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Old 02-06-2009, 10:37 AM   #1
RandyL
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Default Feb '09 KOTM - John King

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John King (Birddog) - Warrenton, VA
Kitfox Series 6
Rotax 912S

My first Kitfox (N193JK) was a Model IV-1200 Speedster powered by a Rotax 912UL. It took 2120 hours to build and I enjoyed every minute of it. I had flown it to Alaska in 1998 and to the Eastern Provinces of Canada in 1999. I really enjoyed that airplane; however, I soon found out that I needed a larger payload for the type of flying I wanted to do. The 496 payload with the 40 pound cargo bag behind the seat had some limitations if I wanted to fly two people with two weeks of baggage. So when SkyStar introduced the Series 6 with a larger payload I ordered one. After 2802 hours of construction time I test flew the Series 6 and sold the Model IV to a friend with just over 800 hours on the Hobbs.

My Series 6 (N993JK) is powered by a Rotax 912ULS and weighted in empty at 864 pounds giving me a much needed payload of 684 pounds with a 150 pound cargo bay behind the seat. Its first flight was on April 30, 2002. Forty hours later on the Hobbs (May 31 2002), I departed for my second Alaska trip along with seven other Kitfoxes.

Right after I ordered the Series 6, SkyStar informed me that I could not load the cargo bay to the designed 150 pound limit using a Rotax 912 engine. With that light an engine I would have to limit the cargo bay to 100 pounds max, otherwise I would exceed the aft CG limit. I did not want to hear that, and asked if sweeping the wings back could move the center of lift forward enough to permit the 150 pound limit. They have previously recommend sweeping wings forward to accommodate heavy engines. To make a long story short, SkyStar reluctantly provided me the specifications to sweep the wings aft, along with the proviso that it had never been tested and they would not be liable. They also provided a revised set of CG limits. Quickly recognizing that the 912 would be a popular engine in the Series 6, SkyStar redesigned the 912 engine mount to move the engine 5 inches forward to eliminate the need to sweep the wings aft. To my knowledge N993JK is the only Kitfox with swept back wings.

Some of the other significant modifications I made during the build cycle were as follows:
FAIRED-IN LANDING GEAR: In the stock Kitfox with aluminum spring gear the gear suspended below the fuselage without any fairing and presents added drag. I decided to fair in the area forward and aft of the spring gear to make a smooth transition along the fuselage belly. Since the spring gear is recessed into that faired area, the gear can still be removed when desired.
RADIATOR COWL FLAP: From my flying experience in my Model IV, I learned that a cockpit controlled radiator flap is a valuable feature when flying in areas with wide temperature variations throughout the year. Sometimes daily temperatures on long trips can vary enough to cause wide variations in engine CHT. I design a cockpit flap control that can close off the airflow through the radiator to fully open (see 2 pictures). When flying in Maine in the February of 2006, I kept the flap control fully closed to maintain an adequate CHT.
GLOVE COMPARTMENT: A good size glove compartment is a blessing in a Kitfox. Without one, or an equivalent, where do you store all of those small necessities required in flight and while on the ground? The larger panel size in the Series 6 makes all that possible. Mine turned out to be 594 cubic inches and is crammed full of flying stuff.
SOLID SIDED CARGO BAY: I never felt comfortable with the soft sided cargo sack provided by SkyStar, especially one that has to support a 150 pound load in turbulence. I prefer one with all four sides made of a durable, solid, light material, so I constructed one from 3/32 inch aircraft grade plywood. All four sides are removable using 6-32 SS flat head screws in the event access has to be granted to the interior of the fuselage (see picture). I also modified the turtle deck to hinge in half for easy external access to the cargo bay.
INSTRUMENT PANEL: The instrument panel is equipped with all necessary instruments and avionics for access to Class B airspace and the Washington DC ADIZ. I live just outside the ADIZ and have landed at Dulles International Airport several times, along with the big boys. They get real nasty if you fly in some of the ADIZ areas where you should not be. Several of my pilot friends have been escorted out of the ADIZ by F16s.

