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January 24-27, 2018.

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April 4 to April 9, 2017.

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The first-ever DeLand Showcase and the 13th Sebring Expo are over.

Next up in airshow coverage is Sun 'n Fun on April 4-9, 2017, and Aero Friedrichshafen on 5-8 April 2017. As these last two run concurrently this year, Dan Johnson will cover Sun 'n Fun and Powered Sport Flying publisher Roy Beisswenger has graciously offered to submit reports from Aero. Thanks to these efforts, you will not miss any of the great stories coming from these two spring events.

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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Shock Treatment for Real Get-Up and Go
By Dan Johnson, February 27, 2017

Once upon a time, the producer of a yellow LSA taildragger installed the industry's most powerful engine resulting in a performance leader. This gambit succeeded handily and the builder enjoyed several strong years of sales. Others looked upon this success and saw that it was good.

So, of course, being aviation entrepreneurs, others worked to do the original one better. How about not only an excess of power but other features and macho good looks to cause jaw-drops at every airshow? You may believe I am writing about Just Aircraft and their magnificent SuperSTOL. I've enjoyed flying this aircraft and you can research it further here.

Adding exceptional wing qualities to a potent engine results in a sub-market within the LSA sector that has been drawing strong interest and the sales that follow. With newcomers offering appealing features and reducing the price into more affordable realms, it's not hard to see why pilots are learning about these new flying machines and bringing one home.

Into the cauldron of development activity stepped Zlin and their Shock model. This Czech-based company is no newcomer. You already know their Savage models, reported here frequently as the former iCub and later the Outback and Nomad plus the one-of-a-kind Bobber.

With advice and suggestions from SportairUSA proprietor Bill Canino — himself already a highly skilled veteran of the SP/LSA movement — Zlin took the model SportairUSA sells as the Outback and added what Bill calls "the Shock options." He words it that way because these fresh features can be retrofitted to earlier Outbacks. In addition, the auto-functioning leading edge slats can be removed (with only eight bolts) translating to great versatility.

Custom hydraulic, side-mounted shock absorbers with 12 inches of travel and suspension geometry integrated into main and tail landing gear virtually eliminates the problems of touchdown rebound and ground hop that are all too common with traditionally sprung cabane-style landing gear. The gear position is also moved forward to enhance braking capacity with less risk of overturning. As a result, the Outback Shock lands and taxis with remarkable control and stopping power. The tailwheel is also shock absorbed.

Looking deeper into the details, the Shock options include what SportairUSA calls the "hyper-STOL" wing profile boasting short takeoff & faster rate of climb. This incorporates slatted wings that move according to airflows without pilot involvement combined with two-element Fowler flaps and strategically placed vortex generators in numerous locations to optimize low-speed control.

Compared to earlier models the Shock's wing is different in ways beyond the visible slats and Fowler flaps.

The newly designed wing has six inches of added chord length, all-new spars, stamped aluminum ribs plus strengthened attachments and other structural improvements. Truncated wing tips have wing tip fences (plates on the tip) to control tip vortex and reduce drag. Joined to a sturdy welded steel inner structure, Zlin successfully subjected the Shock-option Outback to more than 1,600 pounds at 6G holding this load for over two minutes without deformation.

A 40% increase in aileron surface area, together with a refined airflow design aided by vortex generators, allow the pilot to keep full control authority at extremely low speed on approach. Shock's Fowler flaps extend 70% from their retracted area and the flaps can be equipped with mini vortex generators installed inside the vane (see video). Zlin and SportairUSA love VGs; they are available for the wings, rudder, flaps and horizontal tail.

As Bill notes in the video below, the tailplane also saw changes, beyond than the shock-mounted tailwheel. Rudder and elevator surface area were extended more than three inches aft to balance the moment from the new wing design.

Alright, you might accept Outback Shock as a engineering marvel with all the right attributes to qualify as a "hyper"STOL but what does all this do for you?

The significant increase in wing lift provides added performance in landing and takeoff. With the 180-horsepower Titan engine doing the pulling, Outback Shock can launch in less than 200 feet at gross weight and land in barely over 100 feet. With a single occupant these numbers are halved.

