I'm sure many of us remember James Bond flitting around in a tiny Bede BD-5J microjet, playing tag with a ground-to-air missile in the film 'Octopussy'.
With the failure of Bede Aircraft Corporation, it seemed for some time that the era of the microjet was over. However, Sonex had their own ideas about that. Courtesy of the latest entry in Earthbound Misfit's 'Sunday Jet Noise' series, I learned of the latest iteration of Sonex's SubSonex single-seat build-your-own jet aircraft. AVweb says of it:
The kit with engine costs about $130,000, so by the time you throw in the avionics, paint and other extras, call it $150,000 to $160,000. For a jet, even a single-seat jet, that’s not a lot of money in the context of upper strata experimentals or even LSAs. In fact, it strikes me as a decent value for a would-be builder or owner who passionately wants to fly a jet airplane.
. . .
How would you use such a thing? I think it’s primarily a VFR sport flyer similar to other experimentals or LSAs. Take off of a Saturday morning and burn up 30 gallons of Jet A beating up the local area and the pattern. Great fun. (You’ll need a longish runway, however. The SubSonex isn’t exactly a STOL airplane and the brakes need improving.)
Sonex gives the still air range as 480 miles at a 240-MPH cruise, so you could use the airplane for light travel, although it would take planning and effort. It burns about 34 GPH during takeoff and typically half that in cruise with a 40-gallon capacity. I wonder if a creative builder might find room for a little more fuel.
The engine is a 40-pound jewel of a creation from PBS Velká Bíteš, a Czech Republic company formerly in the Soviet orbit. The TJ-100’s origins are in APU applications, but it finds use in small UAVs today. Rated thrust is 250 pounds, which Carleton says is a perfect match for the airplane. When we were shooting the airplane, he explained how a jet engine’s simplicity percolates down through the airplane itself. With no heavy structure to support a piston engine and no linkages for throttles and props, the SubSonex is an exceptionally simple build. The engine is FADEC controlled and throttle by wire, so the only connections are the fuel line and a few wires. Carleton told me when he tours with his Salto glider for airshows—same engine—he unpins the engine and takes it into his hotel room at night. Try that with an IO-320.
There's more at the link.
Here's the SubSonex in action at EAA's AirVenture show at Oshkosh, WI in 2014. Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.
Looks like a fun toy. I wonder if Miss D. would like to fling one of those around the Texas sky? Note to self: must sell more books . . .