Competition Aircraft Moves to New Facility, Offers 1982 Prices

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20 Years in Production

Ultra-Prop propeller manufacturer Competition Aircraft, in continuous production since 1982, has moved to a new 5,600-square-foot facility. Company owner and president Bob Davis says, "The new location will give us plenty of room for continued research and development on propellers and other ultralight products. And, to commemorate our 20-year anniversary, we're offering our line of 2-, 3- and 4-blade Ultra-Props at 1982 prices until June 1, 2003."

Competition Aircraft says they introduced the first successful composite propeller in 1982 and has manufactured more than 14,000 units. "We are the only company that uses thermoplastics to make propellers," says Competition Aircraft. "About 50,000 blades have been injection molded from one mold. This process and careful quality control means that all blades are interchangeable, even with parts that are 20 years old."

Other composite props, including Competition Aircraft's high-performance Brolga blades, use thermosets ­ a wet, hand-laid-up process with epoxy resins, requiring a family of many molds and oven cure. Each blade has to have a final balance and usually is one of a match set. This process makes a great blade, however the method is very labor-intensive, says the company. A variety of blades can be easily manufactured since the tooling is relatively inexpensive.

Contrast that with an injection mold that cost the company $50,000 in 1982 but can make a perfect blade every 3 minutes. "That cost is probably why no other propeller company has used thermoplastics," says Davis. "The prop hubs and pitch blocks are also injection molded. We plan to further develop a new process that will use thermoplastic impregnated glass and carbon fibers to make prop blades."

The company is also working on a twin-engine ultralight helicopter.  

Info: Competition Aircraft, 10925 Shire Ct., Dept. UF, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Phone: (888) 634-9839 * Fax: (530) 268-2321 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


New Hook Knife Could Save Your Life

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Benchmade Knife Company Enters "Rescue Market"

Benchmade Knife Company's Rescue Hook safety knife is machined from high-quality 420HC steel with a satin (right) or black oxide finish and comes with either a soft belt sheath (shown here) or a molded plastic "snap fit" hard sheath (not shown).

Say you're flying your ultralight over a large lake and suddenly the silence is deafening. Your engine has unexpectedly quit. You are now flying a glider.

You've planned ahead for this possibility, so you have enough altitude to glide engine-off to the other side of the lake, but as you approach the shore, you see there are no suitable emergency landing areas there. You're not flying an amphibian or an ultralight with floats, so a water landing near the approaching shoreline may be your best (or only) option. You check your seat belt in preparation for what may be a hard landing and sudden stop in the water.

You're prepared, right? But what if, once you've touched "aqua firma," your safety harness release fails or you fumble and waste precious time as your ultralight sinks below the surface. In aviation, pilots rarely have to consider the risk of drowning, but you are now suddenly faced with exactly that possibility if you can't undo your seat belt before your plane sinks.

You say you never fly over water (perhaps preferring to fly around it)? Well, there are other circumstances that may require a quick exit from your cockpit. What about the risk of fire after a crash?

A rescue hook knife could save your life by quickly and easily slicing through your webbing seat belt. Any time you have to quickly get out and away from your ultralight in an emergency situation, a rescue hook knife offers great "just in case" insurance to overcome a stuck seat belt release mechanism.

"The Model 5 Rescue Hook is razor sharp and will cut through fibrous material like a hot knife through butter," Benchmade says. "All without danger of inadvertent blade exposure to any surrounding items ­ including the user's fingers. It is small enough to attach to your gear or flight suit to be there when you need it." Benchmade Knife offers both hard (molded Delrin® plastic) and soft (nylon fabric) sheaths for their hook knife. The soft nylon sheath features a hooded pocket with Velcro® closure for easy belt carry, while the hard sheath snap-fits over the Rescue Hook's cutting end.

"The Model 5 Rescue Hook offers the ideal means to readily slice through security belts, rope (up to 3/8-inch diameter), webbing, clothing, as well as a multitude of other fibrous materials," the company says. "Its unique design serves to provide an extremely sharp cutting edge in situations where using a knife would either pose a safety issue or simply slow the reaction time for efficient rescue.

