Kolb Aircraft Company

FireFly

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The FireFly is a significant breakthrough in ultralight aircraft. Easy-to-build and designed to be a legal ultralight under FAR Part 103. We have observed that most legal ultralight aircraft suffer from a lack of performance. We at Kolb Aircraft think flying an ultralight aircraft should be safe, fun, and affordable. Pilots should not have to give up performance when flying an ultralight so we have designed the FireFly to be a "real" aircraft with a level of performance that can fly rings around other ultralight aircraft. After all, who wants to drift around like a kite when you can be buzzing through the sky like a fighter?  The FireFly also offers the mainstay features all Kolb aircraft are known for: quick-folding wings, enclosable cockpit, welded chrome-moly steel fuselage cage and, of course, outstanding performance.  Kolb offers more safety, fun and performance in 254 pounds than any other manufacturer.

Kolb Aircraft FireFly
Pictured above is 2004 EAA Sun-N-Fun
Best Construction Kit FireFly owner Robin Bassett.



HIGH PERFORMANCE
The performance of the FireFly is absolutely awesome. You need to see a FireFly in the air to truly appreciate what it can do. Seeing how 40 horsepower pushes this 254 pound aircraft is eye-opening.


 

STURDY CONSTRUCTION
The welded chrome-moly steel fuselage cage provides the solid feel of the "real" airplane.  For strength and durability in airframe structures, aluminum and steel are superior.  The heart of the FireFly, the fuselage cage, is made from strong, factory welded 4130 chrome-moly steel. We also use 4130 steel in all high stress areas.  Compare a FireFly wing with the typical sailcloth wing of other ultralight's and you will see the difference.  FireFly wings have rigid truss ribs and a massive 5" aircraft aluminum wing spar.  Covered with Stits aircraft covering, there is no comparison!

SPORTY HANDLING
The FireFly has conventional 3-axis, cable, and push-pull tube controls.  It is very responsive and light on the controls, yet is not twitchy or sensitive.  The FireFly also has gentle stall characteristics.  Upon entering a stall from straight and level flight, there is some sink which precedes the stall.  Continuing into the stall, there will be a gentle break at about 30 mph and the nose will drop.  The aircraft gains speed and resumes flying with a reduction of stick back pressure.

Although Kolb aircraft are easy to fly and have gentle flight characteristics, they are also high performance aircraft. We recommend training or some transition training before attempting flight in our aircraft.

Flaperons are standard equipment and decrease the stall speed by 4-5 mph, but more importantly, allow for very steep descents without building up excessive airspeed.  This is exactly what is needed to drop into a short field or for an emergency landing.

 


Pictured above is Stanley Chitwood's
FireFly at his home in Somerset Ky.

Optional brakes provide for sure stops and the optional individual heel pedals allow a tighter turning radius.  The flaperons and optional brakes allow the FireFly to be landed, stopped and maneuvered in very tight areas.

GREAT VISIBILITY
The fact is, better visibility makes for more enjoyable flying.  The pusher configuration of the FireFly provides the vastly superior visibility that Kolb aircraft have become known for.  There is 360 degree visibility from the cabin and an optional full canopy enclosure allows comfortable flying in cooler weather.  The rear engine eliminates exhaust fumes and reduces noise levels.

Kolb Aircraft FireFly
Pictured above is Steve Zigan's FireFly
demonstrating the folding wings.


FOLDING WINGS & TAIL
Like all Kolb aircraft, the FireFly has folding wings and tail which allow for easy storage or trailering.  The tail folds up and the wings fold back along the fuselage in about 15 minutes by one person.  Everything stores right on the airframe.

 

Even Quicker Folding: The horizontal stabilizers/elevators fold upward and the wings fold rearward staying attached at the universal joint. The FireFly has one more time savings feature...  there is no need to disconnect the lift strut from the wings. They need only be disconnected from the fuselage cage. The lift strut assembly then folds forward and lies flat with the bottom of the wing. This saves disconnecting two clevis pins and also saves the effort to secure the lift struts when trailering.  Many of our customers fold and unfold their airplanes routinely every time they fly -- year after year.  This allows for money saving compact storage at the airport or at home.

