Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By Private Jet
skelly wrote:Righty..
Questions here..
So, as far as 3 axis machines go, from a purely visual point of view they look spot on.
However, are they a pig to take off and land ?
I have heard 'stories' ..
Would learning to master one provide you with the necessary skills to maybe move on to more classic type taildraggers in the future such as Austers cubs etc ?
How good is the availibility of spare parts in sunny England ? (have to consider crash damage here also)
How do they feel in the air ?
How do they make you feel in the air ? I'm talking grin factor here.
Thats about it so far apart from has anyone got one that I could take a ride in please ?
I'm happy to pay costs.

There are probably more experienced pilots/owners on here who will come along, but I’ve owned a MK3 for 4 years so have some insight. The MK3 is similarly to the MK2 but has a larger tail to improved stability. The MK2 could be microlight or Group A and are in demand as a result. Most have the Rotax 582 but there are some 503 engined ones on the register too. The MK3 and later can’t be registered as a microlight.

The stories come from the fact that at one point they were allegedly uninsurable in the UK due to the fact they had a close to 25% write off rate. For example, there is only one surviving MK1 in the UK and it used to belong to my hangar mate. The reasons for this are mainly down to the fact that a lot of pilots were coming to them from heavier types such as the Cessna 152 etc and were not used to a 3-axis aircraft with low inertia. The other reason is that they are a bit more unstable in each axis than you might expect.

They are fun to fly, but I found the first 20 hours a bit more challenging than expected. My hangar mate and former MK1 owner accompanied me and gave me a lot of advice for the first 10-12 hours. For the first hour of flying one, straight AND level feels like an impossible task. Every pilot action has an adverse effect so flying it with thumb and forefinger only on the stick and two fingers on the vernier throttle is essential - constant small inputs are the answer. The big wing with low loading means that you can feel the thermals and you can tell the colour of every field below you, even in Scotland.

It makes me grin and flying it well gives a great sense of satisfaction. It is very twitchy, but benign, so if you don’t fly well you will move round the sky like a drunken seagull but you won’t come to any harm. The stall is very docile in all configurations and it just mushes - no wing drop. Not using the pedals throughout every phase of the flight is not an option. You have to fly it all the time, but fairly gently. Climbing into the Super Cub was agricultural by comparison with its massive stick movements and ponderous throttle response.

Landing is fine, but requires concentration (shouldn’t every landing?). You have to nail the speed at touchdown - get it 5mph out and you will bounce. The flapperons limit roll when extended and I have a memory that the BMAA chaps have the flap lever wired in a fixed position, but you might want to check that. Full extension and you run out of roll so all of my landings are flap-less. Stall on mine is 43mph IAS without flaps and 41mph with full flaps so once you get used to a flatter attitude you won’t even consider using the flaps. I do a lot of 20 minute flights as even if I don’t have time to go anywhere I want to keep my landings current.

There seems to be a constant pattern with them that groups form around them because they are cheap and then the owners/members become disillusioned with the amount of effort they require to get used to them. One of my friends (with about 2000 hours of Kitfox experience) told me to assume 10-15 hours to get used to them and I would say that was fair, but I suppose a lot of people don’t have a coach or experienced friend to support them informally. It is not an aircraft that gives the novice confidence, but you don’t have to be a sky god to fly them safely.

Parts are really easy to come by. The factory is a great source of original parts and the Rotax 582 is still in production. The more esoteric engines are best avoided. The aircraft is so simple that everything else you either make (I’ve made a lot of transparencies - Lexan isn’t fuel resistant) or you buy spares from Halfords (plugs, leads, 2-stroke oil, exhaust rubbers), Demon Tweaks (hoses and filters) or Aircraft Spruce for fuel drains etc. Tyres are from a quad bike. Just make sure that you plan to have both Imperial and Metric tools - it’s like Land Rover ownership.

Let us know how it goes.
seanxair, skelly liked this
By MikeW
Having built a mk 2 in the early 90s I agree particularly with PJ's 2nd para. They were uninsurable because of the accident rate due to wot he sez. It was before PFA got to grips with coaching. I was saved by having experience on the old K8 glider wiyh very similar handling in many respects, and by doing my first flights in it with an instructor with lots of both power and gliding experience. He found it tricky at first. Otherwise having just done my ppl in a Beagle Pup I would probably have stuffed it.

Yes forget the flaperons exist. Ivecsaid in another thread that I believe the UK mandated mod of a positive gate on them (still in force) contributed to the accidents. In the us the flaperons lever just had a friction washer and would back off if you needed more aileron.

Later I reduced the wingspan by 3ft and it improved the handling enormously. However it can't then be a microlight.

Good fun in many ways though!
Last edited by MikeW on Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
By MikeW
PS answering another of your questions, I certainly found Kitfox experience a help when moving on to my next aircraft a Jodel DR1050M taildragger.
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By skelly

thanks for the info.
A much much better response than what I received from the LAA forum so credit to you all.
I will ask some more questions in a bit.