|Aircraft Type||S7 STi 912 ULS|
|Base Aircraft Price (USD)||$ 56,941|
|Kit incl. Powerplant||$ 56,941|
|Kit excl. Powerplant||$ 32,445|
|Max Cruise Speed (ktas)||87|
|Flight Deck (Base Spec)||Gyro / Analog|
If you’re looking for a light, fun-flying airplane, you’ll almost certainly want to consider the Kitfox. This iconic little taildragger has been around since 1984, when the original versions were introduced as a step-up from the Part 103 ultralight “vehicles” whose popularity had already begun to fade by the mid 1980s. Providing side-by-side seating for two in an enclosed cabin, the Kitfox offered respectable comfort, speed, short takeoff and landing performance and all-around utility, wrapped up in a sharp-looking package. At this point, over 7000 Kitfox kits have been produced, so one might expect potential for a plentiful supply of used Kitfoxes in the marketplace. You’d be wrong.
That 35-year production run doesn’t necessarily translate into a buyer’s market. John McBean, president of Kitfox Aircraft, says there are very few Kitfoxes for sale; most owners don’t want to give them up unless circumstances dictate. That’s not just a pitch to sell new kits, but rather the common opinion shared by most owners we spoke with. Kitfox builder Josh Esser told us, “You better have your money ready” if you’re looking to buy one, because the two late-model used Kitfoxes he bought after building his own weren’t even advertised when he heard they were available, and he knew he had to put down a deposit right away. As is typical of desirable used airplanes, the good ones don’t last.
Orginally designed by Dan Denney, the first Kitfoxes were powered by the then-popular two-stroke Rotax 532 and 582 engines of 64 hp. The Kitfox’s distinctive bump cowling, which gave it the look of a miniature Cessna 195, dates from 1986; originally, a small Pong Dragon radial engine was planned for the airplane, but that engine never worked out. A wise marketing move retained the cute round-engine wrapper. Adapted for various powerplants over the years, it continues to be available.
From its beginning as the Kitfox Model I, of which only 257 kits were sold, the design underwent a steady progression of improvements as engine power and gross weight were increased. The Model I had a gross weight of 850 pounds, while the slightly larger Model II, introduced in 1989, had a bigger vertical tail and grossed at 950 pounds; 490 Model II kits were sold. A Model III came along in 1990 with further enlargement of the tail feathers and a gross weight bump to 1050 pounds, allowing installation of the 80-hp Rotax 912 four-stroke engine; some 466 Model III kits were shipped. The definitive Model IV came out in 1991, featuring a new airfoil and redesigned differential-action flaperons that were mounted with metal brackets instead of wood attachments; 322 kits were sold before a follow-on Classic IV version increased the gross weight to 1200 pounds. The IV-1200 incorporated stronger lift struts, beef-ups for the gear legs and wing carry-through, fuselage structural changes and a 30% larger vertical tail. The Kitfox Classic IV remained in production until just recently, giving it one of the longest production runs in kit airplane history.
Denney Aerocraft sold the Kitfox design to SkyStar Aircraft Corporation in 1992, setting off a flurry of new model developments. A Kitfox Series 5 design came out soon after the SkyStar acquisition, featuring an adjustable stabilizer for pitch trim and optional aluminum-spring landing gear. The Series 5 was available in a tricycle-gear, swept-tail Vixen model or a conventional-gear Safari version, both designed to accept small Continental and Lycoming engines at a gross weight of 1400 pounds, later boosted to 1550 pounds in 1995. In 1998, the names of the Series 5’s two versions were changed to Voyager and Outback. A short-wing Series 5 Speedster variant was tried as well.
Meanwhile, SkyStar tried producing a Part-103 ultralight, the Kitfox Lite, using a 28-hp two-stroke engine, and it also introduced a Kitfox XL in 1994 and a Kitfox Lite Squared in 2001; both were two-seaters designed to be ultralight trainers, using a 50-hp Rotax 503 two-stroke engine. A Kitfox Series 6 was brought out in 2000, with a conventional cowling rather than the faux radial engine nose and featuring standard spring main gear rather than bungee shock absorbing. A Kitfox Series 7 followed in 2002, incorporating a larger elevator and improved roll control. The Kitfox Series 6 and 7 offer convertible landing gear configuration that can be switched from tailwheel to nosewheel and back, if desired.
Kitfoxes have always called southwestern Idaho home, in the area around Boise; the plant was originally sited at Nampa and is now located at Homedale’s airport. In April 2006 the rights to the Kitfox designs were purchased by John and Debra McBean, who are the current owners of Kitfox Aircraft, LLC. Production is now primarily focused on the Series 7 designs, with the Kitfox Classic IV presently on hold.
There is a vast difference between the Kitfox airplanes of the 1980s and the kits designed in the last 20 years. Some seekers of used Kitfox airplanes have in mind one of the original designs, a diminutive fabric-covered tailwheel airplane with the bump cowl, Junkers-style external flaperons, folding wings and bungee-sprung landing gear. While the basic design features remain, the more recent, sleeker Series 5, 6 and 7 Kitfoxes are much more capable airplanes. The structure of the fuselage, tail and lift struts is made of 4130 chrome-moly steel, factory welded, while the ladder-style wings incorporate 6061-T6 tubular aluminum spars reinforced by an aluminum I-beam insert, with the airfoil shaped by wooden ribs. The trademark external flaperons are built of aluminum-wrapped foam cores or ribs. All Kitfoxes feature foldable wings for compact storage or trailering. Flaperon and elevator controls utilize 4130 steel pushrods, while the rudder is cable actuated.
