Up and Down at OshKosh Airventure 2012

I had the opportunity to talk with an attorney for EAA a couple of days ago.  Our conversation wondered from one topic to another:  litigation; ultralights; etc.  All good conversation.

Somewhere, the conversation turned to how legislation (Light Sport, in particular) had hindered….   or destroyed the ability of experimental aviation to provide low cost training and indoctrination to flying wannabes, especially as LSA activity overwhelmed the grass roots of ultralights and illegal light twin seat airplanes.  Yes, I’m mixing up the controversies there, but it’s important to think about.

This would be a good time to look at a picture of my right knee, as I chased cars down the highway in Oshkosh inside the ultralight flight pattern.

My right knee.  In a Belite Ultralight Aircraft.

Back to musings:  Also earlier this week, a lengthy and thoroughly enjoyable conversation with another aviation journalist (who shall not be named) had turned to a discussion as to how cover articles on aircraft are determined by advertising force, and not by what the majority of magazine readers really want to read.

As someone who’s had an aviation cover article, and also as someone who’s advertised in magazines, and as someone who has approached trends with a perpendicular (and occasionally blind) attitude, and enjoys proving that those who claim they are right, are in fact wrong, I guess I’ve got nothing to worry about.

But I worry anyway.

This would be a good cover photo for an aviation magazine:

Backyard Flyer at Osh12

Yes, that is my direct competitor, the Backyard Flyer.  I happen to like this plane for what it is:  a pure flying machine without pretentions as to how it should look.  I notice that it is using Hoerner wingtips — and has a four stroke engine, like we now do as well.  I believe he’s sporting a 48 or 50HP engine; (we’re flying well on 28HP, but can go to 50HP too).  His airframe is a little draggy, but that’s OK.

Up and Down?

The big thing at the Oshkosh ultralight field is to be able to demonstrate takeoff performance — no matter what the flight briefers say, people climb out at ridiculous and unsafe angles.  I protest.

I brought my WoW plane, which looks suspiciously like a loaf of bread, and I enjoy flying it very much at Osh12, because it rises nicely.  The plane does not climb like bat out of hell with 28HP, but after it climbs, it does cruise at 62mph, which is the legal FAR Part 103 max cruise speed.  In fact, when we put bigger motors on it, it has to be slowed down to be legal.

I wish people could see and feel the breeze flying by as I cruise around the pattern.

So I take a picture of the instruments and document the flight condition:

Belite Instruments in flight.

What’s the condition?

Fuel tank:  about half full.
Turn condition:  not turning.
Inclinometer Bubble:  slightly left wing low.
AGL (altimeter):  300 feet above Terra Firma, per briefer and Osh12 requirements.
G Meter:  1 G positive, slight burble below that noted.
Phantom Instrument:  Missing.
VSI:  neither up nor down.
Steam Gauge ASI (left side of panel):  just under 100 KPH (62 MPH).
Age of Aircraft:  7.8 hours Hobbs
Aluminum on panel:  shiny.
Battery condition:  10.84 volts
Windshield:  slightly blurred

I wish I could photograph the breeze.  It is wonderful.  Why aren’t you there?

I can photograph the Osh12 field:

Osh12 airport, lots of green, out of Belite Ultralight Aircraft

I go down.  I land.

A huge storm rolls through in the afternoon, and I am surprised that a bunch of planes aren’t blown away.  Here’s what a Metallic Burgundy Belite looks like after a hard rain:

Rain on Belite

But the break in the rain gives us a chance to wipe it down and make it look good:

Rain removed from Belite Aircraft

In fact, it just looks awesome.  My spirits rise as I look at the finish.  I realize that our covering (Metallic Burgundy Adhesive Vinyl) has completely cocooned the wing in a waterproof covering.  I like the winglets.  I like the expanded flaperons.  I like the way the WoW plane has just floated off the ground when I start the takeoff roll.   I like the way it floated to a really slow, really soft landing every time.

Many people come up to our booth, and ask us questions and make comments all day long.  They go something like this:

1)  Are these ultralights?
2)  Can I get it in a 2 seat version?
3)  Tell me about your four stroke 1/2 VW engine.
4)  How does the flaps / aileron intermix?
5)  What does it cost?
6)  How do you put on that covering?  Is that Dacron underneath?
7)  How will it fly with me?
8)  Do I weigh too much?  (This is never asked directly.)
9)  Are 2 strokes reliable?
10)  How does it fly?
11)  How long have you been doing this?
12)  What are the differences between your steel and your aluminum fuselage?
13)  I want to use your instruments.
14)  If I lose my medical, I’m buying your plane.

I enjoy the human interaction, but I also want to fly.  I want to get people up in the air and see and feel what I am seeing and feeling.  People need to see and feel on a higher plane.

The frustration of explaining it all gets me down.  Some (many) get it; some (many) don’t.

Mrs. Belite

My wife is at the show, and is managing all of the details.  We both get some good rain dumped on us when we’re caught outside as the big storm rolls through.  It’s fun!  We survive the rain, and she ends up with one of her amazing big smiles!

A Kitfox Lite shows up in the pattern at Osh12, and I’m pleased.  This airplane design has affected my life for over 3 years now.  (I bought the tooling some time ago.)

Kitfox Lite in the pattern at Osh12

This particular example of a Kitfox Lite has a few replacement parts on it that the owner purchased from Belite.  Thankyou!

Speaking of my wife, she looks through my collection of photos and selects one as a new favorite for Belite’s Facebook page.  I think it was this one:

Belite UltraCub at Osh12.  Ultralight Aircraft.

Getting up at 6:00am in the morning for the 6:30 daily briefing gets me down.  I’m not an early riser.

Good night,


5 thoughts on “Up and Down at OshKosh Airventure 2012

  1. I really want to learn to fly, but just to fly. That is why I'm interested in Ultralights. Unfortunately I've found out that I can't really learn to fly ultralights – I have to learn to fly a LSA. Bummer. Thanks for posting. I've enjoyed following your blog. Hopefully someday I can buy one of your planes.

  2. Several of the two seat ULs got reclassified as LSAs, but fly just like ULs, so getting some training in them would be directly applicable. Also, I'm sure James has said in the past that the Belite flys very similar to the Cessna 152, so training in a non-LSA would be directly applicable as well.

  3. It isn't so much that it is directly applicable or not. I'm sure I would learn just fine, but I cannot go to my local ultralight field and take a few lessons in an UL. I've called around and been told to go to my local airport to take some lessons in a LSA. It is more expensive and more to the point – not what I want to do.

  4. Well, one thing I recognized years ago was that there was a strong correlation between living UL pilots and UL pilots with a private pilot certificate, or at least a lot of private pilot training. People with "just" UL training flying ULs tended to die at a much higher rate. If fact, Belite at one time said they wouldn't sell a Belite to someone that didn't have some time towards a private cert, although I think they've backed off of that now.

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