I received the DVD's in the mail and looked at it immediately.
Wonderful job! I thoroughly enjoyed it. The flying sequences and especially the comparison of hardware between the Challenger and the Excalibur. It's these sort of comparisons that draw a clear distinction between bailing wire and true aircraft hardware and is what conscientiously safe pilots look for. A few years back a buddy of mine at work bought a Challenger. He and I would talk about aircraft constantly and I tried everything to convince him that the Excalibur was, hands down, the better aircraft, but the only thing he was interested in was the following and name recognition of Challenger. Boy am I glad he doesn't manufacture ultralight aircraft with that kind of criteria in determining what to buy...or sell.
To this day, I'm one of Excaliburs prime advocates out here whenever I engage in airplane talk with other pilots who enjoy seat of your pants style flying. Having studied aircraft structures at Embry-Riddle studying engineering builds a strong appreciation for quality and precision. Burt Rutan exemplifies this in his aircraft design.. And Tom, so do you. You and others like you belong to an exclusive club that only a handful of designers/builders belong. Don't ever change, because the real flying community needs this kind of integrity. (boy, listen to me...never-the-less, it's true)
I also enjoyed the extended interviews of some of the owners, especially the gentleman from the Rocky Mountains using the 65 HP Hirth on his Excalibur. Does he mind his email being given out? If so, I'd really appreciate getting it. My friend and I could arrange a visit so that he can see what the aircraft looks like up close. I was surprised with his choice of the Hirth, but with his experience here in the Rockies, I trust his conclusions on choice of engine even though I prefer 4-stroke. Still, with the kind of flying we would be doing it seems that the Hirth would be an excellent choice.
I also noticed that you are now offering a complete factory built aircraft. Assuming that a factory built would sport a Hirth 65 with all the standard equipment, plus flaps, electric trim and substituting analog instruments for the glass cockpit setup, what would the ballpark, out of the hanger price tag be on the factory built Excalibur? Do you have a brochure or something on the factory built version that you can email?
Take care for now and thanks for the DVD, I really enjoyed it.
Kind Regards, Cliff Zervos
Eight years had passed since I had last sat in the command seat of any aircraft. Health problems had caused me to sell my Cessna 172 but did little to quell my desire to float among the clouds. The Internet kept me in touch with my dream to build my own cloud buster but life has a way of pushing dreams just out of reach. One day, while surfing cyber space and dreaming with my eyes open I came across this web site for Exca1ibur Aircraft. I read the info on this plane and decided to dig further. The more I read the more I felt that this might be the realization of the dream I had harbored so long. A few telephone calls later (to other owners of Excaliburs) I had made up my mind to own one of these beauties.
I have land and barns so the facilities to produce this plane from a kit were available to me. Tom Karr, owner of Excalibur Aircraft Co. had an aircraft that he was building as a demonstrator in his factory. If I was willing to come to Florida and help finish the bird, I could fly it home. A price was discussed, I agreed, Vacation plans were made, and I was off to Florida.
Arriving in Sebring on a warm winter afternoon, I made my way to the Excalibur factory. There I met the soft spoken, affable Tom Karr, who began immediately to show me around his facility. I was introduced to the dies and jigs that allow each piece of the plane to be reproduced with total, unfailing accuracy. I visited with the aircraft grade wing struts and various nuts and bolts designed to reduce drag and increase fuel economy. In short, being an engineer, I was extremely impressed.
When I first laid eyes on my bird my impression grew. Several innovations had been added which I had not expected. She had electric flaps, adjustable trim, rear seat air speed indicator, hydraulic brakes, and the instrument panel was all any VFR pilot would want. As I have stated, I had not flown in several years so after the plane was finished, Tom called in his test pilot to help me understand the finer attributes of theExca1ibur Light Sport Plane.
The day had finally come. It was 2 in the afternoon. I had 20 gallons of fuel aboard, my Garmin 296 GPS was attached to the instrument panel and I was dressed in my favorite fleece lined bomber jacket. As Tom photographed the event, I shoved the throttle forward. After a ground roll of about 150 feet she left the surly bonds of earth and climbed like a homesick angel.
First stop on my journey was Perry- Foley in north central Florida. The craft handled great flying at 4500 feet. The trip was about two hours. The Garmin took me right up to the door at Perry. After flying a down wind at 1500 feet I turned final and started adding flaps. In dead calm air I touched down at 35 mph indicated air speed.
The next morning the field was solid socked with fog. Finally at about l0 a.m. someone arrived in a Cessna 180 and told me that the fog dissipated about five miles out. Patience was never my strong suit. I got away with a ten mph tail wind but low cloud cover held me to about 800 feet. The plane was flying close to VNE indicated but my GPS bragged that my ground speed was 105 mph. Scud running brought me to Destin Florida before noon. A full tank of fuel and I was off to Mobile, AL.
