Then… In the 1990s, a pair of Canadian aircraft dominated the light aviation market in America’s neighbor to the north. The two planes are known to many Americans: Beaver and Chinook. Thanks to a rescue by second owner ASAP many years ago, both continued to be manufactured in Canada’s West. Long-departed Birdman Enterprises did a fine job of originating the Chinook. When ASAP took over, Canadians and ultralight enthusiasts in many places celebrated ongoing support of this aircraft. Hundreds of Chinooks were built. That is now rather distant history. Bringing Chinook not only into the present day but also into the USA is the Aeroplane Manufactory. …and Now For several years, ASAP sold the Chinook Plus 2, tagging the two-seater model with the “Plus” suffix after ASAP’s team improved and refined the aircraft following their acquisition. In more modern times, after purchasing the Chinook design rights and inventory in 2013 (five semi loads’ worth!), Aeroplane Manufactory brought the north-of-the-border design way down south to the Houston, Texas area.
Phone: (979) 885-6193Sealy, TX 77474 - USA
A History LessonPerhaps the most famous ultralight to come out of Canada is the Beaver. With a reported 2,200 flying units since the early 1980s, it's a successful design. However, due to corporate missteps by the companies that owned the brand, the Beaver series was nearly lost. Originally, the Beaver models were manufactured by Spectrum Aircraft Inc. Reorganization left the ultralight in the hands of a company called Beaver RX Enterprises. In 1993, that company closed its doors and stranded thousands of Beaver aircraft owners, along with all the dealerships that sold and serviced them. Luckily, Brent and Paulette Holomis, the owners of ASAP, stepped in to fill this void. Having already saved the Chinook ultralight following the closing of Birdman Enterprises, ASAP was in position to help. Brent explains, "Because the Chinook Plus 2 is similar in construction to the Beaver, we were approached by some Beaver dealers and customers to see if we could somehow provide them with parts for their existing aircraft." The company did more than just take over these disappearing designs. Thanks to focus and a related machine shop business, ASAP was able to make improvements on both airplanes. Today, both Chinook and the Beaver have the suffix Plus added to them to denote the additional design work done. ASAP's array of computer-controlled machines allows the company to build parts in-house when many other manufacturers must go outside to obtain similar quality hardware. Those who compare ASAP to Quicksilver Aircraft, which also has significant machining capability, are close to the mark. ASAP operates out of two locations. The company manufactures all parts and components for both Chinooks and Beavers at its headquarters in St. Paul, Alberta, Canada. Another location, in Vernon, British Columbia, handles all airplane inquiries and processes part orders. Technical support and new product testing is also conducted in Vernon. ASAP also has four corporate divisions: Steel Breeze Powered Parachutes (www.SteelBreeze.ca), UL Parts (www.ULParts.com), PPC Canopies (www.PPCCanopies.com), and Summit Powered Parachutes (www.Summit- PPC.com). The Chinook Before being rescued by ASAP, some 700 Chinooks had been manufactured by Birdman Enterprises, which did a great job of originating this machine. Canadians in particular, and ultralight enthusiasts all over the world, celebrated ASAP's support of this unique light aircraft when the company took over the design in 1988, and reintroduced the design in 1989. Though the Chinook's wide cockpit gives it a pudgy appearance from some vantage points, the design slips through the air quite well. It has light and powerful ailerons, which makes it easy to guide through the air. In general, the plane's handling is quite pleasant despite, or perhaps because of, its unorthodox shape. The Chinook was not always fully enclosed; ASAP added a full Lexan enclosure for the Chinook Plus, making a virtual greenhouse surrounding the pilot and passenger with many square feet of clear plastic offering an unlimited view. Even in colder northern climates, that enclosure provides a reasonably comfortable environment. Entering a Chinook means lifting yourself over about 6 inches of structure, which could prove a bit challenging for less flexible aviators, but once you swing into position you'll love the roominess. Even with a rearseat passenger's feet on rudder pedals right alongside your seat, space is plentiful. If you have some extra girth yourself, the Chinook Plus might accommodate you more comfortably than some other designs. ASAP offers the Chinook with the Rotax 503 or 582 engines, the HKS 700E, or the more powerful Rotax 912. The Beaver As it had done with the Chinook, ASAP added value to the Beaver RX550 by finishing the wing in conventional dope and fabric (Ceconite), rather than the original pre-sewn Dacron envelopes. Using Ceconite