Sunday, November 29, 2020

Flying on the Cheap!

Is it still to be had?

Well, there is a short and long answer to either Yes or No and it really depends what your "Mission Profile" is going to look like. If you have lots of money, just retired at 45 with a golden Bay Street parachute and can buy a factory built LSA at six figures from south of the line, no need to read on. What I'm trying to enclose below is more for the hard working average Canuck who shares the dream of flight and is looking for ways to make it happen. I also will not talk about Cherokees, 172's or private pilot license holders, but will concentrate (as usual) on the recreational flyer and direct this to the potential ULPP holders, here in the great white North. Now, I have to confess, there are more potential aircraft than what is listed below, but I've tried to keep it CANADIAN, as we do have ultralight manufacturing here and there was an AULA category in this land long before the LSA in the States was all but a faint dream. Clear Prop, lets get started!

Most every call I receive for ULPP flight training usually ends up in a discussion on suitable aircraft. What to buy, not to buy, flies nice, floats - wheels - skis capable and pretty soon you're looking for the princess in the sky that shall fulfill your every aerial dream. How about a girlfriend, maybe spouse, ok to move into the hangar, ..but doesn't take over your life (and wallet) completely?
Let's momentarily pull our heads out of the sky and get started with some ground school and basic lessons here first. A ULPP license only allows you to fly solo for the let's say roughly 50 hrs after which you either will have to upgrade to a passenger carrying endorsement or a recreational pilot permit. Having said that, the ULPP does allow you to bring another pilot or instructor.
As for aircraft, start your separation into the two main building materials, those being all metal and tube/fabric. Yes there is wood, composite, wood composites, tube and wood, but for starters lets stick with metal and fabric.
Next, if you are unsure if you are going to stick with an aircraft, look for something that your flying buddy desires (remember the girlfriend every one wants) and that has a good resale/trading value, just in case you tire on that first great love a little bit. Ideally those are aircraft that are still in production and/or had numbers produced at least in the thousands. Stay away from the "one of's" (they are usually weird), and aircraft which have little support (i.e. the family) in regards of parts, on-line groups, etc. Groups are good for info, but at times are totally useless as there are a lot of keyboard fliers commenting on things they don't know sh*& about (like the girlfriends Ukrainian cousin). 
Is the aircraft for training? If so, ..better talk to your instructor first. He will tell you what he's comfortable flying in and what not. It will have to be suitability for training with dual controls, dual brakes, suitable ergonomics, and the list goes on.
Next in your research go to Kathryn's Report and do a bit of research on your prospective aircraft(s) accidents and see if they are pilot related, like running out of fuel, show boating, bad weather or actual aircraft related events like in-flight structural failures. You should also go the manufacturers web page and look for service bulletins or AD's, so called Airworthiness Directives. Occasionally Transport Canada or the Transportation Safety Board of Canada issues an "Aviation Safety Advisory", most recent concerning the Quad City Challengers.  So do your homework and don't end up purchasing a future statistic or you'll end up in divorce before you get to the honeymoon. 
items.[0].image.altAlso, I recommend to join either UPAC or COPA or both, as they will provide you with some updated info not only on occurrences, but also they have a large buy and sell section. If you are reading this as a link from TVSAC you already have the best site for western Canada, BIG THANKS to Camille and his ongoing efforts.

So which one to get? That's easy! What does your most recent account statement tell you? Maybe time to sell your sled, ATV, and the wave runner. Remember we live in Canada and we have four seasons. So to find an aircraft that is 4 season capable is of great benefit as it will allow you to make use all year around by simply changing from wheels to skis or maybe floats to skis, or maybe you have Full Lotus Floats and the configuration is never going to change. There's always some of those around, not Full Lotus', but guys that never change! Enclosure is a bonus, short winter hops are ok in a snowmobile suit. Just depends on how hardy you really are.

So let us work down my little list of invaluable opinions (remember its my blog😎). I will star* aircraft that I have either personally owned, flown, or re-build and keep it to Canadian or former Canadian manufactured aircraft. 

