… to keep the Hawk Ultra Light
Genuine ultralights still
have a place. These
will not be sent to aircraft boneyards
despite what some light-sport aircraft
skeptics may think. The Hawk Ultra
is proof positive CGS Aviation loves
ultralights and wants you to have fun
in the air.
No matter the pros and cons of
the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft (SP/
LSA) rule, operating a Part 103 ultralight
remains simpler than earning a
sport pilot certificate and buying an
LSA. No certificate, no medical, and
no registration is needed (though, it is
recommended that folks register with
one of the three associations supporting
ultralights-EAA, the United States
Ultralight Association (USUA), and Aero
Sports Connection (ASC). Additionally,
an ultralight can be fully factory built
without FAA inspections. The list of 103
privileges goes on, and the Hawk Ultra
qualifies for all of them.
One-Oh-Three Interest Soars
I don’t know about the “build it
and they will come” premise when
it comes to baseball fields, but I fervently
believe that if enough customers
want a product, someone will supply
it. Some folks evidently do want
103 ultralights, perhaps many. Chuck
Slusarczyk, that unique gentleman at
the helm of CGS Aviation, says a
high ratio of the calls he’s getting-he
reported a figure of 10 to 1-were asking
for a Part 103 machine.
Given that level of interest, Chuck
was motivated to make the considerable
effort to create an ultra-lightened
Hawk. He dubbed the new model the
Hawk Ultra, and it joins the CGS family
that includes the Hawk Classic and
Classic two-place, the Hawk Arrow and
Arrow two-place, the larger Hawk Plus,
and the competitive Hawk Sport. I’ve
flown all of these models and looked
forward to flying the Hawk Ultra at the
2005 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.
However, creating the Hawk Ultra
and keeping it ultralight legal wasn’t
easy. Recall that a true Part 103 ultralight
can weigh only 254 pounds
empty, can have a capacity for only
5 gallons of fuel, and can’t cruise
faster than 63 mph. The Hawk Ultra
can make the grade, and it can do so
with a fully enclosed cabin and flaps,
providing that fine Hawk handling
and safety, plus a satisfying level of
performance, but customers will have
to resist the temptation to load the
machine with accessories.
“No part went on the airplane without
an effort to reduce its weight,” said
Chuck, allowing for adequate safety
margins, of course. He doesn’t exaggerate.
Everything seems to have holes in it.
Chuck’s a qualified engineer; he didn’t
drill holes with abandon. All lightening
holes were calculated to reduce weight
without sacrificing adequate strength.
If you can make the Hawk Ultra
lighter by simply drilling lots of lightening
holes, then why let other Hawk
designs get heavier? Why not make
all the planes lighter? The answer is
simple; it takes a lot of work to fabricate
all those holes.
The lightening work wasn’t confined
to drilling or cutting holes in sheet
metal parts or tubing sections. Chuck
also ground down the tires to reduce
weight. He told me this before I flew the
Ultra, and you’ll note the worn tires on
this new plane.
Fortunately, as this model progresses
to a production Hawk Ultra, some
other weight-saving solutions will
present themselves. One weight-saving
opportunity comes from the new
proprietor of Phantom Aeronautics,
Eric Pederson, who uses small diameter
Tuff wheels to shave an impressive
6 pounds off the Phantom ultralight
compared to the aluminum wheels he
Another way to really lop off a few
pounds is by switching powerplants.
Chuck said the 35-hp Kawasaki 440
engine is a distinct possibility for the
Ultra. He says the Japanese engine
saves a whopping 20 pounds over the
91 pounds (installed weight) of the
Hirth 2702 on the prototype (including
its belt reduction drive plus exhaust).
Further, Chuck believes Kawasaki 440s are in ample supply. My experiences
with this engine during the early days
of Flightstar ultralights and JetWing
trikes were positive.
Why mess with a different brand
of engine when we have the well-supported
Rotax brand readily available?
The weight savings with the Kawasaki
440 will enable customers to add brakes
and electric start or other options. Most
potential buyers would probably agree
that a Part 103 ultralight with all the
Ultra features plus brakes and electric
start would make that engine a most
The prototype Hawk Ultra used a
composite prop. Working with a lightened
airframe and a less powerful
engine, CGS needed to be able to dial
in the correct pitch for the propeller,
and that’s most easily achieved with a
Just the Essentials
The Hawk Ultra may look pretty bare
bones compared to a review of some of
the imported special light-sport aircraft
(S-LSA). Full panels and features galore
go hand-in-glove with some of the new
models, and their price tags reflect this
The Hawk Ultra might be on the
Spartan side, but why do you fly? If
you want a capable airplane to take
a passenger and fly for hundreds of
miles, the new LSA offer some dandy
choices. But if boring holes in the sky
not too far from home is your idea of
a great Saturday afternoon, the Hawk
Ultra is by no means too lean.
