Which Challenger Model

Part 103 Challenger
The Part 103 Challenger is designed specifically to meet Part 103 as a legal ultralight.  It can make, weight under 254 lbs, if built carefully.  It is the same sturdy construction as the other models, but has been carefully crafted to be as light as possible.  To keep it under the 254 lb weight limit the builder must be very careful to not add weight that is not necessary.   The Hirth F33 engine is the only current production aircraft engine that will make Part 103, but it gives this plane plenty of power, as well as being light weight and easy on fuel.  The Part 103 Challenger is a blast to fly.  It floats along effortlessly, yet is very responsive on the controls.  It will easily cruise at 55-60 mph.  Surprisingly, even with a 250 lb plus pilot it will take off and climb very well.  The Challenger is one of the only true ultralights that can be fully enclosed for winter flying.  (Technically, doors might push it over weight slightly, but if you ever get bothered about it, you can simply remove them.)  It is even possible to have electric start on the F33 and still make weight!  The electric starter is only slightly heavier than the recoil.  In the ultralight world, the Challenger is one the most versatile, highest performing and cost effective aircraft on the market.  A Part 103 Challenger can be completed for around $15,000.  If you are looking for an ultralight, the Challenger is one of the best!

Long wing single seat

If part 103 is not important to you but you like the long wing single seat model, you can also build a standard model.  The standard long wing single seat is built to handle a little more weight and speed and a larger engine than the the Part 103 model.  The long wing single will handle engines in the 40-50 hp range.  With 50 hp it will climb so fast it will make you nervous until you get used to it.  With 10 gallons of fuel you have plenty of range to go places.  The single seat also has a space in front of the fuel tank for a small amount of baggage as well.  It can be built with sailcloth wings, or standard aircraft fabric.  With nice big wings it will easily slow down to 30 mph, but with 50 hp it will cruise 70-80 mph.  It is a great little airplane.

Long wing two seat

If you are a sport pilot or higher, or would like to be, the two seat long wing Challenger may be the best all around airplane for you.  It can be built quickly and light weight with the Mylar wing sails, or with the more durable, (but heavier) conventional aircraft fabric.  Built with close attention to weight, it will come in around 375 lbs empty — although 425 lbs or so is more common with a few options.    Built light, and with the electric start option, and streamline package, the long wing two-seater will soar!  That’s right … turn the engine off and ride the thermals to the cloud base!  If you lose altitude, just start the engine and climb.  The two seat long wing was designed to use the 40 HP Rotax 447 engine.  That’s right … it will fly two full grown adults on a 447 engine, and do it nicely.

If you want more power for short soft fields, or just for the fun of it, you can opt for an engine up to 70 HP.  The two-seat long wing is Challenger’s most popular model.

For more information on engines for the Challenger, please see our Engine Selection page.

Single seat clipped wing special (CWS)

The single seat clipped wing is the hot rod of the challenger fleet.  If you don’t need a second seat and want to go fast, this is your airplane.  This is a great cross country airplane, with a high cruise speed and high wing loading, it handles rough air nicely.  The excellent aileron and rudder authority give this airplane the ability to take off and land in a 30 mph cross wind!  With flaps and the rudder authority to slip really steep, you can drop into very short strips, and it has plenty of climb to get you back out.

Two Seat Clipped Wing Special (CWS)

If you want the hot rod performance but need an extra seat, consider the two seat clipped wing model.  This is the airplane that I personally own.  It is a joy to fly!  It really performs.  It will take off and land comfortably at over 900 lbs gross on my 900′ grass runway.  I choose the clipped wing mainly for the crisp snappy aileron response and less buffeting in rough air.  It allows me to fly in weather that would be uncomfortable in a long wing.  But everything is a trade off.  The clipped wing will have a lower rate of climb when heavy, and a higher sink rate.  It because of this that I would recommend if you build a two seat clipped wing that you use the Hirth 3203, 65 HP engine.  With two adults the climb is a little sluggish with a 50-55 HP engine, although many are flying on a Rotax 503.  For more information, please see our Engine Selection page.

The clipped wing special models cost a little more, but remember they come standard with many options such as doors, flaperons, and streamline package, that you would pay extra for with the long wing models.  Comparing them with the same options, the price is nearly identical.

 

XL and XS Challengers

The XL and XS Challengers are the latest addition to the Challenger line up.  They were designed with the ASTM consensus standard in mind to eventually be certified as an SLSA.  Although that was never completed due to lack of demand, the improvements that were incorporated have made for a very nice aircraft.  The intent was for this aircraft to be sold as a package, complete with everything necessary to complete it.  It was priced at a fixed price with all options included.  However, the market demanded customization, so it is available not only in a complete package, but as an airframe only, with or without options, and even as a kit by section, so it can be fully customized.  Some of the improvements that were incorporated are spring aluminum landing gear, Hegar hydraulic brakes, differential ailerons, an improved tail design for better handing with doors on, lower wing ribs, more streamlined fairings, a redesigned cockpit, wing tanks for 20 gallons of fuel capacity, and an increased gross weight rating.   These features add up to a better handling, more durable aircraft with longer range and faster cruise speeds.  The XL and XS Challengers do cost a bit more, and will have a little heavier empty weight, but make for a really nice Challenger!   If you want the ultimate Challenger, this is the model for you!