increases manufacturing time and adds quite a few pounds (with paint), but it lasts much longer, especially when an aircraft is stored outside. With the conversion to the Ceconite wing covering also came a change in rib spacing from 18 or 20 inches apart to 6 inches apart, which allows the wing to hold its airfoil shape better and improves performance slightly. ASAP also increased sleeving in the leading edge and replaced cable bracing with tubing. Subsequent to these changes, the design was subjected to full static loading, with independent analysis offered by a local university. As proof of the design's longevity, Brent reports that one Beaver RX550 has accumulated more than 2,000 hours while on duty in South Africa. Those who own older RX550s may purchase a conversion kit to upgrade the earlier models. Build time for the RX550 kit is estimated by ASAP as 150 to 180 hours. The builder simply assembles the kit, no component fabrication is necessary, and part accuracy is good- thanks to the company's computercontrolled machining. ASAP also supports a wide selection of engines for the RX550. Builders can choose a Rotax 582 or 912, but ASAP also works closely with HPower Ltd., in fitting the HKS 700E four-stroke engine on the Beaver airframe. The control system of the Beaver RX550 Plus is quite conventional, using pushrods to control ailerons, and cables to effect rudder movements. It has full-span ailerons, which Brent says improves the handling significantly on the RX550 Plus over the original version. The RX550 Plus does not have flaps, flaperons, or other glide path control devices, though ASAP indicated these devices might be added in the future. Nor does it have trim; however, an inventive kit builder could create a trim system. The Beaver RX550 Plus does have the ultralight-like nose cone and windscreen, but it opens to the sides, giving open-air enthusiasts a machine they'll enjoy. A Single-Seater Both the Chinook Plus and RX550 Plus are two-place machines. With the ultralight exemption in the United States expiring on January 31, American owners of these two-place machines will need to convert their aircraft to experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) or experimental amateur- built status to remain legal, while our Canadian friends may continue to fly these machines under Canada's ultralight regulations. ASAP has now introduced a singleseat version of the Beaver. This recent offering brings a pleasantly light version of the former RX35 model powered by a 40-hp Rotax 447 for $17,500. At a typical empty weight of 340 pounds, the Beaver SS doesn't qualify as a Part 103 ultralight here in the United States, but it does meet Canada's rules and offers 300 pounds of useful load. Americans who relish single-seat aircraft could build this machine as an amateur-built aircraft and fly it as a sport pilot.
Which Will It Be?Both the Beaver and Chinook have enjoyed a rich part of Canadian light aviation history. Both have good reputations for safe operations and longevity. Ask ultralight or microlight pilots around the world and many will be familiar with the Canadian designs. With the exception of Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing's Rebel series of light aircraft, the Beaver and Chinook are some of the most recognizable lightplanes to come from America's neighbor to the north. Given the current parity between the American and Canadian dollar, the price in Canada is essentially the same as in the United States. ASAP lists an HKS-powered Chinook 2 Plus for $26,700, only $700 more than with a Rotax 582. While the Rotax has a little more power at a bit less weight, the HKS represents a great buy, especially if you prefer four-stroke power. On the contrary, a Rotax 912-powered Chinook 2 Plus will cost $36,000. An HKS-powered Beaver RX550 Plus lists for exactly the same price as the Chinook, though it doesn't offer the Rotax 912 version. However, the Beaver will fly adequately with the Rotax 503, and using a B gearbox, you can obtain the full airplane kit for less then $21,000. In the age of $100,000 light-sport aircraft, it's a great value. As these are homebuilt aircraft, meeting the definition of light-sport aircraft, American pilots may build the aircraft in the experimental amateur-built category and fly them with a sport pilot certificate, using a state driver's license serving as evidence of medical fitness. Of course, pilots with higher certificates may also fly these aircraft. A View from the Summit As evidenced by the list of divisions ASAP has created, the company believes strongly in offering a broad range of products. To that end, Summit was formed to produce powered parachutes (PPCs) and thus serve another subset of the recreational aviation market. The company's latest machine, the Summit II, has design qualities that bear more resemblance to conventional aircraft than many other powered parachutes. Powered parachutes use canopies, or parawings, as their wings, with most coming from the