Last weekend, we were at the UPAC Convention 2016 in the scenic countryside of Bright, Ontario. Here is a short recap of our weekend:
For us it was a very special weekend, as we were showing our prototype for the first time to a larger audience. At the show, we had many great conversations and gained even more motivation for upcoming work. Of course, as rookies at airshows, there were also a couple of key learnings for us to improve on for our next appearances.
First, what is UPAC?
UPAC (Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada) was created in 1986 to be a uniform voice for ultralight aviation enthusiasts and pilots. Their main objective is to remain, “…committed to protecting the rights and privileges of all ultralight pilots and owners to assure freedom of flight in a minimally controlled flying environment” (taken from UPAC’s official website). UPAC holds its annual convention every August at the Lubitz Airfield in Bright, Ontario with many fly-ins, under-the-wing-camping and talks about various projects and topics.
Back in the spring Armanda, a coordinator for UPAC, contacted us to see if we would be interested in exhibiting. We considered this as a great opportunity to show our prototype and to gain feedback from aircraft enthusiasts. After our weekend at the convention, we are very thankful, not only to Armanda, but to the whole team from UPAC for the support and the incredibly warm welcome.
Like Minded Aviation People
It is always amazing to be surrounded by pilots, instructors, makers and enthusiasts of aircraft. Certainly, there was no shortage of those at the UPAC Convention. We met the makers and owners of other aircraft like Zenair, Casair or Aerolite. It was amazing to see many planes flying in and out all day. Even more, some of our team members were lucky enough to catch a seat for a flight (A special thanks to Ontario Advanced Ultralights from Kingston for this great experience).
To us, of course, the most exciting milestone this weekend was the first public debut of our prototype. Overall, it was the first time that the prototype had ever left the workshop. We rented a cube truck and drove it over from Mississauga. With the duct made out of carbon fiber, our prototype is extremely lightweight and getting it in and out of the truck was easily doable with two people. At the show we had one half of a hangar and even before we got the prototype out of the truck the first interested aviators came by.
We received a lot of very positive feedback and explained our concept over and over again to many interested visitors. After showing always renderings or photos of components, it was amazing to us and the many visitors to look at our prototype from every possible angle. It felt like bringing our Airvinci Helicopter one step closer to being a reality up in the sky.
Our work on the prototype is not completely finished yet, e.g. the transmission still needs to be completely assembled. Therefore, our prototype at the show was shown without transmission and rotors. Apart from tons of positive feedback, we heard some bits of skepticism, which we take as extra motivation to make our aircraft even better and proof that we keep what we are planning.
Despite the few missing parts, we are finally about to start our test flights – Just a few more weeks to finish the work. To keep the cover on top of our very first aircraft for a bit longer, we don’t show photos from the show of the prototype itself online yet. To sign up to our Livestream right here, you will be the first ones to see it in action.
Learnings for Improvement
There were a couple of small things that we will ensure to note that we have better prepared for our next exhibition. Rookie mistake – the popup banner blew over in the wind a couple of times, so we will bring a few weights to anchor it down. Our branded shirts had our logo applied on upside down (oops! Yet, we switched to consider them as future collector items). Lastly, if we plan on accompanying our prototype overnight by camping next to it, we need to ensure we are adequately equipped to camp, meaning we actually forgot our sleeping bags (oops Nr 2!).
Finally, a huge shoutout to Armanda, Ed, Cathy, TJ and all the others from the UPAC team for the excellent organization of the 2016 Convention and the great support and very nice atmosphere during the whole weekend.
From the whole Airvinci Team: Thank you very much and see you next year again at Lubitz Airfield!