Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An independent comment on our plane & instruments

From Terry Alley:

I went to BeLite's shop last friday to visit with James Wiebe about changing the engine in my Kit Fox Lite to the Hirth F23 like the one he has in his new Superlite. While discussing the performance of his plane, James had a slip of the tongue and said "you ought to fly that and see what it feels like", I thought he would never ask.

After sliding into the cockpit I took a little time to familiarize myself with his new LED Panel. At first I thought it would be a little confusing trying to read all the lights but once I became familiar with their location, they were quite easy to read and seemed very accurate. I especially liked the Inclinometer and the Turn Rate indicator. Those two may have to find a way into my panel. The altimeter is zero'd before taking off and is only a AGL instrument, but what else would you want in a ultralight. I made several turns into and away from the sun and the LED's stayed visible reguardless of direction and lighting.

Now for my comparison between the original Kit Fox Lite which I have the new BeLite Superlite.

Cosmetically they look the same with the exception of mine having a full covered fuse. The interior, again no changes, other than the panel already mentioned. The only noticable difference in feel was the rudder. Belite has improved their design to use push/pull cables to the rudder. While they make the rudder feel a little stiff, the contol was very positive. Everything else felt the same excpet the power.

My Lite has a 37 hp 1/2 VW which I really love except for takeoff performance. On a hot day it will make you pucker up if you have to climb over some trees on takeoff. But the cruise is a nice 65 once you get there. The Belite had the new Hirth F23 opposed twin 50 hp. When I lined up on the runway and added power before I could look down to see what the RPM was, I was airborne. Not only airborn but I continued to climb at 50 mph and at a pretty steep angle of attack. Needless to say I was impressed.

After making some steep turns and doing a couple of stalls I concluded this new bird has the same great flying characteristics as the original Kit Fox Lite (when I say original that is what I mean as mine is serial #001). I decided to test the new spring shocks that James had just added to the gear that day. This a great replacement for the bungees (which I have had one failure on). I came in across the fence at 50 and let the speed bleed off until a did a nice wheel landing at about 35 to 40 mph. At that point, I added power without letting the tail come down and almost instantly I was off the ground again. The next approach I added one notch flaps and crossed the fence a little less than 50 but holding a little more rpm. The speed bled off and I held it off until the airspeed dropped to just below 35 and it settled on all three wheels for a short rollout. The new spring shocks worked great in softening the touchdown with no bounce at all. I thought it was my landing skill but James assured me it was the new gear.

Conclusion: The Superlite is a great little airplane especially with the F-23 in the nose. If you are looking for a safe reliable plane that is a blast to fly, give James a call. And for all the Kit Fox Lite flyers out there, be thankful James picked this plane up and put it back in production. Any part you might need for your plane just became available plus many upgrades.

Terry Alley
Kit Fox Lite

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