Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Bird Dog" Utralight Aircraft for sale

Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

We have another 4130 Chromaloy steel fuselage Belite aircraft available for near term delivery at a substantially discounted price.  It is available in a tricycle gear configuration for $15,100 or in a taildragger configuration for $13,900.

Details are important:

a. This aircraft is brand new, and includes a brand spanking new F33 Hirth engine with new prop.
b.  This aircraft is Ready To Fly.
c.  Rear fuselage covering NOT included.
d.  Only the wings are painted, and the color they've been painted is drab olive green --- aka military green.
e.  Tricycle version includes disc brakes.
f.  Taildragger version does not include brakes.
g.  Spring landing gear NOT included.  $400 option.
h.  Includes Polycarbonate windshield.
i.  Does NOT include engine cowling.  $350 option.
j.   If you would like it completely covered and completely painted, add $4000.
k.  Instruments include ASI, Inclinometer, AGL Altimeter, EGT/CHT, and tachometer.
l.  FAR Part 103 legal in either configuration.
m.  Approximate weight is 240 pounds in taildragger configuration, 252 pounds in trike config.
n.  Deposit of $2500 seals the deal.  Call Kathy @ 316 253 6746 if you are interested.
o.  Includes electric start on engine and battery.

These are pics which we delivered of an olive green airplane a while back.  It is exactly representative of this new offering, with full covering, paint:

Belite Tricycle Gear Ultralight Aircraft takes off

Belite Ultralight Aircraft taxis in

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blatant Pitch for G Meter with Near Death experience as illustration

Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

I've always been interested in how strong the bumps are.  A great illustration of this is derived from a terrible mistake I once made as a pilot.

I was in my great big turbo Cessna 206 somewhere over the high plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado.  My passengers and I were eager to get to our fishing and camping destination in Idaho.  Perhaps I was a little too eager...

Because I made a shortcut to my destination and I flew under a developing thunderhead.  I remember seeing, with some sense of awe, the cloud vapor moving from clear air below, straight up into the thunderhead.  In other words, I could see the thunderhead acting like a great big Hoover, sucking up moist (but clear) air from directly below and converting it into cloud vapor as it moved into the thunderhead at a rapid rate.  And for some stupid reason, I flew directly under this monster.

And got sucked up into it.

The plane oscillated between overspeed (well over redline -- I was staring at the airspeed indicator and I remember seeing the it *well over* redline) and something else.  The forces on us occupants varied between negative force (less than 0 G) and something else...  I'd love to have seen the G's.  But I couldn't -- we had no "G" indicator in the cockpit.  (We only had the evidence of things flying all over the cabin during negatives, then returning to the floor during the positives.)

So, many years later, I have designed an instrument that would show all of the G forces --- Belite's G meter.  It shows positive and negative G's on separate scales, up to plus or minus 6 Gs.  It keeps track of the peek values, by blinking the highest extremes observed on both the positive and negative scale.  It uses very little power, runs off 12 volts (actually anything from 8 to 14 volts), and has a tiny little microprocessor in it that keeps track of everything.  And I made it inexpensive, in 3 different configurations (1.75 inch square, 2.25 inch standard round, and portable box).  Since the LEDs are so very bright, it is also dimmable for night usage.

2.25" Round G Meter, with positive and negative scale
 By the way, the thunderhead did spit me out the other side a minute or two later.  I'd been 'flight following' with Denver center.  The controller had observed the altitude and airspeed variations I'd been experiencing, and was kind enough to verify that I was still with him.  I was, and I am still here now.

Please enjoy using our G Meter.  You can see a lot more of it on YouTube here.

And you can purchase it on our webstore, or from Aircraft Spruce, or from Wicks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Harley and me

Please note: James' blog has moved to a Wordpress site. To access it, please visit All posts have been transferred to the new site, and all new posts will only be accessible via Wordpress. Thank you for your interest!

The air temperature had settled to about 82 or 83 degrees.  This felt comfortable; especially in comparison to the brutal days of our earlier summer.  And after rolling down the grass runway and leaving the ground, the air aloft was even gentler and cooler.  And the air was calm.

I was catching a ride in an old friend, and it was a privilege to be a guest in the airplane we've known as 'Harley':

Ultralight Aircraft from Belite Aircraft

The takeoff roll was a little long; a lack of headwind was to blame.  Maybe some of my 200 pounds contributed to the longer roll as well.  Even so, I was able to join along for a comfortable rate of climb.

I noted that the pond off the far end of the runway is still very parched for rain.  A turtle slapped around in the shallows.  I wonder if any fish are living there.  Also, I haven't seen any deer drinking there since last fall.  What will this fall bring?  Harley wondered as well.

A tractor and bailer attachment were ignominiously parked in the middle of a field nearby.  The field offered a helpful place for an off-field landing, should the need arise.  But Harley didn't need it, never had.

The plane turned itself towards the North; I just followed along on the controls.  I was the guest.  A row of cedar pines, very scruffy looking, protected the eastern side of our gliderport, and I was able to greet them and remind them of the presence of the orange and black airplane in which I comfortably sat.  With no wind on the ground, they didn't wave branches to me, but we still saw each other, and we both knew of the special nature of the flight.