The standard equipment list is short.
The Hawk Ultra has no brakes, to save
weight, naturally. It has no trim system,
again in the interest of weight saving.
True, a trim system doesn’t add much
weight, but when Chuck was squeezing
ounces or grams out of the Hawk design
to make the ultralight weight limit, no
trim represented a savings, and he took
it. Not having brakes or a trim system
doesn’t present any handling problems;
ultralights slow quickly on the ground
and control lightly enough, in most
cases, that trim is not the valuable control
it is on heavy aircraft.
The Hawk Ultra also foregoes the
faired struts of most other Hawk models.
Again, Chuck’s task was to reduce
pounds wherever possible, not eke out a
few more miles an hour of speed.
Using a wood prop might help the
model stay within Part 103’s speed
limit. Once Chuck dials in the right
amount of prop pitch, he’ll select a
wood prop with that configuration and this will slice off a little weight from the
prototype, too. The Kawasaki engine
weight savings over the Hirth engine
doesn’t factor in the prop weight, so the
change to a lighter wood prop will not
affect that analysis.
The Hawk Ultra’s doors are zipperclosed
Dacron with a large flexible
plastic window. They are more than
sufficient to keep the wind out and,
in Florida’s sunshine, the warmth
inside. To increase ventilation you
can open the door zippers at the top
corner, by your eyebrows. A double
set of zippers facilitates creating this
opening in the optimal location. As
I fiddled with the incoming air, I was
able to be quite comfortable aloft.
The technique was also helpful on the
ground, though obviously not to the
same degree. Those who fly in warm
locales may fly with the doors off, if
they’re willing to lose about 7 mph of
Chuck reports you can use 3.25-
inch diameter snap vents, which can
be inserted into a precisely cut hole in
the plastic and rotated to direct
airflow. In cooler climates, they
can also be closed for a lowdrag
I had help starting the Hirthpowered
Hawk Ultra, which
uses a pull starter, because the
handle was at the wing trailing
edge where it meets the fuselage.
Chuck will add a pulley or
two and route the starter cord
forward so you can pull start
from in front of the strut and
more easily control the throttle.
Because this had not been
done, I took my seat inside and
asked for a hand with pull starting.
It was the safer alternative,
I judged, even though I had no
brakes to stop forward motion,
because I could manage the
throttle and kill switch.
With a nudge of the throttle,
the lightest Hawk began
rolling for takeoff. Ground
steering from the skateboard
tail wheel proved to be quite
good; the turn radius was small, and
turn efforts were quite effective at just
below landing speeds. This was true
on the sandy soil of South Lakeland
Airpark, so I assume the wheel would
be even more effective on pavement.
The “Hawk with the holes in it” leapt
off the ground with the 40-hp, twincylinder
Hirth 2702 engine. The taildragger’s
hindquarter came up almost
immediately, and its main wheels left
the ground shortly thereafter. Those
spoiled by the powerful Rotax 912S
forget that performance of an engine
is more closely tied to takeoff weight
than horsepower. Climb-out from the
grass runway was vigorous at about
CGS’s air show demonstration pilot,
Grant Smith, advised me that 4800
rpm was a good number for the Hirth
powerplant. I found even less revs
to be plenty of power; at 4720 rpm I
recorded a speed of 65 mph, a nearly
perfect Part 103 figure. At only 4000
rpm, the Ultra was close to holding
altitude, and the cabin was pleasantly
quiet and smooth.
Besides engine power, another benefit
of a genuinely ultra-light aircraft
is the ability to use thermals for
climbing, as I could feel them quite
well. Heavier aircraft, including many
LSA, will tend to plow through bubbles
of lift and you won’t feel
them. That’s good if you want
your cross-country flight to
be free of ups and downs, but
you miss an interesting part
of the atmosphere.
With the Hirth at full throttle,
the max revolutions showed
a shade more than 5500 rpm,
at which the installed airspeed
indicator (ASI) read about 70
mph, which is over the 63 mph
allowed. However, at the max
allowed continuous power setting,
speeds are likely to remain
within the Part 103 speed limit.
Never exceed speed on the
Hawk Ultra is 85 mph.
