Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Magic Carpet Ride...

On Labor Day, earlier this week, I tried to fly our first production Belite 254 airplane for the very first time. The weather was great, the airplane was ready for its maiden flight.

My friend Terry had flown his faithful Kitfox Lite over from his home base so he could help and see the maiden voyage.

I started with taxi tests, and if those went well, I would proceed to a flight test.

Unfortunately, the taxi tests did not go well that day. We had a problem with the brakes, and so we had to get them fixed before proceeding to the test flight. And then for the next 3 days, the weather was terrible. In one day, Wichita had 5 inches of rain. Not exactly weather for first flights in an airplane.

This afternoon, the rain stopped, the wind eased and the skies cleared enough for a test flight. Terry met me at Jabara so we could give my FAR part 103 legal airplane another try. (FAR Part 103 -- google it! It means you or I can fly it anytime without a pilot's license, without a registration, and without even the need for a medical in this class of aircraft).

The pictures tell the tale. The very light airplane looks fantastic, taxied like a dream, and took off without hesitation. In fact, I got a little higher than what I planned. (This was supposed to be an up and down test hop, straight down the runway.)

I weigh close to 200 pounds, so this particular bird will provide spectacular performance for anyone around 180 pounds or less. Empty weight is currently 239 pounds. The cowling will add another 3 pounds.

We've still got a little work to do before this plane is ready for customer delivery, but not much. For example, one problem is that the airspeed indicator seems to be off by a large amount -- it was indicating far too slow a number. We'll check it against another airspeed indicator very soon.

Another minor glitch is that the cowling is not yet installed on this airplane. It doesn't need it, but it's supposed to be there, we're still a few weeks away from receiving them from our vendor.

I enjoy the feeling of flying right over the runway at a low altitude. It feels like a magic carpet ride. I also enjoy the open frame look on the rear fuselage of this airplane. I wasn't sure, but looking at it now, it looks so sharp!

Do you like to fly? This airplane provides a spectacular experience.

In a few days, we'll have an Inventory tab added to our website, with a complete line item description of this particular airplane. We'll be offering this one Ready To Fly, FOB Wichita, $29,995. It includes a few options that aren't supposed to be in the base configuration, but hey, they are already installed. (For example -- electronic fuel gauge with capacitive sender -- works great -- far better than sight gauge.)

Enjoy, fly safe -- James Wiebe


Talley said...

Video of the flight is on youtube at:

flargh said...

Knowing absolutely nothing about the ultralight aircraft market, please help me understand: It seems like the midwestern U.S. is the hotspot for this industry. Why is that? What is it geographically that's always been so ideal for this business?