$400 Chinese Homebuilt Tri-Motor

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Ding Shilu is an automobile mechanic in China and pictures reportedly taken on Feb. 25 that show his 285-pound, three-engined homebuilt aircraft very nearly in flight have now spread across the Internet. The design incorporates a short span, low aspect ratio, deeply cambered, flat-bottom wing with flat ailerons trailing behind the inboard portions of the trailing edge. Nearly-two-dimensional tail surfaces attach to a truss structure extending behind the pilot's seat, which sits below the wing on tricycle gear. Ahead of that, three motorbike engines each drive propellers through belt drives. Materials reportedly include plastic sheet and tubing, and cost less than $400. There's no photographic evidence that the aircraft has actually flown but, if it hasn't, the pictures suggest it has come close.

The whole venture reminds us of Kenyan Gabriel Nderitu's homebuilt. But it does appear that Ding Shilu may be a bit farther down a more promising track.

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