Aerobatic Gamebird Emerges at AirVenture

Two-seat GB1 brings versatility to the aerobatic world.

Gamebird GB1 at EAA AirVenture 2016
Gamebird GB1 made its debut at EAA AirVenture 2016.Jon Whittle

AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, featured a long list of terrific aerobatic performers, some well known, some less so. The same goes for the airplanes the daring pilots were at the controls of. One of those was an airplane that has the potential to be seen not only at airshows around the world but also as a tailwheel trainer and even a cross country traveler, albeit a small one.

Named the Gamebird GB1, the airplane was flown in front of the AirVenture crowd by German designer and aerobatic pilot Philipp Steinbach, who put on a terrific show in the bright green airplane on Friday afternoon.

Philipp Steinbach
Philipp Steinbach showed off the Gamebird GB1 at EAA AirVenture 2016.Pia Bergqvist

The GB1 is a two-seat tandem tailwheel airplane built with carbon fiber and powered by a brawny 303 horsepower Lycoming engine spinning a four-blade MT composite prop. Several design elements make the airplane truly unique, one of which are its luggage compartment and its 1,000 nautical mile range, something that is unheard of in this category of airplanes.

The Gamebird has been built in England while a small team has quietly been plugging along on EASA and FAA certification since 2013. Steinbach said the EASA certification is nearly complete with FAA cert to follow. A 40,000-square-foot production facility for the GB1 is in the making in Arkansas.

Those of us who have been in the industry for a while have seen many airplane designs come and go without ever overcoming the major obstacle of starting production. One reason the Gamebird has the potential to get there is that the company behind it, Game Composites, has a CEO by the name of Steuart Walton – the grandson of Sam Walton who founded Walmart and Sam’s Club.