I landed in Mobile in a pouring rain at St Elmo Field. The rain would last throughout the night and into the next afternoon.
With a promise of clearing skies a few miles to the west; I took off into the rain soaked clouds. Macomb Mississippi was the next stop on my tour of the south and this is where I learned how not to use a GPS. To this point the Garmin had worked flawlessly, taking me to the front door of each airport. In Macomb the field is five miles removed from the VOR transmitter. Depending on the alphabetical identifier that you enter into the GPS the signal will take you either to the field or the transmitter. I went to the transmitter. With no field in sight I had to put the bird on the ground.
I saw a long, green pasture next to a sawmill about five miles west of Macomb. Turning final on this field gave me a direct cross wind of about ten mph but that became negligible as I passed below the tree tops and made the smoothest landing of the whole trip. The sawmill hands were happy to drive me to town for fuel and lined the fence to watch the departure. I taxied back about 700 feet from the trees. The roll out was in grass six inches deep but the little plane was still off in about 200 feet and cleared the 50 foot trees at the end of the field by a mile.
Rusk County airport in Henderson Texas has always held a spot in my heart but this day it was especially beautiful. It was home. The weather was cold, about 36 degrees. Winds were out of the east at about 15 mph. Thus ended the 1200 mile odyssey.
| Excalibur N53DZ
By: Dirk Zahtilla
Tom & all the great folks on this Excalibur list:
John Bateman brought his beautiful Excalibur to our EAA Chapter 1425 fly in at Davenport, Washington this weekend and I must say he did a very nice job of building his bird. I've been an aircraft mechanic since 1974 & have built 15 previous home builds and his workmanship is top notch ... but here's the best part: he let me fly his birdI have flown the Challenger before, and this is my first time flying the Excalibur.
I spend most of my work days tooling around in the Jetprop conversion we do at work and I have to say that the Excalibur fly's much like a Jetprop does .... just point & go. The control inputs are almost the same .... very smooth, precise & light. Much lighter than the Challengers I have flown, and maybe even my Challenger which will be flying soon .... the Excalibur is a very stable aircraft, and seemed to handle a very stiff upper crosswind [1500 AGL] as if it didn't even exist .... only the difference in airspeed showed the effects fo the wind.
The Excalibur is a wonderful airplane to fly, anyone who says different either has never flown one, or simply doesn't know how to fly. Now to figure out how to get my bird sold so I can buy a Excalibur ..... Thank you Tom for such a delightful design.
Going fine Tom
The plane has 64.9 hours on it and is very controllable in 20 - 30 mph winds. Today I put it into the wind and gradually transitioned to slow flight, straight and level, maintaining 1,400 ft. I got the GPS to register 8.8 mph. Bicycles were passing me by. Pretty fun. Took it up to 7,100 ft. msl from a takeoff at 17 ft. above msl. Could be a record. Phil took his Excalibur up to 7,200 ft. msl but I bet his strip is a good bit higher than ours (cheat). I have not yet gotten around to flying dual from the back seat but that will come in due time as well.
The next project is the Trans-Atlantic Excalibur. I ordered the pair of 5 gallon wing tanks from LEAF and I am in the scheming process to decide where I will mount them. If I can work out the details, I will hang them in close to the fuselage down low suspended from the lift struts. That will maintain rear seat visibility but will require a 12V fuel pump to accomplish transfer to the main tank in flight. I expect to use quick disconnects to plumb them through a left, right, both, or off valve body. From the valve, the fuel line will tee in to the main fuel line below my tank (remember that I draw fuel from a bushed elbow at the bottom of the tank. When I use the pump to transfer fuel, it will flow back into the tank via the main fuel line and the process will be registered by the fuel gauge. The tank will be removable and will not be used on most flights. They will only be needed when I go to a fly-in or some other extended flight.
Ed Moody II
The Instructor (Paul) who has been looking "over my shoulder" and who is a personal friend of the DAR who is going to inspect the Excalibur was doing some taxi tests today. Got up to flying speed and he flew the plane down the runway at about 10' altitude and low speed (50mph) with partial power. He said everything worked real well. He was impressed with the sensitivity of the controls and the stability of the airplane. Said all the control surfaces were in the operational limit and nothing was out of sync. It flew straight and level with only minimal back stick pressure (which I can fix with a little more tension on the bungee strap under my seat.) I was impressed (and moved a little emotionally)... got some video of the whole thing and have watched it over and over here at home. He was airborne in about 30 - 40 feet and landed at about 40mph. All in all, it was a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment seeing it fly for the first time.
