Saturday, July 4, 2009

Belite Test Hop on Independence Day!

I got up this morning at 6:00am hoping to fly the airplane. A quick look outside showed rain and storm clouds. But the good news was that it was supposed to clear out in an hour or two.

I met up with Terry Alley who has became a faithful advisor on this adventure at around 7:30 at Jabara (AAO) airport. The wind settled down to 11-12 knots nearly straight down the runway. We added 2.5 pounds of ballast to the nose, as the bird was a little tail heavy and slightly out of CG.

We're trying a different engine on the Belite demo plane -- a Compact Radial Engine MZ-34. I'm very impressed -- very smooth power, excellent throttle response, dead simple starting, electric start.

The takeoff roll was short, and I climbed up to what felt like 25 feet off the ground, and flew down the runway. Then I reduced power and settled in to a nice 3 point landing. The video is posted on youtube, search for Belite Aircraft and you'll find it.

This is fun!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Belite Rollout; Todd Tiahrt grins; Many new pictures

Too much happened today.

The day started at 6:00am with a photo shoot of the new plane, Belite 254. We had a photographer come in and shoot an amazing series of photos of the plane as the sun rose. The lighting and weather were spectacular and it just seemed the plane wanted to look good. Sunrise coloring made the oranges in our corporate paint scheme just *pop*. See the photos! I've also posted them on facebook under my username, jamespwiebe.

I added some more pictures which also show the carbon fiber structure of the wing as it went into covering several weeks ago.

We've posted the first good photos of the instrument panel. One of my fellow workers, Gene Stratton, gave it coat after coat to make the wood just shine. We want our demonstrator to look good, and we want people to have a warm feeling when they get in the plane. The wood is a perfect offset to the carbon fiber. BTW, we added a carbon fiber glare panel above the wood, and we added trim around the wood. It's looking really sharp.

This afternoon, our rollout ceremony was held at the Old Town Warren water fountains. Todd Tiahrt was our speaker. While we have no illusions of solving Wichita's laid off aircraft employee crisis, it was still a bright spot for Wichita. Lots of media coverage; two different TV stations ran pieces and I'll bet the paper will have a nice story in the morning. We'll see.

The highlight for me was asking Todd Tiahrt if he'd like to get in the plane, immediately after we'd rolled off the cover. Everyone was walking up and looking at the plane. Todd got in, and he just smiled like a child with a new shiny toy. Made my day. People kept asking questions.

We asked our pastor, Ben Staley, to pray for us. He did so. Thank you Ben!

One gentleman came up to me and said he'd come from England to see what we were doing. Really!?! Well, no, but he was really from England, and would be taking our story back there. He was fascinated.

Many of our friends joined us at Cafe Moderne for some snacks after the event. It was fun. It was good to sit down and relax.

Top 10 questions:

1) What's it cost? A: not yet announced.
2) How fast? A: 55 knots
3) How slow? A: 24 knots
4) Where made? A: in our facility in Wichita
5) Can I work for you? A: send me a resume, but not right now
6) Kit or Built? A: either way works for us.
7) Do I need a pilot's license: A: No. And no FAA airplane registration as well!
8) What should I have to fly it? A: A solo endorsement + additional instruction in a similar airplane.
9) How far does it go? A: about 200 miles.
10) What's it cost? A: back to Question #1.

If you want to catch more Belite news, please follow me on facebook as well.



Monday, June 29, 2009

Video of Belite Aircraft test hop

Below is a link to a Belite aircraft test hop.

The engine installed generates 23hp, but the prop is mispitched in this test, so the engine probably developed about 16hp. (Plus the density altitude was 4500 feet.)

After takeoff, the plane established positive climb and I chopped power shortly thereafter.

We'll expand the test flight envelope later this week.

The big rollout is tomorrow.