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UFO - need info


Rob Judd
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Hi guys. I've been registered here for years but this is my first message.

 

Just bought an ultralight - well, it's in NZ so they would call it a microlight - and CAA NZ tells me they have no record of it. The tail suffix has only ever belonged to a long-deceased Tiger Moth.

 

Maybe someone here can identify it for me. Single seat, Rotax 447, 3-axis controls, trailerable with removable wings. I'd tell you how little I paid for it but don't like to hear grown men crying.

 

Rob

 

Some pix to help with the task:

 

microlight1.jpg.afddf6bb8549ed934548124b452f240c.jpg

 

microlight2.jpg.5b5f526bf5f310929c520610b002d5da.jpg

 

microlight4.jpg.fd3568c1faaa3e5d541e91d492aafea5.jpg

 

microlighth.jpg.2922aa3b5d470bbda9a85ff78dc4cd59.jpg

 

 

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Hi guys. I've been registered here for years but this is my first message.Just bought an ultralight - well, it's in NZ so they would call it a microlight - and CAA NZ tells me they have no record of it. The tail suffix has only ever belonged to a long-deceased Tiger Moth.

 

Maybe someone here can identify it for me. Single seat, Rotax 447, 3-axis controls, trailerable with removable wings. I'd tell you how little I paid for it but don't like to hear grown men crying.

 

Rob

 

Some pix to help with the task:

Hi Rob, I hate to be a party pooper but I don't think you're ever going to find out 'what it is' because I'm pretty sure its something that someone dreamed up one restless day, so would be a one-off and not a recognisable 'type'. A lot of this sort of thing got built in the 1980s and most ended up just as this one obviously has, stored in or next to a barn, and usually because the builder didn't have the heart to take it to the tip, or the person he sold it to flew it once and scared himself so much he never got back in it again.

 

This probably sounds harsh but I assure you it isn't intended to be, it's the absolute truth, I've seen it happen with lots of similar projects.

 

The 'designer' usually has little or no engineering knowledge thought they've usually tinkered with everything from billy-carts to go-karts to old cars, and as a result of their well-placed fears that bits of the plane might not be strong enough and break in the air with disastrous consequences, they tend to add lots of strength here and there and of course that adds lots of weight. Unfortunately they often don't add lots of strength in a few critical areas. This form of 'eyeball engineering' as the Aussies called it or 'TLAR design' (That Looks About Right) as the Americans refer to it, results in a structure that is way heavier than it should be and so the flight characteristics can be horribly unfriendly if not downright dangerous.

 

Added to that there is often little thought or knowledge applied to critical aspects like torsional stiffness of the wing and/or aerodynamic/mass balancing of control surfaces and so flutter with catastrophic consequences was not unusual in these types which had to fly fast due to their relatively high wing-loading.

 

The fella that sold this particular example to you has clearly demonstrated what he considered its real value to be, in that it's evidently been standing out in the open for many years, judging by the green mould growing on the aileron in picture 4 and I'd hate to think what corrosion must be lurking in the internals of the wings. The small tube 'spars' (or perhaps they're false spars but if so I can't see how they're resolved back to the central spar except through the skins ...) look insignificant enough in the first place without adding the risk of corrosion ...

 

Regardless of how little you paid for it I'm still a "grown man crying" for you, and hope you can get your money refunded because, apart from anything else it may well have been possible for the builder to get it registered back in the 1980s but you sure as hell won't stand a chance of registering it these days since you didn't build it.

 

Below is a pic of a similar era 'one-off' that almost flew that particular day, but like so many of them I never saw it again ...

 

PICT0220C.jpg.09a45c1d6d3fb04cfa7f11b64b3ff6d9.jpg

 

 

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Interestingly when I was flying at Yarram some years ago a student showed up with a two-seater aircraft that was very similar. I'm pretty sure it was European but can't for the life of me remember the manufacturer. I've emailed my old CFI there who gave the guy lessons to find out if he has a record of the airplane in his flight logs. It's unlikely to be a TLAR with those die-formed side panels, btw. Seller had it stored in a shed but it may have been a damp environment so I'll be doing a very careful inspection. It has some mechanical skin damage on one wing but materials to repair that are included.

