The new Belite aircraft made its first flight on July 4.
Officially unveiled 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. The first flight of the LSA was made by James Wiebe, who modified the Kitfox Lite design into the new Belite.
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-minute session that included several takeoffs and landings.
For the initial flight, the Belite was powered by a 28-horsepower MZ-34 engine. Plans call for the installation of a larger, more powerful engine prior to the upcoming EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh at the end of this month. Wiebe has reserved exhibit spaces 612 and 615 in the North Display area at AirVenture. He will also have an aircraft on display in the Low Cost Flying Pavilion.
Though flown with a lower power engine and without the cowling installed, the Belite cruised at approximately 54 mph. Wiebe subsequently recorded a stall speed of 27 mph. 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,” Wiebe said. “While the rest of the country was focused on celebrating independence, I was experiencing it, making lazy circles in the sky above Jabara Airport. 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.
For more information: www.beliteaircraft.com