Long time readers of this blog may be aware that I have had training in mountain flying. I’ve been to Idaho many times, and I’ve enjoyed the skills I’ve acquired through mountain flying school and through practice into short, odd airfields. A recent post on this subject concerned several camping trips into the Thomas Creek airstrip. Another post covered, among other thing, a series wasp bites and and description of the gnarly final approach into the Shearer airstrip, deep in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness in Idaho.
I enjoy flying into tight, short airfields that curve, hug terrain, pass by trees, and slope uphill. Ideally, they end in the side of the hill (and offer good camping and fishing nearby).
There is a hayfield next to our primary runway that offers some of these characteristics. It slopes uphill. It has a nice collection of trees. It has bumps. It has quite a bit of grass and weeds. It is relatively short. It is ‘unimproved’.
It is an ideal location for showing the landing capabilities and utility of our airplane. The rough ground is a great demonstrator for our spring landing gear.
I wanted to demonstrate a nice 3 point landing, uphill, through the hayfield. I asked my able assistant Gene Stratton to standby and take pictures. I promised him a series of approaches into landing. As I ‘dialed in’ the strip, I was able to establish a final approach of just a few feet over the weeds at the beginning of the field. (Good mountain flying technique suggests the ability to hit a 50 foot spot… every time. You can do that with a Belite.)
The photos show the story.
|Hayfield Short Final, over the weeds. I love this picture.|
|Over the ‘numbers’, field slopes uphill from here. Another great pic.|
|Wheels kiss down on the Hay|
|Another approach, a little higher|
|Rollout in the hay, uphill.|
|Engine shutdown after taxi back|
|I’m posing by the Superlite|
|Belite Superlite poses in the grass, by the trees. Where’s the trout stream?|
This flight occured on September 28, about 1:30 in the afternoon. I tracked down final, adjusting for the crosswind. (Gene and I talked about my final approach crab angle after we debriefed on the ground, post-flight.) Winds were out of the north, 12 knots gusting to 19 knots. Engine power was set at about 35HP, even though the big Hirth develops 50HP when it’s fully unleashed. Landing direction was ENE; about a 50 degree crosswind. FWIW, Wichita (KICT) Metar weather was:
KICT 281753Z 01012G19KT 10SM SCT044 SCT150 SCT250 24/13 A2998
If you are a potential purchaser, you might compare our Belite with other less capable ultralight aircraft that have stiff gear and no crosswind capabilities and no off-field capabilities and no ChromAloy steel in their structure — in other words, ultralight aircraft that lack safety, strength, and fun.
A Belite exudes utility and usefulness, and is a blast to fly.
— Photo credits: Gene Stratton.