A powder-coated fuselage frame became available in the early 1990s, which forestalled much of the corrosion threat of aging steel. The Kitfox’s small-diameter tubing did not lend itself to the sloshing of anti-corrosion oil through the framework because each section of tubing was sealed off from its mates. The earliest Kitfoxes had aluminum firewalls, rather than stainless steel.
As with most light airplane designs, the Kitfox has evolved into ever-improved iterations over the years. Accordingly, you should look for the latest example you can find, and it’s important to bear in mind the condition issues that could be wrought by 20 to 30 years of history. The Series 5, 6 and 7 are the best choices, with a cabin width of 43 inches. If considering the older models, I wouldn’t advise looking any further back than the Model IV-1200, because of its increased useful load, differential-action flaperons and larger tail. If you have limited or no tailwheel airplane experience, look for a Kitfox that has dual brakes installed, which makes tailwheel instruction much less risky.
The flying characteristics of the Kitfox series are typical of airplanes in its weight class; John McBean says his Series 7 can “take on crosswinds that would leave Cessnas crying.” That said, the older airplanes, weighing less than 1000 pounds, are susceptible to even the lightest breezes and subtle wafts of updrafts and downdrafts. Penetration of turbulent air is not on par with more streamlined and heavier airplanes, calling for ultralight-style flying technique during a landing approach, which means maintaining some energy in the aircraft by carrying power right down to ground level and staying ready to go around if the wind burbles become unmanageable. Fortunately, it’s usually easy to find a 500-foot long patch of friendly grass oriented into the wind, which makes much more sense than trying to stick an early Kitfox onto an unyielding strip of pavement contaminated by crosswind component.
Assuming an 80-hp Rotax 912 engine installation, the Kitfox is a good 100-mph-plus cruiser, with a stall speed as low as 32 mph that enables short takeoff and landing distances. As always, engine/propeller configuration and setup can cause variations in performance numbers from builder to builder. The wing area of 132 square feet gives a wing loading of only about 9 pounds per square foot. Wingspan is 32 feet, overall length is 18.5 feet, and the three-point tail height is just under 6 feet. Even without wing folding, required storage space is relatively small.
What to Look For
If purchasing a flying Kitfox, as with any E/A-B airplane, look for complete paperwork, including a log of Phase 1 flying time and the airplane’s operating limitations that were issued at the time of certification. The latter is required to be on board for flight. Evidence of a condition inspection within the last 12 months will be necessary, or one will have to be performed before the airplane can fly.
John McBean says the most important advice he gives is to get the serial number of the airplane and check it out by contacting the factory to make sure you know what you’re getting. He cites examples of a purported Model IV-1200 (according to its builder-supplied ID plate) that was actually a 1050-pound version and a Kitfox Model III that was being sold, with modifications, as a Model IV. He stresses to get the builder’s manual with the airplane, and if it’s been lost, to obtain one from the factory. When you call the factory for assistance, it helps immensely to have the manual’s references for the items under discussion, rather than saying “I need that widget that moves the aileron (flaperon).”
The earliest Kitfoxes were most likely to have been fitted with two-stroke Rotaxes, and as the design matured into the Model III and IV the four-stroke Rotax 912 became the engine of choice. Other lightweight engines used have been the Jabiru, Subaru, and a whole host of similar engines have found their way onto the noses of Kitfoxes. The newer Series 7 Super Sport can be fitted with a Rotax 912ULS, turbocharged Rotax 914/915, Continental O-200, Lycoming O-233 or Titan O-340.Even the Rotec R-2800 radial has been grafted onto the Kitfox Series 7, with a nod to the original cowling design.
Given the scarcity of available used Kitfox airplanes, pricing will be subject to the seller’s eagerness to dispose of their plane. Expect to pay $100,000 or more for a nice Series 6 or later, down to as little as $20,000 for an old Model I or II that’s still flyable but needs TLC. It follows, as always, that you get what you pay for, based on condition, equipment and history.
Fortunately, the Kitfoxes are not orphans. According to John McBean, factory support is available for all Kitfox models, as much as possible. However, through the years and ownership changes, some tooling and parts for the older airplanes were unfortunately discarded. The TeamKitfox web community is an excellent forum for Kitfox builders, owners and pilots.
Whether you’re interested in exploring backcountry airstrips at 120 mph or indulging in low-and-slow cruising during the smooth-air hours of the day, you’ll find the Kitfox to be perfectly suited to your mission. Of all the Experimental kit airplanes that have come and gone through the years, it remains one of the most attractive options. The problem will be finding an owner willing to part with their pride and joy. Fortunately, you can solve that by simply ordering a Series 7 kit and setting to work building your own.
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Contributing Editor LeRoy Cook is an experienced journalist with writing credits in just about every aviation publication that counts. He brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to his flight reviews.
Building and Flying the Kitfox 7
All About the Kitfox
By Crista Worthy and Don McIntosh
My husband and I are both pilots and have always traded off flying duties. We flew a Cessna 210 for a decade but sold it to finance a new business. Lately, we’ve been thinking about what we’ll eventually buy as a replacement airplane. Now that the kids are grown we only need two seats, so a small, affordable, STOL-capable airplane that’s well-made and sips fuel is tempting. We’ve flown around in a variety of Cubs (both old and new LSAs), as well as the Husky, to try them out. The problem (for us) with all these otherwise-excellent airplanes is the tandem seating; neither of us wants to sit in back, even half the time.
