View Full Version : Sept '08 KOTM - Steve Wilson

09-15-2008, 04:45 PM
Steve Wilson (SkySteve (http://www.teamkitfox.com/Forums/member.php?u=6)) - Huntsville, UT (flying out of Ogden OGD)
Model 1 (well, kind of a model 1,3&4)
Rotax 912A (80hp) Certified, Warp Drive medium 3 blade ground adj.
Started April, 2005 – Completed and flown August, 2008

The story of 85DD:
We all know the saying, "If these walls could talk". If Kitfox 85DD could talk she would tell us an interesting story, only part of which I know. Here’s what I know about her. In 1986 Dan Denney finished 85DD. She was used as a Poster Child for multiple Kitfox Aerocraft advertisements where she was adorned by floats, a beautiful woman and serene landscapes. She represented all Kitfoxes at AirVenture in Oshkosh and to this very day still proudly displays a 1986 winner’s sticker on her port side.

There is a gap in her history following these events, but her log book indicates some wing and fabric damage/repair, an engine change (to the 912A Certified aircraft engine) and later, a new set of wings from a wrecked model 3. Ownership was transferred from Dan to his uncle. In 2004 she moved to Ogden, Utah and was owned by Jim Duffy, an A&P mechanic at the Ogden airport. Jim put very little time on 85DD which ended with a ground loop. In 2005 I was just starting flying lessons and thinking about the Sport Pilot certification when my CFI suggested I purchase 85DD. At his recommendation I did just that. Having absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the differences between a taildragger and nosewheel airplane I jumped right in and took off . . . then tried to land. On my second landing I quickly learned about ground loops! 85DD had tossed me like an unruly wild horse and had hurt herself in the process. There she lay; broken wing tip, broken propeller, and broken main gear. And me, with a broken heart.

Upon finding a qualified A&P mechanic, we moved 85DD to Morgan, UT and started to rebuild. I sought advice from some who said, "Just put her back together and fly her", but I had developed a fear of 85DD as a taildragger. What would she try next? Our fist rebuild project was new Grove main gear. I called Grove, who responded they do not make gear for a Kitfox model one. In fact, after calling many suppliers I soon found out no one makes anything for a model one, you are just on your own. So, whenever we needed parts I ordered parts for a model 4 and made the necessary changes to 85DD to make them fit. Here is a list of modifications and upgrades 85DD now carries:

Model 3 wings (supplied by Dan Denney)
Rotax 912A, 80hp Certified aircraft engine (also supplied by Dan Denney)
Engine starting primer
Vertical Stabilizer height increased by 10 inches (to match a model 4 rudder)
Model 4 rudder
Warp Drive 3 Blade medium ground adjustable prop
Nosewheel & Tailwheel convertible conversion
Grove spring aluminum main gear
Grove 6" wheels
Grove disc brakes
Dual pilot Matco toe brake controls with master reservoir
Airhawk 600-6 tires
K&N Ram air carburetor induction system
Clear doors (soon to be bubble doors)
Padded windscreen dash
Carpet with carbon fiber heel plate
Battery moved to tail section and adjustable tail weight system
The maiden flight following completion was by a very brave Kitfox friend, Tim Kaser. His first flight was about 50 feet high and 400 feet long when all at once the engine sputtered and coughed. Tim put the airplane down like an old pro while I prayed he would return to earth safely. The result of much testing and discussion was a carburetor ram air system using a large cone shaped K&N air filter. The second launch was conducted by John Oakley (No one knows where Tim disappeared to). John took off . . . It was a beautiful flight culminating in a great landing. John then flew 85DD back to the Ogden airport. I climbed in and with great trepidation . . . took off. 85DD offered no resistance. Like a freed eagle she soared. When landing, she gave up her fight and stayed straight on roll out. Finally, 85DD was transformed from a wild fighting savage beast into a tame and willing friend.

With about 10 hours flying time, she and I are becoming partners. She quickly climbs out at 1,200 fpm at ¾ throttle and there is more to be had if needed. Fuel burn appears to be about 3.5-4gph using 91 octane auto fuel. Cruising at 90mph is easy and I understand about the max one should fly the model one. Including the purchase price, rebuild and upgrades I now have over $40,000 invested in 85DD. More mods are planned for the near future.