One part of the takeoff and landing prowess of Shock is low stall speeds... really low. Stall in the airplane with a single occupant is an astonishing 18 mph or about 15.6 knots; even at gross weight stall occurs at 23 mph (20 knots). However, Outback Shock is not a particularly speedy cross country cruiser. "Max" speed is 115 mph or 100 knots. Typical cruise is about 90 mph or around 80 knots.

Shock lets you keep an better eye on your landing site thanks to a pitching moment generated by the deep flaps that results in a lower nose attitude on approach.

Shock pilots can operate from smaller fields and land in places you might not otherwise consider (although this comment is not intended to encourage risky piloting behavior).

Find out more from SportairUSA located at the North Little Rock Municipal Airport (KORK) in North Little Rock, Arkansas. You can come see the airplane at the upcoming Sun 'n Fun airshow over April 4-9, 2017.

Find out more and see lots more detail of Outback Shock in the video from Aero 2016:

The Future of Flying... Could It Happen?
By Dan Johnson, February 21, 2017

Two forms of flying are racing at us at increasing speed. This is both scary and promising at once. What can we expect? My crystal ball is no better than yours, but let me tell you what I can imagine may be headed our way.

I refer to two generally unrelated activities in the air: autonomous aircraft and FPV drones. Most pilots to whom I've spoken seem intrigued by these innovations and a few are enjoying their quadcopters, myself included.

Others are not so sure if they like the idea of either unmanned but man-carrying aircraft or a swarm of drones buzzing about the airport or neighborhood. I understand this viewpoint. Most of us treasure our privacy and don't want it invaded.

Yet I invite you consider the following scenario... perhaps 3-10 years in the future.

Think about why you like recreational flying, in your LSA, light kit, or ultralight. I've asked many pilots this question; the most common answer is sightseeing, seeing your neighborhood or the planet from a few hundred or a few thousand feet up. Glorious, most of us agree!

FPV (First-Person View) of drones racing through gates.
Sure, we also like to fly cross country... or fly from off water... or perform aerobatics... or master soaring flight... take a friend or the family on an aerial excursion... travel regionally. Might some of these activities be done another way, specifically, could a drone do the job? You might not think so but please keep reading.

At Sebring 2017, the Drone Zone was of interest to check out the equipment but also to witness the series of short races vying for a $25,000 purse. Let me tell you, this was one fast-paced affair. Drones about the size of a dinner plate whipped around a turning, twisting, up and down course at 80 miles an hour! I could not even follow the action, such a frenzy it was.

No racers ever glanced at their aircraft. This isn't like standard radio control flying where the pilot holds a joystick controller and closely watches their flying RC model.

Racers use VR goggles — basically a hood into which you insert your smartphone — to direct the aircraft using FPV, First-Person View. They see what a tiny little pilot seated in the drone would see. Are you starting to get where I'm going with this?

Imagine it is 2021. You go out in your back yard, or go to a park, or any number of places. You prepare your drone for launch, snap in your smartphone, put on your VR goggles, pick up the controller and go flying. Once you get this method down, you might replicate a real sightseeing flight to a significant degree.

This can be done today. In five or 10 years far more sophisticated and longer-flying drones with rapidly-advancing technology will help prevent conflicts or crashes. A vastly improved VR (Virtual Reality) experience might include 3D, 360-degree view (even wider than your big-windowed LSA). Can you see that flying by drone could replicate at least some of the joy we feel when we go aloft in our little airplanes?

Of course, such FPV drone flying won't replace manned flying or the satisfying experience of mastering stick and rudder. Yet FPV drones could be a game changer, perhaps getting more people involved with flying. Cross pollination might follow with drone pilots wanting to sample manned flight.

Here's a kicker. After observing the drone races for a while, I wandered over to a vendor to ask how much a basic drone racing rig would cost. A compact quad copter, batteries, charger, control unit, VR goggles... all you need to race: $275; you use the smartphone you already own. These prices have dropped and will surely go down further. How do you suppose that cost sounds to a young person compared to taking flying lessons in what the drone guys call "full-size aircraft?"

Now, let's add another dimension.