And then one day at the airport I noticed a Kitfox. This sporty-looking LSA was in use as a backcountry airplane. The seats were side-by-side. For an aircraft of its size, the baggage compartment was huge, big enough for light camping gear. Full-span flaperons, instead of conventional ailerons, gave the Kitfox “great short-field capability,” according to its owner. Folding wings let you trailer it home so you can forget about paying for a hangar. And as I sat in it, I could not believe the incredible visibility. Then I found out the Kitfox is manufactured only about 35 miles from where we live, just north of Boise, Idaho. Not only that, one of my fellow officers at the Idaho Aviation Association built and flies one. We don’t want to build our own, but since 2009, Kitfox has been selling factory-built aircraft in addition to the kits. I decided to learn more.
Kitfox Company & History
Kitfox is no newcomer to aircraft design and manufacturing. The Kitfox first appeared at Oshkosh way back in 1984 and has been a steady seller with numerous different models and more than 5,000 airplanes built and flying. The company began in Boise, Idaho, as Denney Aerocraft, and the airplane evolved from the original Model 1 through Models 2, 3,4, and Classic 4, making small improvements all along the way.
In 1992, the design and rights were acquired by Skystar Aircraft. They immediately began work on an all-new Kitfox design, the Series 5, a larger aircraft that added a greater useful load, certified engine, more cabin space and larger cargo capacity to the aircraft’s other attributes. The Series 5 was offered in both tailwheel (Outback/Safari) versions and tricycle (Vixen/Voyager) versions and enjoyed strong sales.
John McBean worked for Skystar in sales and as a demo pilot. In 1999 the company went through an employee buyout. The following year, Skystar announced the next evolutions of its aircraft, first the Series 6, followed by the Series 7.
Financial troubles followed in late 2005 but by spring of 2006 McBean and his wife Debra had purchased the company. They relocated operations to nearby Homedale Airport (S66), on the southwest bank of the Snake River, about 30 miles southwest of Boise.
What is a Kitfox?
Glance at the Kitfox and you’ll see a conventional welded-tube structure covered with fabric and side-by-side seating. Take a second look and you’ll notice several exceptional features: expansive clear plastic doors, a glass roof, a huge baggage compartment, and full-span flaperons in place of conventional ailerons.
Series 7 Kit Plane
The Kitfox S7 Super Sport employs the Rotax 914 turbocharged engine and boasts good cruise speeds, useful loads up to 800 pounds, 700-mile range, and 25,000-foot service ceiling. It can also be equipped with other engines. The aircraft is Sport Plane compliant and can be operated without an FAA medical certificate. Flight control improvements include a reduction in both landing speed and aileron-induced yaw, a larger elevator, and new manual-control trim system that strengthens pitch stability and authority. Convertible landing gear (takes about half a day to switch) and folding wings (takes minutes) are standard. Most Series 7 improvements can be retrofitted to the Series 5 and 6 aircraft. An interesting option concerns the cowling: you can build it with the normal, smooth cowling, or a round cowling that hearkens back to the look of the classic Cessna 195.
Each kit comes with a complete assembly manual. Built from 4130 Chromoly steel utilizing Lincoln welding equipment (which Boeing uses) and oil-treated on the interior for corrosion protection, a Kitfox has never suffered a reported in-flight frame failure. Bends, cuts, and holes are pre-prepared for faster build times. Every part, even zip-ties and safety wire, is hand-pulled, bagged, and tagged, boxed, staged, and shipped with the kit. Technical support, parts and accessories are always readily available. Base price for the firewall-back kit is $21,990. You can also order the Kitfox Classic 4 (special order only).
In 2009, Kitfox announced a factory-built version of the kit airplane, the Kitfox Light Sport SLSA, also with the convertible landing gear and folding wings. McBean wanted to produce a fly-away LSA at a price point around $100,000 and the base price for the Kitfox LSA is $95,995. Standard avionics include just a radio, but a glass panel is available. Also standard are an AOA system, 4-point lap and shoulder harnesses, one-piece acrylic windshield, Rotax 912 ULS 100-HP engine, ground-adjustable 3-blade composite prop, gravity-feed 27-gallon fuel system, and much more. Although it meets the 1,320-pound LSA weight requirement, the factory-built Kitfox has essentially the same structure as the well-regarded kit aircraft. Extensive use of fabric helps keep the weight down, as do the clear plastic doors and skylight. LSA-compliant means the pilot also does not need an FAA medical certificate to operate the aircraft.
So what’s the factory-built LSA like?
Getting into the Kitfox is like getting into any small airplane, a bit of a stretch, but the doors are wider than on the Cub. Indeed, a well-regarded pilot in North Idaho with a prosthetic leg told Kitfox owner Don McIntosh, who writes about his plane below, that the Kitfox 7 is the easiest airplane to get in and out of that he has been in. The seats are comfortable but they don’t slide forward. Instead, you use a lever mounted on the center cockpit tunnel to move the rudder pedals forward or back, according to the length of your legs. Do this before you put on your seatbelt. Engine controls are mounted low on the center console and trim is electric. Instead of a moving trim surface, the Kitfox trim system changes the angle of attack of the horizontal stabilizer through a jackscrew arrangement, as with the Mooney M20 series. The flaperons are adjusted via an easily-reachable lever between the seats. A push-pull tube, rather than cables, is employed for the elevator, while the rudder uses conventional cables. Flaperons are connected directly to the control sticks with a lever system that minimizes adverse yaw.
