CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Light weight Belite aircraft completes successful first flight
Article Type: Mini features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 81, Issue 6
Piloted by James Wiebe, who designed it to comply with FAR Part 103 weight and regulatory requirements, the new Belite aircraft recently made a successful first flight. Officially, unveiled on June 30, the Belite is a single place airplane that incorporates the use of proprietary, lightweight carbon fiber material in the fabrication of struts, ribs and wing spar. It provides the flight characteristics and handling of an airplane while operating under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines that allow it to be flown without a pilot's license.
After an initial circuit of the pattern at Wichita's Colonel James M. Jabara Airport (AAO), Wiebe conducted additional flight and handling characteristics tests during a 90 min session that also included several takeoffs and landings.
For the initial flight, the Belite was powered by a 28 hp MZ-34 engine. Plans call for the installation of larger, more powerful engine prior to the upcoming Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the end of this month. Though flown with a lower power engine and without the cowling installed, the Belite cruised at approximately 54 miles/h. Wiebe subsequently recorded a stall speed of 27 miles/h. The airplane also features an electrical system, MicroAir transceiver, transponder, fuel gauge and a gizmo dock for a Garmin 496 in its panel.
“Flying the Belite for the first time was, for me, an extremely memorable event. While the rest of the country was focused on celebrating independence, I was experiencing it, making lazy circles in the sky above Jabara Airport,” Wiebe observed. “I have never flown in an airplane I built or on which I have designed critical structures before, so this definitely ranks among my most thrilling flying experiences.”
Wiebe had previously conducted high-speed taxi tests and had lifted the gear-off the ground, but had not actually maneuvered or climbed out of ground effect until the evening of July 4. “Once it was airborne, the airplane handled well. With the rear windows we have engineered into the fuselage and the transparent ‘turtle’ deck, the pilot has 360-degree visibility. As flown, the airplane weighed approximately 245 pounds and that included the optional rear window and a full VFR panel. It was especially impressive on landing because it practically hovers before touchdown and can be stopped within a very short distance,” he noted (Figure 1).
For further information, please visit the web site: www.beliteaircraft.com