ith light-sport aircraft manufacturers seemingly popping up all over the world like mushrooms sprouting after a good rainfall, you may wonder why any company would decide to get into this saturated market. In fact, light-sport guru Dan Johnson currently lists 143 LSA models on his bydanjohnson.com website. But after Glasair was bought by the Chinese Jilin Hanxing Group in 2012, the Arlington, Washington-based company decided to enter the market anyway. The plan was to design and build an LSA primarily for the budding Chinese market, but the airplane could very well become a winner here in the United States as well. Like the predatory bird from which the name of Glasair’s new LSA stems, the Merlin is small and light, and has a certain fierceness about it as well. Similar to its amateur-built predecessors, it is a composite airplane with steel and aluminum parts, providing a smooth, streamlined structure. The fuel-injected 100 hp Rotax 912 iS Sport engine powers the bird and spins a two-blade composite propeller manufactured by Sensenich. The panel features a highly capable Dynon SkyView Touch electronic flight-information system. Ever since Glasair introduced its first airplane in 1980, the company has only built experimental airplanes. Glasair became known for designing fast, all-composite amateur-built designs. A souped-up Super Glasair III model, Race 39, has broken the 400 mph mark in the Sport class at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, with Jeff LaVelle at the controls. Glasair is one of the most successful kit builders in the world, with more than 2,500 kits produced.