At around 5,000 RPM on the Rotax 912, the airplane will cruise around 120 MPH TAS and consume about 4–5 GPH. The generous 150-pound baggage capacity is plenty for light backcountry camping. And as you fly over those gorgeous vistas, you’ll enjoy unparalleled visibility, almost like a helicopter. The big windshield, two clear doors and giant skylight that extends way behind you will let you see it all, including traffic. Panel-mounted eyeball vents keep you cool, or you can fly with the doors open (or even off completely); they’re held open via gas shocks.
For better backcountry handling, the Kitfox has 6.00 X 6 tires instead of the standard 5.00 X 5 on other LSAs. With the tailwheel, forward visibility is somewhat blocked, but you can look to the side of the glareshield and get a good view ahead. (Optional larger Alaskan Tundra tires are available.)
Speaking of the backcountry, the Kitfox can take off and land in very short distances. Exact distances depend on pilot proficiency, payload, and which power plant, prop and pitch settings are used, but generally speaking, 250–290 feet is a good estimate. McBean, when light and solo, has gotten off the ground in less than 200 feet. Their new STI wing can get the plane off the ground in about half the distance of the stock S7 Super Sport, but it also gives up speed at cruise.
Inside and out, overall workmanship is excellent. When I wondered about flying it in the mountains or on long cross-country trips, McBean told me he’s flown his Kitfox all over the Idaho backcountry and to the Bahamas twice, all the way from Idaho.
And the latest news from Kitfox is that in early January 2016, the company installed a 180-HP Titan X340 engine in one of its aircraft. The new installation is still being tested, but the company reports a cruise climb of 2,500 FPM and hopes to achieve a best-angle-of-climb rate of as much as 3,500 FPM. They have not yet tested top cruise speeds; stay tuned.
Building & Flying the Kitfox 7
When I moved to Sandpoint, Idaho in 2002 I decided it was time to fulfill my dream of building my own airplane. At that time, I was not even aware of all the Idaho backcountry available here or how vibrant the aviation community was in this small town. In 2003 I got the opportunity to attend Oshkosh with a group from Spokane, Washington. Three cars and three airplanes headed off, meeting and camping along the way. I got a chance to physically see all the kit aircraft available at the time and gathered much information to bring home to study. I pretty much had decided on the Zenith STOL 701 as a doable, affordable project, but changed my mind once I matched its performance up against my other dream of flying to Alaska some day. I then narrowed it down to the Kitfox and the very sexy Glasair (Sportsman now) but the Glasair was two times the price, two times the build time, two times the insurance but really didn’t have that much over the Kitfox, and definitely would not fit into the LSA category like the Kitfox would if I decided to register it that way.
Even though I am a Civil Engineer and had been involved with major commercial construction projects around the western U.S., I had never done anything like building an airplane. I ended up doing all the work myself, building my Kitfox 7 from assembly of the kit, and then everything else, including everything from wiring, engine installation, fuel system, fabric covering and painting. I was actually a low-time single engine pilot with about three-quarters of my roughly 200 total hours in gliders. Back when I started, I could rent a glider for about $10 an hour total, including instructor and aero tow to 3,000 feet. So when I got the Kitfox kit, I hadn’t flown anything but gliders for the previous 13 years!
I actually flew current Kitfox company owner John McBean’s personal Kitfox for a trial flight because Skystar didn’t have a demo plane at the time.
John was very helpful during the purchase phase even though he wasn’t at that time employed by Skystar. There is nothing hard about building a Kitfox, but it may involve a couple more systems than some other kits. With the Kitfox, there is structural epoxy, aluminum cutting and drilling, bondo filling, woodwork and fabric covering. Building an all-aluminum plane eliminates several of these. Building any plane is a real project and what it takes mostly is a commitment of time with a true drive to finish and fly it. I can see now after going through the build process why there are so many airplane projects that don’t get completed. You also get on a first-name basis with the good folks at Aircraft Spruce, Kitfox, and your local UPS delivery man because there is always one different bolt, six more inches of something, or two more drill bits of some size that you forgot in yesterday’s order.
The Kitfox comes either conventional (taildragger) or tricycle-gear and is configured for both, and appears easy to convert between. The fuselage and tail feathers come totally welded out of 4130 tube steel so the big work is done for you. I will say that every part in the kit needs a little something done to it such as sanding, grinding, drilling, reaming, or varnishing so that is where time spent can vary vastly from builder to builder. I got the tri-gear with the idea of converting it to a tail dragger once I’d built up some hours flying again. Somewhere partway into the build, I decided to just pass the nose wheel idea and go tail dragger since that was what I really wanted for a final airplane. That meant I had to go get a tail wheel endorsement which, if nothing else, got me tuned up again in a plane with a fan out front just before I got the Kitfox flying.
I went with the Jabiru 3300, 6 cylinder, 120 HP engine in lieu of the Rotax 912. I did buy the Jabiru engine and cowling through John McBean and Kitfox even though he likes the Rotax and maintains more support for it. My main reason was I just wasn’t an engine guy and that Rotax is just a very complex piece of machinery. I also didn’t like the way it sounded. OK, I just didn’t care for that engine! I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, “Wow, what engine do you have in there? That isn’t a Rotax – that really sounds cool!” Later on, after flying to Johnson Creek a couple times, I added a HacMan needle valve assembly that gives some mixture control over the altitude-compensating Bing carburetor. Flying up at 10,000 feet over the mountain tops and then down into the valleys at 5,000 feet, the CHTs were running way cool and then warm again. The Rotax has the same Bing carburetors but has two of them to keep happy and in sync.
