Ultralight to fly under new owner and name
Wichita-based aviation enthusiast and entrepreneur James Wiebe and his wife, Kathy, have acquired the production rights to a previously designed aircraft, the Kitfox Lite, and formed a new business entity, Belite Aircraft, to market it. The airplane will incorporate stronger, lighter carbon fiber components to meet FAA Part 103 Ultralight Vehicle weight requirements of 254 pounds or less.
The Wiebes, who previously made computer storage devices at their company, WiebeTech, acquired the tooling, parts, and manufacturing rights to the Kitfox Lite in March. They agreed to rename the airplane to prevent confusion with the larger, two-place light sport aircraft Kitfox that shares many of the same design features but is owned by another company. Kitfox has recorded more than 4,500 kit sales since its introduction 25 years ago.
By converting spars, ribs, and struts from steel, wood, or aluminum to carbon fiber, the aircraft’s weight is well below the 254-pound limit. Wiebe is rebuilding a prototype acquired with the company and will unveil it in late June.
“This project, which combines my passions for flying and inventing, is exciting on several levels,” Wiebe said. “From a business perspective, the development and application of our proprietary carbon fiber has lots of potential for other aircraft and in other markets. Its use in this aircraft provides the weight margin that will allow enthusiasts to build it and enjoy the fun of flying it safely and economically.”
Wiebe added that a factory-completed model may be developed and sold, but that pricing has not been set.
June 3, 2009