 

If worst comes to worst, the value of the trailer and Rotax 447 is about what I paid for it. The trailer will be useful to take some large old couches and benches to the tip and I was going to buy one anyhow. I can always use the engine as the basis for a homebuilt. So in all it was a calculated risk.

 

Will know more when I get back to NZ in October I guess. Watch this space ...

 

 

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Well Sidey (my old CFI) didn't know it either. However I did get a photo of the ID plate from the owner, which helps because that it can be registered in NZ under part 47. The plate lists it as a Homebuilt, type "Rainbow Chaser" built in 2005.

 

Since it hasn't ever been registered though, I suspect big chief Head In The Clouds was right. I reckon someone built it and was too afraid to fly the thing, or bodged it up to look as if it was registered and just flew around private land. And without design specs or a flight manual even a Senior Flight Instructor - required under the RAA NZ rules to test aircraft to CAA 2116 standards - wouldn't volunteer to test the damned thing for me unless he had a death wish.

 

Too hard. I've asked for my money back.

 

 

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I feel for you Rob under the circumstances.

 

Sometimes our enthusiasm gets the better of us, but it is normally wiser to do some research first, otherwise, the price paid, could be an insignificant price to pay.

 

Good luck in finding something probably safer, at a price you can afford.

 

Kind Regards

 

Alan

 

 

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TLAR Design - my building mentor has said it time and time again when I question the apparent strength of a particular part of the build - "If it looks strong enough, it is already too heavy!"

 

 

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Some good advice on here, Rob. You might just have acquired a few thousand dollars worth of wisdom. Good deal.

 

If you're stuck with your purchase, fret not. Your backyard (or front garden) won't be boring like all the others. Your kids will have a real live aeroplane to play in!

 

 

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The seller is twisting and turning over this and making life hard for me. I think they've already spent the money.

 

I've had it with dreams of aviation. It's for rich folks.

 

 

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Some good advice on here, Rob. You might just have acquired a few thousand dollars worth of wisdom. Good deal.If you're stuck with your purchase, fret not. Your backyard (or front garden) won't be boring like all the others. Your kids will have a real live aeroplane to play in!

For my kids to have an aeroplane to play in, I'd first need to have some kids. At 61yo you're placing an onerous responsibility on my shoulders, old mate. :-)

 

 

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TLAR Design - my building mentor has said it time and time again when I question the apparent strength of a particular part of the build - "If it looks strong enough, it is already too heavy!"

Reminds me a bit of Colin Chapman's Forumla One design philosophy. Unfortunately a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to breakage really isn't an option in an aircraft.

 

 

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Well, the end result was different than expected. After consultation with RAANZ I decided to go ahead and purchase it. Apparently there is no required test period for single place microlights in NZ, which was my major concern. (Aside: Imagine paying CFI rates for 40 hours and you'll know why I was worrying about it).

 

So, I am now the proud owner of a unique aircraft. And at my age, who cares whether it kills me.

 

 

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For my kids to have an aeroplane to play in, I'd first need to have some kids. At 61yo you're placing an onerous responsibility on my shoulders, old mate. :-)

Sorry Rob. Same age as me, but you look younger in the pic.

 

 

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Actually I'm finding their public servants pretty relaxed in general. Went to the local council to get a copy of the planning approvals for my house, only to find that a large proportion of the rear section had been built as a "carport". I pointed out that the last approval date was 1987 (addition of a garage at front) and that the rear part of the house looked as if it hadn't been used as a carport since then. The girl sort of winked and said, "Well, just don't let us catch you using it as anything else." I was sort of gobsmacked and told her I was accustomed to dealing with councils in Australia that were officious and pedantic. She grinned and said, "Oh, we can be officious and pedantic too", as if daring me to give her trouble. I high-fived her and said, "I like you" and we both laughed heartily.

 

This is life in New Zealand.

 

 

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