New Internet Site Uses Video

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Flight Safety Information Dispensed

A new dot com company is on its way to the Internet. Called UFlySafe, this Website plans to distribute ultralight safety information in video and text format to the general public for free.

"If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then maybe video is worth 1,000 pictures," says Barbara Chambers, in charge of UFlySafe business operations and marketing. "We don't just write about flight safety, we actually show you."

UFlySafe was born from a perceived lack of free quality flight safety information for ultralight pilots. "There is a lot of great information out there, and we want to pull all that info together in one place," explains Chambers. "Websites are the best way to get all the flight safety issues in one place and out to the public for free." She notes that the UFlySafe staff includes an ultralight flight instructor and an ultralight mechanic. "That's a great combination of knowledge and experience. It's like having your very own flight instructor and mechanic looking over your shoulder, helping you along. You should be able to go back and forth, from your ultralight to the videos on your computer, or to the text files provided, and back to your ultralight."

It is recommended that users have high-speed Internet access such as cable or DSL when visiting the Website. "We recommend this so the user can view the video files in a reasonable length of time," explains Chambers. "Most people have cable TV or a telephone line in their homes already, and it's now very easy to add high-speed cable or DSL Internet access to their existing service. If you are using a regular telephone line connection, you can still print the text files, but the video files will take too long to download."

If you can download the files, you can build your own fight safety digital library consisting of downloaded video and printed text. "There would be HTML text files that accompany each video clip," says Chambers. "After the text files are printed, they could be placed in a 3-ring binder ­ a feature I really like. With all that information right at your fingertips, whenever pilots need information on a particular subject, they can go to their hard-copy resource quickly."

For those pilots who don't have computers, the company will be offering CD-ROMS or DVDs for sale.

Info: UFlySafe. Website: www.uflysafe.com * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

Building a Phantom with One Hand

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A Challenge Met

Assembling things that require "only basic hand tools" can end up being daunting tasks. Just ask the parent trying to assemble a bicycle or a dollhouse, or ask the first-time aircraft builder.

Now take away the use of one hand and see how hard the most rudimentary movements become. Buttoning a shirt, preparing a pot of coffee, or tightening a screw can turn into marathon situations. But it's "no big deal" for the person with an open mind and the will to do things differently.

"It was a challenge, to be honest with you," confesses George Haley. "I initially suffered from delusions of grandeur, and thought, Well it's going to be no big deal, I can do this." "This" was assembling a single-seat Phantom ultralight with the added challenge of having only one hand.

"For about 2 years I looked at different planes and settled on [the Phantom]," says Haley. "I wanted an ultralight with cross-country capability, yet I want to go low and slow if I wanted to. I wanted a company that had been in business for a while so if I needed some assistance or a part, it would be there. And I wanted a company where if I picked up the phone ­ as I did 100 times ­ they would not say, 'Oh, it's you again. What do you want'?"

"I purchased the Phantom at a fly-in and a couple of months later they delivered it. I leased a hangar, unpacked the boxes, laid everything out on the floor, and thought, What did I get myself into? My kids said, 'Oh Dad, you can't do this'. And of course I said, 'This is no big deal, this is easy stuff'."

The first thing Haley had to do was design some special tools. He purchased 15 different vice grips and modified them so they were offset so he could clamp each bolt. "Where it might take you a minute to put a bolt in, sometimes it took me 10 minutes," says Haley. "But through rigging and all types of weird ways, I did it. I can't think of anything on [the plane] that I actually couldn't do. Sometimes I would be in the hangar at 2 in the morning looking at the thing and wonder, How the heck am I going to do this? Sometimes it was like building a whole stack of stuff and putting weights in certain areas to hold things in place.

"Of course the 150-hour [assembly] time didn't apply to me. I started assembling [the Phantom] in March 2000 and I basically completed it around December 2001. I'm guessing that I put close to between 800 and 900 hours into this. And I had the advantage too that I could pick up the phone and call the company for technical advice. But the real challenge was devising ways of accomplishing what normally would have been a simple task. So that was the time-consuming aspect of it. Amazingly one went with 2 went with 3 went with 4. And before I knew it I had what looked like a frame to an airplane. And things kept getting attached to it and then there it was."

