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Jan 24, 2010, 01:04 PM
Vertical Unlimited
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Ski Plane

The snowy winters of Canada and a chance find of Dubro aircraft skis at a hobby shop in Buffalo (where they get 9 feet of snow per year!!!) motivated me to finally fit skis to one of my planes. My little park flyer Hyperion Helios had its conventional wheels removed, and the skis fitted within an evening.

I was very concerned about how this would all work. The skis are relatively small, so I feared that even a foot-print in the snow would cause them to dig in, potentially ripping out the undercarriage. My fears were unfounded - the skis float over pot-holes, punch through snow mounds, and are totally at ease in bumpy terrain. The plane actually lands and taxis around easier than when it used wheels! Due to the reduced drag (compared with wheels on grass) the take-off run is barely 3 feet, and the landing roll out (slide out?) is short too. The plane works better with skis!

In flight I didn't notice any major trim change, except when one of the ski mounting bolts came loose in flight and the ski swivelled to a vertical position. The plane began to dive and required a lot of up elevator to maintain height. I was very concerned that the ski would dig-in on landing, but as the skis touched down, the faulty ski spun horizontal and the plane taxied back, with no indication there was ever a problem. The loose bolt was tightened and lock-tited to ensure that scare didn't happen again!

Another great dimension to flying! I just wish the snow was still here for more ski flying!
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