New Hook Knife Could Save Your Life
Benchmade Knife Company Enters "Rescue
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
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
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 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
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:
GT Manufacturing Develops Xtralite SkyCycle Trike
Uses 25.5-Horsepower Simonini 2-Cycle
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
"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
"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
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
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)
Red Hot Antenna Aids Communication
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,"
"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
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."
Info: Red Hot Antenna, 2316 Bazemore Mill Rd., Dept.
UF, Gordon, AL 36343. Phone: (334) 522-3814 * e-mail:
New Stratomaster Engine Monitoring System From Sport Flying Shop
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
* 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
"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,"
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
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 shop.com .
Ultralight Wing-Walking Act Goes Overseas
12th Year on Airshow Circuit
Quicksilver MXL II Sport pilot Bob Essell and wing walker Jon
Faulkner have been wowing airshow crowds for 12 years with their
aerial act. Flying a modified Sport II registered in the Experimental
category-Exhibition, Essell says that allows them to use the Sport
II for compensation and hire.
On November 1-3, the duo planned to end their twelfth season
on the airshow circuit by participating in the Santo Domingo airshow
in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. "We had to build a
special crate to send our plane by FedEx," says Essell, "The
Sport II is already down there, so we'll see how good a packing
job we did. We'll perform once a day during the 3-day airshow,
which marks the end of our twelfth year of wing walking."