Who's an expert on Kolb aircraft!

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benboosted

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As you might have read from my other thread, I'm going back and forth on whether to buy a Quicksilver Sport 2s or a Kolb Firestar II SS. Even though I love the open cockpit design of the QS, it's impossible to ignore the convenience of Kolb's foldable wings for ease of transport and storage. But every time I watch a youtube video with the camera perspective either from the pilot's seating position or from the wing looking back at the cockpit, I get very excited thinking about flying with that open sky all around and from below.

Which brings me to the reason I started this thread. While perusing Kolb's website I happened upon the pdf file of a magazine article detailing a project some guy built a firefly with pontoon attachments but he left the nose canopy off, opening up the front much like the open concept of a QS. My question is, in any of your experience or theory, can the Firestar II SS could be built in the same fashion? Without the canopy? I'm asking out of complete ignorance not knowing the first thing about how these aircraft are constructed. I understand there would be some sacrifice in airspeed/range, but I'd be ok with that. Combining the best of both worlds (open cockpit + wing fold design) would be worth it.

What do you guys think?
 

Dana

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Can't see any reason why not, but you might ask on the Kolb list... don't have the link handy, but google "matronics kolb list".

Dana
 
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jedi

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Consider the airspeed you will be flying and how you want to dress. At 35 mph out in the open in shirt sleeves is fun. At 65 you generally want a full face helmet and motorcycle or snowmobile dress. Fast bikes all have windscreens, more or less. Will the airspeeds be similar?

Fast trikes fly pretty much in the open and in the Kolb speed range but most have lower body farings and still, I don't consider them as much fun as the slower ones.

Hope I'm not off track here. I havn't followed all the details of the prior thread.
 

benboosted

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Ok I'll check that out, thanks Dana.

How hard is it to disassemble/reassemble the wings for transport and/or storage on a strut based Sprint 2s?
 

benboosted

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Consider the airspeed you will be flying and how you want to dress. At 35 mph out in the open in shirt sleeves is fun. At 65 you generally want a full face helmet and motorcycle or snowmobile dress. Fast bikes all have windscreens, more or less. Will the airspeeds be similar?

Fast trikes fly pretty much in the open and in the Kolb speed range but most have lower body farings and still, I don't consider them as much fun as the slower ones.

Hope I'm not off track here. I havn't followed all the details of the prior thread.
Fair point. Per Kolb's website, the Firestar II SS is rated for 75mph at cruise speed, which could be a little hard on the face. Then again without the canopy aerodynamics it may not cruise that fast
 

Dana

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Assembly of a Quick is not something you want to do every time you fly.

Dana
 

benboosted

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I don't disagree, but I'm worried it may come to that anyway. The more I think about it, the more I really, REALLY want an open cockpit even if that means sacrificing some performance and/or storage and transportation conveniences. Let me ask this, too: I know there are several qualities distinguishing the Sport 2S and Kolb Firestar II SS, but how do they compare/contrast in terms of flying performance? Do all the extra structural considerations in the Kolb translate into a better, more agile and confidence inspiring experience, or not? If so, how and in what way?
 

Dana

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The Kolb is faster, more agile, and generally much nicer handling than the Quicksilver. It's like comparing a Mazda Miata with a Ford Pinto.

Dana
 

Avi8or

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I would hardly qualify as a Kolb expert but am almost finished completing a Firestar II rebuild project, with a Valley Enginerring Generac 990H conversion, assembly done by myself to save cost, and a Culver prop. I don't like two-strokes on airplanes except RC models. I've only taxi tested so far, not having the canopy on, a few other details to work out, nor satisfied myself all systems, fittings, etc. are "go" - nor have I done the weight and balance. But it has stunning thrust at taxi speed! It it's anything this on take off, I'll be happy and scared at the same time! :speechles
 

wakataka

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Redding, California
I fly a Firestar with no windshield. It's got the little nose pod in place, which provides a place to mount the instruments and keeps the wind from blowing up your pant legs. The little pod is not even in your field of vision when looking out forward all you see is the instrument panel. The fuselage is narrow, so you can see almost straight down. The wing is mostly behind your head. The visibility is excellent. Better than a Quick in my opinion, where you sit in under the wing among the wires or struts. I'm quite sure the Kolb would fly just fine without any pod at all, but I hate having to secure my pant legs to keep the wind out. The pod also keeps the wind out of the lower cockpit so I can keep a sectional on a knee board without it blowing away.

