First Flight For Belite Ultralight

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The single-place Belite ultralight, which evolved from an earlier Kitfox design, flew for the first time on July 4, the company said this week. Although the company had announced a "first flight" a couple of weeks ago, that initial effort was described as only a "test hop" down the runway, with more extensive flight testing to come soon. Now the airplane has been through a real 90-minute test flight, with a tryout of the aircraft's handling characteristics, and several touch-and-goes. James Wiebe, who designed the airplane and launched the Wichita-based Belite Aircraft Co. to develop and market it, was the pilot. "Flying the Belite for the first time was, for me, an extremely memorable event," he said. "I have never flown in an airplane I built or on which I have designed critical structures before, so this definitely ranks among my most thrilling flying experiences." He said the airplane cruised at about 54 mph. "Once it was airborne, the airplane handled well. ... It practically hovers before touchdown and can be stopped within a very short distance," he said.

As flown, the airplane weighed about 245 pounds, including an optional rear window and a full VFR panel. Wiebe said the aircraft will be on display at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh later this month, and pricing and availability will be announced at that time.