A state police officer in Colorado for a number of years, Haley lost his left hand when he was shot with a shotgun. "The amazing thing that came out of that whole incident was before I thought if you lost one of your hands, what would you do? The most fascinating thing to me was that I could do anything; I could do everything. I just have to do it differently. Like putting a nut on a bolt meant that I had to devise a way to clamp that bolt to whatever it was going to adhere itself to then put the nut on. Then maybe put a second clamp on the head of it so I could tighten it down so there were counter forces going both ways."

Then came the throttle. Haley laughs when he says he designed 600 different ones, but he had a problem: he couldn't pull the throttle back. "Normally a throttle moves forward and back," he explains. "Well I could move it forward but I couldn't pull it back. So I thought I would turn the throttle quadrant sideways then I could lift it up and down by sticking what's left of my arm in there and move it up and down. But the small, quite complex thing that I had to solve was how to bring that throttle cable in at a 90° angle. On a normal throttle it comes straight in but if you turn the throttle quadrant sideways then you have to bring that cable in at a 90° angle.

"I thought of everything from wearing a special jacket with a cable attached to the jacket to where I could just move my elbow back and it would retract it, to quite complex contraptions that I would go to a machine shop and ask them, 'How would you do this'? And they'd say, 'We can do it this way' and devise something, and then that wouldn't work.

"Then I went to the engineering department at Michigan State University and let the grad students dink around with the problem. They could come up with mechanisms, but they really couldn't be converted to my use."

Finally Haley devised a way to manipulate the throttle. "Picture a potato chip tube cut straight down the middle," says Haley. "I could lay my arm in it and it would be attached to the throttle handle and then I had stops at both ends of that tube so if I pushed my arm forward it moved it forward, and if I pulled it back my elbow pushed it back. That seemed to work the best."

Haley is updating that with ball-bearing rails "like a drawer that rides on a rail. I've already designed it and am in the process of building it."

No other modifications were needed for Haley to be able to fly his Phantom. "My other hand works good, my feet work good, that throttle was the only thing that I used my left hand for," Haley says.

At 53, Haley works out of the court system as an investigator in Ingham County, Michigan. Married "to a very supportive wife" and the father of three college-age children, Haley still finds time to help raise funds for his club's sponsored scholarships awarded each year at the local community college, and of course to fly. "I really enjoy the camaraderie of being around the different guys at Mason airport where I'm hangared," says Haley. "I have about 20 hours on the Phantom now.

"I wish I had done something extraordinary, but I did it under a different set of circumstances and did it a different way. I'd like to really emphasize that anything can be done. You may have to stand on your head to do it, but go stand on your head. And get it done. It was just a different way of going about doing something," Haley insists modestly.

­Sharon Wilcox

 

 

Powered Parachute Ultralights for the Budget-Minded

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Airframes Unlimited and Powered Parachute Plans

Airframes Unlimited manufactures both single-seat and 2-seat powered parachutes for budget-minded ultralighters. "Our lowest-priced single-seat powered parachute is $6,995," the company notes. "And our lowest-priced 2-seater (pictured) is $9,595." Both models come completely assembled and ready to fly (or you can buy the plans and do everything yourself).

Ultralighting started at the inexpensive end of aviation, and for some budget-minded ultralight pilots, their ultralighting has stayed there. It's the primary reason they fly ultralights ­ the rest of aviation is just too expensive. And even ultralighting can be costly, if you must have the latest and greatest.

There are, however, still some ultralight companies that see a significant market at the very inexpensive end of aviation. For powered parachute aficionados, Airframes Unlimited and sister company Powered Parachute Plans ­ both owned by Don and Clint Stutts of Athens, Texas (just south of Dallas) ­ are examples of companies targeting budget-minded ultralighters. "Our companies' goal is to make powered parachuting more affordable to the average working man," says Don Stutts. "We are living in an era where $15,000 to $20,000 powered parachutes are common. Powered parachutes in this price range are completely out of reach of an average working man, even with creative financing."

