Belite has made ultralight aircraft news this week with the presentation of their newest model, the Bealite SeaLite. The single seat, amphibious ultralight aircraft took its first flight on Tuesday in Witchita.
James Wiebe, the founder of Belite, said the technology was put into this plane because of customer demand. It started with a man in Wisconsin, but he expects this to become a popular item in coastal areas. Places like Alaska, northern New England, the Great Lakes, and Florida are examples of places he will market the new plane.
The plane started as a KitFox Lite, which was then modified greatly to include floats for taking off and landing in water. The floats and wing spars are made from carbon fiber, with each of them weighing only about 20 pounds. The body of the fuselage is mostly aluminum, adding to the lightweight design. A lot of research of aerospace engineering went into the planning and producing of this new model, because they wanted to get it right.
The cost of the new SeaLite without wheels is $50,000. Want wheels? Add another $10,000 onto that. While the plane is pricey, for many it will make transportation easier in outlying coastal areas. And since it falls under federal regulations that do not require a pilot to have a license, it makes it all the more appealing for many people. Obviously, users should look into some sort of training before attempting to fly one of these birds, but the lack of regulations does make it easier.
Belite expects to deliver it’s first plane to a customer in early 2014, and believes the market will demand many more after that. If you’re a fan of ultralights and live near the water, it may be something to consider.