View Full Version : Jan '09 KOTM - Steve Kellander

01-02-2009, 11:25 AM

Steve Kellander (DesertFox4 (http://www.teamkitfox.com/Forums/member.php?u=141))
2003 Kitfox Classic Model 4 - Tri-gear, widebody, Polytone Orange/Yellow paint
Rotax 912ULS, Ivo in-flight adj. prop.
As of Jan '09: 635 hours since new.

My Kitfox story began in 2002 when Phil Laker and I headed up from Phoenix to Caldwell, ID in Stan Fosters Dodge truck with a rack made just for hauling a Kitfox fuselage. Phil and I had been up a month or so earlier when John McBean sat down with me and worked out a deal for a Model 4 fuselage only kit. John had it powder coated white for me.
The previous summer Phil and I had made a trip to California, near San Francisco, to pick up a partially built model 4 kit Phil had purchased. Phil offered to sell me the wings (built about as far along as the factory quick build option) from that kit for my project. That saved a fair amount of time on the wings. That same summer I had helped Murle Williams build his new shop and he was good enough to offer me a bay in the shop to build my Kitfox . That was great because Murle has every tool, jig and template known to man to build Kitfox aircraft. Murle is an A&P and an EAA Tech Counselor. I was in the Mecca of Kitfox construction .
I started construction Feb. of 2002. 1600 hours later my first flight was October 4th 2003. My log book shows 7.1 hours flying on the 4th of October 2003. I do remember a lot of turns over the top of DeerValley Airport that day. The weather was great of course and the Kitfox flew great as evidenced by the 7.1 hours the first day.
CopperState was coming up so I had to "work" hard to get the 40 hours flown off in time to be legal to fly to the airshow with 19 other Kitfox. That was probably a world record for number of Kitfox (twenty) in one flight. By evening of 10/10/03 I had flown off the 40 hours required and taken it through it's aerobatic flight tests. Spins, rolls, loops and stalls were recorded in the log book.

Mods are as follows:
1. Wide body
2. Large baggage compartment
3. Hidden shot gun case in tail accessible from the baggage compartment (great for guns, fishing rods, wing folding rods, etc.)
4. Smoke system
5. Internal mounted ELT antenna , two comm antennas in the vertical stabilizer
6. All Speedster tail mods. but long wings for better take offs and better high altitude cruise
7. Clear wing tips
8. Custom upholstery with inflatable lumbar in the pilots back cushion
9. LED nav lights with tail light mounted inside the skid bar
10. Ivo in-flight adj. prop
11. Smooth cowling
12. Extra set of rudder cable pullies in the tail so rudder cables come out of fuselage closer to the tail like newer models (looks much cleaner)
13. Razorback - cromoly tubing welded from just behind turtledeck to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer
14. In flight camera system (up to 4 cameras) with a 4" color tv screen in right side panel
15. Underseat tool boxes
16. Gas cap fairings
17. PVC Strut fairings
18. Glove box, lighted with LED's inside
19 Whelen wing tip and one belly strobe (Whelen emergency vehicle strobe kit from Ebay) same quality 1/2 the cost with 7 different flash patterns and two power level settings
20. Wing tip landing lights inside both clear wingtips plus a taxi light on bottom of cowling
21. LED backlit fuel site tubes (even makes daytime reading easier)
22. Lighting strip for instrument panel
23. One of a kind lower profile instrument panel surround (plastic), also has avionics tilted toward pilot for better viewing
24. Seaplane drain grommets entire aircraft just incase
25. One piece firewall with extension under pilot for extra protection with recess for engine oil sump tank so it sits low enough to use the smooth cowling
26. Back up electric fuel pump
27. Trough the hub prop controller
28. Gas operated door struts located to rear of doors
29. Tinted all lexan turtle deck
30. Cleveland wheels/brakes
31. Dual rudder/brake pedals
32. Custom rudder pedals
33. Center console
34. Large elevator with electric trim tab

MicroAir transceiver & transponder
Garmin Pilot 3 GPS
GRT EIS engine monitoring system
Electric turn & bank

Flight stats:
Cruise 115 mph at 5.3 ,gals. per hour
Cruise 120 mph at 5.7, gals per hour
Cruise 125 mph at 6.1, gals per hour
Take off roll average 150 to 200'
Top speed level flight solo with full fuel no baggage 132 mph, 7.1 gals per hour
Stall no flaps 45mph, with 1/2 flaps 42 mph
Shortest landing (so far) 135'. Blacktop strip 1/2 flaps low approach with power no obstacles
Average climb rate 90 degree day 1200 to 1300 fpm.
Service ceiling not found yet. Highest flight 12,500' so far.
Empty weight 661 lbs
Does very nice loops, ok rolls and spin recovery is quick in about 3/4 of a turn
Very effective rudder and elevator
Light control pressures

The aircraft has exceeded all expectations.

