While nosing around in the Belite shop earlier this evening, I noticed that they were preparing to pull the wraps off their new aircraft floats. It is clear they plan to announce at Oshkosh: but at what price?
I was able to gather some basic technical information, and also take some pictures, which I’ve pasted below.
We’ve been working on our carbon fiber processes… and in anticipation of some absolutely crazy stuff in 2013 (EG, an amphibious version of a Belite, for which we already have a firm order with deposit), some additional weight savings are necessarily on the development plate to accommodate the big amphibious floats in a legal Part 103 Belite ultralight aircraft.
So here’s a sneek photo of Belite R&D: a carbon fiber stabilator (combination elevator / horizontal stabilizer).
Carbon Fiber Stabilator, Lucky and Chance check it out
In our Belite ultralight aircraft, we occasionally make and use a carbon fiber / plywood laminate. This makes a very nice looking and strong panel, yet is very thin. It is capable of holding a lot of load when suspended across a frame, for instance, a seat bottom. (Double sided applications would probably be used with other cores than thin plywood.)
I recently made some of this magic thin carbon fiber / plywood. I documented the production steps so you can see how we do it.
In order to do this, we’ll use some thick beveled glass, tacky tape, a vacuum pump and some vacuum tubing, bagging film, peel & ply film, fluffy cloth padding, epoxy, and of course, — carbon fiber and plywood.
I have some really stunning load test pictures of our aluminum and carbon fiber spars. But before we get going on them, here is some necessary preamble, given our recent fantastic showing on MythBusters:
If you are looking for Belite Aircraft’s production photos from MythBusters, click here. We were thrilled to be part of the “Duct Tape Plane” episode!
If you would like to follow James’ tweets, @jamespwiebe is the handle to find on twitter.
I am planning to give a forum at OSHKOSH on how to make a Carbon Fiber elevator. PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND! Thanks.
The Carbon Fiber elevator which is depicted here WEIGHS LESS THAN 3 POUNDS! And it is stronger than steel.
Carbon Fiber offers benefits which make it vastly superior to 4130 chromalloy steel in many applications. Careful design is required, though, in order to take advantage of Carbon Fiber’s incredible strength and stiffness. Belite’s Carbon Fiber elevator upgrade swap is an available upgrade for any Belite (or Kitfox Lite replacement aftermarket) which will provide a lighter part with far higher strength and better aerodynamics. This part is available in kit form for a price of $350 over the regular elevator. (You can find it on our kit pricing spreadsheet here as line item #55. Remember, this is an upgrade price over the steel elevator (which is separately priced at $399.95). A straight purchase of this Carbon Fiber elevator kit is $399.95 + $350 = $749.95)
I received a call from my daughter earlier today. She’s currently a counselor at Camp Quaker Haven and it was the first time I’d heard her voice since she left last week. She’s also our ‘corporate cinematographer’, and has produced almost all of the videos that Belite has posted on Youtube.
“Hey Dad,” she said. “Did you know that I posted another Belite video before I left Wichita?”
No, I didn’t know that.
It’s great having a cinematographer in the family! More video to show people what we are doing.
I had taken quite a bit of video, shot from my Point Of View, while flying the Superlite several weeks ago. It does a great job of showing the world flying by while piloting an agile single seat airplane. You can see it here:
Also, we shot some video of our Trike a few weeks ago. It’s just a series of bunny hops, mostly up and down the runway, but it shows the gentle landing characteristics of the Trike.
(A little off topic: I flew both of these planes earlier today, in Kansas strong winds. They handled the wind with no difficulty).
The Trike has free castering nosewheel steering. You turn the airplane by applying either left or right heel brake. I’m reminded of when I first flew a Grumman Cheetah back in 1978 or 1979: ground handling works basically the same.