View Full Version : October 2009 Kitfox of the Month Jim Shnowske

10-06-2009, 12:59 PM

N28KF Hi folks. Iím Jim Shnowske, a Kitfox IV owner (1050).After six hundred and seventy five hours of flying time, Iím still convinced I made the perfect choice for my own personal flying carpet. I picked up my huge box at the local trucking depot in April 1992. Three years and 1150 hours later it was ready for flight (April 1995). I have been an R/C modeler since grade school and lots of the techniques used on the models transferred to building the Kitfox. Watching the plane come together and adding a few personal touches while learning new skills was a very rewarding experience.
N28KF started life with a Rotax 582 engine. That motor was very adequate for the airplane as the empty weight came out at 502 lbs. and the motor was as smooth as a sewing machine mounted in the nose. The only problems encountered in 600 hours with that motor were pilot induced. Two trips to Sun-N-Fun from Wisconsin proved to me these are reliable engines indeed. BUTÖa used Rotax 912 came up for sale on the internet two years ago with a price I could afford and the purchase was made. The motor even came with the motor mount for a Model IV Kitfox. The swap of engines was completed over the course of the winter and now I believe I have the perfect match of airplane and engine. Cruise speed increased 15 mph and is now at the top of the green arc (105 mph at 5200 rpm) while burning 1 Ĺ gallons LESS fuel per hour! The only downside was that useful load was decreased about 70 lbs.
A handful of our flying club members are planning on making the trip to Sun-N-Fun this coming spring. It will be interesting to see the difference in time and fuel burn compared to the 582.

The first eight years of flying N28KF, I used the folding wing feature and took my plane to the airport on a trailer, normally stopping to get gas at a station on the way. I had lots of nice conversations with other customers there. When I got to the airport, if I wasnít interrupted, I could be sitting in the cockpit ready to taxi in less than 10 minutes. I was fortunate enough to acquire enough land for my own 1800í airstrip and now live with my airport in my back yard. As my airline captain brother says ďIím living the dreamĒ. I usually fly around the local area dropping in on some of the dozen or so grass strips scattered around the central Wisconsin area, but like to get out for a couple longer trips a few times a year. I have a daughter who has just moved down to the Chicago area so that will be a nice day trip for me.

I love the way the Kitfoxes look with their wheel pants, but come snow, the wheel pants go and wheel penetration skis are put on. The fun just doesnít stop does it? I used to just let the tail wheel drag in the snow, but in some snow conditions that created enough drag that I couldnít get airborne. Last year I came up with a tail ski that attaches easily and works real well. Snow condition is not a worry anymore.

N28KF is painted with Poly-tone because I figured that by trailering it to the airport there would be scrapes and road rash to go with it. Ironically, I have put more dings in the finish in the six years it has stay in my hanger. Poly-tone is by far the easiest paint that I have ever worked with and touch-ups are a breeze.

The panel was a fun part of the build and was a learning experience indeed. N28KF carries enough instruments for partial panel IFR (enough to get you out of the clouds if you stumble into them) and enough radio gear (trans. mode/C) to get you into any controlled airspace that you might want to enter. At one time a loran sat above the radios but that tray has now been turned into a glove box for maps, afdís etc. and a Lowrance 1000 GPS now helps with the navigation.

Heat in the winter comes from an Earls heater/(cooler?) core with two muffin fans mounted on it. Iím comfortable down to about 25 degrees and after that I need to fly with gloves on. Some stronger muffin fans would help Iím sure. I have a radiator flap to help with engine warm up and to keep the engine warm on descents.

All in all this plane has been just a blast to own. And now we have this wonderful forum. Life just keeps getting better!


10-06-2009, 01:15 PM
Jim's Model4-1050628
Beautiful craftsmanship evident in every photo.
One happy looking Kitfox pilot and rightly so.

10-06-2009, 01:23 PM
I really like the red and white airplanes, yours is just fantastic. Unfortunatly, the way I fly, I can't have one. You know, there's that red and white fox again. Call the FSDO quick. I can't be having that.

I love the looks of your plane. If it ever makes it up here, I'll be saying "there's Jim's plane". :D

10-06-2009, 01:32 PM
Just gorgeous, fantastic job.

10-06-2009, 06:29 PM
Knowing Jim and his plane, I can attest that these photos don't even do it justice. Congratulations, Jim. This is a well deserved recognition.

(Also-- Thank you Jim, for putting me behind the controls of my own Kitfox!!)

10-07-2009, 07:12 AM
Jim, What a nice looking aircraft! Your paint scheme really defines the feel of the Kitfox. I also appreciate your attention to the little details. Good work.

10-07-2009, 04:07 PM
Thanks for the nice comments guys.

On another note, I was wondering of there would be any intrest in a mass flyin arrival to Oshkosh of Kitfoxes. I live about 70 miles nortwest of OSH and would love to be the staging grounds for such an adventure. It would be great to see 20-30 Kitfoxes (and Avids) lined up there.
What do Ya'll think?

10-07-2009, 04:42 PM
I'm currently planning my trip to OSH next year. I was thinking there was going to be an interest in a kitfox arrival like this. I stated that to the wife and she said, no way am I going 1200 miles in the kitfox. Sooooo, I guess I will just have to see you do it, for I'm going in the RV with a cruise of 165kts:D. Now just pick the day and time so I can watch it. I plan on being there the first saturday.

10-07-2009, 11:38 PM
Jim , beautiful Kitfox and top shelf craftsmanship. An 1800' grass strip in the back yard? :D No wonder you have that Kitfox grin.:D
Truly "living the Kitfox dream".

Even with the 912 conversion you have a very light weight model 4.

Jim has more photos on his personal profile page which further shows the high level of workmanship on his 4.Jim's photo album (http://www.teamkitfox.com/Forums/album.php?albumid=86)
Thanks again Jim.

10-24-2009, 10:01 PM
Hey Jim, Your plane looks awesome,I only hope my Super Skyraider turns out half as good.Im the one that bought your 582 ,I least I know you took care of it after looking at your beautiful airplane.Maybe someday when I get my plane finished I will come and visit. Good Job
St. Maries, Idaho

10-28-2009, 05:32 PM
Beautiful airplane, continues that nostalgic look. Great job and I really like the way the wheelpants are fared. You can be proud of this one.


10-29-2009, 06:35 AM
Great looking aircraft....Well Done!!