News Columns & Blogs

Belite ultralight completes first flight

While we were all celebrating Independence Day on July 4, James Wiebe was climbing in his Belite ultralight at Col. James Jabara Airport to take the plane on its first flight.

“I was so thrilled to take off in the plane I had designed major elements of,” Wiebe said.

That’s the plane near the airport in the courtesy photo.

Wiebe and his wife, Kathy, bought the tooling, parts and manufacturing rights of the Kitfox Lite ultralight in March. Since then, Wiebe has been making design changes to the plane.

“It was just a delight,” Wiebe said of the first flight.

Wiebe wants to deliver two or three ultralights a month and grow from three employees today to 25 or so in the next year.

The market for the Belite is varied, he said.

Men of retirement age or older will be interested in the ultralight as will farmers and ranchers who can fly to their far pasture in a handful of minutes. The ultralight will also be suited for the military, Wiebe said. With some changes, it could become the world’s largest radio-controlled airplane.

The Belite is available finished or as a kit. The total build time of a kit is about 200 hours, not counting putting the fabric on the aircraft, Wiebe said.