Annual Nebraska Ultralight Gathering 2002

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Planning an ultralight gathering when the temperatures are likely to be in the nineties would seem a bit crazy, however, as ultralighters are often described as such, July seems to be as good a time as any to host the largest gathering of crazy people in the Midwest.

This year marks the third time the Annual Nebraska Ultralight Gathering (ANUG) has taken place, and it was bigger and better than ever. David City, Nebraska was the venue as in previous years, and the local ultralighting clubs all banded together and worked with the David City airport, Chamber of Commerce, Fire Department and many other local organizations to make it so.

As in previous years, most of the planning was done via the Internet, using an open communication list. Any interested parties could log on and ask questions, voice opinions and make constructive suggestions. It worked just as successfully as in previous years. By the time my wife Anne and I drove in on Friday afternoon (my excuse for not flying in was that we were promoting our newly formed custom sheet metal cutting business, and needed the trailer to haul in our samples), there were already around 20 3-axis machines, a trike and several powered parachutes parked for the night, and several more enjoying the beautiful conditions.

The air was warm and the thermals were dying off as the sun sank towards the western horizon, encouraging several of the pilots to go off and play, or join in a flight around the town, as requested by the David City townsfolk.

Friday evening, safety officer Bob Harvey called a meeting to brief everyone on safe practices and procedures. He repeated the briefings on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Each pilot was given a hospital-type wristband to prove that they had attended the safety briefing. Not having a wristband meant not being allowed to fly, so all the "outpatients" could be seen wandering around the town sporting their washable wristbands over the weekend. If found wandering aimlessly, they could be shepherded back to the airfield on the shuttle bus provided by the city, and manned by volunteers from the local ultralighting clubs.

Probably the group making the greatest effort to attend the event were from Colorado. Five machines, supported by a great ground crew consisting of wives, girlfriends, families and friends made the mini epic adventure an unforgettable one, both for themselves and for all the new friends they made over the weekend.

Dean Spencer flew his GT 400, Cole Hanscome flew his MXL II, Chuck Ashbaugh piloted his modified Kolb fitted with a 750cc BMW engine, Barney Fletcher piloted his distinctive yellow T-Bird, and Michael Flannery flew his FireStar.

Setting out at sunrise on July 4, three machines from Longmont, Colorado and five ground support vehicles converged on Hanscome's farm in Greeley, Colorado to fly and drive out together.

The group had worked out a clever leapfrog ground crew system where vehicles carrying spare fuel and supplies would spread out along the route. The first vehicle would report to the others how many and when the ultralights left the ground. The next vehicle would then report when and how many landed, and once refueled, how many departed. In this way, it was possible to keep a close watch over the pilots. If any ultralight needed maintenance, there was always ground support at every landing point. Flannery, who modestly described the group's epic flight to me, said the pilots would not have been able to make it to ANUG without the fantastic efforts of their ground crew.

Flannery had his own exciting moment when he nosed the FireStar over at Curtis, Nebraska following a flat tire problem on takeoff. The ground crew and other pilots were able to quickly sort out both the blown tire and a bent Pitot tube, and get Flannery airborne once more, without wasting much time. The pilots mentioned rough flying conditions at times, but battled on to achieve their goal.

One of the ground crew vehicles had its own exciting moment, when it caught fire from a leaky muffler. Swift action prevented the fire from doing serious damage, and they were able to continue to ANUG.

All the pilots and ground crew met with incredibly friendly and helpful hospitality along the route, which brought them through Sterling, Curtis and Minden, Nebraska. They overnighted at Minden, shared a potluck dinner, and set off at sunrise on Friday, July 5, to fly into Aurora, Nebraska, where Dean Sombke ­ flying a white Challenger ­ joined up with them to fly the last leg to David City. A strong tailwind helped all the pilots.

They were not the first to arrive, however. Ed Burt from Osborne, Kansas reportedly got there first. Many of those who flew in the previous year came back again. On Saturday morning with more than 30 aircraft already on the ground and several more playing in the warm air, the spectators had plenty to look at. Ed Casey had trailered in from Red Oak, Iowa, and took no time at all to assemble his Fun Racer trike and get into the air. Casey spent most of the day flying around, practicing engine-off landings and showing everyone what triking is all about.