same few suppliers. Summit claims to be the first to use cell canopy stiffeners. These are thicker panels of cloth sewn into the leading edge openings of a canopy's individual cells to enhance canopy opening during the inflation period. Following Summit's lead, other manufacturers have now adopted the idea. Summit also uses distinct and separate seats for each occupant. Older powered parachute designs had seats that pressed the front occupant between the legs of the aft occupant. Many pilots, especially larger ones, find the separated, individual seats more comfortable. Summit's carriage allows a much steeper deck angle on landing than other brands, more than three times higher, according to Summit spokesperson George Wood. The benefit of this is that a larger deck angle tends to cause initial contact only on the rear wheels rather than all three at once. The company uses all-anodized finishing on the airframe's 6061-T6 tubing. While this is common on fixed-wing aircraft, most PPC manufacturers powder-coat their airframes. While such painting can be done precisely, the worker must be skilled at the task, and painting still doesn't cover tubing as thoroughly as does anodizing, which covers surfaces inside and out. Because anodizing is not as thick as paint, Summit believes it better permits fitting of precisely made parts. Anodizing costs more but the company feels the results are better. Summit uses a central lower beam on its PPC carriage similar to many ultralight aircraft with tail booms. Summit calls that member a "body tube fuselage," and it distinguishes the design from that of other powered parachutes. Following this construction style with riveted gussets, Summit was able to make a strong design that is notably lighter than some of its competitors'; many other PPC models are 25 to 50 pounds heavier for a comparable model. The Summit II's foot pedals are different than those of other PPCs; they relate well to rudder pedals on fixedwing aircraft. Most PPCs use foot bars, which tend to be nonintuitive to fixed-wing pilots. In another nod to conventional aircraft controls, the Summit II's throttle moves forward to produce more power. Traditionally trained pilots may find adapting to the Summit PPC is easier than dealing with throttles that pull aft to add power (the "joystick" method). Summit positions the engine weight directly over the rear wheels whereas many PPCs place the engine aft of the wheels. The company says this helps Summit II deal with those landings where the aft carriage can strike the ground. Drawing further on knowledge from the ultralight aircraft industry, Summit uses a dynafocal engine mount technique to suppress vibration. (Dynafocal refers to aiming the mount attach points at the center of the engine's mass.) The Summit II uses an aircraft-like control yoke but is linked only to the nose wheel, and it works intuitively for ground steering-that is, turn right/go right. Most PPCs use less familiar ground-steering systems that puzzle airplane pilots. A hand brake is fitted to the left side of the yoke operating a drum brake on the front wheel. Of course, such a brake is useful only when the wing is not lifting that wheel off the ground. Flying The Summit I flew with George, who proved to be a good transition instructor. Getting things rolling in a powered parachute is different than with a fixed-wing aircraft or a weight-shift machine. First you begin to power up the machine, then you make sure your wing is inflated properly, and and only then do you add full power to continue the takeoff. In flight, you guide the Summit or most other powered parachutes with foot controls much like you steer a fixed-wing aircraft on the ground with your feet. But instead of the foot bars used on most PPCs, Summit uses foot pedals that travel back and forth on rails mounted on either side of the body tube fuselage. This likely will seem more intuitive to conventional pilots. The slideable pedals are secured to the rail top and bottom, and I found them to move quite fluidly. According to the company, the range of motion that's available from this sliding pedal arrangement gives more line action than the hinged foot bar method so that the pilot has a increased measure of control. The control range is enough, George says, that you hardly need to pull on the control lines with your hands to add input as is commonly done on other brands of powered parachutes. Approaching to land, a final goose of power just before touchdown slowed the descent rate and we touched down with excellent control. I estimate about a 1.5-second delay between a significant power input and response from the wing, so you need to plan ahead slightly. Ignoring this delay can cause the carriage to swing more under the canopy. While that's no issue aloft, you don't want such movement as you touch down. Most PPC manufacturers locate the main gear axle ahead of the engine weight, but Summit locates its axle a good 18 inches further aft. Combined with its main