Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yes, We Did It...

Wichita, KS—June 1, 2009: Wichita, Kansas-based aviation enthusiast and entrepreneur James Wiebe and his wife, Kathy, have acquired the production rights to a previously designed aircraft, the Kitfox Lite, and formed a new business entity, Belite Aircraft, to market it. The airplane will incorporate stronger, lighter carbon fiber components that will allow it to easily meet Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 103 weight requirements.

The Wiebes, who previously developed and marketed digital forensic computer storage devices as the founders of Wichita-based enterprise, WiebeTech LLC, acquired the tooling, existing parts and manufacturing rights to the aircraft in March of 2009. As a condition of the transaction, they agreed to re-brand the airplane to prevent any confusion with the larger, two-place light sport Kitfox that shares many of the same design features but is owned by another company. Kitfox has recorded more than 4,500 kit sales since its introduction 25 years ago.

An instrument-rated pilot, James Wiebe has applied his creativity and experience to this new venture, developing a proprietary lightweight carbon fiber structure that he is incorporating into the modified airplane’s construction. By converting spars, ribs and struts from steel, wood or aluminum to carbon fiber, he has reduced the airplane’s empty weight to previously unattainable levels, well below the 254-pound limit specified in FAR Part 103 for this type of aircraft.

“This project, which combines my passions for flying and inventing, is exciting on several levels,” Wiebe noted. “From a business perspective, the development and application of our proprietary carbon fiber has lots of potential for other aircraft and in other markets. Its use in this aircraft provides the weight margin that will allow enthusiasts to build it and enjoy the fun of flying it safely and economically. Our proprietary carbon fiber process builds quickly, far faster than aluminum, wood or composite construction. We expect this aircraft to be a practical and popular choice among light sport aircraft,” he added.

Wiebe indicated that he plans to incorporate a number of additional modifications into the design that will further improve the airplane’s performance and versatility. He has reserved exhibit spaces 612 and 615 in the North Display area at the upcoming Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture 2009 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and expects to have an aircraft on display at the show. Additional announcements regarding availability and pricing are expected at that time.

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8 comments:

Ed Downs said...

Hello

I was delighted to see your press release regarding the Kitfox Lite in Aero-News.Net. Congratulations on your decision to place a refreshed version of the Kitfox Lite back into production. My name is Edward Downs. I was the associated with SkyStar Aircraft from early 1999 until my retirement in mid 2004. As such, I was very much involved in the development and tooling for the Kitfox Lite. Although now retired as an alpaca rancher, I continue to consult on aircraft engineering issues and LSA certification standards.

I always considered the Kitfox Lite as one of the most significant designs to emerge from SkyStar and had the great pleasure of flying and demonstrating “Lite” at many air shows. I also personally all test flew all of the ready-to-fly “Lite’s” that were delivered by SkyStar and frequently started my work day with a tip or two around the pattern in the factory demonstrator. In short, I love the little plane.

The LSA movement has caused folks to forget that a terrific plane like the “Lite” can still be flown as a legal 103 airplane. The work you are doing to further lighten the airframe is great and will give you a much improved choice of engines. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and look forward to seeing this fine little plane in the market again.

Best regards,

Ed Downs
Kindred Spirits Ranch

Dave Higdon said...

Folks -- Congrats! As a participant in Ultralights dating back to the late 1970s and onward -- was on staff at Glider Rider Magazine (Now Light Sport & Ultralight Flying) before moving on and eventually covering aviation for the Wichita Eagle -- and now a full-time freelancer.

Hearing that you're bringing this neat little flyer to the Wichita area brightened my day.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you feel you could use any help with media materials -- press releases, photography, consulting, whatever. You can check on some of my work and involvement at the Web sites shown below.

Regardless, hope to get a chance at the Kitfox Lite -- or whatever you rename it -- when you're set up here in the area.

Dave Higdon
AIRSCRIBE@cox.net
www.davehigdon.biz
www.uncontrolledairspace.com

Grant Smith said...

Welcome to the small community of ultralighters. I trust you will find it interesting. I am also a long time ultralighter and engineer/pilot. I would love to assist with the development and promotion and believe that I could possibly offer valuable assistance. You mention the redesigned wing. Will the fuselage be carbonized also?

James Wiebe said...

Hi!

Your comments are wonderful, I really appreciate them. We'll announce some significant details on June 30. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I will publish a little more information on this new airplane, which we will call the "Belite ???" (We don't yet know what the '???' will be. Still figuring that out.

The wing design is completely new, 100%. The spars are composite carbon fiber tubes. The wing ribs are carbon fiber as well. The leading edge is formed from carbon fiber. The lift struts are carbon fiber tubes.

James Wiebe said...

BTW, the fuselage will be 4130 steel. We have converted the firewall, flooring, seat to carbon fiber. The firewall is particularly amazing -- really light, really stiff.

Fabric covering is conventional. We've been covering our demonstrator for the last 2 1/2 weeks. We're using a water based system to cover it with (Stewart Systems) and it has been awesome so far.

UL Pilot said...

Thanks for the additional information. I assume that you are keeping the LE/TE (leading edge/trailing edge) wing spar configuration. Do you have a system for keeping costs low? Do you have a target price? Although I think you will have a great UL, I am concerned about the cost/utility ratio.

Earl Downs said...

Glad to see you are going to bring this delightful airplane back to life. I built one and enjoyed flying it. It is at the top of my list of fun machines to fly. Please keep me posted on the progress and keep me on your press release list.

Earl Downs
Publisher – The Oklahoma Aviator
Cushing, Oklahoma

Quenton Elwood said...

This is exciting! Please be true to your plan to stay under 254 pounds. Too many have tried and failed and resorted to simply claiming they accomplished it when they didn't.