To the futuristic superdrone scenario, factor in recent news about the Dubai Transportation authority allegedly approving operations within a year (!!) for a fleet of eHang autonomously flown air taxis. Does this sound far-fetched and unlikely? Yep, it does to me, too. However, many believe it is only a matter of time before such services might be available. We may know in a year.

The smallish eHang 184 is a single seater, which makes it seem more achieveable with today's technology. Its four twin-motored boom arms fold up to occupy minimal space. Plus, these things keep getting smarter and such smart tech has gone mainstream.

Recently I watched a friend's Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner work all by itself, even recognizing when the battery starts to run low and heading "home" to dock before running out of juice. It was amazing to watch but you don't get much more mundane than vacuum cleaning.

That's not a joystick inside. It is a controller unit to tell eHang 184 where to go.
Apply the tech needed to provide autonomous air taxi service to drones of tomorrow and you get something surprising. Two people (or more!) sharing VR goggles means you could take friends along for a flight, perhaps where everyone can watch where they want, not just 360 degrees, but a full spherical view. Meanwhile, pilot and "passengers" are safely on the ground merely enjoying the view through the VR apparatus.

Go even further with chairs that transmit motion — another technology that is already here and not particularly expensive — and the sensation of a sightseeing flight around your part of the world while sitting in your living room becomes a very possible reality.

Like all tech, flying an aircraft is largely information, just data. With enough data and improving sensors, eHang or its certain competitors could reasonably be expected to navigate from building top to other designated landing areas in good safety and with no human control, and at ever-decreasing cost. Because tech is eminently sharable, drones and autonomous vehicles benefit from each other's progress.

FPV drone flying and autonomous flying are coming. Should you adapt? Should you resist? It might be time to give serious thought to an alternative future of flying.

To see what FPV drone flying looks like from inside the VR goggles, check this video (one of many available):

Hawk is Finally Back and Looking Good
By Dan Johnson, February 19, 2017

At Sebring 2017, another long-awaited aircraft emerged... or re-emerged. After wandering for a few years since original Hawk developer Chuck Slusarczyk retired and sold his company, the once-popular design has a new home in central Florida.

I've written about this before (earlier article), but we hadn't seen much until Sebring 2017.

The season-starting Sebring Expo brought the debut of CGS Hawk now making its home in the sunshine state after migrating from Ohio to Alabama. Thanks to accomplished kit builder and restorer, Terry Short, this celebrated brand that once held a major presence in the ultralight aircraft space has returned. A refreshed Hawk was looking good.

Indeed, Terry beamed when he told me that he'd already sold six aircraft (recently; not all at the show), most of them the two-seat variety as shown in the nearby photos plus one Part 103 ultralight.

Because original designer Chuck Slusarczyk won FAA acceptance for an ASTM-compliant model, Terry can supply a fully built Special Light-Sport Aircraft version and at Sebring 2017 he told me that he fully intends to do so. Because any new manufacturer, even of an existing brand, can be required to go through an FAA audit, a SLSA Hawk may not be an immediate development. (The agency can also elect to review documents and not do an on-site inspection, at their discretion. For a slower speed, lighter weight aircraft with many hundreds flying, FAA may choose not to make a manufacturing site visit.)

Amid the displays at Sebring's 13th annual Expo, many attendees took a look at this new model and came away with a smile. Several times as I passed Terry's display at Sebring, people seemed to be examining his handsome entry with interest.

New Hawk proprietor Terry acquired the venerable Hawk line from previous owner Danny Dezauche who bought the company from Chuck. Danny kept the brand alive but did not progress too far with it.

All told, CGS Hawks number close to 2,000 units flying. Many owners to whom I've spoke truly love this simple but well-flying aircraft.

CGS originally stood for Chuck's Glider Supplies. Chuck was an early leader in hang gliding and made thousands of them. As "motorized" hang gliders arrived on the scene back in the late '70s and early '80s, Chuck made the jump. In fact, he formerly sold "power packs" to others who wanted to power their hang gliders.

One thing lead to another and Chuck developed his company into a airplane manufacturer, leaving behind his youthful days as a hang glider pilot and entrepreneur.