boom-type construction and adjustable hang point, it's unlikely Summit owners will experience a prop strike. Such events can occur when PPCs land with the aft end of the carriage hanging relatively low. Yet fitting powered parachute carriages with such a positive angle of attack is necessary if the parawing is to produce lift during a take-off roll. Summit's aft axle construction appears to better support the engine at all times. My test Summit II aircraft had an S-500 Mustang canopy. This parawing is made to Summit specifications and George described it as a common square parachute. An elliptical model called the Thunderbolt E-340 is available. In both cases the numbers refer to the square footage while the S stands for square and E for elliptical. Square is best for training according to nearly all powered parachute producers. While we flew at near gross under the S-500 Mustang, I observed the power used for various phases. During climb-out, we used about 6,200 rpm; during cruise, we used about 5,200-5,300 rpm. These values are not notably different from the average fixed-wing or trike ultralights. George indicated that with the Thunderbolt elliptical wing, 4,700 rpm would be sufficient, showing the added efficiency of the elliptical shape even though it has only two-thirds the square area. For landing, a 4,400-rpm setting produced about 300 fpm of descent on approach. Summit proved its technical ability by reaching special lightsport aircraft status first among all powered parachute manufacturers. Since its related businesses have shown they can produce a wide variety of aircraft and components, this should surprise no one. It's quite apparent the ASAP and its related companies have established a business model that intends to serve light-flight enthusiasts. Flying an ASAP or Summit machine may be your way of affordably getting into, or back into, the air.
The Beaver and Chinook ultralight-like aircraft are arguably two of the bestknown lightweight designs coming from Canada. Aircraft Sales and Parts, more commonly known as ASAP, is the company that rescued and now manufactures and sells these designs, along with a powered parachute from its sister company, Summit Powered Parachutes. The tale of ASAP’s involvement with the Chinook and Beaver offers insight into ultralight progress – Canadian style. A History Lesson Perhaps the most famous ultralight to come out of Canada is the Beaver. With a reported 2,200 flying units since the early 1980s, it’s a successful design. However, due to corporate missteps by the companies that owned the brand, the Beaver series was nearly lost. Originally, the Beaver models were manufactured by Spectrum Aircraft Inc. Reorganization left the ultralight in the hands of a company called Beaver RX Enterprises. In 1993, that company closed its doors and stranded thousands of Beaver aircraft owners, along with all the dealerships that sold and serviced them.
Long one of Canada’s best loved ultralights, the Chinook – formerly designed and built by Birdman – is another of the country’s designs saved by the Holomis family when they went acquiring ultralight aircraft companies to complement their successful machining enterprise in British Columbia. A simple design with lines unlike any other ultralight I’ve flown, the aircraft has pleasing characteristics that most pilot will enjoy. Larger aviators especially will like the enormous cabin of the Chinook. And like other Canadian designs, the Chinook’s sturdy triangulated construction allows it to operate as a bush plane from almost any open space. Consequently, ASAP likes to show Chinooks with tundra tires or floats, both of which add to the rugged good looks. The wide open cabin is surrounded by well supported clear Lexan giving you a panoramic view from either seat. Tandem aircraft often cramp the aft seat and don’t give it the best visibility, but Chinook sets a new standard.
Expanding EnterpriseOver the years, ASAP's business has expanded and the western Canada company now sells the Chinook Plus 2 and the Beaver RX-550 Plus, tagging both models with the "plus" suffix that indicates the ASAP team improved and refined the aircraft after their acquisition of the models. I find it impressive that two of Canada's most popular ultralights are now built by ASAP, a company that rescued these designs after the original companies failed. Birdman Enterprises designed and built the Chinook, and Spectrum Aircraft built the Beaver RX-550 (though the latter company went through a few name/ownership changes before succumbing completely). With some 700 Chinooks flying and at least 2,000 Beavers delivered, Canadians in particular and ultralight/microlight enthusiasts everywhere should rejoice that ASAP and the Holomis family has chosen to support these two design success stories. Today, Brent and crew have logged 10 years as producer of the Chinook. I was pleased to fly the machine, and to update your understanding and awareness of this nice-flying Canadian ultralight.
