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Leza AirCam
Leza-Lockwood AirCam 




Air Cam probably never would have been built period had the National Geographic Society not come calling, asking Lockwood about a camera-ship for an upcoming special on the Congo's Ndoki Rain Forest. They weren't pilots, but they knew what they wanted: a two-place airplane that could be outfitted with a relatively heavy motion picture camera, that could take off from an improvised one-way strip carved out of the river bank, then fly some 70 miles into the jungle, loitering for hours over the canopy while the cinematographer captured never-before-seen footage of a for-merly impenetrable land.

Within six months Lockwood had constructed the first Air Cam, an airplane that, while substantially different from the current model, had all the key elements in place. Chief among them were twin pusher engines mounted so close to each other that the loss of either one has minimal impact on the controllability of the airplane. On the first airplane, the engines were 65-horsepower two-stroke Rotax 582s.

The construction of that first airplane was based on what Lockwood knew best, ultralight technology. In general, this consists of ladder-construction wings with spars, battens and ribs made of aluminum tubing and covered with sailcloth. The fuselage was built out of steel (chromoly) tubing covered with aluminum, and the tail, of built up aluminum tubing. With wings that detached easily for transport, the Air Cam was a design that would hopefully meet the challenges of life in the rain forest. In the fall of 1994 Lockwood had the Air Cam shipped to Africa for the mision. Flying in the remotest sections of Congo.

Lockwood started on an airframe redesign, making the now longer fuselage out of riveted built-up aluminum construction, just like Cessna does it. He made the vertical tail larger for even-better single-engine performance (and to account for the possible addition of floats later on). He beefed up the cruciform tail (that placement, he says, optimizes the airplane's slow speed handling while maximizing its strength), and he stretched the wings, from 32 feet to 36 feet in span to carry both the additional weight of the new design and the larger, aluminum fuel tanks (29 gallons total). The redesign added only a bit of weight while maintaining or improving the airplane's performance across the board.

It had taken Lockwood a couple of years and dozens of design changes to get to the point where he was happy, but by 1997 the tooling was complete, the computerized drawings were done, the suppliers were lined up and Lockwood pronounced that the airplane was ready.




The quick build kit Leza AirCam aeroplane comes with a twelve-volume manual. Each volume covers a particular section of the aeroplane complete with exploded draw-ings designed on AutoCAD. The fuselage construction is an all-metal riveted monocoque, made up of preformed bulk-heads, stringers and skins, with pre-located holes. The nose cone is a finished fibreglass moulding. and the windscreen is pre-cut Lexan. The wing centre section is all-metal. All other flying surfaces use pre-cut and drilled aircraft grade 6061 T-6 aluminium tubing and preformed aluminium ribs, covered by pre-sewn fabric envelopes. The constant chord swept tip wings are supported on a mixture of round section and faired centre section struts, with the flight loads taken to the bottom of the fuselage by long diagonal struts with centre jury struts. All controls are cable operated, in the case of the ailerons to bell cranks and then push rods. Large plain flaps are operated by a single electric screw jack. The elevator trim tab on the port side is also electrically operated. The big rudder has no trim tab. It is possible to remove the outer wings for transportation, but it is not a five minute job. The undercarriage has tapered spring steel legs, fitted with hydraulic disc braked wheels carrying 600A tyres. At the back, the tail wheel is a steerable and castoring Maule item. Power is usually supplied by two Rotax 582 water-cooled, two-cylinder, two strokes, or optionally, two Rotax 912S four stroke flat fours with water-cooled heads driving three-blade Warp Drive ground adjustable props. The 912 engines are uncowled with the flush mounted radiators fed by NACA ducts on the underside of the wings. Each engine has a 14 US gallon tank in the wing with an auxiliary booster pump, electric primer, electric starter and an alternator. The fore and aft two seat cockpit has dual controls, the rear seat can be fitted with a single row of instruments. Behind the rear seat is a large open topped baggage bay, 24.75-in wide by 42-in long with tie down points. As this and the rear seat are close to the datum, loading has only small effect on C of G. Both fibreglass moulded seats can be ground adjusted fore and aft by removing two pip pins. They are covered by padded fitted covers and were surprisingly comfortable. The front cockpit is roomy enough for large people and well laid out. Small pilots need a booster cushion to comfortably reach the pedals. The pedals rock to operate the brakes. There is no parking facility. The throttles are mounted on the left cockpit rim, along with a bank of weatherproof switches for ignitions, fuel pumps and primers. On the right side are all the switches for nay and landing lights. The instrument panel contains the flap and trim switches and the flap position indi-cator. There is room for basic flight instruments, a VHF com and a transponder. The centre console has all the circuit breakers, oil pressure, temperature and CHT gauges. As the cockpit rim is below your elbows, the visibility is truly magnificent in all directions, except for immediately underneath, and back and up where the wing intrudes.