You build a great kit.
Hi, Tom.... after all the tweaking and gap sealing the local UL instructor rode with me for about 1 and a half hours dual, and let me go. So, now, I am officially a test pilot with 2:30 under my belt. The 2:30 I spent solo today was so much fun I told Pat it alone was worth the 200+ hard hours I spent putting the thing together. Wow! what fun. I flew within 10 miles of the airport today at altitudes up to 1200' trying out different power settings and listening for any STRANGE noises. The Excalibur is a GREAT AIRPLANE. It was relatively easy for me to adjust to (from all the GA stuff I've flown) and the landings were a real blast. I'm amazed at the take off and climb power the 503 churns out. At 5000 RPMs I cruised at about 60MPH and the climb out got close to 6800RPMs with a steep angle of attack. The controls are docile and handling a 10 knot crosswind presented no real problem to me today. Anyway, I am so glad to have the liberty to fly at my discretion (with acceptable weather, of course) and get on with the next 37+hours of testing.
The Instructor told me the Excalibur flew much better than any Challenger he's
ever flown. Now, what about that ! ! !
I know it has been a long time coming, but I finally flew my Excalibur this morning for the first time. I couldn't find anyone locally who was willing to test fly it for me, so I simply told myself that I had absolutely no reason to doubt its airworthiness. It flies absolutely beautifully! The Rotax 582 is actually much more than the airplane needs, but they go together flawlessly. And, of course, this was my first solo in any airplane. I made a couple of less-than-perfect landings, but the gear is undamaged. Thank you for all the help and support you have given me.
I will stay in touch.
Philip P. Marcotte
558 20th Ave
Blanchard MI 49310
December 2, 2003
Tom Karr, President
6439 Tractor Rd
Sebring FL 33872
I'm writing this letter to express my gratitude to you and your staff for all the help in building my Excalibur Aircraft. You have helped me all along the way. Your continual moral support, technical support, and answering my many questions is greatly appreciated. Your supplying extra parts when I screwed up is indicative of the great support you've given me.
My aircraft was approved by the FAA on September 10, 2003. Since that time I have been able to accumulate a little over 15 hours of flight time. I just came in this evening from 0.8 hours of the most pleasurable flying ever. The OAT was 22 degrees at 700'agl but I was in seventh heaven. I was dressed for the cold and simply enjoyed the flying. It's like flying my own private miniature fighter plane.
This airplane is all I had hoped it would be. Stall speed is coming in at 32mph. That's with a Rotax 503 turning a 68x32 Tennessee wood prop. My checks of IAS show that it is within 1 mph according to GPS speed with no winds.
Now that I have the controls configured and trimmed where they should be the airplane handles like a dream. I was seeing a climb of 1000'pm at 50mph this evening, understanding the temperature was quite cool. I throttled back for landings and came over the fence at 45mph - ample speed at these temperatures to make very smooth landings with a relatively short roll out.
Take-off happens quite 'suddenly' when the airplane reaches flying speed. The craft literally 'jumps' off the ground. Climb out is quick with a Vy of 720fpm at 50mph (at higher temp than tonight).
I am very pleased with the aircraft performance and the past and continual support from you. I hope that we continue to remain in contact as friends and colleagues.
would recommend the Excalibur and the excellent factory support to anyone
interested in building a light airplane.
enjoying the heck out of my airplane and ever so glad I chose the Excalibur.
Keep up the great work. I LOVE MY EXCALIBUR!!!!!! What a ball to fly
I just wanted to write you a note of thanks for all your help in getting my Excalibur(N3077Y) flying. Initially I was deciding whether to build a Challenger or an Excalibur, but after having flown both the Challenger and the Excalibur and visiting your factory, I decided on the Excalibur. Now I realize I made the correct decision! When I first purchased my kit on 10-26-2001, you stated "We'll be with you 100% of the way" and I must say you exceeded that promise. Never having built an aircraft before, I would need a lot of help and you were always available to answer my questions (which allowed me to finish my aircraft in six months!) Not only were you available to help during the building phase, but you have continued to help out while I was getting my FAA airworthiness inspection and during my test flying and trimming of the aircraft. The rudder trim you recently fabricated for me has worked perfectly.
Aircraft performance has equaled or exceeded all of the specifications put forth on your web site. My solo stall speed (pilot weight 190# + full fuel) is 33mph, solo take off roll is less than 100', I can cruise up to 90mph and the aircraft will exceed 90mph in level flight. My climb rate exceeds 1200fpm, I have flown with a 500# load and have climbed to 10,000' and could have gone higher. Fuel consumption with my Rotax-582 is about 3.5 to 4.0 gph at 85mph cruise. Power off sink rate is about 325 to 375fpm and although not a true glider and I am not an experienced glider pilot, I have gained altitude power off while trying to soar in thermals that I noticed birds were using. My aircraft flies and lands very nicely power off.