After decades of operation, Chuck sold his company to enjoy a well-deserved retirement and Alabama businessman Danny Dezauche kept it going for a few years.

A year ago, in January 2016, Dezauche sold CGS Hawk to Terry Short based in Lake Wales, Florida. After retiring from the Polk County School Board, Terry and his son Chris will operate the enterprise in central Florida. They will support the many hundreds of Hawks still flying with parts and services in addition to build several of the models including the Special LSA Model called Hawk II, a tandem two seater.

Catch Terry and the Hawk at Sun 'n Fun 2017, coming in just six weeks! In the meantime, interested pilots can contact Terry Short Aircraft Services in Lake Wales, Florida by calling 863-430-5829 or by emailing him. Short's website remains under construction.

Video — BushCat Is Fun and a Bargain!
By Dan Johnson, February 12, 2017

Are Light-Sport Aircraft too expensive? With yellow taildraggers from some companies exceeding $200,000, it certainly sounds so. Gorgeous and modern carbon fiber LSA run $125,000 to $180,000. So, yeah, if your budget is leaner or if you merely want to keep the price tag down for a recreational aircraft, it's tougher than imagined before the SP/LSA regulation was announced in 2004.

Tougher, but not impossible. In fact, I've long maintained that we do have more reasonably priced LSA for sale but some folks want the more expensive, every-bell-and-whistle aircraft even while they resist the prices such gear costs. Our PlaneFinder 2.0 feature tries to address this with a price above-or-below $100,000. Even determining that can be difficult as some aircraft offer most optional equipment as standard while others prefer a very basically equipped airplane for a low price and let buyers add the stuff they want. Fair enough; a free market in aircraft should offer more choices and let the buyer decide.

One company has a great value for you and a longtime American representative to sell it. The company is South Africa's SkyReach and their Wisconsin-based U.S. distributor AeroSport sells the BushCat. It is not a carbon fiber speedster. It is a very modestly priced aircraft that flies well, performs well, and has hundreds flying around the world for many years.

At the 2016 edition of the Mid-West LSA Expo, I got to fly BushCat with AeroSport partner Jeremy Knoll and the video below attempts to fill in some of the details.

Normally I stay away from price quoting as these figures change and, as noted above, stating a price means determining what is "standard equipment," what is "optional," and what you likely want... the latter being an impossible task since I am not you and as I have no idea what you want today (which itself could change tomorrow). Nonetheless, I'm stepping out on the thin ice to at least put it in perspective. Check with the company for current pricing.

I referred to Aerosport's price sheet and you can dig into the details yourself if interested.

As of November 2016, the starting price for BushCat is $65,400 for a Special LSA ready-to-fly model using the 80-horsepower Rotax 912. That engine is perfectly fine and can use 87-octane auto gas for low-cost, highly-reliable operation. Yet for only $67,600 you can have 20 more horsepower, so nearly everyone selects this option. Those low prices include basic analog instruments and are enough for most recreational aviators. If you like traveling with digital instruments and a transponder to handle certain FAA airspaces, you can spend $1,500 to $5,000 for a fairly deluxe panel or for much less choose an iPad and a flight app as an alternative.

A three-blade prop, a parachute, lighting, and cabin heat will bid the price up further but you can still stay in the $75,000-range. Even an amphibious float-equipped BushCat can be had for $105,000. From my viewpoint, BushCat is one of the great bargains of the LSA space.

An observation: BushCat is priced almost exactly where everyone seemed to expect back in 2004 after adjusting for inflation. That ain't bad.

To learn more about BushCat from SkyReach and to get views inside and out plus flying footage, catch the video below.

Video—Jabiru J-230D Reviewed at Midwest LSA
By Dan Johnson, February 10, 2017

Why do we go to all the little airshows? Good question. Everyone knows that a professional journalist or true-blue aircraft enthusiast almost has to trek to the big events like AirVenture or Sun 'n Fun — with the latter coming up soon April 4-9, 2017. Fine. Yet are the smaller events worth the travel expense and time?

