Hiperlight bi-plane, Thunderbird Aviation's Hiperlight ultralight aircraft kit, Hiperlight ultra lite plane, Ultralight News newsmagazine.

Single place Part 103 ultralights in the United States are defined as single place ultralight aircraft that weigh 254 lbs or less, have a stall speed not more than 24 knots, a top speed of 55 knots, and carry no more than 5 gallons of fuel. To fly a legal Part 103 ultralight aircraft in the United States the pilot does not require a pilot license. Single place aircraft weighing more than 254 lbs. in the U.S. require a pilots license and must be built as experimental, amateur built, homebuilt aircraft. These include weight shift aircraft, more commonly known as trikes, powered parachutes, and powered para-gliders. Single place ultralights in Canada can weigh up to 1200 lbs. and an ultralight pilots license is required to fly them.

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Hiperlight ultralight, Hiperlight ultralight aircraft, Hiperlight ultra lite plane, experimental amateur built aircraft.

Thunderbird Aviation - Last year the rights for production of the Hiperlight line of light recreational aircraft came up for sale.  They were purchased by Ron Jones of Thunderbird aviation.

According to Ron  he had a desire to build one of these fine aircraft when they first came out on the market being produced by Sorrel Aviation nearly 20 years ago, so when Sunset Rise Manufacturing put the business up for sale he decided to purchase it.

According to Ron  Jones "Thunderbird Aviation has no desire to change the design, we will be producing it pretty well the way the Sorrel's designed it."

"We will be offering three basic packages, the SNS 8 UL the ultralight version of the plane which is a true part 103 craft, the SNS 8 EXP our experimental version of the single place and the SNS 9 our two place Hiperlight.

"The single place ultralight version is powered by the Zanzaterra, MZ 201 twin cylinder two stroke, while the experimental version uses the 447 and 503 Rotax. According to Ron the kits will take about 150 to 200 hours to put together, with the single place version using presewn dacron envelopes while the two seat version will use a conventional fabric style of covering.

Current production delivery times are 8 to 10 weeks from placement of order, by late summer Ron hopes to have kits on hand for delivery.

For more information contact:

Thunderbird Aviation Inc.
50230 Mile End Dr.
Shelby Twp Mi 48317

The following can be found at: http://www.av8r.net/issues/march96/top12.htm 

Sorrell Hiperlight SNS-8

The Sorrell Hiperlight may be one of the cutest ultralights ever built... if not the most ingenious. This negative stagger ultralight is a honey of a taildragger and an obedient flyer. When powered by the single-cylinder Rotax 277, the SNS-8 has been proven to be a legal Part 103 ultralight. The 247-lb Hiperlight has a single enclosed seat with a throw-over canopy and conventional center stick control. A novel flaperon mechanism lowers the flaperons anytime serious positive pitch is pulled and serves nicely to ameliorate stall characteristics.

Even with the little one-lung, 28-hp Rotax, the SNS-8 performs well (and mind you, this bird was test-flown initially out of a tiny mountainside strip that would give some helicopters the heebie-jeebies). Takeoff roll is 175' (true), landing requires the same. The rate of climb is quoted as 650 fpm and I can verify over 600 fpm even on warm days. The Hiperlight totes 5 gal of fuel (good for as much as 200 mph on the miserly 277), can carry over 250 lbs total useful load, and can be had for less than $11,000.

The bird cruises at 50 to 60 mph but really has a hard time getting to the top speed of Part 103 (63 mph); it hits a "drag" wall at 60 mph. I found the handling delightful. Pitch is light but linear, the rudder is quite responsive, the ailerons are a bit more rowdy than the ultralight norm... but not too much for a well-briefed novice. The stability and control profile is somewhat positive in pitch, quasi-neutral in roll, and very positive in yaw. The static properties of pitch are laudable and the wing can be picked up, in flight, with aggressive yaw inducement. There is a mild stall with a perceptible break at about 24 to 26 mph, but there is little tendency toward asymmetric nastiness and the recovery is simply a matter of pointing the nose back towards terra firma. You can get the Hiperlight to spin if you work at it, and the bird will recover of its own accord if you turn it loose. Visibility in flight is pretty sweet because the cabin has so much Lexan all over the place, even on the lower sides of the cabin on the side of either leg... and the ground viz suffers surprisingly little from the taildragger stance. Ground handling is quite obedient and anyone with a few solo hours of taildragger time will acclimate swiftly to the Hiperlight.

The welded steel tube fuselage and fabric-covered kit is fairly simple by most standards. Construction time is quoted at 125 hours but 200 seems more realistic, from what we've heard. At the same time, you get one of the more rugged birds in the biz in return for a little longer build time. Do be advised that the Hiperlight is supported by a good but small company with only a few folks providing the necessary backup (so expect a wait to get what you need now and then). Still, the bird is a sweetheart and the Sorrells certainly try hard.

Sorrell Hiperlight SNS-8

ZOOM REPORT: There's not a like not to like about the little Sorrell Hiperlight. It looks cuter than the dickens, has a distinctly sporty feel in the air, and handles short strips very well. I've always liked this one and even with the little engine, it's a great performer. 

USA Aircraft Ratings: Sorrell Hiperlight SNS-8

  • Design/Engineering: B+. Some great features.
  • Ground Handling: B. No surprises.
  • Flight Characteristics: A-. Pretty nice handling.
  • Company Profile: C+. Very small company.
  • Kit/Plans: B.
  • Bang for the Buck: A-.
  • Risk Factor: 4.
  • Final Grade: B+. Highly Recommended.
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BRS ballistic parachutes systems for ultralight and light sport aircraft.

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