For a prop, I decided on the Sensenich ground-adjustable composite prop that Sensenich designed specifically for the Jabiru engine. A ground-adjustable prop seemed like a good idea because with not that many Kitfox/Jabiru combinations flying, no one could advise me with conviction as to which prop with which pitch was exactly what I needed. I acquired the prop through Kitfox also and it didn’t cost any more than buying direct. Then I upsized the tires. The 6.00 x 600 mains that came with the kit would work, but they just didn’t look right on a taildragger so the 8.50 x 600s seemed good. Then I needed a tailwheel (since I didn’t get one with the tri-gear kit) so I bought an Alaskan Bushwheel, againthrough Kitfox on their recommendation. I took the two-day Polyfiber fabric covering/painting course given by Spencer Aircraft over in Oregon to get the confidence for this task and borrowed one of the two-turbine HVLP sprayers so I could breathe fresh air while painting.
For avionics, I chose the Dynon D-180, a Garmin 296 GPS, Garmin SL-40 comm radio and the Garmin GTX 327 transponder. Then, even though not required, I added a round airspeed indicator in case everything goes dark unexpectedly. I recently upgraded the GPS to the Garmin 796 mostly for the bigger screen and it would fit horizontally where the 296 was.
All in all, it took me a little over four years and about 2,500 hours to finish everything and have a flying airplane. I justify this because I was working full time and was commuting three hours every day.
This meant out the door by 5:45 a.m. each day and home at 6:30 to 7 p.m., turn on the heat, dinner, and then in the garage no later than 8:00 or figure it is too late to get anything done. You can definitely get more done on a six-hour weekend day than you can in four separate two-hour nights. It can and has been done much faster, but I did enjoy the build project and figured I only had one chance at doing it my way. Some people like to make a race out of it and this was not important to me.
I really enjoy flying this machine too. For me at least, it is the best compromise there is. Any airplane you get will be a compromise based on your needs as to fast, slow, IFR, VFR, asphalt only or rough backcountry strips. This one isn’t fast, but it will outrun the Carbon Cubs I fly with. I cruise at about 110 mph indicated which is usually around 120 mph TAS, burning 5 to 6 GPH. I burn only Avgas for several reasons – the Jabiru was designed to run on 100LL even though it will run on premium auto gas, and Avgas is still more readily available at airports, without having to carry gas cans and fill by hand – especially with the high wing tanks.
On bumpy days, you can definitely tell this is a light airplane with a big wing because you will get bounced around more than you will in your standard Cessna. The bubble doors give more width right where it is needed at the shoulders, in addition to giving visibility straight down.
The Kitfox has three flap settings – none, half and full. The half setting is much more lift than drag, so don’t expect it to slow you down much. I generally use the half-flap setting on takeoff because in a no-wind situation, the full length flaperons create too much drag to get started down the runway and kick up rocks, or worse yet with any wind at all, the airplane pops immediately off the ground and seems like you are going straight up at way too slow a speed. Don’t ask me how I know this – but it is a very forgiving airplane! I generally give just a little gradual forward pressure on the stick to get the tail up and keep the mains on the ground for a few seconds before easing back and lifting off. I have never had any issues with crosswinds but use 12–13 knots as a max.
Cruise is pretty much hands-off, but it does take coordinated rudders for turns of any kind. Rolls on a point are surprisingly fast stop-to-stop, but these slowed down a bit and take more stick pressure when I added VGs to the wing. The VGs didn’t cost any cruise speed and only decreased the landing/stall speed by about 2 MPH, so if I could get them off now I might – but they sure do look neat!
The way the Kitfox flies depends on whether it is lightly or heavily loaded. It is a virtual “sports car” to fly by myself and chugs around as stable as a 172 when loaded up. The cargo bay is rated for 150 pounds but you can’t get 150 pounds back there unless you are hauling gold bricks! Camping gear for two fills it up pretty fast. Kitfox does sell an optional cargo pod that looks really useful. I did add two fishing pole tubes extending into the rear of the fuselage which also allows for hauling a shovel or other long-handled tool for use at backcountry work parties.
Landing characteristics depend a lot on loading also. Fully loaded, pattern at 80 MPH, reduce throttle, add flaps to 60, over the fence at 50 and it glides right down and touches at 37–40 just like a big airplane. Light with just me, it just doesn’t want to come down! The flaperons create more lift than drag so slips are very effective and used on most landings. Staying high and making the field is probably the glider pilot part of me I can’t shake. The airplane slips great no matter what the flaperon setting is. I have forgotten to warn a few passengers about slips and they have about jumped out their door when they are suddenly looking out my door seeing the runway coming up at them with the nose off at about a 40 degree angle and the airplane is rumbling and shaking! I generally like wheel landings better and agree with Wolfgang Langewiesche, who wrote in Stick and Rudder in 1944 that you can land just as short with a wheel landing as you can with a 3-point or “full stall” landing. Don’t get me wrong, this airplane does great 3-point landings but to make them perfect every time, you can float a long way down a short backcountry strip. With the big tires and spring gear you can get a launching bounce if you force it down too early with either style. On backcountry strips, I just prefer the steeper slip over the trees and decisiveness of the touchdown point with use of the strong independent brakes on both mains. To me, lightly loaded and at the full flaperon setting, the airplane feels “floaty” as you nose up to slow down. There is never a wing drop in a stall and it just gives a slight shudder and then basically parachutes down straight ahead.