As usual there were door and raffle prizes, many donated by ultralight organizations or suppliers. Ray Abbruzzese, an ultralighter known to many USUA members both locally and nationally, donated a GPS. Ray is recovering from throat cancer, and I know that we all wish him a speedy recovery.

The strong thermal conditions that developed throughout the morning did not prevent Karl Fricke, Steve Tweedt and Guy Stayner from flying in around noon from the Council Bluffs, Iowa area. Fricke was piloting his T-Bird, Tweedt a Quantum 912 trike, and Stayner an Aerotrike.

As J.D. Stewart continued to give introductory flights to students in his Challenger, the rest of us sought shelter from the sun and enjoyed slices of melon provided once again by the Dragon Fliers Club from Omaha, Nebraska.

Scott Dubsky from Schuyler, Nebraska entertained spectators with his superb radio-controlled aero models. A member of the Norfolk & Columbus Radio-Control club, Dubsky had picked up the radio-controlled model obsession from his father almost 20 years ago, and for the last 4 years had been flying almost every week of the year. Dubsky had brought along a P-51, a Lightning P-38, a Zero, and a Russian Yak, plus a tank. Dubsky loves to fly his models off snow and also off water, and says a beginner could start flying radio-controlled models for about $400, but that the obsession could lead to flying models costing more than $2,000 each.

One ultralight aircraft landed out with an engine problem. The pilot was able to fix the problem and flew back to the airfield a short time later.

In the evening, some pilots joined in a bean bag accuracy event. By this time, we were all watching the cumulonimbus clouds pumping up in the south and west. The other precision tasks had to be cancelled as thunderstorms started to sound off. About 10 minutes after everyone had tied everything down we were subjected to more rain than we had seen in several weeks.

J.D. Stewart sent the following item to include in this article: "Saturday evening, I had two introductory flights left. It was clouding over, and I thought we'd have enough time to get at least one student flown in my Challenger II. After taking off and flying over to the student's parents' farm, we started heading west towards David City. Seeing the rainstorm heading towards the airport, I made the decision to fly around it and follow it in, since we still had a lot of time left on the intro flight. We could see clearing conditions directly west and north of us.

"As we headed west, we caught the edge of the storm, and it got pretty turbulent. A 700-fpm bumpy updraft made me decide to head northwest to get farther away from the storm. We found a 1/2-mile hayfield that had just been mowed, with a long section where there were no bales. We set down nicely and yakked about airplanes while we waited for the storm to pass.

"Sure enough, a half-hour later a state patrol officer and sheriff showed up to survey what they thought was a crash. After telling them the situation, they called the airport to let everyone there know we were okay. Our spouses were certainly worried by now.

"The rain and winds started, so we moved the plane next to some trees for a windbreak. We didn't quite miss the storm, but only got 20 minutes of rain and wind.

"We saddled up around 8:45, with me in the front seat this time, and taxied to the north end of the field, noting rough spots along the way. With wet, 5-inch grass and 450 pounds of passengers, I knew it would take a lot of the field to get out of there, and it did. We flew directly south until we were west of the airport, and headed in. At about 2 miles from the field, we started to get a little mist from the back end of the rain. By the time we landed, it had passed, and everyone at the field greeted us. My student was excited with this adventure, and the next morning I took his wife up for her intro flight, giving her some extra time for her previous night's worry."

A town not much further to the west of us received a 10-inch deluge, which washed away parts of Interstate 80 and left many homes flooded. For us, the storms passed in time to allow David City to have their fireworks display, held off from the 4th to fit in with ANUG and other city activities.

On Sunday, five more ultralights flew in, and there were still plenty of machines on the airfield and sampling the air for spectators to see. Ultralights continued to fly around in the very muggy, humid conditions.

Chief organizers Harold Ostler and Dave Nissen were delighted with the event and it looks like we'll all be back again next year. I intend to be flying my trike in too ­ the business will have to take second place for ANUG weekend.

- Report filed by Kevin Rutland


U.S. Airborne Imports Airtime Products

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Powerlite Trikes Can Utilize Hang Gliders for Wings

U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center is importing the lightweight single-seat Powerlite line of trike carriages from Australia's Airtime Products. The trikes are appropriate for use with modern hang glider wings, which many former hang glider pilots still have, according to U.S. Airborne's Scott Johnson.

