Wichita went through a real cold spell in November, December and January. It was a difficult time to develop and test new aircraft models, but that's exactly what we did this winter. We'll put out official news releases tomorrow morning, and they are chock full of information on our two new aircraft models.
One is a tricycle gear model, and we are calling it the 'Trike'. How original!
The other is a very high performance ultralight, and we are calling it the 'Superlite'. Both were developed in response to the multitudes of feedback we've received on our classic Belite 254 ultralight aircraft.
Both are loads of fun to fly!
I had the joy of doing first flights and test flights on them. The Superlite was easy -- it flies exactly like our Belite 254, only on steroids. The Trike was a little more eventful -- since it used a new tail design, I found our first rigging was off and the first test hop required constant firm forward stick pressure. That was easily corrected, and the Trike turned into a flying (and landing) dream.
I just uploaded a video to our youtube channel, with an in cockpit view of flying the new Trike. Later this week, we'll have a video of the Superlite, especially showing its 'best in the world' takeoff performance. Yes, that's a big statement, but this little airplane can compete with the many of the best certified aircraft for takeoff performance and beat them.
Our aviation publicist guru Dave watched the Superlite takeoff yesterday and tried to take pictures, but he kept framing his takeoff shot, then have the plane disappear out of frame as it shot upward. You'll enjoy reading the news release.
You can visit the youtube video post of the Trike here: and if that doesn't work, just go to youtube and search on Belite Aircraft.
Ever since the start of the year, the number of purchase inquiries on our aircraft have increased considerably. That's probably due to a number of things: we've kicked up our advertising a notch, and we've gotten good press in a variety of magazines, both here in the US and in Europe.
Here's a little bit of weight information on the new Superlite.
SUPERLITE Weight in Pounds, then Kilos:
Aircraft with CF Wings: 142.2 64.9
Windshield: 4.5 2.0
Brakes: 6.0 2.7
HIRTH 50HP 2 Cyl: 78.0 35.5
Engine Mount: 4.0 1.8
Wood 2 blade 60 x 36: 4.5 2.0
BIG Tires: 15.0 6.8
Standard 5.0 gallon: 4.3 2.0
BRS Parachute: 21.0 9.5
Weight Totals in pounds and Kilos: 279.5 127.0
The astute reader and follower of Part 103 regulations will notice two things:
1) The weight is 1.5 pounds more than the maximum for a Part 103 ultralight with a parachute (277.99 pounds). Yes, I know. We've got a few things left to do before this new airplane is ready to deliver: swap the elevator to carbon fiber, swap the tail spring to composite, perhaps remove the tubes from the tires. This will shave the necessary weight. We could also swap out the BIG tires to smaller ones and achieve the weight saving objective, but the big tires look awesome and must be kept.
2) The engine is a 50HP powerhouse, and as a result, the aircraft cruises at greater than 62mph. The legal solution per part 103 is to reduce the engine power via a ground adjustable power stop, and we will do this for our Part 103 customers. But anyone who builds and registers it as an experimental can ignore this and fly it full throttle. When configured this way, you have a 50HP engine with a 280 pound airframe. Do the math, it's an amazing power to weight ratio.
Tomorrow morning, I get in a truck and will be driving these two new aircraft designs down to Sebring, and they will be on display at the airshow there. Hopefully we'll fly one of them as well.
I will also be posting pictures of both aircraft to my Flickr account:
BTW, we've also changed our production from the red plastic fuel tanks to really good looking spun aluminum tanks. They are more durable than plastic, and weigh about the same. We like them a lot!