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Airon Aircraft, LLC's Lightning Sport Aircraft Review

written by: Steve Mallard•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 8/28/2010

A one on one interview with Nick Otterbak and a review of Arion Aircraft, LLC's Lightning Airplane shows the outstanding performance and sleek design of this Light Sport Aircraft. Fully equipped with hundreds of features, the Lightning is an impressive light sport airplane.

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    History of Airon Aircraft, LLC and the Lightning Sport Aircraft


    The Airon Aircraft Corporation was founded in early 2004 by Nick Otterbak, Ben Krotje and Pete Krotjie. The aircraft is built of fiberglass components made in Wisconsin by Custom Fiberglass Molding Inc.

    The Lightning design as a kit uses production wings that are fitted to an aircraft kit called the Esqual. Because of this hybrid structure, the nickname for the kit became “Frankensqual". The initial fitting and flight testing started during the summer of 2005 on this unique wing profile and sleek looking airplane.

    Later in 2005, the other components for the prototype aircraft came out of initial load testing and assembly began March 2006. The first aircraft, N233AL, began the test flights for the newly designed aircraft. The first test flight included flutter test above 270 miles per hour TAS and other intense flight readiness tests. The first test flights also included a bird strike with a turkey buzzard striking the propeller causing an unscheduled glide test proving the air worthiness of this kit plane.


    With its debut at Sun N’ Fun in 2006, Airon Aircraft, LLC and the Lightning made an impression on the sport aviation community. With over 120 aircraft delivered to more than 5 different countries, nearly 50% have been built and flown by customers.

    Airon Aircraft was granted and certified a Special Light Sport Aircraft certification during the spring of 2009 after testing beyond the minimum limits of the Light Sport Aircraft certification process. Offering both the kit version (Lightning EAB) and the Lightning (LSA), Airon Aircraft, LLC is located in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

    With high standards and quality assurance with each build, the Airon Aircraft provides customization of the Lightning aircraft providing dozens of options and state of the art cockpits for Light Sport Aircraft.

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    Rating Average

    Nick Otterbak went on to explain the testing of the asymmetrical and symmetrical flight limit loads of +5 and -3 gs @ >1400lbs. The Lightning’s failure loads that are +10g, make the design exceed the acceptable safety factor of 1.5.

    Wing Loading 

    With Torsional testing of the tail and fuselage along with any welded parts, the testing profile of the Lightning documents the true safety of this aircraft.

    After the above testing was complete, in April 2009, the Airon Aircraft and the Lightning Design past without any problems and met the requirements of ASTM standard F2245. This standard is part of the Light Sport Aircraft industry standard.

    Tail Loading 

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    Flight and Performance

    Rating Average

    In Flight 

    Performance of the Lightning allows for the aircraft to take off in approximately 400 feet. Climb out and performance of the Lighting is greater than 1000 feet per minute. The Lightning’s performance is controlled by sticks for each pilot and the aircraft has excellent handling without control wheels. With roll rates that can exceed over 90 degrees per second, the plane performs with crisp fast movements providing clean stable flight.

    Orange With normal cruising speeds reaching an average of 160 mph, the Lightning’s 120 hp engine provides plenty of power allowing for a top out speed of around 190 mph. Energy conserving and efficient, the lightning burns around five and a half gallons per hour making the Lightning as energy efficient as most cars today.

    LSA Cockpit 

    With a customized cockpit, the Lightning can be fully equipped with radar, gps and other high end aviation instrumentation.

    Designed with the Jabiru 3300 aircraft engine, this aircraft’s 200 cubic engine gives unprecedented performance. Landing speed can be as slow as 60 mph with very stable handling.3300 Engine 

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    The Lightning sport aircraft of Airon Aircraft, LLC is an excellent kit or custom built aircraft offering top performance in the aviation industry. Airon Aircraft is located at 2842 Hwy 231 North in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

    Images Courtesy: Airon Aircraft, LLC

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