Benchmade's Rescue Hook knife also has a lanyard hole (for the break-away tether for neck carry, provided standard), and the finger hole doubles as a handy bottle opener. For emergency medical technician (EMT) use, the Model 5 also features a built-in oxygen bottle valve wrench.

Benchmade Knife Company is well-known to knife collectors, and has at least several of their knives in the 12,000-piece cutlery collection of Chattanooga, Tennessee's National Knife Museum. The company was founded in California in '88, and since '96 has had their corporate offices and manufacturing plant in Oregon City, Oregon.

The sample Model 5 Rescue Hook knife sent to UF! was a high-quality (I would say even heirloom-quality) example of what the specialty knife and cutlery company produces. Suggested retail price for Benchmade's Model 5 Rescue Hook knife is $25 (with either the satin or black oxide finish and the soft sheath), or $35 (with either finish and the hard sheath).

- Buzz Chalmers

Catalog: free. Benchmade Knife Company, 300 Beavercreek Rd., Dept. UF, Oregon City, OR 97045. Phone: (503) 655-6004 * Fax: (503) 655-6223 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

GT Manufacturing Develops Xtralite SkyCycle Trike

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Uses 25.5-Horsepower Simonini 2-Cycle Engine

Right: GT Manufacturing's redesigned SkyCycle trike (called the Xtralite SkyCycle), flies below the ridge of Lookout Mountain, world-renowned for soaring. Shown here, the Xtralite is fitted with a state-of-the-art Wills Wing double-surface "topless" (no kingpost or upper rigging) Fusion 150 hang glider for its wing. Below: The single-seater features the 25.5-hp Simonini Mini Plus 2-cycle engine spinning a 2-blade wood prop as standard. Other engines are available on the Xtralite trike.

It began as the Freedom Machine,* a lightweight single-seat trike ultralight designed to be capable of using actual hang gliders for its wing (as opposed to most trikes which employ hang glider-type trike wings specifically designed for heavier trikes). Soon renamed the SkyCycle trike by GT Manufacturing designer and owner Matt Taber, the single-seater appealed to hang-glider-pilots-turned-trikers and other ultralighters looking to soar high in thermals without having to make a long drive to the mountains just to find the best launch site to foot-launch their hang gliders. GT Manufacturing is a sister company to Taber's Lookout Mountain Flight Park, the number-one training center in the U.S. for graduating mountain-qualified hang glider pilots. The SkyCycle's claim to fame may well be its ability to "thermal" like a hang glider ­ to turn the engine off and rely on Mother Nature's natural elevator to the heavens, riding the rising air currents to cloudbase.

At first, the SkyCycle used the 22-hp Zenoah G25B-1 single-cylinder 2-cycle engine from Japan for its powerplant (still available as an option). But Taber redesigned the SkyCycle and cut 20 pounds from the weight by utilizing thin-walled TIG-welded 4130 chromoly steel for the trike carriage and employing a lighter (and more powerful) 25.5-hp Simonini Mini Plus 2-cycle engine from Italy. Electric start is a standard feature on the Simonini engine. The lighter weight of the new model ­ called the Xtralite SkyCycle ­ enhances its ability to soar (gain altitude engine-off in rising air).

"This is a true lightweight portable soaring solution," Taber says. "The idea is to fly this machine into the sky and find a thermal, then turn the engine off and challenge yourself to stay up using no engine power." The total (gross) weight of trike carriage, wing, fuel and pilot is important in soaring ­ and the less weight the better. GT Manufacturing lists the empty weight of their Xtralite SkyCycle trike carriage at 80 pounds, and the weight of the Xtralite including a typical wing as 135 pounds.

"The Xtralite weighs in at an incredible 80 pounds, not including the wing," GT Manufacturing says. Pilots can use the hang glider of their choice as the Xtralite's wing. To be used, most modern hang gliders require no modification except beefing up the side wires, GT Manufacturing indicates. The company will assist in fitting each Xtralite pilot to the best choice of wing for their trike.

"Many people are concerned with buying the fastest wing," Taber points out. "But that's not the most important feature of a wing. Most soaring pilots wish to be in the air with an easily controlled and forgiving wing to have fun, not just cover the most distance. Ease of flying and stability of the wing are more important to the typical soaring trike pilot."