09-15-2008, 04:55 PM

Wow, you've got a real piece of Kitfox history there, how appropriate for the very first KOTM. Congrats on the rebuild, and especially for not getting discouraged and giving up on it. I'm sure you and your Kitfox will enjoy many fine flight hours now. Good job!

09-15-2008, 06:11 PM
WOW! Thanks for the honor of being the first KOTM! I will let 85DD know tomorrow when I take her for a short flight.

09-15-2008, 06:19 PM
Steve , I have to 2nd what Randy says. It is very fitting that your Kitfox is the first KOTM.
It was Oshkosh 84 I think when I first saw Dan Denney fly 84DD. It sure caught my attention. But it was 85DD that set the hook for good. I literally wore out two of Kitfox's VHS sales tapes dreaming of my own Kitfox and 85DD was the star.
I dare say that 85DD caught up hundreds of pilots like myself that dreamed of high performance flight on a working mans budget.

85DD looks to be in great hands and I hope you fly it to the Kitfox Factory Fly-in next year. It would be great to get a photo taken with her, maybe even sit in the pilots seat. Hint. Hint.
Nice job restoring 85DD Steve and congrats. on being the first KOTM. Enjoy every flight:D.

09-15-2008, 07:27 PM
Congratulations on getting 85DD flying again. She sure looked sad sitting in the corner of the hanger when I came up a couple years ago. I third the motion that she deserves to be the maiden Kitfox of the month...you have a great plane!
Dan B

09-18-2008, 09:48 AM

I clicked on the forums and my little orange and white beauty wasn't there
on the upper right at the very first shot, I was bummed at first,
then I realized it was yours. If you recall walking across the field to greet us, at Ogden last year, as Denise and I were making our way back to Texas from the Kitfox factory fly-in. We were excited to here about your build story, and if have to lose my picture slot on the forum, I couldn't have picked a better one.

Denise and Rocky Whitman
Series 7 912S

09-19-2008, 06:54 AM
Rocky & Denise,
Yes, I do remember meeting you in Ogden last year. You have a great looking plane. I wanted to get 85DD to this year's factory fly-in but just didn't get things completed in time. She will be there next year for the Kitfox Silver Anniversary! I hope to see you again then.

09-19-2008, 07:35 AM
Look at it this way Rocky, your Kitfox was the "pre-KOTM" KOTM.;)

09-19-2008, 08:25 AM
Rocky, don't be bummed, achieve worldwide fame and the adoration of your Kitfox peers by submitting your plane for KOTM. The 'sticky' message at the top of this forum has the instructions. It'll stay in the forum forever unlike the front page of the site which will change at the whim of the webmaster. ;)

09-22-2008, 11:41 AM
Just for fun, I just googled "N85DD" and came up with a Kitfox news letter dated June, 1989 which stated, "We won the short-field take-off competition at Watsonville again this year with N85DD, for the fourth time in the four years we've been there". Kind of cool. Try googling your N number. You might be surprised at what you find!

01-01-2009, 08:35 AM

I also have a model 1 (N222KF) that is esentially in it's original configuration. It was acquired recently and sofar all I have done is replaced the original 503DCSI with a more recent 503 DCDI e-start and added cabin heat.

I'm interested in the rudder/elevator mods that you have done. I would appreciate advice particularly an estimate of cost and time involved to accomplish the fix.

best wishes,

Tom (tommg13780)

01-01-2009, 12:25 PM
I guess to escape potential liability I should state the same thing all others have stated, that being: "I'm not a builder, don't try this at home, the factory doesn't condone my activites, etc, etc, etc".

With all that being said, I personally think extending the vertical stabilizer and changing the rudder to a model IV rudder was the second best thing I have done to my airplane. The first being changing to Grove main gear with the tri gear modification. Adding the extra height of the vertical stabilizer and the model IV rudder got rid of adverse yaw in my plane. I can fly "hands free, feet free" and when I make turns they are clean and smooth (of course I still use the rudder, too).

