Want to win a free Light-Sport Aircraft? You missed one chance but the other is still available. Organizations like EAA, AOPA, and Sporty’s have given away airplanes as incentives. Now, LSA have “arrived.” *** At the May 2008 Alaska Airmen event, CubCrafters supported the organizer’s fundraiser; a $50 ticket bought you a chance to win a $130,000 Sport Cub. This LSA was generously equipped and had a new red-over-white paint scheme (photo) plus the first pair of lightweight, Kevlar-reinforced, 26-inch tundra tires that are “perfect for Alaska pilots,” said CubCrafters VP Todd Simmons. *** The LSA you can still win is Sun ‘n Fun’s first-ever sweepstakes airplane: a Mountain Aircraft American Flyer, distributed nationally by Sportsplanes.com who donated the aircraft with support from others including Lockwood Aircraft Supply. The famous Florida airshow will announce the winner on opening day of their 2008 event (April 8-14).
Rocky Mountain Wings
Phone: (208) 466-6699Nampa, ID 83653 - USA
|Seating||2, tandem *|
|Empty weight||350 pounds|
|Gross weight||950 pounds|
|Wing area||99.4 square feet **|
|Canopy Loading||9.6 pounds per square foot ***|
|Build time||200-400 hours|
|Notes:||* seating is really 1 + 1, not true 2-place|
** optional wingtips increase area to 109 square feet
*** assumes you can load the plane to max gross
|Standard engine||Rotax 503, dual carb|
|Power||50 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||18.3 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||75 mph|
|Never exceed speed||110 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,600 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||100 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||125 feet|
|Standard Features||Prewelded chromoly steel airframe, all hardware from firewall back, Rotax engine mount, heel brakes, engine cowling, in-wing tank, fabric, glue, seat belt and shoulder harness, left-side door, windows for both sides, chromoly jury struts.|
|Options||Welded steel powder coating, quick-build wings (can include wings set to fuselage), quick-build kit (cuts time to 150-300 hours, says factory), fully-assembled option, auxiliary fuel tank, extended bungee gear suspension, wheel penetrating skis, push button flap handle, speed or STOL wing choice.|
|Construction||Welded 4130 steel tubing airframe, wood wing components, fabric and painted exterior. U.S. owned and operated company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Resemblance to Kitfox, Avid Flyer and Sky Raider is deliberate and honest; principal Stace Schrader worked at all companies prior. Proven design shape; Kitfox sold thousands. As perhaps the third generation, the Ridge Runner retains all the good old qualities and adds ones buyers have requested in the interim.
Cons - Not unique, given its close resemblance to other models especially SkyStar's Kitfox Lite. However well executed, this design shape is getting somewhat dated (though it continues to work well). Pilots without taildragger experience may want to steer clear.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Test plane equipped with trim, electric start, remote primer knob, flaps, differential brakes. "Conventional" tractor engine configuration is popular with some buyers. Repair access is good. Panel is large enough for more instruments. Basically a simple plane with numerous features.
Cons - Standard features on the Model II will dictate N-numbers; the single-seat version qualifies for Part 103 but can't have the large engine, electric start, and so on. Fueling is atop wing, and optional large tires give a convenient lift to shorter pilots. Must remove cowl to work on engine.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Skylight design illuminates interior and helps visibility in steeper turns. Adequate room for more gauges or a radio. Simple entry to the front seat. Solo seating has a long leg support (though not very wide). Four-point seat belts were appreciated. Interior of cabin nicely achieved. Controls easily reached.
Cons - Entry to the rear seat is challenging (except for very small people). Seat cushion is narrow to accommodate person in back. No quick seat adjustment. No cargo or hat rack area. Door design didn't latch particularly well.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Differential brakes help close-quarter steering (though still can't maneuver tightly). Heel brakes with a smooth floor (not carpeting) made sliding my heels for brake action more intuitive. Skylight facilitates pre-takeoff traffic scan. Large tires and bungee suspension smoothed the bumps.
Cons - Tailwheel did not fully swivel so turns tended to be wide (differential brakes help). Brake effectiveness was modest. Rudder pedals get a lot of action for the input, meaning poor taildragger technique could invite a ground loop. View over nose means you'll need to lean left and right.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Tailwheel did not fully swivel so turns tended to be wide (differential brakes help). Brake effectiveness was modest. Rudder pedals get a lot of action for the input, meaning poor taildragger technique could invite a ground loop. View over nose means you'll need to lean left and right.
Cons - Takeoffs took more concentration than expected; 50-horse Rotax 503 DC and wide 3-blade Powerfin prop provided lots of thrust, enough to pull you off to the right. Though its tendencies aren't bad, the Ridge Runner is a taildragger and you can't forget that.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Aileron and rudder response are very good. Harmony was also quite good. Controls are light to the touch and easily reached. Overall a very good package in the handling department. Dutch roll exercise went well right from start. Flaps operated easily and intuitively.
Cons - Roll rate may prove too quick for some buyers, at least without more experience (though it's not unreasonable at about 3 seconds, 45-to-45). I recalled the challenge of keeping the ball centered in a Kitfox; the Ridge Runner shares some of that (though no ball was installed).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Plenty of power with a high-efficiency prop gave the Ridge Runner a vigorous climb (factory lists 1,600 fpm). Good sink rate performance despite small wing area (only 100 square feet). A well-loaded Ridge Runner Model II can cruise 80 mph, says factory; I found slightly less flying with STOL wing.
Cons - With the Rotax 503 DC and a passenger, you can expect high enough fuel use to warrant the optional fuel tank; on standard tank, range will be quite limited. Open windows probably kept me from seeing higher cruise speeds but I wouldn't want the windows on in hot weather.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls broke clearly but predictably. Plenty of stick range through all maneuvers attempted. Power response was positive, that is, nose up on power up and vice versa.
Cons - Adverse yaw was definitely present. The Ridge Runner needed some rudder input to fly straight (possibly a linkage adjustment was needed?). Longitudinal stability was on the slow side in recovery.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Rocky Mountain Wings' Ridge Runner Model II is only $400 more than their single-seat model before engine and paint cost. You could get airborne for about $12,000 to $13,000. Though tight, the Model II does address desire for a second seat. Company offers a Part 103-compliant single-seater. Airshow aircraft was nicely done, painted interior matched exterior.
Cons - Fly a Model II and you'll need to N-number and get an FAA pilot's certificate. Building a Part 103-compliant single-seat Ridge Runner will require giving up some options and using a small engine.
One of the all-time successes in the world of kit-built light aircraft is the Kitfox. Challenged in terms of success by Vans Aircraft’s RV series, many Kitfox aircraft have been sold. Denney Aerocraft, the original manufacturer of the Kitfox design, never considered a single-place machine. Why would they? Even pumping out 60 planes a month in their heyday of the early 1990s, they were barely keeping up production quotas. Avid Aircraft, producer of the Avid Flyer (the forerunner of the Kitfox) also never pursued a single-place model. In the early 1990s Avid was also going strong. But by early 2000, things looked a bit different. Dan Denney sold Denney Aerocraft to Phil Reid in the early 1990s, and the company was renamed SkyStar Aircraft. The company was then sold again to Ed Downs and partners, with the company name remaining SkyStar Aircraft. By this time, the Kitfox design became somewhat saturated, and other creations muscled into the limelight of pilot attention.