Beaver RX 550 or 650*  - Old Faithful!   lot of UL pilots have learned to fly in Beavers. They are easy to fly, repair and own. Sails are still available for the 550 and so are parts used and new. The 650 is fabric covered, there's fewer of them out there and some issues arose in the past around wing strut inserts being riveted with the wrong rivets. Prices range from 4,500.- to 15,000.- Personally I have not seen a Beaver listed that would substantiate much over 10 as of late. Just my .02 cents! For some great Beaver Flying shots and what's happening on the other side of this great land, check out Matt's youtube channel

Chinook Plus 2 - They have been another staple of UL instruction in the past and there is still support and parts available or you can buy a new one if you like. Costs are about the same as for the Beavers. Oh by the way, did I mention this little aircraft is holding the Valdez STOL Competition Title! Slightly upgraded, some mighty fine flying and a lot of practice, practice, practice. Here's a few more links!  

 Merlin GT* - Fear not, can still get a new Merlin now even bigger and roomier and called the Mule. However, there is also still a good supply of reasonably priced Merlin's around these days and according to John Burch the original designer of the Merlin, flew best with the Rotax 618. Keep that in mind. Merlin's come with every kind of engine from 503's up to 120hp 3.3ltr Corvairs. The Rotax 912 being a great match. Watch for possible D-Cell leading edge corrosion under the fabric. Prices vary from projects at below 10 to mid 20's. Similar in design are Lil Buzzards, Karatoo J6's which also should be given due consideration.

No flying today! Zenair CH-701SP* - The little airplane that can and will do everything you might ever want. For a little more money you are nicely moving up into the all metal category. We have flown this aircraft from Florida to BC, played on skis, floats, from pavement to backcountry mountain top landings. Bang for the buck, nothing will deliver like a 701. Ideal engines are the Rotax 912 series, but pricey. Considerations to lighter (and cheaper) 2 strokes such as a Rotax Rick 670 or Simonini Victor 2 will certainly make most STOL and fledgling Bush Pilots happy. I'd probably stay away from Auto Conversion in this aircraft simply for the places you will end up with the 701. Trying to find one might be a little chore as they seem to sell rather  quick and fewer owners part with them.

Zenair CH-601HD* - If backcountry flying isn't as much of interest as in going places at a good clip than a 601 will fill that niche for you nicely. Still grass capable but faster than the 701 and no doubt a little sexier in its appearance.

 BushCaddy R80* - Roomier, bigger, slightly heavier and unfortunately gone to China. If you are a big guy, want all metal, set up for the bush than this is the aircraft for you. They fly nice with the Rotax UL but a ULS makes them that much better.
I can attest personally to the proverbial take a licking and keep on ticking of this airframe. Prices range from mid 20 into the high 60's. You can't go wrong getting a BushCaddy in my opinion , no matter what configuration and/or price. Unfortunately they got a real bad rap in 2010 from a disgruntled person and it did very much disservice to the aircrafts manufacturer. According to the former owner, Sean Gilmore, the R80/R120 are undoubtedly the strongest of the bunch given it sizing of materials and rivet spacing. Considering that this very same aircraft is 1500lbs capable in the Experimental/Homebuilt category and 1750lbs with former factory authorization I do think there is some nice reserve build in into our 1232lbs legal AULA weight requirement. 

Murphy - Don't know what to tell you, but living only a few hours from the factory is not an excuse to know more about them. By the sounds they are back, or are they? Checking their webpage they do claim "affordable" and are within range with the Maverick kit if compared to the CH-701 for entry into the sport. Additional savings could be had by being able to pick up your kit in Chilliwack, BC vs. cross country shipping if you live in the western provinces.  

Fisher Flying Products* - If you have the time and love woodwork these aircraft are a piece of art. Geodesic Design gives them strengths and there is one for everyone. From single to two seats, high wing, bi-wing, classic or modern, go ahead pick your dream machine. As for building one, you will spend hours glueing, sanding and finishing. As buying for used, ok, .maybe, ..depends? For me personally ideally with all the fabric off so one can see every joint and if the wood sealer really got into even the last corner to stop possible dry rot or weathering.  These aircraft are a wonderful builder/owner/pilot plane, but not as much a re-sellable used aircraft. I don't recall ever any advertised in school or instructional use. And there might be a reason for that. Dave, the owner, has done a great job on his youtube channel which has tons of valuable insights and information.