Weight Considerations
The builder must exercise care to keep the FireFly as light as possible as it is being built.  The FireFly was designed to weigh less than 254 lbs. with a 40 hp engine, standard windshield, minimal paint and basic instruments. The FAA, in accordance with FAR 103.7 allows 24 lbs. over the 254 lb. limit for a parachute.  The BRS soft-pack weighs 16.5 lbs.; therefore, you have an additional 7.5 lbs. available which will cover the weight of brakes and full enclosure.  Individual FAA inspectors may allow the full 24 lbs. or only the actual weight of the parachute.  Both situations are possible under the present regulations.  The bottom line is that you have the option to point out that the full 24 lbs. "may" be allowed under the existing regulations.  This may sound complicated, but we want you to be aware of the choices you have.  If anything is unclear to you, please call us.

SPECIFICATIONS  
Seating one.
Wing Span 22 ft.
Wing Area 117 sq. ft.
Length 19 ft., 6 in. (same folded)
Height 69 in. (same folded)
75 in. with 3-blade prop
Height and width are based on standard wooden prop. Larger prop with more blades add to the height and width of the aircraft.
Width (folded) 57 in. at wheels
66 in. with 2-blade prop
Height and width are based on standard wooden prop. Larger prop with more blades add to the height and width of the aircraft.
Empty Weight 250 lbs. (typically)
Gross Weight 500 lbs
Weight is approximate and may vary . Manufacturer's tolerances in tube wall thickness, engine size, and doping and painting of the aircraft are a few of the many items which may introduce weight variations..
Fuel Capacity 5 gal.
Load Factor +4 g, -2 g (limit)
Stall Speed 27 mph (per FAR 103.7)
33 mph (actual, clean)
30 mph (actual, flaperons)
Vne 80 mph
Build Time Approx. 300 hrs.
Factory Quick Build offered by Custom Air Approx. 160 hrs
Full Assembly Option Available Complete build with Custom Air.

 

40 HP ENGINE  
Reduction Unit Gearbox, 2.58:1
Propeller 66 in. diameter two-blade wood
Takeoff Distance 150 ft.
Rate of Climb 
is based on a 175 lb. pilot
750 fpm
Top Speed 63 mph (per FAR 103.7)
Cruise Speed 63 mph


FACTORY QUICK BUILD These structures/operations are done
Wings 2 Built
Ailerons 2 Built
Vertical Stabilizer 1 Built
Horizontal Stabilizers 2 Built
Elevators 2 Built
Rudder 1 Built
Wing  Alignment Wings are attached and aligned with fuselage
Lift Struts Are assembled to correct length
Tail Alignment Tail surfaces are aligned and attached to fuselage tube
Tail Wire Bracing Made to length with ends swedged
Tail Hinges All hinges for horizontal stabilizers, elevator, rudder, aligned, and temporarily installed.
Fuselage " H " Section Installed

FIREFLY FABRIC COVERING KIT
From Aircraft Technical Support

$1210
(subject to change)

Hazardous shipping & handling

$ call


Fabric covering and finish paint are NOT included in kit prices. Kolb Fabric Covering Kits are supplied by Aircraft Technical Support, Inc. Call Jim and Dondi Miller toll free at 1-877-877-3334, or visit their web site. The Kolb Covering Kit uses the Poly-Fiber process.  The Kit includes fabric, fabric tapes, fabric cement (Poly-Tak), fabric coatings (Poly-Brush), solvents, special large head fabric rivets, a Rib Rivet Drilling Fixture, Poly-Fiber Manual, and an instructional video.  Finish Paint is not included in the Fabric Covering Kit, however, 50 Poly-Fiber colors are available through Aircraft Technical Support.  As Kolb enthusiasts, Jim and Dondi Miller are available to help you with fabric covering and painting questions.  They conduct seminars and fabric covering workshops, and operate a Fabric Covering Shop. Call them anytime toll free at 1-877-877-3334 for technical help!

Let's have some fun!!
You can build your aircraft Wish List!
Just click here.

Steve Boetto is a Grand Champion Ultralight Builder and had an article published about his Kolb FireFly in the Sport Pilot Magazine, July 2008. With permission from Sport Pilot, you can click on the image to read his article. You will need Adobe Reader to view the article. If you do not have it, it is a free download from Adobe.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR FUN ... 
FireFly Paper Plane

Click on the above link to download a PDF file that has the outlines and instructions for making your very own paper Kolb FireFly aircraft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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