You can purchase the model IV uncovered rudder from John McBean at Kitfox Aircraft. I think it was around $235 or so. I did not do my own work. I hired an A&P to do the work and I had him do so many things I couldn't tell you what he charged to do any one thing. To extend the vertical stabilizer he removed the fabric from the vertical, cut and removed the top of the existing vertical and welded additional aircraft tubing in place. The tubing can be purchased from Aircraft Spruce. I used a large piece of cardboard and traced around a model IV vertical from another Kitfox for the template. Seemed pretty simple and proved to be a great mod.

I did not make any changes to the elevators. I do plan to add gap seals.

And. . . I just added one more mod: A Lowrance 2000c GPS! Another great addition. See you at the 25th Anniversary Factory Fly-In!

01-20-2009, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the information.


12-26-2010, 07:17 PM
I purchased my mod 1 already flying. The builder had also extended the vertical stab and rudder. While flying and operating the rudder I noticed a large deflection of the vert stab. This caused me some concern. After inquiring I was told the mod 4 has a larger stab leading and trailing tube. I added 1/16" flying wires from rudder hinge to top of the bolts for horz stab braces and that removed the identifiable deflection.

12-28-2010, 09:27 PM
Wow. Did you "see" or "feel" the deflection, or notice it in some other manner? Looks like you are in Malad. I would love to fly up there and compair mods and see what you have done.

12-29-2010, 07:06 AM
I could see the deflection by looking out the turtle deck it looked to be ~3" at cruise speed.
I live on the road that parallels the runway. Would like to see your plane and especially the bubble doors. Give me a call before you come
Ph- 208-766-5556.

04-01-2017, 02:04 PM
looks awesome, did you do any modifications to increase the usefull load? I've read that the biggest weakness in a kitfox 1 is the lift strut where it connects to the fuselage.

04-01-2017, 08:20 PM
I have done a ton of mods on my plane. But the one you are asking about, raising the gross weight, was done by Dan Denny. Dan changed the wings & struts to model III wings & struts. I spoke with Dan about raising the gross weight to 1050. He said I could easily do that with the wings and struts he installed as long as I went back to phase one testing and did all the proper tests, which I did. My plane now has a tested and notated gross weight of 1050. It has been flown many times at a higher gross than that. Now I am changing the cross tube brace in the cabin ceiling to the same as the model IV, along with other mods.

04-20-2017, 08:25 AM
2016/2017 Mods: I try to update my plane at least once per year. Last year (2016) we freshened 85DD with a new paint job. No big changes, but updated the paint style just a little. This year it's time to update the cabin bracing from the old style crossbar to the new style. This will both strengthen the cabin and eliminate the old crossbar that was always a problem for the passenger (crossbar went directly over the passenger's head). A new Lexan windscreen and cabin top are being made & installed at the same time. The result:
http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/IMG_5130_1.jpg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/IMG_5130_1.jpg.html)

Also replaced the old heavy VSI and Altimeter with a neat little Belite Digital Altimeter, VSI, OAT and Density Altitude instrument. The new instrument is made on a 3D printer with a total weight of 2 ounces. I've found it is very accurate.http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/fullsizeoutput_191.jpeg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/fullsizeoutput_191.jpeg.html)

And, speaking of Skunk Works (we we're weren't we?), 85DD is currently in the local secret, highly classified mod shop getting another "new and improved" backcountry mod. To be revealed soon .....

Paul Z
04-20-2017, 11:42 AM
2016/2017 Mods: 85DD is currently in the local secret, highly classified mod shop getting another "new and improved" backcountry mod. To be revealed soon .....

So your converting it back to a Tail Dragger? :rolleyes:

04-20-2017, 01:59 PM
So your converting it back to a Tail Dragger? :rolleyes:

Paul, I have considered doing that MANY times. Where I fly (actually land), converting back to tail wheel really would be a big help. However, my plane is shorter than yours and as such, it has a VERY QUICK response on the ground; and frankly, I really like to see where I am taxiing! So, no, not converting it back, yet. But I think the new backcountry mod will be awesome! ....