I was fortunate to have some of the best Kitfox experts available to help with the build, modifications, and special parts. A specail thanks to Phil Laker, Murle Williams, John McBean, Michael Holm, Michael Gibbs, and Stan Foster for their help and support and thanks to wife Nancy and son Jake for all the time spent away from home.

Col. Steven J. Kellander
Desert Fox Squadron
Phoenix, AZ


01-02-2009, 03:23 PM
Nice writeup...and certainly a nice plane. Steve gave me my first Kitfox ride 4 years ago. That was the most expensive ride I have ever taken as I am now building one just like it. I have flown with Col. Kellander twice from Phoenix to Homedale, ID. The performance, responsiveness and pure fun is simply great!

01-02-2009, 03:40 PM
I don't know what he did in building it but Steve's 4 sure does fly well. He was kind enough to give me a ride at last year's Factory Fly-in and wow, from the moment I took the stick I noticed it felt very good. Very responsive and smooth, and don't those cruise numbers look a little better than normal? (And he doesn't even have wheelpants)

Steve is a real Kitfox supporter too, always doing what he can to help builders and folks new to the Kitfox world. Of course he does duty here too as a TK.com moderator.

Nice work Steve!

01-03-2009, 08:16 PM
Thanks Randy for the honor of KOTM. TeamKitfox has really taken off due to your hard work and dedication and it's great to be a part of this new community. Thanks again for letting me park my humble little Kitfox amongst those beautiful Kitfox of the preceding KOTM's. It may never win a beauty contest but as you can attest Randy, it is a blast to fly, but then aren't they all.:D

Dan, always great flying with you as we did today. Sorry about that expensive first ride. No I'm not. The next flight to Homedale,ID (Kitfox Aircraft's 25th anniversary Labor Day fly-in) will be with your Model 4 out front. I know you know the way now. Keep at it a little every day and you will be flying off your 40 hours sooner than later.;)

01-05-2009, 11:27 AM
I have the model 4 with speedster wings. My question, I thought the 4 had I think a VNE of 125mph. I see you have a top speed of 132mph. Did you do something different to go this speed?

01-05-2009, 12:30 PM
I've seen several 4's with the 140 vne.
I believe the vne on the model 4 was predicated on the thickness of the windshield material used not the length of the wings. John McBean might be able to shine more light on this. The thinner windshields would start to deflect (push in ) at a lower speed . Mine will start to deflect very slightly at 140mph. . When I was building the model 4 in Murle Williams shop Mike Gibbs was building an almost identical version and his was also 140 vne. Both of our 4's had all the speedster mods except mine had the longer wings. Mike's by the way would hit 140mph straight and level at full throttle. His had wheel pants and the medium Ivo prop with a large spinner on it.

01-05-2009, 01:23 PM
It's going to be interesting to see what I get with my 4 after I change to the 912ULS. With the 912ul I would get 103kts open throttle. I have the .090 windscreen and it will start to push in at about 120mph. What kind of windscreen do you have? I don't have wheel pants, because I have the big 21inch wheels, the grove gear and speedster horizontal and elevator. I have the pvc struts for the wings. If the speeds go up that much, I'm going to have fun fun fun with my NEW 4.

01-05-2009, 02:13 PM
Steve, seems like my windshield is a little thicker than .090 but would have to look it up. You should see an increase in cruise speeds after the 912S is installed. Also an increase in fuel burn.
We are not sure exactly why my 4 , and Mike Gibbs, got the speeds we did. I really think it has something to do with the wide body mod. but can't quantify that not having wind tunnel access. Obviously wheel pants could help a little but I enjoy landing on desert strips and grass strips so no pants for me at this time. Maybe a radiator scoop would be nice but mine works even here in the desert summer heat. My cowling intakes are probably too big also. I think there is a lot of drag to be reduced inside the cowling if baffling was used to clean up the flow over the engine. I can imagine several ways to eek out a couple more mph's however my 4 now is one of the fastest in our 'group' so I can keep up the way it is. I used to have the slowest Kitfox in the bunch and that was more frustrating especially on cross country trips. I guess what i'm saying is i'm out of the building mode and into the flying mode.
Good luck with the engine swap and let us know the results.