For Videoman Dave and I this is a no-brainer. Gotta go! Why? Because events like Sebring just finished or DeLand's end-of-the-season show or the Mid-West LSA Expo early in September in Mt. Vernon Illinois (about an hour's drive east of St. Louis) are perfect for us to collect video footage and flying experiences that we can relate to viewers on Dave's widely-watched YouTube channel (to the tune of a million and a half minutes every month!) or here on our LSA Video page.

These smaller-venue shows are more relaxed, have smaller crowds, and access to the runways to go flying are the best of any airshows.

The great news about these shows is... well, a few reasons. Perhaps number one is the possibility for those attending to be able to spend more time with aircraft vendors to ask all the questions you want. At major shows, crowds can be so dense that you must compete with other attendees to get face time with a supplier. No so at Midwest, Sebring, or DeLand.

Visitors can also get demo flights more easily and achieving those flights will consume far less time, meaning you can do more of them if you wish. Perhaps your chosen aircraft representative can fly with you for a longer time because he or she does not have fourteen other people waiting for their turn. Finally, once you and the seller agree, you can hop in the airplane and in literally minutes you are launching into yonder blue skies.

For the many who cannot attend, we bring you videos like the one below about the Jabiru North America J-230, now in the newest "D" model. Frequent feedback tells us that most pilots seem to truly enjoy these videos and we are happy to keep making more.

Thanks very much for visiting this website and for watching the videos Dave and I produce. We plan to keep up the pace well into the future. Enjoy!

Video—Race Around Sebring 2017a Quick Tour
By Dan Johnson, February 6, 2017

At last November's DeLand Showcase, I tried something new. I didn't know how it would work or be received but I took a shot. As it turned out, a good many folks seemed to enjoy my "Race Around DeLand 2016" video. I literally used a golf cart and did a drive-by video shooting of most outdoor booth spaces at the Florida event. A surprising number of pilots told me they enjoyed it.

With those comments in mind, I thought to repeat this with "Race Around Sebring 2017." You can see it below. This would be tough to do at Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh where the LSA, light kits, and ultralights are scattered all over the grounds. It might work, though, in Sun 'n Fun's Paradise City or in AirVenture's Fun Fly Zone... we'll see about that.

Until those spring and summer extravaganzas, I hope you'll enjoy this rather speedy glimpse of Sebring 2017, the 13th running of this grandaddy of the small, focused events that draw enthusiasts of these recreational or sporting aircraft.

If these Race Around videos remain popular, I might even attempt this at Aero Friedrichshafen, except that will have to wait until 2018 because in 2017 Aero runs concurrently with Sun 'n Fun... darn it!

You might regard this as an (under) 15-minute tour of Sebring for those of you who could not make it. However, honestly, I hope you can attend either or both DeLand 2017 and Sebring 2018. I think you'll enjoy... good winter weather, concentrated aircraft in your interest area with many of your flying friends present, plus you can take all the demo flights you want.

See more about all kinds of affordable aviation... LSA, light kits, and ultralights on our LSA Videos page that is approaching 500 videos.

You can watch more than 1,000 videos on Videoman Dave's YouTube channel publishing as Your support of Dave's YouTube channel allows him to do this work. Please consider subscribing annually or Lifetime.

Announcement...Major Upgrade for!
By Dan Johnson, February 2, 2017

Light aircraft as they were when went live in April 2004.
Once upon a time, the world was without Internet, static and boring. In those ancient times, to follow aircraft developments, most aviators had to wait for a magazine that arrived once a month. In 1995, the World Wide Web was born and only four years later work began on *

Many have called the Internet, specifically the Web, the most important change in history for human communications! Since that time, the pace of change has been ever quickening.

I am pleased to announce to you that is upgrading to a brand-new site that will have a modern look and will automatically adapt to your phone or tablet. This redesign has consumed more than a year's worth of work but the change will occur this month.

With more than 1,500 pages of information featuring millions of words, thousands of articles with photos, and hundreds of videos plus special features like PlaneFinder 2.0, the SLSA List, and our FI.R.M. List, this shift has been a massive undertaking. We have been working for many months but we are nearly ready for beta launch. Overwhelmingly our purpose has been to assure these changes will make for a better user experience.

The website view as you know (and hopefully love) it today.
All the same features you enjoy will still be available and nearly everything remains free of charge. However, while you should find everything much more accessible, you will see some changes in how you access various parts of the website.