I didn’t buy the airplane for long trips so I have been over the Cascade Mountain Range to Arlington, Washington and down to northern Utah, making the longest trip about five hours. I have been to most of the Salmon River and Hells Canyon strips in Idaho, but there are still a few I believe are above my pay grade. Western Montana strips and Eastern Washington strips have seen us many times. Day trips and overnight camping/fishing trips are what it’s about. I did the complete build in my 3-car garage and have never folded the wings since getting the completed airplane to the airport, where I keep it in a hangar.
Since I was the builder of the plane I qualified for and received the Repairman Certificate when I registered it which allows me to do all the work on my airplane including the annual inspection. I just finished building a set of Zenair amphibious floats but don’t have them on the airplane yet, so that is the next unwritten chapter. As I said above, the Kitfox is a very versatile airplane and I have enjoyed all my 550 hours in it and don’t know what I would enjoy any more than my Kitfox.
Featured Image by John McBean
About Co-Author Don McIntosh:
Don McIntosh was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He earned a degree in Structural Engineering at the University of Wyoming. During his career he served as a structural engineer on major construction projects all over the western United States. He now enjoys living in the forest in northern Idaho, skiing and flying his Kitfox. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Idaho Aviation Association.
Fox aircraft kit
With over 4,500 planes sold and delivered, the Kitfox from Kitfox Aircraft has become one of the most popular kit aircraft in the world. The Series-7 Super Sport is offered in a Taildragger version or with a Tricycle Gear and is easily switched from one to the other. The Kitfox features roomy side-by side seating, folding wings and exceptional flying qualities. Engines are available up to the 125hp Continental IO-240B. We are a prime supplier of components used in Kitfox kits.
Kitfox 57 Super Sport Specifications:
Kitfox Aircraft Insurance Cost
Kitfox aircraft are a series of two-seat, high-wing, single engine, tailwheel aircraft designed by Denney Aerocraft. Kitfox aircraft are kit-built aircraft, designed to be easy to assemble including having folding wings and easily converted landing gear.
Kitfox aircraft are outstanding at landing off airport, being light-weight, easy to fly and very adaptable for a variety of flying situations. Kitfox are also built as STOL tailwheel aircraft, meaning Short Take-Off and Landing, which gives them even more utility of use.
Aviation insurance in general, is a very specialized industry and premiums vary depending on make and model of the aircraft, hull value, use of the aircraft, pilot history and qualifications and aircraft insurance rates even take into account the loss history of each specific make and model and the loss history of the industry as a whole.
Kitfox aircraft insurance, like all airplane insurance, is broken down into 2 specific coverages. The first is Liability Coverage, which is standard on every aircraft insurance policy and the second is optional hull coverage, which covers damage to the aircraft itself.
Kitfox aircraft aviation liability insurance covers damage caused by the aircraft, outside of the aircraft, specifically property damage, bodily injury, and provides money for legal defense in the event that the aircraft owner is sued. Aircraft liability insurance is typically offered for Kitfox aircraft at $1,000,000 per occurrence (per incident) and includes coverage for passengers but limits that amount to $100,000 per passenger, which is included within the total liability of $1,000,000.
A real-world example of how this aviation liability coverage would protect you: If while flying your Kitfox and damaged property or caused bodily injury outside of the aircraft, you would have the full $1,000,000 in coverage to pay for damages that occurred. If the airplane crashed and you had passengers inside the aircraft that were injured, your insurance policy would pay up to $100,000 for each passenger. The Kitfox typically holds 1 passenger, so you up to $100,000 of your total $1,000,000 insurance policy could be used to pay for passenger liabilities, leaving you with $900,000 for other damage outside of the aircraft or legal defense.
This liability coverage also applies as a bubble that follows the aircraft around. If the aircraft is hangered, liability coverage extends throughout your hangar and it is this coverage that airports will typically require you to have. It’s not a separate insurance policy, it is actually coverage built into your standards airplane insurance policy.
Other liability options: Some companies may offer lower liability at $500,000 but the cost savings typically doesn’t make this a viable choice. Higher liability coverage on the Kitfox is typically not available due to the type and build of the aircraft.
The second coverage on a Kitfox aircraft insurance policy is hull coverage and is an optional coverage. Aircraft hull insurance covers damage to the aircraft itself and is an agreed value, not subject to depreciation. Agreed value is decided during the initial insurance quoting process, the aircraft owner requests an insurance quote for his or her Kitfox and requests a quote including hull coverage in the amount of say $50,000. Once an aviation insurance company provides a quote, they are agreeing with you that your aircraft is worth $50,000.
*Insurance companies may place additional stipulations on quotes to prove the value of your aircraft prior to binding, if your agreed value is higher than bluebook.
Most aviation insurance companies do not offer deductibles higher than $0 deductibles, which means in the event of a total loss, if your aircraft was insured for $50,000, you would get a straight check for $50,000.
Kitfox Insurance Cost Breakdown:
As of January 2020, there are 6 carriers quoting Kitfox insurance in the U.S. We consider qualified pilots to have at least a private license, with 750 total hours, 250 tailwheel and 25 hours in the make/model.
For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability only coverage.
Premium range for qualified pilots: $384-$505 per year.
Premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $470-$630 per year.
For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability coverage and $80,000 in hull coverage
Premium range for qualified pilots: $1,504-$1,920 per year.
Premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $2,200-$2,750 per year.