Unique FeaturesThough its wide basepan gives the Chinook a rather tubby look from some angles, the design slips through the air quite well. It recorded one of the lowest idle-thrust sink rates of any 2-seat ultralight I've flown. And the Chinook has light and powerful ailerons that make it a joy to fly. If you walk around the front of the design and sight down the nose toward the tail, you can see how the fairing got so wide when the design became fully-enclosed years ago. The landing gear struts extend up to the leading edge at the wing's center. Since the enclosure goes around these struts, the cockpit is made very broad. Putting your bottom in the seat means lifting yourself over 6 or so inches of cockpit to the side of the seat. However, once you swing into position, you'll love the roominess. Even with a rear seat passenger's feet on rudder pedals right alongside your seat, space is plentiful. If you're a wide pilot, this machine might be your dream. In the cockpit are the following controls: Center-mounted joystick with hydraulic brake lever on the front side. To your left and behind you somewhat you'll find a single throttle with two handles, one extended forward and one aft. To me, the throttle idea seems taking simplicity too far. Dual throttle positions don't add that much weight or complexity but might be much more convenient. In the Chinook system, both pilots must reach somewhat awkwardly. I think such an important control needs to be more accessible. As I flew from the front, I had to feel around in back and to the side - somewhat like reaching for my wallet - to find the throttle. Maintaining a hand on the throttle, as is standard practice for most pilots, means holding your arm somewhat awkwardly behind you. On the right side of the Chinook cabin is a control panel. It held the ignition switches, master switch, starter, primer and optional prop control lever. In front of the front-seat pilot, ASAP had installed the MaxPak instrument deck with its full complement of gauges. The electronic panel switches from cylinder to cylinder (on CHT or EGT) and offers other control by switch. It was the easiest-to-read instrument deck I've ever used. Below the MaxPak, ASAP had installed a few more temperature and pressure gauges to monitor the new 60-hp HKS 700E 4-cycle engine. As you turn to secure the door with ASAP's little bungee cord fastener - which worked quite effectively - you can't help but notice the massive amount of clear area surrounding you. The visibility from the front seat of the Chinook is simply huge, even before you leave the ground. Noting how slick and clear their windscreen and enclosure appeared, Brent Holomis confided, "Lemon Pledge® is the secret." Certainly, it was easy on the eye.
Purring AlongThe electric-start HKS fired exactly as you'd expect a 4-stroke to do. It caught quickly and purred in readiness for taxi. Having flown several HKS-powered ultralights, the sound was no longer unusual to me, but it remained unique. A lot has been said and written about the Harley-Davidson motorcycle's sound, that "potato, potato" noise that so defines the big bike's engine. In fact, to confront the invasion of sound-alike Japanese bikes, Harley is trying to copyright the distinctive noise! If it means something to Harley today, perhaps it will one day mean something to HPower (the U.S. importer) and HKS, because the newest 4-stroke aircraft engine certainly has its own sound. Amid a setting of 2-stroke-powered ultralights, the 700E is unmistakable, even compared to other 4-stroke engines. I'd been told (in all HKS installations) to watch for oil temperatures higher than 200° - it never came close, typically running under 180° in the Chinook - and for adequate oil pressure. The HKS seemed hardly to be working to fly me and the Chinook around. I imagine it would do nearly as well even loaded with two large pilots. ASAP builders did a great job of fitting the HKS, nestled as it is behind the rear cabin bulkhead. Lowering the engine below the upper wing trailing edge assures the upper surface stays uncluttered and efficient. It also gave the Chinook smooth lines visually. As with other new installers of the HKS, Holomis had to experiment with the right position for the oil cooler radiator. It's a little thing, but it needs adequate airflow. The smooth exterior of the Chinook enclosure forced ASAP to move the cooler around, seeking the right spot. Brent Holomis expressed a lot of satisfaction with the HKS engine and spoke highly of his dealings with HPower personnel. Also like other new installers, he sees a market for HKS-powered Chinooks among pilots who prefer 4-stroke engines. It certainly seems appropriate for many 2-seat ultralight designs at its rated 60 horsepower. Finally, Holomis mentioned the smooth torque power through a wide operating range and the very low fuel usage. Some users report as low as 2.0 gallons per hour, though 3.0 or so is more common. Regardless, this is less than a Rotax 503 doing the same work, and far less than a Rotax 582.
