Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super Drifter: New Tail for Oldie-but-Goodie

Lockwood Aircraft's Super Drifter open-cockpit kitbuilt plane, the resurrection of the Drifter design that was the basic concept for Phil Lockwood's AirCam twin-engine airplane, (a unique camera platform first created for National Geographic), is getting a new set of tailfeathers.
I first flew a Hummer ultralight, designed by Klaus Hill, back in the fall of 1980 at Crested Butte, CO. It belonged to hang gliding pal Gil Kinzie.
We were in CB for a soaring contest and he let several of us fly it, though most of us had no general aviation training. Ah, those wild and wooly days of free flight.
As such, the Drifter was one of the very first viable ultralights and presented a unique flying feel to its pilots: you sat out on the end of a long fuselage keel tube with everything - wings, motor, wheels - behind you!
Once you got over the initial floating-in-space challenges to your comfort zone, you fell in love with the incredibly open, free feeling.
But I digress.
Lockwood Aircraft has brought back the beloved design as the Super Drifter, with an 81hp Rotax 912UL - which gives the 495 lb. (empty wgt.) bird a real kick in the pants!
Specs and a blurb are here.
The tail mod, due next March, has two feet more horizontal span to augment pitch stability and elevator authority for float-equipped models. Lots of folks fly Super Drifters on floats.
Increasing the horsepower pops the Super Drifter off the water quickly and at low speeds, for shorter water takeoff runs. Low-power cruise makes for quiet flight, the power reserve is impressive and fuel efficiency is reputed to be super. The bird cruises between 55 and 75 mph.
The new horizontal stabilizers will be available as a retrofit kit for existing float-equipped Super Drifters and standard on new kits going on floats, according to Lockwood's go-to guy George Weber.
If you like to bolt things together and have a spare $45K or so laying around, the Super Drifter is one great way to go for purely fun flight.
---Super Drifter photo courtesy Lockwood Aircraft
---Gil Kinzie photo courtesy John Coe

1 comment:

kamakinzie said...

WOW, is that the Movie Star Jim Lawrence? Jim, it was TOTALLY COOL to see the photo of the old Hummer in your "New Tail for Super Drifter" article. It's still flying, as are Scott Lance and I. Love your work, Thanks.