01-05-2009, 02:34 PM
Thanks Steve,
I remember seeing your airplane at the kitfox flyin 2years ago, I was really impressed with it. I hope to get things up and running in a couple weeks, I guess my engine is in, just waiting for shipment, the snow is really sucking things out right now. I think putting the mod on for the wide fuse wouldn't be to hard, just a little fabric work, that's doable. The extra fuel burn, it's only fuel, no biggy, I have big tanks on each wing. Rad scoop, that's a possibility. I have the big struts for the back. I was thinking of forming some balsa for that and using some monacoat from my RC supplies to cover it. I do have the bumped cowl, maybe that kills some speed???

01-05-2009, 05:43 PM
Steve ,

The widebody mod. that I have required welding all the angled steel chromoly parts to the fuselage around the door openings. I think this would best be done before covering was on the fuselage. Also the door frames required a lot of tweaking to fit the new openings. I do love the extra shoulder room when flying with a passenger. Very much worth the extra effort. I have heard of a model 4 with an all carbon fiber widebody modification. They say it's really strong and of course would be much lighter in weight than my steel mod. but I haven't had the chance to see it up close yet.
The bump cowl may be slightly more drag but it really looks right on the tail draggers with the 912 engines. Your big tires may be a limiting factor but they are fun and that's what it's all about. Even with the tires you will see an increase in cruise and climb rates. The extra 20 hp. is nice to have without sacraficing much useful load. Hope the snow lets up. Sunny and 60's here now. 70's later in the week. Sorry , had to throw that in .;)

01-05-2009, 06:01 PM
You know, winter is generally the best time for me to fly, I don't mind the snow at all. This year it's real bad. Even if my fox was flying right now I wouldn't be able to fly. Ceilings at 300ft and 1/4 vis is the norm. In the last month, maybe 3 days were open for flying. Snow is fun to fly in. You are right, the big tires are very fun. I'll just have to wait and see what happens with the new motor before doing anything. When you say that you had the slowest fox of the group and now it's the fastest. What can you say you did to make that change?

01-05-2009, 07:42 PM
When you say that you had the slowest fox of the group and now it's the fastest. What can you say you did to make that change?Steve- I had a model 3 with 912 that topped out at 100mph. I sold it after I completed my model 4. The 3 was slow compared to my 4. It was a blast to fly and still is but I had a hard time keeping up with all the newer models my Squadron mates fly. Not anymore.:D

01-08-2009, 02:39 PM
Steve I am very impressed with your plane. Great JOB. I would like to know if you have any pics of the conversion to the wide body? I have never seen this and would like to know more about it. The speeds you are getting far excede anything I can get, however I did have a cruise of 127 at one time but this was only with the pitch of the prop set with to much bite. Would have been really hard on the 912 to fly with this setting for very long. Again nice job, and HAPPY FLYING.:D:D:D

01-08-2009, 04:46 PM
I do believe steve has the patriot ultra light prop. This prop will blow you away with what it can deliver. I know, because I went from a powerfin to the patriot ultra light prop and gained 15+ on mph cruise, the climb out was out of site as well.

01-09-2009, 02:17 PM
Thanks Bryan. Steve is right in that I have the Lite Ivo prop. It will absorb all the power the 912S will deliver when I roll in the pitch. I think the Ivo medium with the 912S will give a little more speed but is more weight also. Both props will work very well with the 912S.

Bryan , Mike Gibbs took some shots of his wide body mod when building so I have that available right now and will look for photos of mine. They are identical.

In the upper left photo you can kind of see the unfinished chromoly steel parts welded in place around the door frames. In the photos with the plane painted you can really see the width of the addition. This makes the fuselage wider and maybe that is in part the speed difference from stock 4's. We just don't know. I did it strickly for comfort and maybe got an added speed bonus thrown in for free. Murle Williams has this wide body "kit" available (602-978-0553). John McBean may also so check with him too if anyone is interested. I believe there are now a couple model 4's with this mod flying.
A big thanks to Phil Laker for coming up with this concept years ago and to Murle for engineering all the weird angle pieces to fit perfectly and welding them in for me.