I rarely fly any airplane-
ultralight, LSA, or GA-at
high power settings. Running
any reciprocating engine hard
creates more noise and vibration,
and I unconsciously seek
smoother realms. I found I
could hold altitude in level
flight somewhat with barely
more than 4000 rpm. At that
setting I was losing only a few feet per minute. At a setting of 4200,
the Ultra held its altitude.
As I toured the countryside around
South Lakeland getting a feel for the
machine, I noted the Ultra exhibited
a nose-up tendency during all flight
operations. Naturally, if you build your
own Hawk you can make the necessary
tail plane adjustments to work out the
The same can be said for a rudder
trim tab. This first Ultra also had some
left-turn tendency, which kept me on
the right rudder nearly all the time to
keep the plane from straying to the left.
And the left turn tendency required
that I apply right rudder liberally in
right turns or I tended to skid.
At first I assumed this turn tendency
was a P-factor influence, but in level
flight with power reduced, the left turn
remained. My recommendation is to
add a fixed tab and work with it until
satisfied. Unlike pitch trim, once a turn
is dialed out, it won’t matter much what
weight pilot flies your Ultra. Another
alternative, though more complicated,
is to make small adjustments in the
aileron rigging. If a trim tab needs to be
large, such rigging changes may be the
However, I’m finding things to gripe
about; I’m sure production models of
the Ultra will meet the fine handling
standards of every other Hawk model
I’ve flown. Also, Chuck’s likely to shave
more pounds off the production Ultras,
which will further improve already fine
To transform the Hawk Ultra into a
superior low-over-the-fields flier, throttle
back, ease aft on the stick as speed
decreases, and deploy a couple notches
of flaps. The real charm of an ultralight
comes when you fly low over unobstructed
fields. If you’ve been locked
up inside your 120-knot LSA too long,
you deserve a flight in a Hawk Ultra (or
other slow-flying ultralight). Wandering
below the treetops at 40 mph is a special
Is flying that speed while low a wise
choice? I say enthusiastically yes, as
long as you ensure no obstacles or other
traffic are present, you are comfortable
with slow flight maneuvers, and you
take care not to disturb neighbors or
animals. Once you have experience,
you can proceed carefully and enjoy
flight such as you rarely do in general
aviation aircraft. Of course, it helps to
know the flight qualities of the aircraft
near stall speed, and I’d already
explored this realm quite thoroughly in
the Hawk Ultra.
Low power stalls don’t really break
in the Ultra. You merely note a sinking
sensation that identifies the flight
condition. Because the Ultra tended
toward a nose-up attitude, this may
have retarded any breakthrough characteristic.
During my stall practice the
ASI read below 30 mph, a range where
such instruments are prone to error, but
the Ultra can certainly fly slowly, which
invited my low-flying enjoyment.
Simulated departure stalls at about
5000 rpm also did not break but came
closer to doing so. Because this first
Hawk Ultra was suffering from some
tendency to heat up quickly, I didn’t
take the opportunity to try full power
Time to Land
Grant recommended I make my
landing approach at 45-50 mph. You
can come in slower, but you won’t
have much energy reserve for the flare
to landing. Low energy retention may
be a drawback of genuine ultralights
for some pilots, but it also means
the rollout will be brief. In the series
of landings I made on turf, I never
Slips to landing worked well in either direction. The Hawk Ultra will
allow you to set up a highly angled
slip that pulls you out of the sky.
However, as the Ultra comes standard
with effective flaps, you won’t need
to slip often. In fact, the Ultra’s slip
potential was significant enough I
speculated CGS might consider eliminating
the flaps to save more weight.
Contrarily, the flaps might prove useful
on short or soft runways, neither
of which I experienced.
I have no doubt that the Hawk
design has endured for many years
because it offers delightful flight characteristics.
Every CGS Hawk I’ve ever
flown has offered a sweet combination
of light stick and rudder forces
with crisp response and satisfying
roll-in and roll-out rates. If it sounds
like I’m extremely pleased with Hawk
handling, you’re reading my words
correctly. It’s no wonder that virtually
every Hawk owner with whom
I’ve spoken enjoys flying around in
this 20-plus-year-old design. It further
explains why Chuck continues to add
models and variations but also continues
to produce an airplane built to the
successful Hawk formula.
Netting a Hawk Ultra
For its newest and lightest model,
CGS Aviation offers several factory prebuilt
components to hold build time
to 200 hours for the first-time builders.