GT Manufacturing also touts the portability of their Xtralite SkyCycle. "The unit will fold down into an easily managed structure on wheels, which fits in the bed of a pickup truck or inside a minivan," the manufacturer says. "Most hang glider wings fold up in 15 minutes and will easily transport on an auto roof rack."

What about performance? "The Xtralite packs plenty of power for any pilot," the company says. "Pilots must choose a wing which will accommodate their weight plus the 80 pounds of the machine.

"Performance characteristics with most recreational hang gliders used for the wing are very impressive," GT Manufacturing claims. "The Xtralite trike with the standard Simonini engine requires only 75 feet of runway to take off, and can crank out 500 feet per minute of climb."

Standard features of the Xtralite include: Simonini Mini Plus 2-cycle engine with electric start and 2-blade wood prop, foot throttle, custom GT 5-point shoulder harness pilot restraint, comfortable GT fabric sling seat and removable 3-gallon polyethelene fuel tank.

Options include a fiberglass fairing package (for the trike carriage), fiberglass wheel pants, instruments (EGT, CHT, tach, hourmeter), faired GT saddlebags (designed to fit a hand-deployed emergency parachute), hand-deployed parachute or ballistic BRS emergency parachute, and custom floats.

The price for GT Manufacturing's single-seat Xtralite SkyCycle trike (without wing) is $5,500. "The friendly folks at Lookout Mountain Flight Park will help fit each pilot to the best choice of gliders," GT Manufacturing says.

*See "Industry Watch: Freedom Machine 'Soars' on the Market," July '98 Ultralight Flying! magazine

­ Buzz Chalmers

Discovery (introductory) flight: $99. Info: free. GT Manufacturing, 7201 Scenic Hwy., Dept. UF, Rising Fawn, GA 30738. Phone: (706) 398-3541, toll-free: (800) 688-5637 * Fax: (706) 398-2906
e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Red Hot Antenna Aids Communication

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The Red Hot Antenna is mounted above the cockpit on this Kolb FireStar taildragger to protect it in case of an inadvertent nose-over, and also to give the radio system better transmission/reception capability. Left: Doyle Langford sells the antenna system, complete with BNC connector, stranded-wire coax cable and mounting bracket.

Doyle Langford says he started developing his Red Hot Antenna "after a friend in our local flying club told me about nosing over his FireStar." The accident broke his antenna's insulation and his friend didn't notice the connection had failed. "The next time he transmitted, he blew his transceiver," Langford relates, "so now he needed a new radio and antenna."

Necessity being the mother of invention, Langford "set out to design a better antenna that would satisfy his communication needs and still be durable, efficient, user-friendly and economical," he says.

"The Red Hot Antenna is built with quality materials for durability, longevity and performance," Langford explains. "It has a stainless steel whip, aluminum brackets, heavy-duty chrome-plated connections and stranded-wire Belden coax cable. It is easy to install and easy to inspect on preflight.

"The antenna is a good solution for all ultralight flyers who are interested in improving their communications and safety."

Langford indicates the Red Hot Antenna has been tested on many makes and models of ultralights, including Challengers and Quicksilvers, as well as planes such as Kolb aircraft and the AirCam. "It also works well on ground mobile vehicles," he notes. "In all test cases, this antenna allows the user to transmit and receive farther distances using the same previously-installed transceivers.

"SWR (signal-to-wave ratio) readings of 1.0 to 1.1 have been obtained on most installations. The majority of the transceivers are hand-held units. In our club, most members live 10- to 60-miles apart. Good radio systems are essential for good communication when flying short cross-country flights with three to eight other ultralights."

The Red Hot Antenna kit includes BNC connector, coax cable, a custom mounting bracket and the heavy-duty antenna. "Knowing the make and model of your aircraft will allow us to send you a custom bracket and the correct length of cable," Langford adds. "This will help ensure an easier and cleaner installation. We also carry brackets to mount your hand-held radio to your aircraft."

