed acrobatic type aircraft.
After the preflight inspection Bill said OK let’s go fly. The deal was like this if I couldn’t taxi and keep the airplane on the runway we were coming back immediately and calling it a day.
He explained the airport and the taxi and takeoff rules but before we were going to fly he wanted me to demonstrate slow and high speed taxing before flying.
After a tail up taxi on the mains down the runway he urged me to go to the grass to the right of the runway to slow down instead of using the brakes, turn around and taxi back to the take off point. I was impressed by the immediate surge of thrust by the Viking 110 Horsepower engine while we were taxing.
Upon take off getting the tail up at about 20 knots and guiding the aircraft down the runway we rotated at 55 knots and slowly eased into the sky. The climb seemed really steep looking over the nose, and immediately Bill was yelling “standard rate turn, standard rate turn, you are too steep,” once we started into the pattern. The illusion of not being too steep on the turns was created by a sloping nose and a wing that is far aft of the cockpit. “Keep that wing on the horizon and you have it….ease up on the stick you are over controlling the aircraft, Bill yelled over the intercom. Ease back on the power from 5500 RPP to around 41-4200 rpm for level flight.”
After making some touch and goes we left the pattern and went to a lake on the west side of I-95 just north of Rockledge. “Ok we are going to put up the landing gear…left gear up, what about your side”…asked Bill. ‘ Right side up and locked,’ I replied. “Here we go…” as he pitched 10-15 degrees nose down toward the lake.
“ Ok now follow through with me on the stick and rudders we are going to make our approach at 70 knots at a steep decent angle then we are going to level off at about 3-feet over the water, reduce the power and settle onto the water,” said Bill.
On the water
We made the decent pulled back on the stick ever so slightly, he reduced the power and once we skimmed the water he released what little back pressure he had on the stick. We were going between 45-50 knots on the water and he said ok now keep the instrument panel level and use left rudder. We skidded to the left smoothly. “Now the same to right and use opposite aileron to your rudder to keep that panel level.” This was awesome smoother than a boat, faster and what an easy way to navigate over the lake up on the step, were my thoughts.
“See how this turns so easy, it is a hydroplane, really the hull is shaped perfect for a hydroplane, hell we are going faster than the boats can go,” quipped Simmons. “Isn’t this fun, how you doing?” Wow this is a blast I replied flying and boating merged together to create access that I could only dream of before.
After two days and over 4 hours of flying I received my tail wheel endorsement but will have to return to Rockledge sometime in the future to return to my dream. There was no Designated Pilot Examiner to give me the check-ride and we were leaving the following day. Oh well next time I thought.
On our way out Bill looked at my wife and said, “You know what don’t you? He asked. She followed with no what? He is a good pilot and he will want one of these so prepare yourself for getting one. She smiled and we left.
Time and money will tell if I will ever get an Aventura II to Alaska, but if I do it will be a dream comes true.
Poor man’s Aventura Coming back
According to Rolinski Aero Adventure will start manufacturing the Aventura Ultralight again in kit form less engine for $16,000 and is researching different engine types for builders to use.
“Since the end of production of the Rotax 447 we have been working with engine rebuilders to see if we can develop a supply of these engines for the single place model,” said Rolinski. “We are excited about re-manufacturing this Part 103 aircraft and will be filling a niche that no one else to date is doing.”
For more information go to http://www.sea-plane.com/ or aeroadventurellc(at)gmail.com