Off We Go, EasilyTaxiing out on a breezy day, I appreciated the low and wide stance of the Chinook. You hardly feel like you're operating a taildragger because the deck angle (fore to aft slope of the centerline of the fuselage) is modest. Most pilots will be happy to hear you can practically handle the Chinook as though it were a tri-gear design. Takeoff and landing operations in the Chinook were extraordinarily easy. Every variation of speed, approach angles or descent technique I attempted made me look good. One reason this is so relates to the huge vision you have from the front seat. I never flew from the rear, but I'm sure it would be much compromised compared to the nose seat. Another reason for the easy landings is the good roll control the Chinook shows. And it doesn't hurt that the large enclosure provides for excellent slip potential. For this reason, flaps aren't necessary to someone with a good slip technique. Climb was strong thanks to the high-torque HKS engine. It isn't so much the rate of the climb with the 4-stroke engine; it's the way the 700E bears the load of a high-angled prop. Most 2-strokes express a sound of laboring when you nose-up steeply and climb for a sustained time. The HKS kept pushing us aloft without the slightest protest. One thing you are always sure about in the Chinook is the fuel quantity. I have heard a few detractors say that airplanes shouldn't carry their fuel dangling from a wing strut. Fuel lines also must route a good distance and do so through the cabin (via a fuel control valve). However, several hundred Chinooks have been operating this way for years without publicized problems. With the Chinook fuel tanks kept well away from the pilot, an incident may be less of a hazard thanks to this design. No matter what else, anyone has to agree that seeing your remaining fuel couldn't get much easier. The Chinook's fuel cells are shapely to reduce drag. Not much other space exists in the fuselage to put fuel (assuming that's where you believe it should be). And despite the cockpit's broad space, the Chinook provides no cargo room - unless that's how you use the back seat. While I liked flying the Chinook a great deal, the rear seat didn't interest me much. The rear occupant's head is mere inches away from the engine. While it appears stoutly braced and I know of no problems related to this close engine, I should think noise and vibration might be offensive. Entry requires twisting around the strut placement. However, I didn't fly in the rear and I make no condemnation of the design. Since most pilots probably use the rear seat for stuff they want to bring aloft, the whole point may often be moot.
What a Load StarA 430-pound Chinook (empty, with the HKS engine) can carry a maximum of 950 pounds leaving 520 pounds of useful load. Subtract 60 pounds for fuel (10 gallons) and you are left with 460 pounds of payload, or two 230-pound occupants. That's a lot of beef, and flown solo, your "cargo" could be quite significant. ASAP's brochure depicts a Chinook with a 100-pound propane tank strapped in the aft seat - a trapper flies the load to his cabin in the bush. The Chinook can run to about 90 mph with the HKS engine on it. High cruise appeared to be in the range of 75 to 80 mph and an economical cruise brought her down to about 60 to 65. At the latter power setting and flown solo with a little baggage and full fuel, my guess is the HKS might burn only a couple gallons an hour. This would yield an endurance of close to 5 hours with standard wing strut tanks. Even flown at gross weight, you'll probably still get more than 3 hours aloft. Stalls came in at 35 to 40 mph, usually hovering toward the low end of that range as I flew it. In all cases, stalls were mild and uneventful. With full power, the Chinook simply keeps climbing even with full backstick. The nose wanders a bit in this position, but not frighteningly so. Power-off stalls were very mild, as well, breaking but only subtly. I actually prefer a cleaner break so I know it happened, but I don't see pilots getting into any trouble with the Chinook. I can guess that stalls at gross might climb close to 40 mph, but the characteristics should stay similar. One surprising performance fact is the low sink rate of the Chinook. This wing design has impressed me before and a descent rate near 350 feet per minute beats virtually every other ultralight 2-seater I've flown. Glide didn't seem quite as strong, and yet the two parameters are somewhat linked. I can't explain, but feel confident the sink rate is superior. This is good to know if you must ever glide to a landing. Two lone complaints in the safety arena are: (1) no standard shoulder belts (they're optional) and (2) no parachute was fitted (also optional). I'd sure like it better when flying new ultralights if manufacturers would install them.