I now have over 600 hours on the Hobbs, most of which have been consumed on long cross country ventures. Aside of the numerous annual trips to Oshkosh and Sun N Fun, my first trip in N993JK was to Point Barrow, Alaska in June of 2002, then to Key West in November of 2003, New Hampshire in September 2004, the Bahama Islands in November of 2004, Moosehead Lake, Maine in February 2006, and again to Key West in November of 2008. The trips that were the most enjoyable were the ones where I flew with other aircraft, the more the better. On the Alaska trips (1998 and 2002) I flew with 7 to 8 Kitfoxes. In those instances we flew in two flights, all within radio communication, to minimize confusion and maximize safety.


John King_3 (Medium).jpg
Cargo Bay 5 (Medium).jpg
Radiator Cowl 23.JPG
Radiator Cowl 24.JPG
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:15 PM   #2
DesertFox4
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

John, Congrats. on another beautiful aircraft. Your first Kitfox was spectacular and you sure topped yourself with this Model 6. John early on you set the benchmark on not only how beautiful a Kitfox can be but on how much fun you can extract from one with the adventures you've taken and generously shared with the rest of us. I hope you get to log many more trips in the future. Enjoy every flight.
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Old 02-06-2009, 02:46 PM   #3
Joe Meyeres
 
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

John,

I was sooo impressed with the looks of your first Kitfox that when it came time to paint mine your Model IV colors and scheme was in the back of my mind. I had heard you were building another airplane, but imagine my surprise when I opened the KOTM today and saw your beautiful Series VI, and in the same paint!!! What a magnificent airplane!!! Very well done.

Your attention to detail tells me alot on how this airplane will perform for you. Thanks for sharing your story and your photo's. I am sure you have wonderous trips already in the planning stage. Please be sure to share them also when time permits.

Joe Meyeres
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Old 02-10-2009, 06:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

5-stars for that build.
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Old 02-12-2009, 01:13 PM   #5
mcguif0a
 
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

What an impressive build.
I am curious about your radiator modification. From your two pictures I can tell where your radiator is located. The radiator sort of looks like it is positioned on the bottom-rear where exhaust is coming out. Is this true?
I am also curious about how big a range of CHT temp you were getting. Couldn't you just change the mixture of the engine if you didn't like the CHT?
I ask because I will soon be entering the engine installation phase of my project and where the radiator goes is a rather large decision.

Once again, beautiful plane.
Tyler
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:44 PM   #6
Birddog
 
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcguif0a View Post
What an impressive build.
I am curious about your radiator modification. From your two pictures I can tell where your radiator is located. The radiator sort of looks like it is positioned on the bottom-rear where exhaust is coming out. Is this true?
I am also curious about how big a range of CHT temp you were getting. Couldn't you just change the mixture of the engine if you didn't like the CHT?
I ask because I will soon be entering the engine installation phase of my project and where the radiator goes is a rather large decision.

Once again, beautiful plane.
Tyler
Tyler,

The radiator cowl flap is mounted directly onto the rear side of the radiator and covers its entire rear surface. All of the outside air that passes through the radiator must flow through the cowl flap. If you fly in extreme weather where temperatures can vary between -10F to 90F, and you have a water cooled engine, there has to be a way to control the cooling effects of the radiator. When I flew to Maine in February of 2006 I had the cowl completely closed down in flight at 3000 feet MSL. The CHT was barely 180F and that was with the cabin heater shut down. When I turned on the cabin heater the CHT dropped down further. I also have flown in Florida in the summer and the Bahamas where you need all the radiator you can get. It is much easier to control the air through the radiator with a cockpit control than have to land and cover up the radiator in cold temperatures. As the temperature varies in flight, I use the radiator cowl flap control to maintain a constant CHT.

If interested I can send you a lot more pictures of the cowl flap in the construction phase to your e-mail address.

John
Warrenton, VA
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Old 02-14-2009, 08:43 AM   #7
mcguif0a
 
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Default Re: Feb '09 KOTM - John King

My email address is mcguif0a@erau.edu
I would be very interested to see these pictures.
Tyler
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