Friday, July 2, 2010

A great trailer for hauling an ultralight aircraft

How do you trailer an ultralight airplane?

A common question concerns trailering our Belite ultralight aircraft.  For long distances, nothing beats a covered trailer.  But for short distances, a boat trailer works great for hauling the aircraft between your home and the airstrip.  You just have to do a little work to make it work perfectly.

My friend, Terry Alley, bought a boat trailer and modified it to haul his Kitfox Lite around.  I recently borrowed his trailer to haul a Superlite from our hangar, over to my Church for a car show.  (And that's another story, how our airplane ended up being the only airplane at a car show.)

Here's a pic which shows the Superlite on the trailer. Note the trailering bar which are attached to the leading edge of the wing, down to the strut attachment point.  (This provides rigidity to the wing, so that it is not damaged while trailering.)  Also note how the ramps have been set at just the correct width to allow the plane to roll backwards and onto the trailer:

Here's a pic of the airplane on the trailer from the side.  Note that the trailer is exactly the correct length, so that the tailwheel is by the ratchet lever:

Here's pic of the aircraft from the front of trailer, looking back.  You can see a gust lock on the elevator/stabilizer on the right side:

The airplane is just a little long for this trailer, so the tailwheel springs have been disconnected, and the tailwheel twisted 180 degrees backwards.  The tailwheel fits into the steel channel which is part of the original trailer.  Note the ratchet drum (which isn't used for anything anymore) and also note the center 'V' channel which Terry mounted on the trailer.  This is for the tailwheel to 'roll up' the trailer as the aircraft is backed onto it.

After the airplane is loaded, the wheel ramps rotate up and are bungeed in place.  This locks the wheels and the aircraft onto the trailer.  Also note the wooden plank across the rear of the trailer.  This was put on the trailer so the aircraft tires would have a solid place to rest.

You can't see it here, but some straps are used on the other side of the wheel to lock the landing gear strut in place, so it can't roll at all.  I also use some extra bungees around the landing gear to the boat trailer, as good redundancy.

In this pic, you can see the red nylon straps.  You can also see our awesome steel spring landing gear on the Belite:

Don't forget to tie the tailwheel to the front of the trailer.

Also, don't forget to install solid gust locks on the rudder and the elevator.

And that's really all there is to it.  Trailering a FAR part 103 ultralight is easy; so is trailering any small experimental aircraft.  I hope this gives you some good ideas on how to make a great, inexpensive trailer for hauling your aircraft around town and out to the airstrip.

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