­ Buzz Chalmers

Info: Red Hot Antenna, 2316 Bazemore Mill Rd., Dept. UF, Gordon, AL 36343. Phone: (334) 522-3814 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

New Stratomaster Engine Monitoring System From Sport Flying Shop

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Cabling from engine probes goes directly to the Stratomaster E2's RDAC (remote data acquisition computer, left). "The Stratomaster E2 EMS (engine monitoring system) interfaces to your engine via a single three-wire cable to the RDAC IV, which is mounted near your engine," explains Matt Liknaitzky of Sport Flying Shop. "All temperature, pressure and fuel probes connect directly into the RDAC IV, ensuring cable lengths are kept to a minimum, and reducing installation time."

Great Britain's MGL Avionics has released their latest instrument deck, the Stratomaster E2 EMS engine monitoring system. The Stratomaster E2 EMS joins the Stratomaster Flight Information System* as complete "all in one" instrument decks marketed for ultralights and light-sport aircraft by Sport Flying Shop (SFS), the accessories company of Aerotrike North American distributor Rainbow Aircraft.

"The Stratomaster E2 EMS is the answer to complete engine management in light aircraft," says Matt Liknaitzky of Sport Flying Shop. "The E2 provides a continuous display (both graphically and numerically) of all important engine parameters, allowing you to monitor and optimize engine performance at a glance."

The E2 can be customized to suit almost any engine, and fits in most sport aircraft instrument panels, SFS indicates. "The E2 interfaces to your engine via a three-wire cable from the separate RDAC IV (remote data acquisition computer), which is mounted near the engine," Liknaitzky explains. "All temperature, pressure and fuel probes connect directly into the RDAC IV, ensuring cable lengths are kept to a minimum and reducing installation time. No more pulling your cockpit apart to introduce a new temperature probe to your instrument cluster ­ simply connect the probe to the RDAC, and reconfigure the E2 to display it."

According to SFS, the problems with other digital engine information systems can be: (1) alphanumeric readouts are difficult to read and comprehend; (2) you may have to page through several screens of information to get to what you're looking for and need; and (3) installation involves a lot of wire between the display and your engine. "The Stratomaster E2 EMS solves all these problems," Liknaitzky says. "The display features graphical as well as alphanumeric readouts and can be customized to suit almost any engine. All information is displayed on one page. And the E2 uses the Stratomaster RDAC, mounted near the engine, which cuts down wiring troubles and makes installation a lot easier." Liknaitzky also notes the "usual benefits of high-quality digital avionics:"

* They are much lighter than traditional analog instruments.
* They fit in most sport aircraft panels.
* They are less expensive than the equivalent analog instruments.
* They offer excellent resistance to vibration and harsh operating conditions.

"The E2 provides a continuous display of all important engine parameters (both graphically and numerically)," Liknaitzky says, "allowing you to monitor and optimize your engine performance at a glance. The backlit display ensures the information is always clearly visible in both poorly lit and direct sunlight conditions. No matter what your engine, the Stratomaster E2 EMS can be configured to display and monitor the parameters you are interested in.

"The E2 lets you concentrate on flying by monitoring the engine, alerting you to any over/under limit conditions with an audible alarm and/or flashing alarm light. And all alarm conditions are under your control, allowing you to set them according to your specific needs."

Functions of the Stratomaster E2 EMS include: exhaust gas temperature (EGT), cylinder head temperature (CHT), water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, engine rpm (tachometer), engine hours, trip timer, maintenance countdown, fuel level, fuel flow, ambient temperature, voltmeter and flight data recorder.

The Stratomaster E2 EMS is "priced from $560 (including shipping)," SFS says. Senders are available separately, the company notes. "Engines supported range from small 2-strokes like a Rotax 447 or Rotax 503 to the more powerful Rotax 582, the Simonini and 2 Stroke International line of engines, and 4-stroke engines, such as HKS, Rotax, Geo Metro, VW, Jabiru, and many more," SFS says.

Sport Flying Shop "is now carrying all Stratomaster avionics systems," the company notes.

*See "Industry Watch: Aerial Adventure Introduces Stratomaster Flight Information System," December '01 Ultralight Flying! magazine; and "Flightlines: Lucian Bartosik Supplies Stratomaster Instrumentation to Sonex," July '02 UF! magazine

­ Buzz Chalmers

Info: Sport Flying Shop, 1302 Ocean Park Blvd., Dept. UF, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Phone: (310) 251-7560 * Fax: (310) 396-1044 * e-mail: sales@sportflying .
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