Scott Johnson of U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center, a trike ultralight dealer and Miniplane powered paraglider manufacturer in Asotin, Washington, reports his company is now importing single-seat Powerlite trikes from Australia's Airtime Products. "U.S. Airborne is highly involved in the U.S. air sport aviation marketplace," Johnson says.

U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center has added Powerlite trikes, Explorer powered hang glider harnesses and Discovery foot-launched backpack-style powered paragliding units to their list of air sport products. "We have now started importing what we consider to be one of the best lines of light trikes, powered hang glider harnesses and powered paragliders in the world, from Airtime Products," Johnson says. (See next month's "Industry Watch" for information on the Explorer powered hang glider harness and Discovery powered paragliding units.) Johnson's company also is a dealer for Australia's Airborne* line of trikes and South African manufacturer Rainbow Aircraft's Aerotrike Cobra** and Aerotrike Safari***trikes. And U.S. Airborne also manufacturers the Miniplane****powered paraglider. "The Powerlite trikes have been designed to fit a hang glider wing," U.S. Airborne notes. Most trike wings these days are specifically designed for heavier trike carriages. In general, such trike wings are probably too fast and too stiff in handling to be successfully foot-launched and -landed as free-flight (nonpowered) hang gliders. Lightweight trike carriages, however, are being used with hang glider wings, and many trike pilots were formerly hang glider pilots with a hang glider stored unused in their garages. Johnson (and other trike dealers in the ultralight industry) see these pilots as a potential market for lightweight trikes. "Powerlite trikes are extremely light and maneuverable to fly," Johnson says. "They have the comfort and ease of launching a trike with the soaring capability of a hang glider."

One key to producing a lightweight trike carriage is using a lighter engine to power it. Powerlite trikes use either the Swedish 14-hp (at 9,000 rpm) Radne 2-cycle engine or the Italian-made 21-hp (at 7,200 rpm) Cors-Air 2-cycle powerplant. "The state-of-the-art Radne and Cors-Air motors are both specifically designed for aviation," U.S. Airborne says. "They have proven to be low-maintenance and extremely reliable," the company claims. "Importers of these engines provide a 12-month warranty, and U.S. Airborne stocks a full range of spare parts." The power-to-weight ratios of the Cors-Air and Radne 2-cycle engines are good enough to also use them as powerplants for Airtime Products' Discovery line of powered paragliders, and the 120cc 13-hp model Radne engine is used on their Explorer powered hang glider harness. Powerlite trikes are constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, and "the Powerlite trike base is designed to be very robust to handle rough takeoff and landing sites," U.S. Airborne says. The Powerlite R135 features the 18-hp Radne 2-cycle engine with centrifugal clutch and carbon-fiber composite prop, in-flight restart capability, intake silencer, 10-liter (2.6-gallon) fuel tank, Corduraseat with storage and radio pockets, and carry/storage bag. The Powerlite C122 and C130 trikes feature Cors-Air 2-cycle engines with electric start and a self-charging system, intake silencer, 10-liter (2.6-gallon) fuel tank, Cordura seat with storage and radio pockets, and carry/storage bag. Options include: instruments (tach, EGT and CHT), stone guard, and electric start (for the R135 model). "The quick-release 2.6-gallon fuel tank will give up to 3 hours motoring, depending on the wing used and wind conditions," U.S. Airborne says. "The ability to quickly remove the fuel tank is a bonus for transportation and refueling when out-landing near a service station."

Prices are: Powerlite R135, $4,400; Powerlite C122 and C130, $4,975. All prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include trike wing or delivery.

*For a flight evaluation of the Streak 2000, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Airborne's Streak 2000 Wing," October '00 Ultralight Flying! magazine
**For a flight evaluation, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Striking Cobra - South Africa's Aerotrike Goes First Class," April '02 UF!magazine
***For a flight evaluation, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Rollison's Rainbow - the Aerotrike Safari From South Africa," February '99 UF! magazine
****See "Industry Watch - New for the 2000 Flying Season: Miniplane Quieter Than Weedeater," June '00 UF! magazine; and "Industry Watch: U.S. Airborne Markets Miniplane Powered Paraglider," May '00 UF! magazine

- Buzz Chalmers
Info: U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center, 1212 5th St., PO Box 579, Dept. UF, Asotin, WA 99402. Phone: (509) 243-4988 * e-mail: info@ .


