Saturday, June 12, 2010

Airplanes in a box

For many years, I have thought about building an airplane. This goes back many years, when my father and I had the notion of building a Volksplane. In fact, I build a 1/4 scale model when I was doing a lot of models (and a bit a glider flying), powered by a SuperTigre (0.35) engine, which were pretty hard to get hold of in rural Quebec. Still have 'em. Since we're moving, I've started looking into these again. And it is amazing to see how the technology has developed, particularly with the appearance of ultra-light aircraft. I'm currently thinking about something from Fisher Flying Products. The Avenger in the ultra-light configuration is particularly interesting for the rank beginner. The 28 hp Hirth F33 (and here) engine -- single cylinder, two stroke, air-cooled -- is amazing since it weighs in a 35 pounds. Good for 1000 hours between overhauls. Amazing. I think I will go with electric start, recalling just how battered my fingers got starting the SuperTigres, which would either backfire or catch, in both instances chopping your digit with a sharp prop blade. But there are many other options out there. Check out the Challenger. The dream machine would be the BD-5. But that is all metal, a pretty serious machine, and there were problems. The current machine is available from BD-Micro, and powered by a 65 hp two cylinder, two stroke Hirth engine. There are turboprop and jet options.

It is amazing to me that you can fly an ultralight without a license. Thankfully, you can get training from the good folks at USUA and USPPA. Probably a good idea. Helmets are required for motorcycles in North Carolina, unlike Illinois, but I wonder if this includes ultralights. Another good idea in any event.