"Our lowest-priced single-seat powered parachute is $6,995," Airframes Unlimited notes. "And our lowest-priced 2-seater is $9,595." Both models come completely assembled and ready to fly, according to the company. Airframes Unlimited offers powered parachute models from a Part 103-compliant single-seater to a 2-seater featuring side-by-side seating and rudder pedals.

Or you can buy the plans from Powered Parachute Plans and build your powered parachute from scratch, obtaining the materials and doing the parts manufacturing and assembly yourself. Constructing an aircraft from plans may save you the most money, but it can require much more time (sometimes hundreds of hours more time) and effort.

Airframes Unlimited claims "hundreds of our powered parachutes are flying around the world, and have been for years."

Note: "Powered Parachute Plans does all business by e-mail, with no phone contact at all," Don Stutts says. "We answer every e-mail received, every day. No one has to wait for a reply from us." Stutts indicates that Airframes Unlimited does use a telephone to assist serious customers. "We learned the hard way that there are a million 'wanna-bes' out there who will keep you on the phone until you go broke, and never spend a dime with you," Don Stutts says. "Our phone time is valuable and reserved for [assisting] serious customers only." Time is money, as the saying goes, and a company efficient with its time may save money and thereby be able to offer lower prices to its customers.

Neither company has a fax number.

- Buzz Chalmers

Airframes Unlimited, 6707 CR 3715, Dept. UF, Athens, TX 75752. * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Powered Parachute Plans e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

Powerfin Adds CNC Milling Machine to Make Composite Props

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New Apex Hubs Now, New Blades Later

Powerfin's new Apex series propeller hubs are manufactured on a Haas VF-4 CNC vertical milling station (shown here), using the same method "used by many aerospace companies to make stator vanes for jet engines and tail rotors for helicopters," Powerfin says. Apex hubs are available in 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-blade configurations.

Composite prop maker Powerfin has developed new Apex series propeller hubs. The new hubs were designed and developed using Solidworks and Mastercam CAD/CAM software, according to Powerfin, and are manufactured "on a brand-new Haas VF-4 CNC vertical milling station," Powerfin notes.

"I bought the machine to finish a 3-year research project, developing a very consistent method of producing blades that is currently being used by many aerospace companies to make stator vanes for jet engines and tail rotors for helicopters," explains Powerfin president Stuart Gort. "Apex hubs result from that research. We can sell them now because the Powerfin propeller blades we currently make can fit the new hubs with only a slight field modification [required]."

Apex hubs are available in 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-blade configurations, and offer "unparalled quality, balance and appearance" the company says. "Gort is now finalizing his work on a new molding process," the company adds, "and hopes to release the first new blade planform before 2003."

Prices for Powerfin's Apex propeller hubs are: 2-blade, $150; 3-blade, $175; 4-blade, $200; and 5-blade, $225. Powerfin hub assemblies include the mounting hardware for the Rotax A, B, C or E gearbox, or the Hirth gearbox, according to Powerfin.

Info: Powerfin, 4700 188th St. NE, #G, Dept. UF, Arlington, WA 98223. Phone: (360) 403-0635 * Toll-free: (800) 581-8207 * Fax: (360) 403-0599 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

20-HP Teledyne 4-Stroke Engine

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According to David Vogel of Vogel's Electro Source, which is marketing an 18- to 20-hp military-surplus Teledyne 4-stroke engine weighing just 63 pounds,* the reported upgrade kit or plans to increase the horsepower to 40 is "old information." Vogel indicates he knows of no way to safely and reliably increase the engine's horsepower to that level, and therefore his company does not have such a kit or plans.

Info: Vogel's Electro Source, 121 Mount Vernon St., Dept. UF, Milford, NH 03055. Phone/fax: (603) 672-1762 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . *See "Industry Watch: Teledyne 20-Horsepower Engine ­ 4-Cylinder, 4-Stroke, Just 63 Pounds," October '01 Ultralight Flying! magazine
 
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