Thursday, March 29, 2012

Really Cool WoW Plane Photos

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 just got pictures today.  Here's some more photos Gene took today at Sun N Fun 2012:

Blue Skies, Belite Ultralight Airplane

Severe Climb Angle? with Belite Ultralight Airplane

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weight of WoW ultralight airplane

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!

Day 2 at Sun N Fun:

Flying, showing instruments, talking to people, enjoying the weather.

Belite Ultralight Aircraft climbing out at Sun N Fun, Day 2

From the start of the takeoff, I could get to 300' altitude before the water tower turn.  With a 28HP engine.  Lots of people watching...   WoW.

Here's the estimated weight breakdown on the WoW plane:

1 Basic Airplane.   224.5
2 Carbon Fiber spar upgrade saves weight. -9.0
3 Metal Priming 0.9
4 Light Steel fuselage swap -3.5
5 Steel spring gear upgrade 2.2
6 Add electric start, wiring system, battery, battery box to base engine 6.5
7 Swap in Full Belite Instrumentation 0.0
8 Install Fuel Sender in fuel tank, wiring 0.6
9 550 pound Air Rocket Parachute - installed 17.0
10 Lightweight Lift Strut Swap - 2024 T3 -3.5
11 Upgraded Aluminum Fuel Tank 2.2
12 Complete Fuselage Fabric & Complete Paint 9.0

Subtotal 246.9

Other Options

1 Tip Lights 2.2
2 Spinner 0.8
3 Streamlined Lift Struts 6.0
4 Built Panel Bulkhead 2.2
5 Rear Fuselage Treatment 2.2
6 Heavy Elevator 3.0
7 Adjustable Elevator Trim 1.7
8 Adjustable Rudder Trim 0.6
9 Dots 2.0
10 Hydraulic Tip Brakes 2.0
11 Hoerner Tips 3.5

Total 273.1

I am so impressed with what this airplane's advancements has done for our aerodynamic performance.  WoW!

Belite ultralight airplane in cruise flight at Sun N Fun 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I flew the WoW plane today

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!

More from Sun N Fun, 2012.  Gene took lots of great photos of the WoW plane from Belite while I was flying it today.  Very nice photos, all posted on Flickr.

Here's some of the really good pics:

Belite ultralight airplane rotating into climb

On Short Final, officials watching

Flarint to a nice landing

Rolling Out

Here's some photos of the details on the plane:

Hydraulic Toe Brakes

Instrument Panel in Belite aircraft

News conference in the morning....  More tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fact Sheet on the WOW ultralight aircraft

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!

Ultralight Aircraft, WOW style, from Belite
High Res Photos of the WoW plane on our Flickr site.

Fact Sheet on the WoW ultralight airplane from Belite – in no particular order:

  1. NAME.  We call it the WoW plane because of the amazing paint scheme and the amazing combination of features it has.
  2. AMAZING PAINT SCHEME.  The aircraft is painted in Insignia White from Stewart Systems, with multi-colored dots of various sizes floating off the airframe.  I came up with the idea of floating dots.  If you think it looks like a bread wrapper, well… hmm.
  3. BASE AIRCRAFT KIT.  This ultralight aircraft is an example of many different ideas, all built into one Belite Aircraft.  Any skilled aircraft builder could make this airplane, starting with our base kit. 
  4. KIT PRICE.  Our base kit is priced at $7000, including a discount of $2000 at Sun N Fun, after show discount.  That includes just about everything required to build an ultralight airplane, firewall back.  (Regular price, non-show, $9000.)
  5. CARBON FIBER SPARS.  This ultralight aircraft has carbon fiber spars.   They are a $2200 option.  They save about 9 pounds and add considerable strength.
  6. HYDRAULIC BRAKES.  The aircraft has been fitted with hydraulic tip brakes.  From Grove Aircraft.  The tip brake design is ‘one-off’ (not documented in our build manual), but builders are encouraged to innovate and copy what we have done.
Hydraulic Toe Brake in Belite Ultralight Aircraft
  1. COWLING.  The cowl is constructed from fiberglass, and is optional in our kits.  The plane flies fine without a cowl.  It also flies fine with a cowl.  The cowl weighs less than 3 pounds.  We do not include it in our flying weight, because it is removable for flight. (BTW, the pictures don't show the cowl attached.  We just got it fitted on today, and we'll have more pictures tomorrow.)
  2. AIRCRAFT WEIGHT.  The plane weighs about 275 pounds, including parachute.  The legal maximum weight for an ultralight aircraft with parachute is 278 pounds.
  3. ENGINE.  The engine on this plane is a Hirth F33, producing 28HP.  It weighs about 47 pounds, including the muffler.  It uses premix oil/fuel, at a 90 to 1 ratio.
  4. PROPELLER.  The propeller is a 58 x 22 wooden propeller from Tennessee Propellers.  It is very lightweight and sturdy.
  5. FUSELAGE.  The fuselage is constructed from our 4130 chromaloy steel.  However, this same airplane could have been constructed from our aluminum fuselage option.
  6. MORE ON THE FUSELAGE SHAPE.  The rear fuselage and the bottom fuselage was ‘built up’ with a series of angle aluminum longerons to add cross section shape, then covered with fabric.  You can see the internal aluminum structure by looking inside the fuselage, from the cockpit.  This helps make the airplane look like any other ‘real’ airplane.
WoW Ultralight Aircraft from Belite, viewed from underneath.  Note wingtip detail (Hoerner style), note nav lights; also note underneath fuselage shape detail and elevator trim tab detail.
  1. STRUT FAIRINGS.  Notice that the struts are faired, providing a streamlined strut structure.  Very nice.
  2. LANDING GEAR ‘A’ ARMS.  These are also faired and covered with fabric.  So is the cross bar, under the fuselage, connecting the landing gear together.
  3. SPRING LANDING GEAR.  The main landing gear use steel springs, replacing bungees.  They make hard landings soft and also make taxiing a lot more comfortable. 
  4. INSTRUMENT PANEL.  The panel is made from ultralight weight Belite Electronics instruments and and the entire panel runs off of a single 9 volt battery.  Battery life is about 8 hours.  Current usage for the entire panel is about 55 milli-amps.  The panel could also run off any power source (including ship power) between 9 and 14 volts.  If you look at the plane, you can see the battery velcroed behind the panel.  The panel is completely removable by removing the wing nuts on the four corners.  The missing instrument is the airspeed indicator --- oops!  Sorry!  I frequently fly without instruments so it’s not a big deal to me.   The entire panel weighs about 12 ounces.  We do not include it in aircraft weight because it is removable and not required for flight.  I cut the panel aluminum on our ShopBot.  We can make nice panels in just a few minutes, from CAD on the computer to finished product.  Very cool.  Here's a pic of a similar panel, on display:
Instruments from Belite Electronics, for experimental and ultralight usage
  1. PANEL STRUCTURE.  In the WoW airplane, notice that the instrument panel is connected to a classic aluminum structure, built from bent aluminum sheet metal and faired around the cross bracing under the windshield.  Very nicely done.
  2. WING DESIGN.  All of Belite’s aircraft utilize an expanded span and chord (25’ 2” span; 40” chord).  As a result, Belite’s wing produces more lift at slow speeds, which makes it ideal for ultralight operation.  (But the wing in the WoW plane has even greater span, due to the Hoerner wingtips… see below.)
  3. FLAPERON DESIGN.  All of Belite’s aircraft utilize an expanded flaperon, with a 12” chord.
  4. HOERNER WINGTIPS.  This aircraft was built with a one-off Hoerner wingtip design.  This increases span and reduces tip vortices in flight, causing better lift and reduced drag.  In other words, better performance low & slow. A while back, I wrote a nice explanatory post on Hoerner wingtips.
Hoerner Wingtip on Belite Ultralight Airplane