The factory fully assembles the wings
of the Hawk Ultra, which despite its
light weight, uses heavy-duty aluminum
tubing (2.5-inch leading edge and
1.75-inch trailing edge spar). All tubing
comes anodized. Every control surface
including flaps, ailerons, rudder, vertical
stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, and
elevator comes pre-assembled.
You can have your choice of a taildragger,
which I flew, or tricycle gear
machine, with steerable wheels for
either option. However, check with
CGS regarding which engine sizes
and weights work with the tri-gear
Most amazing in this age of $85,000
LSA is the price of a Hawk Ultra. The
basic kit retails for a modest $8,895
and coordinates with the covering
and engine packages CGS sells. A
covering package adds $1,737, making
the unpowered kit $10,632. But,
of course, you’ll need a powerplant
You can choose the Rotax 447 at
40 hp for $2,925 (all prices as of late
May 2005), including the engine, a
wood prop, throttle assembly, motor
and muffler mounts plus mounting
hardware and brackets. If you want
electric start add $760.
The Hirth 2702 at 40 hp sells
for $3,692 with the same additional
items as the Rotax 447. Electric start
is $500 extra. Or, choose the weightsaving
Kawasaki 440 at 35 hp for
$3,692. As with the Hirth, electric
start adds $500.
Both latter engines surprisingly cost
more than the Rotax, which also enjoys
superior nationwide service. In both
Hirth and Kawasaki examples, the additional
cost comes from parts CGS must
supply to mount and prop the engines.
The Kawasaki may see a decrease in
price once (and if) it becomes an established
offering for CGS.
Finally, add a propeller; CGS
Aviation features Powerfin propellers,
and it will price them when you call
So far, you’ve spent about $15,000.
A few options may entice a few more
dollars from your checkbook. In-flight
trim costs $89, mechanical brakes are
$150, but you can use them only with
the Kawasaki if you want to stay within
Part 103 operations. Map pockets in the
sewn doors add $40, while tinted Lexan
windows add $150. You can choose a
BRS parachute for $2,300 to $3,000,
depending on the size you’d like, and
it comes with no weight penalty under
The most desired options might be
those that get you in the air the fastest.
The quick-build option is $2,700 and
lops off 100 hours-half the total! Or,
CGS Aviation can and will fully build
your Hawk Ultra for $5,600 for a basic
airplane. Options add to this figure.
Even if you elect a ready-to-fly Hawk
Ultra, the price tag stays barely above
$20,000 (plus options). In today’s world
of light aircraft, that is a great bargain
on a nice-flying ultralight.
Enjoy Part 103 and save yourself
money and aggravation. The FAA has
proposed no changes to its simplestever
rule. This is reason alone to consider
the Hawk Ultra. But the best reason
is how much fun you’ll have in this ride
back into the future.
|Empty weight||253.5 pounds|
|Gross weight||550 pounds|
|Wing area||135 square feet|
|Wing loading||4.0 pounds/square foot|
|Fuel Capacity||5 gallons|
|Baggage area||Space aft of pilot|
|Kit type||Kit 1|
|Build time||80-175 hours 2|
|Notes:||1 Hawk Ultra can be supplied fully assembled under Part 103.
2 Company states, “200 hours assembly time for first-time builder.”
|Standard engine||Hirth 2702|
|Power||40 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Power loading||13.75 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||45-63 mph|
|Stall Speed||28 mph|
|Never exceed speed||85 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||800 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||100 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||150 feet|
|Range (powered)||100 miles (1.5 hours)|
|Fuel Consumption||about 3.0 gph|
|Standard Features||Hirth 2702 2-cycle engine, 2-blade wood prop, fully enclosed cabin with versatile zippered doors, roomy cabin, steerable tailwheel, flaps, sewn Dacron wings and tail, choice of tailwheel or trigear, 4-point pilot restraints.|
|Options||Hydraulic brakes, numerous other engine choices including Rotax, HKS 4-stroke plus other Hirth models, electric starter, multi-blade props, brakes, additional instruments, quick-build kit, fully-assembled option, ballistic emergency parachute, folding wings, floats, streamlined struts.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, Lexan® plastic windscreen, shaped aluminum wing ribs, sewn Dacron wing, tail, and fuselage coverings. Made in the USA; distributed by U.S. company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros – Most Hawk owners love their airplanes; now they can enjoy one on a Part 103 diet. Enough performance and the right handling for experts and novices alike. Good safety record with more than 1,600 Hawks flying since the early ’80s. Customers widely express satisfaction with their Hawks.