For more information or to get an actual Kitfox aircraft insurance quote, please fill out a quote request online here or call us at 800.666.4359
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Homebuilt aircraft family by Denney Aerocraft
The Denney Kitfox is a series of small side-by-side, two-seat, high-wing, single engine kit aircraft, designed and originally manufactured by Dan Denney and his company Denney Aerocraft of Boise, Idaho. The aircraft is amateur-built and not type-certified. Over 4500 kits have been delivered in 42 different countries.
A derivative of the Avid Flyer, the Kitfox was an early kit plane to feature quickly-folding wings that greatly simplify carriage and storage. The appeal of the aircraft was that it could be built in a two-car garage. Then it would be towed to the airport with the wings folded. The landing gear may be easily converted to floats or skis.
Development and history
First flown in November 1984 from the Denney Aerocraft factory in Boise, the Model 1 Kitfox was a two-seat STOLtaildragger aircraft capable of flying from unimproved strips. The design was originally intended to use a new radial engine then in development and the early Kitfoxes had round cowls with bumps to accommodate the cylinder heads. Although this radial engine did not materialize, and a Rotaxtwo-stroke engine was adapted instead, the "retro" radial cowling proved popular and was retained on many models. In 1984 a total of six Model 1 Kitfoxes were delivered and then the model range was expanded to include the improved Models 2, 3, 4, and Classic 4.
In June 1992 Denney Aerocraft sold the rights to the design to SkyStar Aircraft. Skystar started work on a new aircraft, the Kitfox Series 5. This aircraft was designed to be larger, with an increased useful load, cabin and cargo space, and to use certified aircraft engines. The Series 5 was produced as a conventional landing gear-equipped aircraft with the names Outback and Safari and also as a tricycle gear aircraft, the Vixen and Voyager. An employee consortium took over SkyStar Aircraft in January 2000, and this reorganized company launched the Kitfox Series 6. Later in 2000 the company also introduced the Kitfox "Lite Squared", a lightened version of the Kitfox Classic 4, as a two-seat ultralight trainer for the single-seat ultralight Kitfox Lite.
In 2002, SkyStar introduced the Kitfox Series 7. This aircraft can cruise at speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour (241 km/h), with a service ceiling above 25,000 feet (7,620 m). The Series 7 design conformed to the then-proposed Federal Aviation AdministrationLight Sport Aircraft category better than did the Lite Squared and it became the company's main model. As the LSA rules were further developed and gross weights increased, it became evident that a special version of the Kitfox Series 7, to be known as the Kitfox Sport, would not be needed and that all three Kitfoxes then in production — the Lite, Classic 4 and Series 7 — would meet the revised LSA category definition.
In late 2005 SkyStar Aircraft filed for bankruptcy. In April 2006, the assets of Skystar were purchased by Kitfox Aircraft, a newly formed company owned by John and Debra McBean. John McBean is a former SkyStar employee, having left the company in 2003.
- Model 1
- Original 1984 model with radial engine cowl and 64 hp (48 kW) Rotax 532 as the standard engine. A total of 257 kits were produced.
- Model 2
- The larger, wider Kitfox Model 2 was introduced in 1989 and available with the 64 hp (48 kW) Rotax 582 engine. The gross weight was increased to 950 lb (431 kg). 490 were produced.
- Model 3
- The Kitfox Model 3 features structural changes that were designed to improve flight characteristics and provide a better platform for more powerful engines including the 80 hp (60 kW) Rotax 912. A total of 466 were produced.
- Model 4-1050
- The Kitfox Model 4 was a new design introduced in 1991. It incorporated a laminar flowairfoil, new flaperon design, metal flaperon attach brackets and a new 2:1 differential aileron control system. The gross weight of the Kitfox Model 4-1050 was the same as the Model 3, 1,050 lb (476 kg). The Model 4 standard engines include the 80 hp (60 kW) Rotax 912 and the 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912S. 322 were built.
- Model 4-1200 (Classic IV)
- The Kitfox Model 4-1200, also known as the Classic 4, is the final version of the original 1984 Denney Kitfox. Introduced in 1991, the Classic 4 has stronger lift struts, gear legs, and fuselage carry-through tubes, which allow a gross weight of 1,200 lb (544 kg). The vertical stabilizer and rudder height was increased by 10 inches (25 cm), and the rudder width was increased by 2 inches (5 cm).
- Model 4 Speedster
- A variant of the Classic 4 with a shorter wing for a higher cruise speed and roll rate.
- Kitfox XL
- A lightweight variant of the Classic 4 introduced in 1994, with the 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503 as the standard power plant. The aircraft was intended as an ultralight trainer, but did not sell well.
- Kitfox Lite
- Single-seat ultralight design for the United States market by Skystar Aircraft. The Lite features similar styling to larger Kitfoxes, including the radial-style cowling, folding wings and Junkersflaperons. Original engine was a special model of the 2si 460-F35 two-cylinder, two-stroke powerplant converted to free-air cooling and direct drive, producing 28 hp (21 kW)
- Kitfox Lite2
- An upgraded variant of the Kitfox XL, introduced in 2001. Powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503, the Lite2 also features the popular radial-style cowling, flaperons and a welded steel tube fuselage, all covered in Stits Aircraft Polyfiber aircraft fabric. The aircraft was a success and sold well as both a complete aircraft and as a kit plane.
- Series 5 (Safari, Vixen, Outback, Voyager)
- Intended to use Continental and Lycoming certified engines in addition to the Rotax 912 engines, the Series 5 was introduced in 1994. The tailwheel version was named the Safari and the tricycle gear version was named the Vixen. The Vixen incorporated a swept tail, which was a cosmetic change that did not affect performance. Gross weight was initially 1,400 lb (635 kg), increased in 1995 to 1,550 lb (703 kg). In 1998, the marketing name of the Safari was changed to Outback and the Vixen to Voyager.