Overall I have really been enjoying flying N3077Y and look foward to putting amphibious floats on the airplane later this year. Once again Tom, thanks for all your support.
Sincerely, Dave O'Brien, Airline Capt.
I just want to remind
you, it's been one year since I bought my Excalibur Kit.
After several months of
assembly I saw it in the air. The sense of satisfaction was inspiring
and it made me proud. I spent August and September tweaking it with test
pilots and started my lessons in my own Excalibur in October.
It's a great flying plane
- It acts like it wants to fly - even dual, with my instructor (440 lbs combined )
it nearly jumps off the ground at around 50mph - and the glide ratio on landing
approaches feel solid - no hint of stall as it floats gently down the
runway. It's a delight to fly. My only regret is that I spent a year
thinking about building and flying before I did it.
I can't tell you how
pleased I've been with the airplane and the support you gave during the
building. The quality of your Service and the Airplane have both exceeded my
Also, I want to comment on the powerplant. The Rotax 503 dos a far better job
than I expected. The primer allows an excellent cold start. I love
to hear it run while bringing it up to flying temps.
My instructor says I can
make money by letting him use my plane to give lessons. Of course, there's no
way thats going to happen.
Thanks again for all your
help in helping me attain a life long goal.
I didn't send the email
for eye wash - it's all so true - I expect to have many more happy hours in my
I went to the hangar to give my Excalibur some exercise. It was about 38 degrees
and VERY windy. On the ground the winds were 35-40MPH and at 2000' it was
hitting about 50. After warming her up I did a couple of crow hops both ways to
see how she handled. I have had her up in 30MPH winds but not 40-50 so I took it
slow and easy. On my 3rd crow hop she leaped in the air but I was ready for it.
The runway is 10/28 and I was heading for 280 and the winds were from 220 so I
had a bit of a crab. Naturally she was up in no time and the climb rate was over
1200FPM and my airspeed was 40MPH at that time!
The winds were strong but not gusting so the flight was incredibly smooth. At one point I slowed my airspeed down to 30 and I noticed the ground speed was 80 (according to my GPS). I have not encountered such strong crosswinds before so it was neat to practice flying in these conditions.
On my first attempt to land, I GROSSLY misjudged the crosswinds and was pushed way out on my base leg so I had to head back into the wind to line up with the runway. I could have sworn I was banking at close to 90 degrees! The ground speed was 25 and I had to crab quite a bit to get back on course. When I was lined up on final I still had to crab quite a bit to stay straight. It was quite an experience to crab like this so close to the ground. I was waiting for ground effect to enable me to straighten out... waiting... waiting... waiting... It never happened. So, I made my first one wheeled landing! I was VERY careful to watch the wingtip to make sure it did not kiss the ground. It seemed like I stayed on the one main (right) for 30 seconds before I slowed down enough to let the left wing drop. I did not use the brakes because this was exciting and I wanted to experience this for as long as I could. Once she was down I turned around (I used about 2000' of runway) and headed for the hangar. I made sure my right aileron and elevator were down in case the winds gusted.
Even though that was an exciting flight and she handled great, I was not willing to risk it again as the winds were starting to gust. I shut her down, pushed her in the hangar and started working on the doors. Even though it was about 40 degrees I was not cold at all. I think the sun shining in through the lexan has a 'greenhouse' effect. All I had on was a light jacket, long sleeves, jeans, tennis shoes, and some light gloves (ok I also had on my undies). I was very warm and comfortable. I had left some tools at home so I was not able to do too much on the doors so I closed up the holes in the engine (muffler, air filters, etc) to keep out moisture and headed home. It was a great day!
Disclaimer: These stunts were performed by a professional stuntman on a closed course. Do not attempt these manuevers at home. :)
Richard M. Wright
From: JACK WAGGONNER [mailto:JHW2000@msn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 5:07 PM
Subject: Re: Excalibur
Thank you so much for your reply re Excalibur. I have visited your site and viewed your fantastic painting of your Excalibur. I am on the brink of making the big decision to make the final jump and buy, after months of evaluations. Your info plus the letter you attached has left me even more favorably impressed with the EXCALIBUR.
Again, thanks for your courtesy.
The building process has
been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling projects I have ever undertaken
(outside of being a pastor and preaching the Gospel). I'll be glad to
recommend the Excalibur Experience to any of your prospective customers.
Got the bungee elevator neutralizer installed and it works great. Hope to get
the windshield on this week and start the taxi tests. If all the paperwork
stays on schedule, should be ready for the maiden flight before Christmas.