The King and Kolbra
The New Kolb Aircraft Company didn’t make a new model. They made two. But don’t judge by the photos accompanying this sidebar.
The red Kolbra was built by Lite Speed Aviation, a group based only an hour away from The New Kolb Aircraft Company. The distinctive orange-and-blue Kolbra is the factory creation. Finished off as professionally, I found some irony in that the newest model was not the factory one.
The Lite Speed model is the ultralight trainer version, and that’s precisely how Lite Speed plans to use it. New Kolb’s factory edition is an example of the King Kolbra, which will require FAA registration and an FAA pilot’s certificate.
In truth, besides the beefy Australian 80-hp Jabiru engine (versus the Austrian Rotax), the main differences between the two examples relate to the nose jobs. From the front seat aft (ignoring the engine), the two planes are all but identical except for paint and upholstery.
Lite Speed uses the New Kolb Mark III Xtra-like wider nose that brings a bit more legroom, which may be appreciated on longer flights. And they also copied the Xtra’s helicopter-like instrument pod that seems to grow out of the floor. I like this arrangement far better as I could read the instruments better and could reach all switches while tightly belted in the seat. You must swing your leg over this pod – a touch more challenging than the older style. However, even the King Kolbra has a switch panel set in a similar position to the instrument pod of the Kolbra ULT.
The company says customers like the rounded looks of the older nose style but preferred the legroom of the wider version. New Kolb plans to continue listening to customers and the final design may blend these treatments somewhat.
I commend New Kolb for making changes to suit customers and I certainly like the way they listen to what buyers and possible customers are saying. With this attitude, things can only get better.