Let's go back in time a few years...

With help from long time webmaster Dan Barker, this website was built starting in 1999. Due to the lack of modern tools and my focus on other work at the time — I was VP of BRS Parachutes in those days — we did not go live until April of 2004. This was a few months before the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation was announced. By pure luck, my timing was exquisite and I was able to position right at the front of the parade for FAA's newest aviation sector.

However, that early start meant we had to "stick build" the website. The project cost far more in dollars and hours than it does today to create a comprehensive, database-driven website. Years were spent creating everything from scratch. I had no idea what I was doing but Barker guided me well. Every time I wanted to add a new feature, it could take weeks, where today the same function might be added in hours or even minutes. In Internet Time, 13 years ago was something like the dark ages.

A fresh new look and function that is "Coming Soon!"
It was clearly time to jump into the future.

Today, mobile (smartphones and tablets) is dominant and PCs are fading. Websites remain as useful as ever — even in the age of social media — but a modern website needs to be something called "responsive." This term means a website knows what device is accessing the information and formats itself to better fit that device. The you know could not be so adaptive because of the way it had to be built in the early 2000s. Smartphones are smart so you could view the website but it wasn't optimal on mobile.

Change is hard for most folks. When you greet the new website, I hope you'll look around and get familiar with it. Our news stories will appear in brief form instead of one long home pages of article after article. If you prefer the original look, you can click "Switch to Classic View" at the top of the page (photo, arrow). You will also be able to leave comments on any article. Continued improvements will follow launch of the new website.

If you are one of the many who view on an iPhone, Android, iPad, or other tablet, the look will be different. If you seek one of our sponsors — advertisers... the main reason you can read most articles or watch videos for free — they'll be available but might appear in a different place. (Things will look mostly the same on a Mac or PC; it is on mobile that pages will appear different...)

The aircraft we cover as they look today (in addition to those above).
After a month or so of feedback and further tweaking, we'll launch 2.0 on April 1st (no fooling!), the 13th anniversary of going live. This will be our Grand Opening, once everything is working perfectly.

Thank you SO much for your loyal readership over the last thirteen years! We love what we do and we hope it shows! We will continue to provide highly focused content in written and video form covering Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, ultralight aircraft, and the emerging new GA aircraft from companies we already cover.

* Thanks to longtime friend Cliff Whitney, who encouraged me to load my hundreds of pilot reports from print magazines onto a website; I'm not sure how soon I would have done this without his encouragement, and, as it turned out, my timing was perfect.

Video—BasicMed & LSA...Sebring 2017...More
By Dan Johnson, January 29, 2017

News from Sebring Expo 2017...

The thirteenth annual running of the Sebring Expo is history concluding on Saturday, January 28th. By most accounts it was a solid event. Show organizers were blessed with wonderful weather no doubt helping foot traffic to be substantial each morning and early afternoon. Several vendors told me they booked orders for aircraft and if anyone had negatives of substance they were not brought to my attention.

Kudos to principal organizer Bev Glarner (a full video interview with her will follow) and to airport director Mike Willingham for changing up the show in several successful ways.

On Friday of the event, I appeared as a guest on the Florida Aviation Network with host Diego Alfonso. We chatted about several matters that Light-Sport Aircraft or light kit-built aircraft enthusiasts and business owners may find of interest.

My goal in the interview was to hit a few topics generating high levels of attention at this time. These include: BasicMed, the new relaxation of third class medical and how that recent development may affect Light-Sport Aircraft.

We also talked about the revised show and its changes and how people seemed to receive them.

We discussed the advocacy work by LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association in conjunction with FAA to advance fully built gyroplane Special LSA, electric propulsion, and the exciting potential for aerial work or light commercial use for Light-Sport Aircraft.

Diego also asked about how I got into aviation. I hope you might find this 25-minute interview of interest, primarily for the sector-specific perspective.

Enjoy the video below and watch for more news and video about Sebring 2017.

To read SPLOG postings going back to 2005 -- all organized in chronological order -- click SPLOG.




Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

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Updated: February 27, 2017

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