Should You Purchase?The Holomis brothers have an easy-going, low-key way about them. They've obviously shown determination by remaining in the ultralight business for a decade. And they demonstrated good strategy in capturing two of Canada's top ultralight designs to build in their high-tech plant. Not bad for a couple of young Canadian businessmen and their families. The Holomis family first developed a following in Canada by supplying parts for the Chinook and Beaver. Dealers lost their manufacturer support when previous companies failed, and were anxious for someone to help. Since they could make all the parts in-house using versatile CNC milling equipment, the family's effort lead to supplying whole aircraft as well as parts for more than 3,000 Chinook and Beaver owners. As many companies as I've seen come and go in the 20 years of ultralight flying, I'm pleased to see an enterprise like
ASAP on the jobNow with a new U.S. distributor, ASAP can make a more determined push into the big American marketplace. Joplin Light Aircraft in Missouri will represent the Canadians under the direction of John and Amy Lukey. Either of the Canadian ultralights the Lukeys have to sell you — the Chinook Plus 2 or the Beaver RX-550 Plus — could satisfy most pilots. However, for those with a taste for more refined handling, the Chinook has a clear edge. And its superwide fully-enclosed cabin will keep you comfortable in cooler weather and on longer flights. Add the HKS engine to the Chinook airframe and you can have an impressive ultralight kit for $13,500. A price like that isn't uncommon for any 2-seater with engine, but we're talking a 4-stroke reputation here. The Chinook HKS is actually a good value in a fun flying machine.
|155 square feet
|6.1 pounds/sq ft
|17 feet 8 inches
|5 feet 10 inches
|+4 Gs, -2 Gs
|HKS 700E 4-cycle
|60 hp at 5,900 rpm
|Never exceed speed
|Rate of climb at gross
|800 feet per minute
|Takeoff distance at gross
|Landing distance at gross
|Dual controls (shared left-hand throttle), steerable tailwheel, fully-enclosed cabin, removable doors, instrument panel, adjustable mechanical flaperons, dual fuel tanks (10-gallon U.S. capacity), seat belts, seat covers.
|Rotax 503 dual carb or 582, Hirth 2703, 2704 or 2706 or 2si 460F-45, 460L-50 or 690L-70 engine, standard or heavy-duty reduction drives, electric start, silencer kit, hydraulic disc brakes, electric flaperons, cabin heat, ballistic parachute, 5-point shoulder harnesses, floats, skis, instruments, 2- or 3-blade wood or composite props, custom interior.
|Aluminum tubing airframe, bungee suspension, Ceconite® fabric covering; bolt-together kit - parts precut and predrilled, fabric precut. Made in Canada.