  1. HORIZONTAL STABILIZER / ELEVATOR.  These control surfaces are built with an aerodynamic cross-section.  This gives better control and smoother flight characteristics, due to drag reduction.  The stabilizer has a 2024 T3 spar; the elevator spar is built from Chromalloy steel. 
  2. RUDDER TAB.  Note the ground adjustable rudder tab.  Very nicely done.  This is another ‘one-off’ feature which I would encourage our customers to copy.
  3. ELEVATOR TAB.  Note the inflight adjustable manual elevator tab.  The control lever is to the left of the pilot’s sight.   It runs to the rear of the airplane using a single Bowden cable.
  4. FLAPERON CABLES.  The flaperon cables are very low friction.  In flight, the aircraft feels like the control surfaces are on ball bearings.
  5. TAIL WHEEL SPRING.  Constructed from spring steel, we have them made for us by a local spring vendor.
  6. POSITION / NAVIGATION LIGHTS.  We’ve equipped this ultralight airplane with position lights.  This allows ultralight flight for 30 minutes after sunset.  
  7. ‘Y’ CNC MACHINED LIFT STRUT FITTINGS.  There are several machined parts which we make at Belite, on this airplane; the strut lift fittings at the base of the fuselage are a great example.  They are hogged out of solid aluminum.
  8. LIFT STRUTS.  The lift struts are constructed from 2024T3 aluminum, 1.00 x 0.035 wall, on this airplane.  This is a builder option.   It is lighter than 6061T6 aluminum.  (The lift struts are covered with the plastic extruded fairings.)
  9. FOR SALE?  Hmm.  Good question.  This was built to be our demonstrator and also to be James’ personal ultralight airplane.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wow Plane

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!

It's time for Sun N Fun.

We had very little fun preparing for Sun N Fun -- it was Rain N Pain in Wichita for four days, and our field was flooded.  The gang was working nearly non stop, working on preparing 3 planes.  One was a customer delivery, and it had highest priority.  Another was a show plane, which we did not finish in time.  The third was a technology demonstrator, which we call the Wow Plane and it also would be going to Sun N Fun.  Mike had been working hard on the Wow Plane for several months, and the rest of our gang was working on finishing it up.

The rain ended Thursday night, and a walk of the flight field on Friday morning showed a diagonal path across the runway which avoided puddles and headed into the wind.  We had to fly the Wow plane!

So we rolled out the Wow Plane.  Around 4 in the afternoon, it took to the air for the first time.



Phenomonal crisp climb with only 28HP.  Flight controls as if they were on ball bearing rails.  Lots more.

And you'll find out lots more, soon, in a news release from Belite Aircraft.

The Wow ultralight airplane from Belite aircraft
You can see more pictures of this cool plane immediately on Belite's flickr account.