Saturday, August 22, 2020

3 views of Chipper Single Seat 2021 Engineering Doodles

Chipper SS 2021 coming at you (perspective view)

Side view of Chipper Single Seat 2021

Top view of Chipper SS 2021 

Monday, August 17, 2020

61 year old gets Biannual Flight Review in 74 year old airplane with Mr. Cessna

It's so good to be back, talking about building, flying and adventure.

I'm James Wiebe.  I've done a lot and seen a lot, but I'm just a kid at 61, looking forward to another 30+ years of fun.

The photo illustration for the Blog header is my pilot blogbooks, both of which were damaged in the fire which put Chipper Aerospace under for the last 15 months.  My desire to design, build and fly has come back, and it's great!

Today's post:  The Biannual Flight Review (BFR).  It was administered by Charles Pate.  Charles is a young 82, and he worked for Cessna in piston aircraft engineering for more than 50 years, so anything you want to know from the factory perspective concerning Cessna 120's through a Cessna 310, he's the man.  He can tell you about how marketing drove a bunch of engineering decisions.  His history is officially Above Average.

Speaking of the C120, that's what my BFR was in.  This particular plane was built in 1946, making it a very pleasant 74 years old and doesn't have flaps.  We did a preflight tour of the plane, with Charles providing engineering and marketing commentary on various parts.  The order of the following photos isn't correct, but it doesn't matter.

I had a wonderful time.  I can still aviate, and I had some really sweet landings.  The takeoff performance was extraordinarily anemic compared to a Chipper 2 or any of the Polini powered ultralights I've been designed, but flight manners were very gentle and landings were a slippin' Jimmy breeze.  ("Better Call Saul" - a fun digression!)  And finally, the ground manners were slightly less straight tracking than my Chipper 2.  YMMV.

Enjoy the photos, with pieces of commentary.  If I got anything wrong in the captions, the fault is mine in translation, not Charles.  He is an encyclopedia of Cessna everything.

Air Vent tube, evolved into similar vents on C172 and other later Cessna aircraft.

Rudder Pedals, these castings showed up in other Cessnas as well, for instance, the C310.

Tapered shaft design with steel coupling.  Engine changed to an integrated flange later (in O200, for instance.)

This aircraft was owned early on by University of California, Davis, as a flight trainer.  Lots of fixed cuts and scrapes early in its life.  Cracks here and there too.  Maintenance never stops.

Landing gear, wheels, brakes.  These were Goodyear brakes, hard to service.

Pitot tube and static tube, with attached mud dawber stopper.  Later on, the external static port was eliminated, as it had little difference on this slow airplane design.

The tie down rings were an option.  Washout on the wingform adjusted via the eyebolts.

Tail skins are corrugated 0.016" aluminum.  Hmm, that's the thickness I'm using for a lot of Chipper Single Seat stuff.

Another view of the elevator.  No aerodynamic or ballast counterweights whatsoever.

Fuel indicator is a sticky mechanical design.  We also had a great discussion on how Cessna changed the tank outlet position and number over time, so that marketing could get better endurance numbers.  Also how flight testing was done to enhance the marketing message.

Simple panel.  Starter knob connects to huge starter / contact via a bowden cable.  There is no electrical system in the aircraft.

Charles checks the oil?

Yeah!!!! First flight for me since May of 2019.

The guys who worked at Cessna were farmers in 1946.  They used tractor parts, and the fuel selector valve is one of them.  Note it is not intuitive:  Left, Right, Off as shown.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

20 Pound Carbon Fiber Float?

Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

Hey Eugene:

While nosing around in the Belite shop earlier this evening, I noticed that they were preparing to pull the wraps off their new aircraft floats.   It is clear they plan to announce at Oshkosh:  but at what price?

I was able to gather some basic technical information, and also take some pictures, which I've pasted below.

The note said:

  *  19 pounds, 13 ounces as shown (still missing a couple of attachment hardware fittings)
  *  Up to 3 layers of Carbon Fiber cloth overall
  *  Carbon Fiber over foam construction
  *  Pre-cut foam pieces
  *  Inexpensive
  *  Final all up weight estimated at 22 pounds (straight); 35 pounds (amphibious)
  *  Superior to earlier Belite and other aluminum floats (much easier to construct; inherently more waterproof due to foam design)
  *  620 pound maximum gross weight
  *  Belite will be selling float kits for a special price during Oshkosh and shortly thereafter

These are clearly a significant product offering for experimental aircraft... looks to be a game changer for anyone who wants to fly off water.  If Belite has truly pulled off a carbon fiber composite float which sells for a reasonable $ amount...  wow.  That will be so cool.

The float in the following pictures was not quite complete.  It needed some sanding and some other stuff, but it sure looked like a float to me.

Your Friend,

Billy Bob.

P.S.:  Have a look at these pictures:

Carbon Fiber Float from Belite

Carbon Fiber Float from Belite

Carbon Fiber Float from Belite

Carbon Fiber Float from Belite

Carbon Fiber Float from Belite
Special note to Mickey:  thank you for encouraging me to think outside the box.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

Weather is finally allowing some flying.  Got to see God's view.

Today, while I was waiting for my guys to get a particular piece of work done, I had Christian prop the UltraCub so I could get flying.  I was aloft a minute later.

90+ degree heat on the ground turned to air conditioning as I climbed thru 100'.  Lovely feeling as the air pressed by on either side of me.

Still skies.  Even in the heat.  Pulled back to probably 50% power and loitered at 800' while turning lazy circles.  Kept the air conditioning on.  Didn't do anything stupid.  Just puttered around.

(Can't understand why the world isn't beating a path to Belite's door.  Just can't.)


Yesterday evening, I flew over my friend Kevin's house and left behind a friendly offering (a teddy bear with a parachute, cleanly deposited in his front lawn.)

Flew over to Benton and shot a whole bunch of touch and goes on the grass, and even one on the pavement.   Loved the folks watching me.  Kept a constant eye out for traffic, as I was NORDO.  (No Radio.)

I also flew around and looked at the harvest.   Big plumes of dust headed up and north as the evening wind and heat lifted wheat chaff upwards.

Pictures show the story:

Kansas Sunset approaches

Kansas beauty in June.

Cut Wheat Field.  Interesting effect.

Another cut wheat field.

I love the harvest.

He's got a long ways to go.

But he's working on it.
After both of the flights, I still haven't refueled -- burning less than 5 gallons combined.

I also had opportunity to do a speed check.  Yes, I was marginally concerned that the UltraCub was speeding over the FAR 103 limit of 62mph.  With full power, it clocked in at a cruise speed of about 60 - 61 mph.  I can relax.