Those relatively new to aviation may only know Glasair for the company’s current aircraft, the Sportsman 2+2, perhaps the most versatile general aviation airplane available today. But those who have been following aviation longer know that Glasair began changing the GA landscape back in 1979. With innovative composite airframe technology that gave birth to the “fast glass” category, Glasair was impossible to deny. During the decades that the original Glasair kits were offered, the Glasair 1, 2, and 3 kept raising the performance bar both by setting the standard for kits at the time and by setting speed and efficiency records regularly. Today, they are affordable and capable options on the resale market. If you follow the Reno Air Races you’ll see that they remain competitive, with owners somehow coaxing ever more power out of their turbocharged IO-580s.
In the mid-90s, Glasair founders Tom Hamilton and Ted Setzer responded to not only their desire for a more versatile aircraft but to market demand for a platform with a wider range of capabilities. While still developing and supporting the Glasair line, the Glastar was introduced in 1995. The Glastar moved in a different direction — one that could support float operations as well as provide credible backcountry performance.
The Glastar was an immediate success garnering excellent reviews for its flight handling, folding wings, and excellent kit quality. It was a true “composite” aircraft utilizing a combination of fiberglass, aluminum, and steel materials in those areas of the airframe that were best suited to their respective properties. Though originally designed for the 125 hp Continental IO-240, an appetite for more power followed (as it always does). The Lycoming O-320 became the engine of choice with an occasional builder insisting on stuffing in an O-360.
In the mid-2000s, the company undertook a significant evolution of the GlaStar for which the objectives were typical: more power, more speed, and more carrying capacity. The Sportsman 2+2 is the result. The Sportsman keeps the great features of the GlaStar but now carries four people and cruises quite a bit faster. It also has become a better floatplane!
Now on the market for over 15 years, the Sportsman continues to satisfy its owners and attract the attention of demanding pilots. The company’s groundbreaking Two Weeks to Taxi™ builder assist program is alive and well with over 400 aircraft built. More importantly, it has enabled more than 400 aircraft builders, who may not have had the chance otherwise, to achieve their dream of building and owning an airplane like the Sportsman.
Having taken the helm of Glasair in mid-2019, I am keenly aware of the company’s rich legacy of innovation and development. As a pilot, aircraft builder, and aircraft owner myself, I understand the importance of supporting our fleet. I am also aware of the importance for any company to continue to evolve and improve. It is the potential to improve the company’s aircraft offering further, enter new markets around the globe, and improve our organization that has me excited. I know there is much more potential here.
I encourage you to check with us often and join me as we look ahead. You should expect to see improvement from Glasair in many areas. From the outside, the most visible changes will be our product offering, but we’ll be working hard to improve internally as well. Aviation is changing, and we at Glasair intend to keep pace and maintain our position as proud custodians of the Glasair legacy.
President & CEO