Expo-Capable Airplane Hauler | Seeking Design Advice

Neosapian

Member
I've set in motion a plan to purchase a used Kitfox airplane. The Kitfox is classified as an "Experimental Light Sport" aircraft, seats 2 people + 100lbs of pets & gear and is designed primarily for "Bush Plane" operations out of tight unimproved back-country locations and can routinely take off and land in less than 400 feet of runway. One of the primary reasons I've zoomed in on this particular plane is because the wings fold, which makes it trailerable. For the aviators among you who are bound to ask: Im aiming for a completely built Series 3 or 4 model with 80hp Rotax 912 power, standard wing and the enlarged late-model vertical stabilizer. A big 3 blade prop and tundra tires would be nice. Yes there are cheaper tail draggers out there, but their wings don't fold, I won't be able to legally perform my own maintenance, and storage will cost more than the airplane itself.

The idea here is to hangar the plane at home in an enclosed trailer, tow it to local airports for weekend joy rides and travel around on multi-week "overland" camping trips through the western states where I can legally operate the plane out of remote BLM land and rural country roads. I want to begin planning a budget conscious "Phase One" trailer build that will be fully enclosed and feature tie-down points for the airplane, solar powered ventilation and battery tender, as well as fuel and fresh water storage capability. Future iterations could add equipment storage opportunities which supplement the tow vehicle for longer trips and boondocking and could include provisions for a shower and murphy-bed style sleeping for 4 people. My primary AO would be Washington State, Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Alaska.

Tow vehicle is a 2008 4runner 4.7L 4x4. 7000lbs tow rating, 700lbs hitch weight rating. 12,000lbs GCWR. It's on heavy duty OME suspension and will already be set up with rear airbags, brake controller, Anderson weight distribution hitch, new brakes and bearings, extended mirrors etc. so I have my bases covered in this regard.

I'm looking for advice on which type of trailer platform to build from, which materials would be most thermally and cost efficient, or any other thoughts and personal experience that the expedition community could offer. This will be a slow, multi-year project. I am not in any rush.


Specifications

Minimum Dimensions for Aircraft Storage:
  • Length: 23'
  • Width: 8' 3"
  • Height: 7'
Minimum Weights:
  • Aircraft dry weight: ~ 650lbs
  • Aircraft fuel capacity: ~ 220lbs or 26 gallons of standard automotive gasoline.
  • Target on-board fuel capacity of trailer - 50 gallons or 420lbs
  • Target on board fresh water capacity of trailer - 40-50 gallons or 300-400lbs
  • Possible grey or black water capacity - 20-30 gallons
  • Total estimated payload, without tools, luggage, bicycles, etc. is 2200lbs.
Other Requirements:

Tandem axles
29" All Terrain tires
Reasonable ground clearance
Under 6000lbs gross loaded trailer weight

Initial Thoughts:

Option 1: Begin with a 8.5' x 24' aluminum flatbed car hauler, upon which a full width 8' 6" wide deck can be added which extends over the wheel arches, creating a "basement" below where fuel, water, house battery and gear can be positioned for optimum hitch weight and center of gravity? The trailer enclosure could be framed with wood or aluminum studs 24" O.C. and plywood sheeting or aluminum-composite/foam panels?

Option 2: Begin with a pre-built high roof car hauler, where "basement" storage would not be an option, thus fuel & water would be stored on the deck in a more forward position, or perhaps along the side walls of the trailer in more expensive, custom storage vessels.

Option 3: Perhaps a open flat deck with "basement storage" below, and a roof top tent mounted up on a raised frame? Or semi-enclosed/perforated side walls that could reduce weight and wind-induced trailer sway that short wheelbase tow vehicles can experience? The drawback would be less weather and debris protection for the airplane and no shelter for camping in bad weather or bear country.

All advice and comments welcome! Thanks! These photographs are examples pulled from google for visual reference.

Kitfox Bush Tires.jpg

Kitfox Trailer 03.jpgKitfox Trailer 02.jpg05.jpg07.jpgAirplane Camping 02.jpg
 
Last edited:

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Hangar space isn’t that expensive. The amount you spend on a trailer would be several years of shared hangar space.

When you go out to fly no pilot likes assembling and disassembling the plane prior or after flying.

Lots of wear and opportunity to ding up the plane.

I hope you have flown the Kit fox before buying?
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
With tundra tires you’ll be pushing the limit on height most need to get switched to itty bitty tires/wheels to fit on/in a trailer.
 

Neosapian

Member
With tundra tires you’ll be pushing the limit on height most need to get switched to itty bitty tires/wheels to fit on/in a trailer.
True. Maxed on width as well. Im in Bellingham, WA. Hangar space near me is limited and is indeed more expensive than the airplane itself. I'll likely be in the $35-40k range for the plane... Storage cost seems excessive by comparison. And that if I don't get stuck on lengthy waiting list for space at a local airfield. I'd rather utilize that cash for engine maintanence & fuel. Especially if I end up with a Rotax 582, with 300 hour TBO's. I'm not ready to entertain a partnership, especially on such a small purchase. If i found a certified plane like a Taylorcraft, then yeah I'd have to rent space.
 