The first four customer-built Air Cams were at Sun 'n Fun in April of 1999. While the Air Cam is available with the two-stroke 582s, almost every customer has asked for the 100-horse Rotax 912S engines.



Wing span: 36 ft 4 in.
Length: 27 ft 0 in.
Height: 8 ft 4 in.
Centre section width: 7 ft 0 in.
Track: 8 ft 6 in.
Stall: 34 kt / 39 mph / 63 kmh
Cruise: 78 kt / 90 mph / 145 kmh
VNE: 96 kt / 110 mph / 177 kmh
Empty Weight: 472 kg / 1040 lbs
MTOW Weight: 762 kg / 1680 lbs
Climb Ratio: 1500 ft/min / 8 m/s
Take-off distance (50ft obstacle): 300 ft / 91 m
Landing distance (50ft obstacle): 200 ft / 61 m

Rotax 582
Engines: 2 x 64-hp Rotax 582 two-cylinder two stroke.
Props: Warp Drive composite three-blade with ground adjustable pitch.
Empty wt: 955 lb.
Gross wt: 1500 lb.
Fuel cap: 168 lb / 28 USG
Height: 7 ft 4 in
Length: 26 ft 8 in
Wing span: 36 ft
Wing area: 209 sq.ft
Seats: 2
Vne: 110 mph.
Top speed: 100 mph
Cruise: 50-80 mph.
Stall: 35 mph
Max range: 244 miles @ 66 mph.
Endurance @ 60 mph: 4 hrs.
Service ceiling: 19,500 ft
ROC MAUW: 1200 ft/min.
SE ROC: 200 ft/min.
T/O roll: 158 ft.
Ldg roll: 200 ft
Undercarriage: tailwheel

Rotax 912S
Engines: 2 x 100-hp Rotax 912S
Props: Warp Drive composite three-blade with ground adjustable pitch.
Length: 27ft.
Height: 8 ft 4in.
Wingspan: 36ft.
Aspect ratio: 6.4.
Wing area: 204 sq ft.
Wing loading: 8.23 lbs/sq ft.
Power loading: 8.4 lbs/hp.
Empty wt: 1040 lb.
Gross wt: 1680 lb.
Fuel cap: 168 lb / 29 USG
Usable fuel: 28 USG
Vne: 110 mph.
Maximum cruise speed: 85 mph.
Maneuvering speed: 77 mph.
Stall speed, flaps down: 39 mph
Endurance @30 % power 30 min res: 6.5 hrs.
Endurance @ 60 mph: 6 hrs.
Max range: 340 miles @ 70 mph.
Rate of climb, solo, 50% fuel: 2000 fpm
ROC MAUW: 1500 ft/min.
SE ROC: 300 ft/min.
Takeoff roll: less than 200 ft
Ldg roll: 300 ft.
Gear width: 8 ft 6 in
Seats: 2, tandem.
Engine: 2 x Rotax
Wing span: 10.97 m
Wing area: 19.23 sq.m
MAUW: 680 kg
Empty weight: 399 kg
Fuel capacity: 91 lt
Max speed: 161 kph
Cruise speed: 97 kph
Minimum speed: 61 kph
Climb rate: 6 m/s
Seats: 2
Kit price (1998): $38,500







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