04-20-2017, 08:13 PM
Steve, changing the overhead bars will be nice for the co-pilot.

Sounds like 85DD received some nice changes again. :)

Paul Z
04-21-2017, 09:21 AM
Paul, I have considered doing that MANY times. Where I fly (actually land), converting back to tail wheel really would be a big help. However, my plane is shorter than yours and as such, it has a VERY QUICK response on the ground; and frankly, I really like to see where I am taxiing! So, no, not converting it back, yet. But I think the new backcountry mod will be awesome! ....

If I remember what we discussed, it should definitely make it a better backcountry aircraft. Good Luck, so far I like all of your mods.

04-21-2017, 02:45 PM
If I remember what we discussed, it should definitely make it a better backcountry aircraft. Good Luck, so far I like all of your mods.

Thank you, Paul. We are oh, so close. Within the next couple of days ...
Thanks for not "opening the bag". The preverbal cat is clawing to get out!

04-22-2017, 05:00 PM
Here it is, I think the final mod for this year, straight from the super secret Utah Skunk Works department. It is a 6.00x6 Nosewheel providing 11" of prop ground clearance (warp drive 3 blade 68"). The mains are 8.00x6. To the best of my knowledge this is the first and only Kitfox with a 6.00x6 nosewheel. I've tested it taking off and landing on pavement, grass and dirt. It is wonderful. 18 lbs air pressure seems to be about right with enough cushion and enough firmness to roll nicely over rocks and holes. I test flew it today and I don't think I have lost any air speed. A little hard to tell as it was windy today. It is still in the process of being painted (that's why you see the tape, etc in the photo) but I was so excited I just had to share.

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/fullsizeoutput_193.jpeg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/fullsizeoutput_193.jpeg.html)

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/fullsizeoutput_192.jpeg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/fullsizeoutput_192.jpeg.html)

04-22-2017, 06:06 PM
85DD is ready for some serious backcountry trips.

She looks good in her new paint and shoes Steve. Ready for another 20 years of fun.

Paul Z
04-22-2017, 07:22 PM
The first Kitfox Big Foot! Looking good!

05-08-2017, 01:12 PM
Finished (for now):

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/IMG_5162.jpg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/IMG_5162.jpg.html)

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/IMG_5165.jpg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/IMG_5165.jpg.html)

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/IMG_5163.jpg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/IMG_5163.jpg.html)

http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff12/KitfoxSteve/IMG_5164.jpg (http://s237.photobucket.com/user/KitfoxSteve/media/IMG_5164.jpg.html)

05-08-2017, 02:22 PM
Looking good Steve. Just watched some old Denney Aerocraft ads last night on Youtube. There she was. 84DD in taildragger mode and also on skis. She is a Chameleon. Have fun.:)

05-08-2017, 04:50 PM
Looks great Steve. It is kinda cool to show what one can do with a tri gear Kitfox (as you have done so well).

But...I really think you'd enjoy your airplane as a taildragger. Don't let that short fuselage bother you none, I put 1300 hours on an old Model A Avid Flyer taildragger, and it is even shorter than your Kitfox. Yet it was a ***** cat to ground handle (and I'm nothing special as pilots go). The secret, just make sure you have a good tailwheel that it is setup properly, and you get some good tailwheel training.

Flying a Kitfox as a tailwheel will make your airplane even more fun than it already is...if you can imagine that!

05-08-2017, 08:00 PM
Yes, 85DD has really seen it all over the years. As someone said, "Been there, done that".

You are probably right, and thanks for the encouragement. Who knows, maybe next year ol' 85DD will be back to dragging arss again. Another advantage of the convertible Kitfox design.

06-18-2017, 06:45 AM
Hi Steve;
I think you have the coolest Kitfox in the world, love the history. I like the way it looks as a three wheeler really adds some character. I remember seeing 85DD at the Reno air races back when it was new, even got to sit in it. Your videos and picture posts always make my day. Mike:D

06-18-2017, 08:51 PM
Thanks for the nice comments and memories. Come to the Kitfox fly-in on Labor Day and you can sit in 85DD again ... maybe even take a ride ...