Last edited:

calicamper

Expedition Leader
We hangared our Verieze with 5 others in a shared hangar and one Sea Fury! It wasn’t a big deal. Everyone knew each other etc. even did Hangar BBQs occasionally. I moved on to sail boats. Same deal had my racing boat at home, but setup and tear down got old fast. So rented a rigged dry yard spot. Then my boats got bigger and now its a slip. ie the equivalent to the hangar plane. Lol

My favorite is my buddies set up. He texts the Office hes headed over. When he arrives the plane is out, fueled, dusted off. 30 minutes hes in the air.
Lol
 

Neosapian

Member
The Verieze looks like a wild toy! Which engine did it have? Im sure there are some deluxe flying clubs in my area, but dang those amenities are so far above my pay grade!

Agreed, sharing space with Sea Fury and hanging out with the pilots who're experienced enough own and fly it would almost be worth the cost of admission. Im 31 years of age and I'm not wealthy... I figure for a first time owner and recreational flyer an extra hour of assembly and pre-flight isn't going to be much of an issue for me. Besides it only takes 20 minutes to unfold the Kitfox according to most owner's reports. I do worry about the potential wear from abrasion and vibration while trailering the plane. This would have to be address

Its nice to hear from a Pilot here on Expo Portal! For the longest time, the long term cost of clubs or plane rentals has been prohibitive. The idea of investing in a private rating and shelling out $180/hour for a cheeseburger once per month just wasn't appealing. Im finally in a position where I can comfortably own an LSA. Its really lit a fire under my ass to finish getting my private. Building out a trailer will be a fun project to undertake while I gain hours. Its been years since I stopped studying...Im excited to get back into the books and pass the written.

Cheers.
 
Last edited:

burleyman

New member
I've been on purchasing/hauling adventures for both Kitfox and Avid folding wing designs. A friend flew a 582 equipped Avid from my 1000' grass strip, often with a passenger, for a couple of years.

Great designs and easier to get ready for flight than a powered parachute with the wing/cord readiness and packing back up, but, the parachutes are wonderful for sightseeing and easier to haul.

For just a one-way purchasing trip, much finger crossing and worrying about foreign object damage on an open trailer. I've seen boat trailers modified for hauling planes. An Experimental plane is a very light load. I would be too nervous to haul often open-trailered.

A small, enclosed aluminum cattle trailer provides protection and has plenty of ventilation for not overheating. A camping type horse trailer with living quarters could work. Pesky vermin can be very destructive when stored, hangar or not.

Have you experienced powerful thermals or gusty winds in a really light plane yet? Especially midday? My old inner ears finally said no more.
 

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
DOT highway rules will not allow you to haul fuel containers/tanks with fuel inside of an enclosed trailer. Fuel in the plane is OK. Fuel containers in the bed of the truck is OK. Go figure.
 

Neosapian

Member
DOT highway rules will not allow you to haul fuel containers/tanks with fuel inside of an enclosed trailer. Fuel in the plane is OK. Fuel containers in the bed of the truck is OK. Go figure.
I can sort of understand the logic behind that regulation, but now I'm curious about how the RV industry gets their gasoline transfer tanks or diesel generator tanks approved for their 5th wheels.

A small, enclosed aluminum cattle trailer provides protection and has plenty of ventilation for not overheating. A camping type horse trailer with living quarters could work. Pesky vermin can be very destructive when stored, hangar or not.

Have you experienced powerful thermals or gusty winds in a really light plane yet? Especially midday? My old inner ears finally said no more.
My brief experience with the controls of a 152, from taxi to take off on up to 3500msl and back down for base leg, I was amazed at how the thing got pushed around in the wind, and its 250 lbs heavier than a Kitfox! The instructor obviously took care of turning final & the landing, with winds over the runway about 8 gusting to 15mph. Incredible. Im looking in to a camping trip to the Boise area next season to get time in a Kitfox at Stick & Rudder Aviation. They train exclusively in Kitfox 7's.

I've checked around for used cattle and horse trailers. If they aren't restricted by width or hitch weight, they're configured as a goose neck or cost more than the airplane itself. A lot of the used trailers with living quarters cost more than a what a DIY'er would spend on a stick built hangar.
 

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
I can sort of understand the logic behind that regulation, but now I'm curious about how the RV industry gets their gasoline transfer tanks or diesel generator tanks approved for their 5th wheels.
The tanks are not in the trailer they are mounted under the trailer outside the shell.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The Verieze looks like a wild toy! Which engine did it have? Im sure there are some deluxe flying clubs in my area, but dang those amenities are so far above my pay grade!

