James Weibe is a busy man. His background, experience and creativity in electronics has enabled him to develop and market the most innovative and amazing range of incredibly light weight panel instruments for experimental and recreational aircraft. Here’s a link to those instruments: Belite Aviation Electronics
However, it’s the other side of his life that I’m more interested in – the development of a range of extremely light and strong single-seat ultralight aircraft. Starting a few short years ago, from the humble beginnings of the Kitfox Lite, James has re-designed and now builds ‘state-of’-the-art’ very light aircraft.
The regulations in USA around these types of aircraft appear at first sight to be very relaxed – no registration required, no pilot license needed to fly them – but in fact, the few rules there are can prove to be very difficult to match. In summary, these rules boil down to: an empty weight limit of no more than 254 pounds (that’s around 115 kilograms for us metric people), carry no more than 5 US gallons of fuel (that’s just 19 litres), have a flat-out maximum power, straight & level speed of 55 knots and a stall speed under 24 knots at maximum weight.
James manufactures these little wonders at his factory near Wichita in Kansas. One of the great things about James is that he always seems to be looking for ways to improve his product.
These small aircraft are perfect for the cash-strapped owner – you can buy ready finished or as a kit; the wings are a one-person fold, so you can store the aircraft in the corner of a shed or hangar; and best of all, they are very easy to fly. There’s a selection of engines, from 28 hp to 50 hp 2-strokes (not my personal favourites) to a 45 hp 4-stroke. I think James has some further exciting announcements coming up in the next few weeks, so link yourself to his website: Belite Aircraft or to his excellent blog: James Wiebe’s Blog, where he tells it all, warts & all. Happy reading!
STOP PRESS! Here’s a link to Belite’s latest aircraft first flight – the ProCub Lite What a magic little aeroplane!