UPDATE: A previous version of this post stated Karl Falken was the Squadron Captain. He is the Squadron Commander and his grade is Captain.
(Riverton, WY) – On March 27th, the Wind River Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol held its first Field Training Exercise (FTX) of the year. The Squadron Commander, Captain Karl Falken, provided the following information about their first FTX of 2021.
The squadron met on the private airfield of local inventor Chuck Hoelzen who gave a demonstration that began with an introduction to his 1984 single-seat Quick Silver MX kit-based ultralight aircraft.
From the base model, Hoelzen has modified it with an add-on brake kit and oversized main wheels. The original engine was a 35hp Austrian Rotex twin-cylinder, 377 two-stroke, air-cooled aircraft engine, built by BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co. It currently sports a 447 version.
The single-seat aircraft has a single Bosch flywheel magneto generator 12-volt ignition system and Bing double float carburetor. The aircraft has a custom-built computerized instrument panel with a pressure altimeter and climb and speed indicators. The display includes a solar-powered outside air temperature gauge also designed and built by Hoelzen.
In a current redesign, he plans to add GPS, an inertial platform for directional gyro display to the system with a magnetometer for a magnetic compass, estimated wind speed, and other new functions. It will monitor engine temperature with a set of dual exhaust gas and cylinder temperature head probes that can run off an internal battery with a small solar cell or powered by the electrical pulses from the magneto.
Based on these designs, he could build a non-certified instrument panel for any aircraft for $300-$500, Falken noted.
The range of the QS aircraft is about 30 miles from the home base and its top speed is about 37 knots. This particular aircraft has a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute recovery system, configured for QS.
After the talk, Hoelzen demonstrated the capability of his ultralight with a standard taxi from the hangar to the runway, a quick take-off, then he circled back for a fly-by, demonstrated banks, turns, and finished with a smooth, quick landing.
“Due to their short-range and dependency on good calm weather, ultralights are purely recreational aircraft,” Hoelzen explained. “They are also distinct from light aircraft or general aviation aircraft because the ultralight cannot be used for commercial purposes.”
An important design difference from standard aircraft is that steering this 2 axis MX UL, which does not have ailerons or a vertical stabilizer, depends on a high dihedral in the wings, full moving rudder, and skidding to roll the wings.
Hoelzen gave the six CAP members an in-depth tour of his well-equipped machine shop, a peek at the ½ scale steam locomotive project, and projects in other buildings on the property. The participants agreed that this was a unique and interesting experience, Falken noted.
“I’m sure most people have seen the movie Back to The Future,” commented SM John Larsen. “If there is someone local that could play the part of a real-life Doc Emmet Brown, the eccentric scientist/inventor, that would be Chuck. We had a great time!”
The FTX also included virtual training by FO Zachery Ravlin, Wyoming Wing Director of Communications. The training covered Mission Staff Assistant and Mission Radio Operator.
Training participants were Capt. Karl Falken, SM John Larsen, SM Kunle “Francis” Obikoya, C/A1C Matthew F. Stong, and C/CMSgt Nicholas Stong. They completed the training for MSA and most of the training or MRO.
Because the training was online, FO Zachery Ravlin was able to manage the training while fielding a series of CAP priority radio messages from his office on the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. That made the MRO training even more memorable and meaningful.
“When we were invited to the private airfield I expected a chance to see the ultralight aircraft up close,” C/Amn Aquinas Lasnoski said. “What really surprised me was how simple the systems were compared to other aircraft and how quickly Mr. Hoelzen was able to get into the air. I was also impressed with how maneuverable the ultra-light was. Mr. Hoelzen inspired me with his depth of knowledge, his skills in designing parts for his aircraft, and how he used his shop to make the components from scratch.”