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.Pros - Now 10 years in production by ASAP, the Chinook is a reliable aircraft to buy and fly. More than 700 reportedly flying with a good record. Simple lines thanks to the original developer, yet with unusually generous interior room. Flight test model was nicely finished, outside and inside. Nice execution of HKS installation; nestles away cleanly. Cons - Head-on the Chinook has a certain bathtub look to it (though it's shape works well aloft). Some don't care for wing strut fuel tanks so far from the engine (though this may have a safety aspect to it). Tandem seating isn't for everyone.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).Pros - At an empty weight of 430 pounds (with the HKS engine), you can add numerous systems and stay within the training exemption definitions. Beautifully instrumented front and rear. Fuel quantity couldn't be much easier to check; glance out either side. Many system accessories offered by factory. Cons - Brakes were rather weak on this plane. Flaperons were not installed on this particular Chinook. Great instrument deck requires more familiarity to fully use; a quick checkout isn't enough. No trim.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).Pros - Rear seat had good instrumentation; would make a good trainer vehicle so equipped. Seats were quite comfortable for longer flights. Wide bodied pilots should love the Chinook. Even with doors, the interior is very large. Interior upholstery and floor pans make the inside more polished. Cons - I didn't care for the combo throttle much. The front pilot must reach slightly behind your left side while a rear seat instructor would have to lean forward. Rear seat entry is much more difficult than the front seat. Aft occupant is very near engine.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.Pros - Solid and comfortable, built "Canadian tough," the Chinook taxies with authority. Wide gear geometry and wide tires helped the effect further. Good turn radius even while taxiing slow in stronger winds. Bungee suspension worked well to soften the bumps. Adequate ground clearance and a protected prop arc. Cons - Rear seat visibility is poor; an instructor will have to plan ahead to check traffic before takeoff. No brake lever at rear seat (not uncommon on trainers, though). No differential braking at either seat.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.Pros - This is one of the easiest-to-handle taildraggers you can fly. A nearly flat deck angle helps as does a low posture. Terrific front-seat visibility during any takeoff or landing operation. Approaches can be made quite slowly (down into the 40s). Cons - Chinook didn't jump off the ground as quickly as some trainers. Rear-seat visibility is quite compromised on takeoffs and landings; an instructor will have to stay aware of traffic and judge landing speeds and attitudes well (though, of course, such judgments are expected of instructors).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.Pros - Roll response and roll rate were both quite brisk. Roll rate was not as strong as roll-in/out power, but authority proved good even in breezy crosswinds. Tail has loads of power, too, but forces are a little higher. Cable connections to tail surfaces gave good feedback. Cons - Coordination takes a few minutes to learn because the ailerons feel somewhat lighter (though perhaps a little less potent) than the rudder. Control adjustments may account for these observations.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.Pros - The Chinook shows strong sink rate performance, especially for a design that appears to (though may not) have a larger frontal area. Purred along beautifully with its HKS 4-stroke engine. Speeds ran about 80 mph in a medium-high cruise setting. Also flew well at only 45 to 50 mph. Cons - Carrying the extra weight and complexity of a 4-stroke engine means some performance is diverted to this purpose. Climb rate also didn't seem up to the factory brochure figures (though I'm comparing the 60-hp HKS to a 50-hp Rotax 503 and a 65-hp 582).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.Pros - Stalls were quite straightforward in the Chinook (I only flew solo). Often one wing would fall, and not the same one, but the fall was slow and modest. Unable to see a full-power stall break. Accelerated stalls always fell to the outside, which is preferred. Solid aircraft in breezier conditions. Cons - Without trim, and with the nose slightly heavy, I could not make longitudinal stability checks. No standard shoulder belts; lap belts only are usually considered insufficient in case of violent upset.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"Pros - ASAP offers a good value, I think, at $7,250 for the basic airframe. Easy flying characteristics endear the Chinook to either training, cross-country flights or bush flying. Present company has outlasted the original design company and provides more certainty with which to do business. Company makes most parts in topnotch in-house facility. Cons - The Chinook has not changed much over the last decade; if you're looking for something new and dashing, this may not be it. No extensive U.S. dealer network.
What started as Canadian Ultralight Manufacturing has now become ASAP and Brent Holomis is now president again. In the early days of the Vernon, British Columbia company, Brent became occupied with GSC props and focused on building that enterprise while brother Curt dealt with aircraft sales. Now they’re both involved in aircraft manufacturing. Expanding Enterprise Over the years, ASAP’s business has expanded and the western Canada company now sells the Chinook Plus 2 and the Beaver RX-550 Plus, tagging both models with the “plus” suffix that indicates the ASAP team improved and refined the aircraft after their acquisition of the models. I find it impressive that two of Canada’s most popular ultralights are now built by ASAP, a company that rescued these designs after the original companies failed. Birdman Enterprises designed and built the Chinook, and Spectrum Aircraft built the Beaver RX-550 (though the latter company went through a few name/ownership changes before succumbing completely).