I keep the Kolb in an hangar, folded up along the wall behind my other plane. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to fold or unfold it, by myself. No help needed. I don't even pay extra rent for keeping it in the hangar because it takes up no additional space beyond what my other airplane requires. The Kolb will easily out climb and out run a Quicksilver with the same engine. Plus if the fabric is done right, it can last for decades. Mine was built in 1985 and the fabric is still airworthy. You won't fine any dacron sails that have lasted that long. Other than ease of construction and repair, I can't think of any advantages to the Quick over the Kolb.
 

benboosted

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I would hardly qualify as a Kolb expert but am almost finished completing a Firestar II rebuild project, with a Valley Enginerring Generac 990H conversion, assembly done by myself to save cost, and a Culver prop. I don't like two-strokes on airplanes except RC models. I've only taxi tested so far, not having the canopy on, a few other details to work out, nor satisfied myself all systems, fittings, etc. are "go" - nor have I done the weight and balance. But it has stunning thrust at taxi speed! It it's anything this on take off, I'll be happy and scared at the same time! :speechles
Keep us updated on your project, it sounds exciting! I'll look forward to seeing how it all comes out. Is the Generac 990H an engine conversion?
 

benboosted

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I fly a Firestar with no windshield. It's got the little nose pod in place, which provides a place to mount the instruments and keeps the wind from blowing up your pant legs. The little pod is not even in your field of vision when looking out forward all you see is the instrument panel. The fuselage is narrow, so you can see almost straight down. The wing is mostly behind your head. The visibility is excellent. Better than a Quick in my opinion, where you sit in under the wing among the wires or struts. I'm quite sure the Kolb would fly just fine without any pod at all, but I hate having to secure my pant legs to keep the wind out. The pod also keeps the wind out of the lower cockpit so I can keep a sectional on a knee board without it blowing away.

I keep the Kolb in an hangar, folded up along the wall behind my other plane. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to fold or unfold it, by myself. No help needed. I don't even pay extra rent for keeping it in the hangar because it takes up no additional space beyond what my other airplane requires. The Kolb will easily out climb and out run a Quicksilver with the same engine. Plus if the fabric is done right, it can last for decades. Mine was built in 1985 and the fabric is still airworthy. You won't fine any dacron sails that have lasted that long. Other than ease of construction and repair, I can't think of any advantages to the Quick over the Kolb.
That is a fantastic review, sir. Thanks so much for posting that. In the time since my last post I've actually decided to purchase the Firestar II (or possibly a Mark III Xtra, depending on how much extra discretionary $$ is available at the time), but hearing your input further reinforces the decision.

I don't know that I'll go windshield-less even though the thought is tempting. Did you do that for the open feel of it? Do you think it's possible to fabricate a smaller gauge cluster panel set lower than the factory panel for even better field of view? I know you said it's not really a problem because you hardly notice it as it is, but I cant' help but think how compact and low the gauge cluster is in the Mark III Xtra is and how cool it looks.
 

Victor Bravo

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One of the airplanes that the Valley Engineering company installed the Generac conversion on was a side by side Kolb. The videos on their website show that the Kolb has really good performance with this engine.

IMHO, you can install the windscreen and pod on the Kolb with removable fasteners, and have the option to fly it slow and open during the summer, and then enclose it in the winter, or enclose it when you want a more reasonable cruise speed. This would make the Kolb a multi-purpose aircraft that can do two or three things.

Part of owning an airplane and living the aviation lifestyle is visceral, visual, and emotional. DO NOT underestimate the joy and satisfaction of what the airplane looks like in the air and on the ground. It's not as important as safety or performance, of course. But after a day of flying, as four or five of you sit around in folding chairs and relive the day's events, looking over at your airplane and realizing how pretty, or cool, or functional it looks, is a big part of the experience. Especially with the kind of low and slow flying that LSA/UL airplanes do.

With all respect to the Quicksilver and it's well-earned position in aviation history... the Kolb is a lot prettier to look at :)
 

billyvray

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