Hapkido Online

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Aviation: The Stunning KR

So dear reader you've browsed my articles to this point and you say to yourself hey he forgot this plane or that plane am I right?  Well unlike a traditional magazine, this is a blog and I LOVE to write about airplanes so I can just keep adding to the list.  What list?  Well in short let's call it the airplanes for the next century list

What I am looking for are airplanes that can be built or bought by folks of modest means.  The materials for the plane should be available locally, ideally at the nearest lumberyard.  The tools and skills required should be within reach of the average do-it-yourselfer.  The overall cost of the aircraft should be within reach of the multitude of working people.  Well what does that mean?  Let's say ideally you can get the next century plane airworthy for around the cost of a KIA automobile or less.  My final tenet is that the aircraft should have a very good community of builder/pilots who will keep it alive. 

You likely have noticed that I favor plans built planes over kit built aircraft.  This is because often kit aircraft are prohibitively expensive.  Remember we are thinking KIA here, not Lamborghini.  But we shouldn't rule kit planes out, especially if they are within the price range of the KIA.

Till now I've shown you the Bowers Flybaby, the Colomban Cri-Cri, the BUG and GOAT gliders of Mike Sandlin, and the venerable Pietenpol. 

But let's say you want something that is a little bit bigger.  Maybe you want something a little more slippery, without all those pesky struts and cables to slow things down.  Something fast and yet still within the parameters of the 'next century' aircraft.
Mark Langford's KR, Used with Permission 

With all this in mind I present to you the iconic KR line of aircraft.  This legend was born in 1972 when visionary aircraft designer Ken Rand built and flew the KR-1.  This single seater has very clean lines and would set the trend for most modern composite aircraft we see today.  What sets the KR apart? Well for one thing it pioneered a revolutionary new approach to aircraft construction.  In the industry they call it foam and fiberglass composite. 

I know many of you who have read my blog till now will say 'oh no' he has gone over to the composite kit dark side!  Rest assured dear reader I am not so worried about the means that I forget the ends.  This kit is still provided by a couple of manufacturers and many subcomponents can be built from local materials.  Also even a fairly comprehensive kit at the time of this writing is well beneath the cost of a KIA.  So if you are looking for something a bit more trim and modern and quicker to build the KR is a very good option.

One of the things that impresses me about the KR-1 in particular is it can be flown with a Volkswagen engine.  This means a very inexpensive and easy to maintain power plant.  Obviously the larger KR-2 and KR-2S would benefit from a more robust engine.

Where the KR really shines is It's incredible versatility.  It can be built with one seat or two.  It can be built as a tail dragger, tricycle, or even with retractable landing gear.  You can use the same fuselage and put a different wing on it to make it a very nice motor glider.  In short Ken Rand has given us a plane for any pilot!

With so many different configuration options and power plant options there is no easy way to tell you the performance specs for this aircraft because no two are quite the same.  I can say that properly equipped she could wax the tail of any plane in the Lamborghini price range!

The KR is supported by a very avid owner/builder/pilot community who is always willing to lend a hand.


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