Larry and Gene Smith of Smith Valley Engineering have carved out a market for their Volkswagen aircraft engine mods, including their belt drive reduction drive. They have also been responsible for introducing a number unique ultralight and light sport aircraft designs.
This year at Airventure they introduced their latest design the Backyard Flyer powered by a four cycle 990 cc V twin engine producing 38 to 40 HP at 3600 rpm.
The Backyard Flyer will be available in two models powered by the "Big Twin" four stroke engine using the Valley Engineering Propeller Speed Reduction Unit, or PSRU. The ultralight version of the Backyard Flyer does not have an alternator or electrical system but does have a starter motor which can be operated from a cordless drill battery.
The Sport Pilot version of the Backyard Flyer has a starter, battery and alternator. Standard equipment on both aircraft will be a BRS ballistic recovery parachute.
The aircraft construction features welded aluminum tubing, with round aluminum tube spars and fuselage. One unique feature of the Backyard Flyer's is that they can be quickly disassembled to fit into a standard size trailer in literally minutes as was demonstrated when bad weather arrived at Airventure.
The ultralight version of the Backyard Flyer cruises along at between 2,800 to 3,000 rpm using 1 to 1.5 gallons of fuel an hour.
Currently the craft are available ready to fly from Valley Engineering.
While the Backyard Flyer series of aircraft are designed to "take of short and land slow, so that they can take off from a backyard, and land slow for safety." They were designed to give Valley Engineering a platform to show off their latest aircraft engine conversion the "Big Twin."
According to Gene "we actually had the engine package before we had an aeroplane to put it on." "So last year we purchased a Legal Eagle at Airventure to use as a test stand until we could get the Backyard Flyer designed and built."
The "Big Twin" starts out life as a Generac generator engine, which Valley Engineering modifies with the addition of a specially designed intake manifold and carburation. With the low rpm and low compression, Gene estimates the TBO at 1,000 hours.
Valley Engineering is offering "Big Twin" engine firewall forward packages which include a custom intake manifold, Weber carburetor, custom car heat and a Culver propeller. The packages are available direct drive or with the Valley Engineering PSRU unit, and can be used both tractor and pusher configurations.
The engine package weighs in wet with oil, 20 amp alternator, starter, oil cooler, and filter at 117 lbs. in the fan cooled version with the 1.98 to 1 PSRU and a 70" X 40" Culver prop and produces 250 lbs of static thrust.
The free air direct drive engine weighs in at 105 lbs with a 54" x 22" Culver prop and produces 180 lbs of static thrust.
Pricing for the direct drive unit is expected to be in the $4,000 range with the PSRU unit coming in at around $5,000.
The unit is currently powering a number of airboats, and is being installed on a Kolb, Eindecker, Moraine and Nieuport.
Gene and Larry are already in the design stages of a two place Experimental Light Sport aircraft. The two place will feature side by side seating and be powered by a 100 HP VW engine. Gene expects it to be flying by Airventure 2007.