A guy called Dennis Borchart from South Aust. used to be an agent for Lightning aircraft. He has owned a couple of beautiful examples over the years and would be seen at a lot of fly-ins. I believe he no longer has the agency . He would definately be the "go to" person to speak to, sadly I can't help you with any contact details. I'm sure others on here from SA would be able to help locate him.
The performance numbers did look good and I came close to buying one some years ago before I woke up to a lot of the differences between a traditional fast GA turing aircraft and a Recreational Aircraft with this type of performance, but with the sort of experiences you meet with Lancair and Cirrus type aircraft.
There's plenty of detail you can research out there to make an informed decision on whether you will be a match for this aircraft; it's certainly a beautiful aircraft to look at.
It's dioxin day today, I've just finished reading through FIVE FEET of USEPA documents to get to the bottom of the politics and tighening of regulations, so no time now, but you can start searching on the NTSB database and googling.
I've only seen one - Try lifting the nose wheel off the ground - the local one is on it's 3rd or 4th nose leg (prop etc)
I have no idea if they are all the same, just appears wrong undercarriage set up to me?
I am very tempted to purchase a Lightning XS with IO320 (or MAYBE the Jabiru), and I am looking for more input from any owners or folks that have flown them. Performance, controllability, reliability, and build time are all important to me. Cost is usually a factor, but these are very close (see below).
Some of my observations on this so far are: The lightning is a better looking airplane outside and inside (just opiniion), and it appears to be solid and very fast to build (comparatively). From the build manual (online from flylightning.net), required techniques, and the relatively small number of airframe parts in the kit, it appears that this kit can actually be built within (or close to) the manufacturers stated build time. IF not for this, I would be more inclined to go to a Vans RV-7 or RV-9 series for the piece of mind associated with a much much larger company and the plethora of RV support.. But It seems with RV's, most folks take at least 2x the manufacturers stated time, if even that fast (especially if building the dreaded slider canopy). I went to Arion this March and got a test ride in the O-320 powered demo plane, and saw a couple in progress. ( I didn't fly the Jabiru powered version--- heck, i have never even seen/heard a Jabiru run.) I did NOT get to land the demo, but it was a joy to fly (responsive, but not twitchy, ok stall recovery, etc.). I did a spreadsheet (as best as I could) to compare cost of a Lightning XS/O320 and a quickbuild RV-9A/O32 (the standard lightning kit is at least as far along as a Vans quickbuild, so this is a reasonable comparison). Apples to apples, comparably equipped airplanes looked to be within about $!000 of each other (i.e. too close to call).
I am a little perplexed about performance. This is hard to compare from manufacturer claims since you need to factor in whether the listed speed is IAS, CAS, TAS (at what altitude), and CS vs. fixed pitch props (and also solo or gross weight for climb, not to mention the conservatism of the manufacturer numbers. Gross weights and power are about the same, wing load significantly higher on the lightning. Allowing for differences in basis (as noted above), I can't say there is much difference, but it appears that stated numbers favor the RVs a little in most categories.
Related to nose gear damage accidents, my recollection of conversation with Nick Otterback was that the new, larger horizontal stabilizer (besides pitch stability) improves low speed control by improving tail stall margin. Previously, if the pilot allowed a balloon or held up the nose at very slow speed, the tail could stall, allowing the nose to drop and damage the nose gear. But better stability probably helps with ballooning as well, so you're better able to handle a bad situation that you are less likely to get into.. Nonetheless, landing difficulty or weak gear is the major thing I am concerned with, besides the TINY company size, but I am also curious about the Jabiru performance/reliabilitly.