Kuntzleman Triple Magnum Strobe System

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Kuntzleman Electronics new Triple Magnum strobe system driver box "will fire three strobe lights in a double flash pattern," the company says. The Triple Magnum system is available only in a 12-volt DC model.

Keeping a sharp eye out for other aircraft is the first part of the aviation safety adage, See and be seen. Having a functioning anticollision (strobe) light on your ultralight goes a long way toward fulfilling the second part of that adage.

When it comes to visibility, for pilots who believe "more is better," Kuntzleman Electronics is selling a strobe system that "will fire three strobe lights in a double flash pattern," the company says. "The tail, or third light flashes are synchronized to flash every time one of the wing tip strobes are flashing." The net effect is  "about 140 flashes per minute," Kuntzleman indicates. The Kuntzleman Triple Magnum strobe system is available only in a 12-volt DC model, and is sold either "as a complete three-light system or without the strobe lights [driver box and wiring only]," notes Kuntzleman Electronics president Dick Kuntzleman. The strobe system draws 3 1/2 amps of electrical power (peak) or less than 3 amps average, according to Kuntzleman. Driver box weight is 17.2 ounces, and measures 4 1/2 7 by 1 5/8 inches. Price for the Kuntzleman Triple Magnum strobe system (complete with three strobe lights and necessary wiring) is $375. Price for the Triple Magnum driver box alone is $230.
- Buzz Chalmers
Info: Kuntzleman Electronics, 1660 S. Hanover St., Dept. UF, Pottstown, PA 19465. Phone: (610) 326-9068 * Fax: (610) 970-9078 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

SkySports Introduces WindMaster Wrist Instrument

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Windmeter Uses Unique Pop-Up Windspeed Sensor

The new WindMasterwrist instrument from after-market supplier SkySports features a pop-up windspeed sensor (arrow, shown here retracted) to provide windspeed measurements from 0 to 200 kilometers per hour (0 to 124 mph). In addition to displaying windspeed in kilometers per hour (kph) and miles per hour (mph), the windspeed meter will display (if desired) windspeed measurements in knots, meters per second, feet per second or Beaufort scale (a scale on which successive ranges of wind velocities are assigned code numbers from 0 to 12 or from 0 to 17). Resolution is 0.1 kph.

It's still at least 7 months until Christmas, but Father's Day is right around the corner (on June 16), so here's a little  "stocking stuffer" for the ultralight father or spouse who has almost everything - a new wristwatch marvel called the WindMaster, from ultralight and aviation after-market supply house SkySports. "The WindMaster incorporates all the features coveted by ultralight, powered parachute, paraglider and hang glider pilots everywhere," SkySports claims. "A unique retracting windspeed sensor pops up at the push of a button to provide accurate windspeed, critical for flight safety."

A high-contrast display shows altitude, time, barometric pressure (and trend), and more, according to SkySports. Additional features include: timer, lap timer, day of week and date, 12- or 24-hour (military) time, dual alarms, chime and electroluminescent backlight. You can "select between English and metric units for all displays," Sky­Sports says. "The WindMaster even includes a small magnetic compass integral with the windspeed impeller." The WindMaster is also waterproof to a depth of 100 feet. The WindMaster's barometer has a range from 8.84 to 32.44 inches of Mercury (inHg), or can display the barometric pressure in millibars (mb). The sensitivity of the barometer can be adjusted, Sky­Sports indicates. For determining the temperature, the thermometer has a range from +14° to +140° Fahrenheit, and can also display the temperature in Celsius (-10° to +60° C). The altimeter range is from 2,300 to 30,065 feet (or 701 to 9,164 meters). Suggested retail price for the WindMaster is $129.

- Buzz Chalmers

Info: SkySports, Hangar 1, Linden/Price Airport, Dept. UF, Linden, MI 48451. Phone: (810) 735-9433 * Orders: (800) 247-7883 * Fax: (810) 735-1078 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

New Spirit Powered Parachute From Six Chuter

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SR-7xl "Totally Reengineered," Renamed

Six Chuter's new 2-seat Spirit powered parachute is the result of "totally reengineering" their SR-7xl model. Six Chuter hired FAA consultant Ben Morrow to ensure the Spirit was ready for Light-Sport Aircraft certification, should the FAA's recently released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 2001-11133 - Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft be adopted as U.S. regulation.

