Playing Hooky - Going to Class!

I'm sure I won't get much sympathy from readers, but after four days at a show like Sun 'n Fun, I've sort of had enough - at least for a little while. So what do I do? I look for a way to disappear for a couple of hours. Today I followed the advice of Kitplanes contributor Nigel Speedy and found the workshop building in the trees between the forums and the main show. I showed up just in time to find a spot in the Fabric Covering class sponsored by PolyFiber, and since the last airplane I helped to recover was way back in the mists of time (when I was a teenager), I figured I'd get up to speed on modern techniques and methods. Continue reading "Playing Hooky - Going to Class!"

MythBusters: Duct Tape Plane

If your ultralight aircraft were torn up by a bear, could you tape it up with duct tape and fly it home? Mythbusters finds out (video preview).

"Kari, Grant and Tory attempt to use a few rolls of $5 duct tape to replace an aircraft's mauled-to-pieces $13,000 aerodynamic fabric covering. Hmm." Continue reading "MythBusters: Duct Tape Plane"

Superflite Offers Reduced Prices on System I Butyrate

Superflite, a manufacturer of FAA-approved fabric and finish systems, has just announced it has reduced prices on its line of System I butyrate dope. The new prices of the heavy-bodied tinted butyrate range from $18.33 to $27.50 per quart and $66.67 to $108.33 per gallon.

The company offers a large color selection for its tinted dope–from basic whites and yellows, to reds and metallics–in addition to a wide selection of FAA-approved fabrics and tapes. Products are available directly through Superflight. For more information, visit the Superflite booth at EAA's AirVenture, or call 800/323-0611 or visit: www.superflite.com.

Wicks Announces Fall Workshops

Want to get a leg-up on your welding or fabric-covering skills? Wicks Aircraft might be able to help.

The company has announced the dates for workshops this fall to take place at the Highland, Illinois, headquarters.

--September 18 will be a one-and-a-half day covering and painting workshop hosted by SuperFlite. Workshop cost is $200 for EAA members, $225 for non members.

--Two-day TIG welding workshops will take place on September 11-12, October 16-17, November 13-14, and January 8-9, 2011. Workshop cost is $399 for EAA members, $425 for non members.

For more information, visit the Wicks website.

Superflite Practice Kits

Superflite practice kits are now available from Wicks Aircraft supply for builders interested in learning how to work with Superflite finishing materials or who need to make small repairs to a fabric-covered aircraft.

The kits include a comprehensive, illustrated manual and DVD, a yard of Superflite fabric, a 6-inch straight needle, 3 yards of surface tape and an equal amount of rib-stitching cord, a glue gun, “invisible” gloves, a pint of adhesive, a pint of primer base, and equal amounts of primer catalyst and flex agent, plus a quart of reducer. For $125, the kit can provide enough experience that builders may feel comfortable tackling a larger project.

For more information about the practice kits, call 800/221-9425 or visit www.wicksaircraft.com.

Friday at the Golden West Fly In

Friday's attendance at Golden West was small, only about 30% of last year's Saturday attendance. But then I didn't see last year's Friday, so here's hoping that it's up today.

Two Harriers and two F/A-18s gave a good show, as always, and you had to keep one eye on the sky for the frequent fly-by of something out of the ordinary including a U-2 and a C-130.

The real interest on the ground, though, was the number of LSAs being shown. There were quite a few new and interesting aircraft even though the on-the-wheels versions were all in the $120,000 range. That's still too pricey for my pocket and, probably, a lot of others' given the news from Wall Street et al.

If civil aviation is to avoid becoming un-civil, the path will be led by the homebuilders.

The expansion of computers and glass got a boost with the display by Vertical Power. Where the market is nearing glut-stage vis-à-vis flight instruments, Vertical Power is looking inward to examine the health of the aircraft. The display goes beyond listing the voltage in each circuit; it starts by displaying a check list tailored to each portion of the flight and, similarly, displays the appropriate system. For instance, when starting the engine, oil pressure and rpm take the fore. Taxi mode puts those away and displays cylinder head temperature. Takeoff mode brings up manifold pressure.

Similarly, all the electrical parameters are displayed with diagnostics and alarms that certified aircraft can only dream of.

What the customer receives is a package consisting of a display and a black box (it's actually red) weighing only about 5 pounds. While not entirely plug and play, it does make the installation substantially easier in that the circuit protection is entirely within the system and is all solid state.

If you're at that stage of building where the fear of wires is looming large, surf on over to Vertical Power to take a close look.

Also of interest, even if you're not scratchbuilding, is the display by Stewart Systems. They're showing a method for both covering a fabric aircraft and then painting it. No stitching for the former and no smell for the latter make this an especially easy procedure.

We'll be testing this paint in an upcoming issue of KITPLANES.