Agreed, sharing space with Sea Fury and hanging out with the pilots who're experienced enough own and fly it would almost be worth the cost of admission. Im 31 years of age and I'm not wealthy... I figure for a first time owner and recreational flyer an extra hour of assembly and pre-flight isn't going to be much of an issue for me. Besides it only takes 20 minutes to unfold the Kitfox according to most owner's reports. I do worry about the potential wear from abrasion and vibration while trailering the plane. This would have to be address

Its nice to hear from a Pilot here on Expo Portal! For the longest time, the long term cost of clubs or plane rentals has been prohibitive. The idea of investing in a private rating and shelling out $180/hour for a cheeseburger once per month just wasn't appealing. Im finally in a position where I can comfortably own an LSA. Its really lit a fire under my ass to finish getting my private. Building out a trailer will be a fun project to undertake while I gain hours. Its been years since I stopped studying...Im excited to get back into the books and pass the written.

Cheers.
Built it in 1983-1986 with my WWII transport pilot grand father. He hadn’t flown or even wanted to fly since 1947 when he parked his last DC 3 and signed out his last time in the AF. He was working in the yard when a Verieze flew over. My grandmother thought he was being attacked by hornets the way he started jumping around and hollering then took off in the car chasing the damn plane across town to the airport. He found it and the guy took him for a spin right there on the spot.
4 weeks later we were building up a square work bench in the garage and getting daily UPS deliveries of foam and materials. 3 yrs later a A+ rated verieze was signed off by the test pilot.

We by design chose a refurbished old school Lycoming 100hp. No starter!!! No big battery just a motorcycle battery. Dick Rutan sold us a prop he used on one of his xcountry efficiency races.

Empty we were 600lbs. Max load was 1200lbs.
Left the runway at 90knots, minimum pattern speed was 120. Cruise at 70% was 190 at 4gph burn rate. Pos 4g rating negative 3g rating. We flew it all over the west coast. In 1988 he flew it to Oshkosh I didn’t do that trip had other stuff going on.
I flew the usual 152’s and 172’s for several years. Then lost interest i might build something again when my kids graduate HS. The eze was a wicked Machine. We could lean about two inches over shoulder against the side of the cockpit and we could get a 3 degree bank to happen with no control input. Sticks were a 4 inch high stick poking out of a arm rest!!

Old gramps was strait up by the book transport pilot with 50,000 hours of war time flight time. A few crazy stories. He only put his AF gloves on a few times and geezuss lets just say AF Pilots are a whole different breed. Once was playing chase over town with a P51 which was built in a neighbors garage “Sparky” it’s been in a few movies, sported Jelly Belly paint for Reno Air races etc. yeah that wild be yelled at to keep the P51 in my sights with the old lycoming pegged flat out😳.

Then there was the static air show that happened to see us out flying and asked for a fly by. Asking an old AF pilot for a fly by gets a response like a 18yr old teenage boy just walked into the dressing room of a beauty pageant competition. Lol

The response was “ You want us to do a fly by?” Yes were asking local pilots to drop by to provide some entertainment for our static show. “Sure is your pattern clear? Yes all yours. Christ 200 knots! Flat out on the deck in that plane I needed a change of shorts. LOL The response was hey thanks Verieze we didn’t have time to announce your fly by and that was way more than we were expecting! LOL All I heard was a laugh from the front seat.

We sold the plane in 1997. It was fun but only carried an extra pair of shorts for when you soiled your shorts and was tough to fly around airports full of 80knot Cessnas. Lol
 

theluckyone

New member
Very cool on your Kitfox. I'd go with the enclosed trailer if you don't have a garage to store it in when not in use and transit, otherwise maybe a flatbed trailer where you can just tie it down for transit and store it folded up in your garage would be cheapest and easiest. The glider guys do it all the time though they usually park it for a week or more and hang out.
 

Eagle05

Adventurer
It's overkill compared to what you're describing, but I remembered seeing this on the Kitfox Facebook page back in June.

"This is Kitfox'n in style!! Over the weekend we had the opportunity to visit with Paul Depperschmidt about how he and his lovely wife are enjoying retirement. They had in mind exactly what they wanted. They enjoy traveling the country, using the coach as home base and venturing out with the Kitfox. Paul did his research and the math, and it worked at planned. They have a Series 7 tricycle that fits perfectly in the trailer with a Jeep Grand Cherokee under it. The trailer was custom built for him to his specification. He can even use the Jeep to jockey the trailer around in tight spaces."

Image may contain: sky, cloud, bus and outdoor

Image may contain: outdoor
 

CampStewart

Observer
No matter if you are within the towing capacity or not it is imprudent to tow an enclosed trailer that size with a 4 runner. The straight line areodynamics will overtax your powertrain at highway speeds and side winds and Semis will blow you around like a leaf. I wouldn't tow anything that size with less than a 3/4 ton truck or Suburban. If ordering a trailer for what you are describing I would get the best smoothest riding suspension available. A trailer that big will not tolerate very much other than flat roads.
 
Top