Cons – Sewn Dacron® polyester fiber covers turn off some buyers who perceive a lesser finish (though Dacron has weight and speed-of-building advantages). Dacron is much more vulnerable to ultraviolet rays. To some, the Hawk is a holdover from a previous era; certainly it’s changed little since the early ’80s.
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 – Since the Ultra must meet Part 103 definitions, you can’t have many extras, but flaps are standard and trim is hardly needed. Most pilots who sample the aircraft will be amazed at the Ultra’s pleasant handling, a fact of its low empty weight. Engine access is excellent (though fuel tank access is not as easy).
Cons – The Ultra must forgo in-flight trim, brakes, electric starting and additional instrumentation. Fuel filling on wing tops will be difficult for shorter owners. The lack of brakes – due to their weight – will rule out the Ultra for some buyers (though they may lack experience; the Ultra hardly needs brakes).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros – Designer is a hefty guy and the dimensioning of the cabin reflects the need for extra room; even the rudder pedals are large. Entry is very simple. Control accessibility is good even for smaller pilots. Cockpit should keep cold-weather enthusiasts somewhat warmer.
Cons – Zippered doors seem a throwback to an earlier time (though they are very light and contribute to meeting the Part 103 definition). You must deal with them on entry; they can flop anywhere when unzipped. Seat belt didn’t secure me as low as I prefer (though larger people probably won’t experience the feeling).
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros – The Ultra is easy to taxi and quite responsive even with its skateboard tailwheel. Wide main gear stance helps taxiing and landing turnoff stability. Ground clearance is generous. The bare tires look small and dainty but are easily up to Part 103 operations. Ground visibility is good.
Cons – Even taildraggers as easy as the Ultra take a little more attention while taxiing. Forward visibility is better than many taildraggers but not as good as the trigear Hawk models. Tailwheel is so small that it seems vulnerable. The lack of brakes won’t work for some pilots.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros – Like all taildraggers the Ultra requires more attention to keeping the nose straight than trigear models. However, the Ultra is very simple to take off and land, typical of genuine ultralights. Excellent visibility during takeoff or landing. Flaps helped slow approach nicely. Slips also work well.
Cons – Ultralights like the Ultra sometimes have to be accelerated on landing approach as they bleed off energy quickly. Landing with flaps is recommended or you may get firmer touchdowns than you may expect. Otherwise, if you have trouble landing the Hawk, get more instruction. It’s that easy.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros – Some aircraft offer faster handling but few offer a better-combined package of light feel, good response, and not-too-twitchy action. The Ultra’s very light weight affords excellent authority to the pilot in any realm I explored. Harmonization between wing and tail controls was very good. Pitch is powerful yet not at all sensitive.
Cons – Try as I might, finding negatives on Hawk control is tough. Some pilots might prefer even faster response or lighter pressures. Adverse yaw was significant, but otherwise the Ultra has no weak points I’ve been able to discover.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros – CGS Aviation has long supported Hirth engines. Without commenting on long-term satisfaction, the Hirths I’ve flown on Hawks have been some of the smoothest-running engines I’ve ever experienced. The Hirth 2702 gives the Ultra all of the boost it needs; climb was strong.
Cons – Being a Part 103-compliant ultralight, the Ultra can do no more than hit the limits at 63 mph. Being so light restricts the Ultra’s ability to fly into winds while still making forward progress (just don’t fly when conditions are that strong; the wind would have to blow more than 25 mph before the Ultra had problems). Overheating of this installation was a problem.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros – Stalls in the Ultra are extremely modest and will reassure many new pilots. Good 4-point pilot restraints combine with an installed emergency parachute for security and peace of mind. Quite spirally stable even without much control input. The Ultra is highly predictable. Longitudinal stability proved fine even slightly out of pitch trim.
Cons – Adverse yaw must be considered though controls harmonize easily to fix this. Though I’ve spun other Hawk designs to good results, I chose not to spin the Ultra. Lack of trim made longitudinal stability check somewhat harder.
Addresses the questions: “Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?”
Pros – I think almost any ultralight and many light plane enthusiasts could love an Ultra. Dealing with company owner Chuck Slusarczyk is a treat in itself; he’s one of ultralighting’s genuine characters. More than 1,600 Hawks delivered; helps demonstrate popularity and good safety record. Quite roomy given it must meet Part 103 weight.
Cons – Slip-on Dacron cover will have to be replaced if sun exposure decays material integrity (though the swap is much easier than dope and fabric). Some buyers have complained about long delivery times and partial kits. No quick wing-fold option. The Ultra looks like an older design; won’t appeal to all.