- Series 5 Speedster
- A variant of the Series 5 with a shorter wing for a higher cruise speed.
- Series 6
- Introduced in 2000, the Series 6 has a useful load of up to 800 lb (363 kg), a range of over 700 miles (1,127 km) and cruising speeds of over 120 mph (193 km/h). The aircraft can be converted from tricycle gear to tailwheel and back again.
- Series 7
- The Series 7 introduced a number of refinements, including a cruise speed of over 120 mph (193 km/h), a 700 miles (1,127 km) range and carry a useful load of 700 lb (318 kg). When equipped with the Rotax 914 turbo-charged engine, the aircraft has a service ceiling of 25,000 feet (7,600 m). Other engines available include Continental, Lycoming, Rotax 912S, Rotec R2800, Jabiru 3300 and the Rotax 915is engine. In the United States Light Sport Aircraft category it is marketed as the Super Sport. The construction time from the factory-supplied kit is estimated at 1000 hours.
Series 7 STI
A version of the Series 7 with a larger airfoil to increase STOL (short take-off and landing) performance.
Series 7 Speedster
A version of the Series 7 with shorter wings to increase speed much like the Series 4 Speedster.
- Kitfox SLSA
- Version of the Series 7 for the light sport aircraft market, with 1,320 lb (599 kg) gross take-off weight and the 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912ULS engine. The model is on the Federal Aviation Administration's list of approved United States Light Sport Aircraft.
Since early 2009, Belite Aircraft, a new company based in Wichita, Kansas has produced the Belite Aircraft Superlite derivative of the Kitfox Lite single-seat ultralight design. Belite extensively redesigned the aircraft to incorporate carbon fiber reinforced polymer wings, struts, spars and ribs, lowering the empty weight to 245 lb (111 kg).
Belite Aircraft "has acquired the production rights to a previously designed aircraft, the Kitfox Lite" and has "acquired the tooling, existing parts and manufacturing rights to the aircraft in March of 2009. As a condition of the transaction, they agreed to rebrand the airplane to prevent any confusion with the larger, two-place light sport Kitfox". It has a metal airframe and is covered in poly-fiber fabric.
In Europe, the Apollo Fox and Aeropro Eurofox are based upon the Kitfox, with their Junkers flaps and folding wings. Both are Rotax-powered, side-by-side two-seaters, and are available either as taildraggers or with tricycle gear. The Light Aircraft Association's chief engineer, Francis Donaldson, tested a Eurofox and declared that "the manufacturer Aeropro has refined and greatly improved a kit plane classic".
Specifications (Kitfox Classic IV)
Data from Kitfox Aircraft Website
- Crew: one
- Capacity: one passenger ans 550 lbs (250 kg) useful load
- Length: 18 ft 5 in (5.6 m)
- Wingspan: 32 ft 0 in (9.76 m)
- Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) (tailwheel)
- Wing area: 132 sq ft (12.28 m2)
- Empty weight: 650 lb (295 kg)
- Gross weight: 1,200 lb (544 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rotax 912 , 80 hp (60 kW)
- Maximum speed: 117 mph (190 km/h, 102 kn)
- Cruise speed: 110 mph (178 km/h, 96 kn)
- Stall speed: 37 mph (60 km/h, 32 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 125 mph (203 km/h, 109 kn)
- Range: 785 mi (1,272 km, 682 nmi)
- Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)
- Wing loading: 9.09 lb/sq ft (44.3 kg/m2)
- Power/mass: 15 lb/hp (0.11 kW/kg)
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
- ^ abKitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "New to Kitfox". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- ^ abcdeKitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Kitfox History". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- ^ ab"EuroFox"(PDF). eurofoxuk.co.uk. Archived from the original(PDF) on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- ^"Kitfox Aircraft History". lazair.com. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
- ^ abBushplanes.com (n.d.). "Kitfox". Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Series 7". kitfoxaircraft.com. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Model I". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
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- ^ abcBayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, pages 26, 62 and 106. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
- ^ abTacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, pages 65 and 112. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
- ^ abKitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Series 5 (Safari, Vixen, Outback, Voyager)". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Series 6". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- ^Vandermeullen, Richard: 2012 Kit Aircraft Buyer's Guide, Kitplanes, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2011, page 58. Belvoir Publications. ISSN 0891-1851
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Series 7". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Kitfox S7 Super Sport". Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- ^"General F.A.Q."www.kitfoxaircraft.com. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
- ^"STi Package". www.kitfoxaircraft.com. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
- ^"S7 Speedster Package". www.kitfoxaircraft.com. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
- ^Federal Aviation Administration (26 September 2016). "SLSA Make/Model Directory". Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- ^ abGrady, Mary (July 2009). "Former Kitfox-Lite Model Re-launches As Belite Ultralight". Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- ^Grady, Mary (July 2009). "First Flight For Belite Ultralight". Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- ^ abBelite Aircraft (June 2009). "Wichita Entrepreneurs Acquire Kitfox Lite Ultralight Aircraft Manufacturing Rights, Plan Reintroduction, Weight Savings and Improvements". Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
- ^Bertrand, Noel; Rene Coulon; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2003-04, page 118. Pagefast Ltd, Lancaster UK, 2003. ISSN 1368-485X
- ^Kitfox Aircraft LLC (2006). "Kitfox Classic IV Specifications and Performance". Archived from the original on 2010-10-10. Retrieved 2009-06-25.