The northern field had been plowed; I ignored the horse ranch to the northeast of our field.  The Harley knows that we don't like to fly low and slow over the horse ranches;  I remember the story of (some other) ultralight flying over them and bucking a woman off a horse.  The plane and I respect the horses.  If we choose to fly over them, we seek a respectful altitude first.

A turn towards the runway, and then an overflight of a small group of people who have assembled to take a tour of the Belite facility.  Ostensibly, I am flying as a demonstration for them, but really, Harley is flying as a demonstration for me.

Then a nice turn over the people, and then Harley scoots for a low pass besides some trees on the opposite side of the runway.  Chasing rabbits -- imaginary, very large, very slow rabbits.

This plane was in our 'inventory' for about two years.  I have no idea why.  It was (and is) beautiful.  Nobody wanted it, because it wasn't exactly what they wanted, or we wanted too much money, or something...

Except a few people did want it.

We sold this plane at least twice; one prospective owner changed his mind on buying it after sending in the deposit money.

Harley was down-hearted after hearing that news -- pretty much like the dog left perpetually out at night or the orphan rejected by potential parents, who maybe smiled at the child in a meaningful way, yet lied in their heart at the same time.  Harley developed a sticking set of rings as a result, just like people with emotional pain who develop physical ailments.  My shop manager, Gene, helped diagnose the ring problem and I happily ordered a new set of rings and gaskets from the engine hospital.  No big deal.  Harley was fixed.

One time, Harley had shown me how to do dead stick landings.  I remembered that very well, and you can see it again by clicking on this old post.

Deadstick landing in Ultralight Aircraft

Harley also had suffered from a serious case of ugly cowl syndrome; we'd flown him without a cowl (a long time ago) and also with an aluminum 'bib cowl'.  Although the bib cowl shined up nicely, Harley was always a little embarrased with the bib cowl.  He wanted to be with our other airplanes, the ones with real fiberglass cowls and bumps where the pistons are supposed to be.

I went through a box of his child photos.  I found one of Harley with his bib cowl.:

Utralight Aircraft with Aluminum Cowl
Back then, he had carbon fiber struts (long removed); spring landing gear (still work *awesome*); a full paint job; and a very nice basic panel.  He was long on good manners, both on the ground and in the air, and always managed a smile.

I also found some photos of him playing in the sky:

Harley flying

Harley climbs

Utralight Aircraft in Right Turn

But I'm still flying as Harley's guest.

I ask Harley if I can land, and he agrees.

We turn together toward our grass strip.  I crank in one notch of flaps, and reduce power.  Harley comes in over fence.  I add a second notch of flaps, and reduce power further.

Harley is just over the grass, with nose just high, and a moment later the wheels barely touch down.  No bounce, no jostle.  A moment later, we pull toward the tour group, and the demo flight is over.  Harley sat proudly in the middle of a group of children and Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Sedgwick county, and he helped me answer question after question about ultralight aircraft and how we build them.

After helping Harley get back in the hangar for the night, I chocked one of his wheels and headed over to the assembly room to see how Harley was built.

Harley was left with wings extended, sitting in a hangar with Cessna 182's, gliders, and other Belite parts.  He was very happy to be in the main hangar, and he was important, just as important as the Cessna 182.

Even more important to a gentleman who wanted to fly Harley and help them rediscover their mutual love for flying.

Tomorrow morning, Harley's new owner gets to sit in Harley for the first time.  He has arrived from the east coast to see and take ownership of Harley.

Harley was sold for about $14,000.  Harley was promotionally priced because we wanted to reduce our inventory of steel fuselage airplanes as we bring our larger and lighter aluminum fuselage production online.

BTW, Harley also has a new orange fiberglass cowl.  The alumimum bib skin is gone.

From our Facebook:

Fun fact: Flying our Harley airplane will make you feel rugged and fearless, just like the motorcycle it is named after.

That wasn't true.  But this is true:

Fun fact: Flying our Harley airplane will make you feel that flying is one of the greatest gifts and privileges that God gave us. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aluminum skin for Aluminum Ultralight Aircraft

The CNC cut aluminum skin for the top of the rear fuselage of our aluminum ultralight aircraft was ready to install today.  The entire weight of the top skin is less than 1.5 pounds!

It didn't take long, and it was clecoed in place.  It still needs quite a bit of work, but it is sure fun to look at.

The front compartment is for the fuel tank and baggage, and has a square cutout with radiused corners.  The rear sections are cut out with ellipses to save weight.

Enjoy the picture of work in progress:  (Sharp eyes may notice other interesting things in the room...)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ultralight Aircraft for disabled pilot

A Belite customer challenged us to improve cockpit access for our Belite ultralight aircraft; the customer has some challenges; especially with his legs.  Getting in and out of our aircraft is a real challenge.

As a result, we were pleased to improve cockpit access by lowering the fuselage right side door height.  We cut off the existing steel tube and welded a tube about 5 inches lower; with additional length on the tube to add strength.

Here's a photo:  compare the near and far sides of the fuselage to see the difference in the steel structure.  You can see that the nearer side has a lower entry level.