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Remember the Cumulus Motorglider? It’s Flying!

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Produced by Ultralight Soaring Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, Cumulus is a lightweight motorglider that encourages soaring flight while keeping a lid on costs. Even with options and finish paint, a 40-hp Rotax 447-powered Cumulus can get airborne for under $20,000.

In the 1990s I tried my hand at developing an airplane. While that business venture didn’t make me a millionaire, it provided a valuable lesson about what it takes to stay in the light-sport airplane business.

Later, I realized the project needed someone who understood building techniques better than I did. That man was Dave Ekstrom and he ultimately took over my design, the Cumulus, a motorglider. He calls his business Ultralight Soaring Aviation LLC.

In the world of soaring, a motorglider is an expensive flying machine, making it not so different than high-end LSA that cost $130,000 or more. But Ekstrom comes from the world of homebuilts and he knew he could produce a kit for a lot less if buyers were willing to pull a few rivets (about 300 total hours are needed). One of the 21 Cumulus builders is Andre Girard of Ottawa, Canada, who kindly provided Dave with the photos you see (five Cumulus kits are now airborne).

On such a lovely day for flying Cumulus has calculated performance of 20:1 glide and a sink rate less than 200 fpm. From personal experience, I can vouch for those numbers as easily facilitating soaring flight. Yet you always have an engine to get you back home.

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