Six Chuter - the Yakima, Washington manufacturer of the SR-1 through SR-7 line of single- and 2-seat powered parachutes - has announced two new 2-seaters - the Spirit and the Prowler (see next month's "Industry Watch" for info on the Prowler). The introduction of the two new powered parachute models coincides with Six Chuter's announcement of a new distribution deal with top-performing Six Chuter dealer Doug Maas of Fort Vancouver Ultralights in Vancouver, Washington (see article in this month's "Flightlines").

"The Spirit by Six Chuter is the result of totally reengineering the most popular powered parachute in America," claims Six Chuter president Dan Bailey, who boldly predicts "the Spirit will be the best performing, best manufactured, safest, and most economical powered parachute anywhere." Bailey reports his company retained the services of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) consultant Ben Morrow "to ensure from the beginning that the Spirit will be ready for Light-Sport Aircraft*certification. This aircraft is lighter, stronger and easier to produce, and includes industry 'best practices' and 'best options' all in one new powered parachute. The Spirit looks like a traditional SR-7 with the signature Six Chuter sweeping propeller guard, yet it has the options of split seating and a windshield. The front seat rotates forward to make refueling easier and safer than any other."

And the new Spirit features what Bailey claims is a safer radiator mounting location, to the rear and below the engine (rather than over the passenger's head). The Spirit retains Six Chuter's "proven spring suspension system," which the company claims "is superior to the spring rod systems most other manufacturers continue to use." Another change to the SR-7 seen in the new Spirit is strengthening the front steering fork. Bailey also claims that, with the 50- to 75-pound decrease in total weight due to the redesign, flying with both pilot and passenger aboard using a high-performance canopy wing and the 50-hp Rotax 503 dual carb 2-cycle aircraft engine "becomes a viable option again." And choosing the less-expensive 503 powerplant makes the Spirit "an extremely economical 2-place powered parachute," Bailey says. According to Six Chuter distributor Doug Maas, the first step in reengineering the SR-7 into the new Spirit was to consider a long list of improvements that Six Chuter dealers and customers had already suggested. "Some of the changes include the stronger front steering fork and the new split seating option," Maas says. "Next, every bracket, bolt and part was examined with several objectives in mind, including standardizing the part, reducing the weight, and strengthening the part."  The overall result of this redesign effort was the new powered parachute "operating with correct canopy wing loading, safer flying, and improved and more economical performance," Maas claims. Other, less-noticeable changes include triangulating some of the propguard arms, and strengthening the CG tubes. "The final step," Maas explains, "was to carefully make improvements to standard equipment while keeping the cost as low as possible. A ceramic muffler that requires no welding is one example of this effort."

Six Chuter offers their line of powered parachutes in "subassembled kits" that require the owner to complete the assembly "in about 40 hours," Maas indicates. "This reduces shipping costs and allows customers to choose this more-economical option." Six Chuter dealers across the U.S. provide customer support services, including construction help, flight training and "ongoing services," Maas points out. And with the new distribution deal between Six Chuter and Fort Vancouver Ultralights, "sales associates (dealers) now have the flexibility to establish the final pricing on the new Spirit and Prowler powered parachutes, based on the level of service and support a customer requires," he says. The recommended retail price on a fully-equipped Spirit with a 65-hp Rotax 582 liquid-cooled 2-cycle aircraft engine is $15,495, including a Grand Rapids Technologies EIS instrument package and a standard canopy such as the 500-square-foot APCO Mark II canopy wing that includes line socks and an oversized canopy bag. With the 50-hp Rotax 503 dual carb aircraft engine and a standard canopy, the suggested retail price is $14,025.

*See "Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft NPRM Info," April '02 Ultralight Flying! magazine

- Buzz Chalmers

Info pack: free. Video: $5 (plus shipping). Fort Vancouver Ultralights, 1232 NE Cedar Ridge Loop, Dept. UF, Vancouver, WA 98664. Phone: (360) 896-8916 * Fax: (360) 896-7234 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
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