National Ultralight Inc.
Challenger airframes are manufactured as quick-build kits by Quad City Aircraft in Moline, Illinois. The quick-build version of the kit is included in our standard price, unlike most manufacturers who charge 40% to 70% extra. To spread out cash flow the kit may be split into tail, wings, fuselage and engine sub-kits. Builder assist and complete professional assembly is available.
These quick-build packages include airframe, instruments, engine, prop, etc as well as the fabric covering material and certified adhesive. This is pretty much everything you need to go flying except for paint!
The Challenger quick-build kit is designed for first time builders and requires nothing more than common sense and enthusiasm. No exotic tools needed! The factory does everything that requires special skills - for example welding. They do high precision cutting, bending, drilling. There is little to screw up!
The vast majority of Challenger owners have never assembled an airplane before. The ease of assembly is one of the reasons why the Challenger is by far the most popular kitplane in Canada.
The initial packages include wheels (regular or tundra) and you can add floats or skis any time you wish. You don't have to do anything special during the initial assembly to allow for installing floats or skis later.
The Challenger is for people who want to fly soon, not build for years! Assembly is enjoyable and imparts a great sense of accomplishment.
The airframe is constructed of aircraft-grade 6061-T6, 2024-T3 and 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, 4130 chromoly steel, certified AN hardware and easy to use blind (pop) rivets. All steel weldments are fabricated entirely at the factory.
In order to meet the criteria of a very strong structure that is at the same time very light in weight, the Challenger is designed with an aluminum truss-like airframe that uses a multitude of small diameter aircraft tubing, precision fitted to provide strength through triangulation.
Unlike most kits, the entire Challenger airframe - fuselage, wings and tail - is built at the factory prior to shipment. Jigs are used extensively to insure accurate alignment during the construction process.
This level of precision would be very difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish by home builders. Constructing the airframe at the factory ensures consistent quality and integrity of critical components.
Challengers are covered with light weight Superflite aircraft fabric which has great performance and looks plus a life expectancy of at least 20 to 30 years, even outdoors! Experts say the life span, properly cared for, is almost infinite!
The fabric for the tail surfaces is pre-sewn at the factory into envelopes or socks of exactly the right size and shape. The fabric for the wings and fuselage is pre-cut at the factory. This greatly speeds and simplifies covering.
The fabric is adhered to the structure with certified Stits Poly-Tak adhesive then heat shrunk to tautness with a household iron. The painting process, also known as the finishing system, consists of applying a primer/sealer, then a layer which protects against UV radiation, and finally the colour coat.
Challenger kits come with Superflite 1.8 oz fabric which has a finer weave for a much smoother finish than the heavier 2.7 oz fabric used on larger planes.
Superflite is an industry standard heat shrinkable dacron polyester the same as Stits and Ceconite. Superflite is compatible with the Stits Poly-Fiber system (Poly-Brush primer/sealer, Poly-Spray UV protection, Poly-Tone colour) and many other finishing systems such as Endura, Stewart, etc.
All Challengers are shipped as quick-build kits. The factory themselves do all important and demanding structural work, including installing the controls. All the tubing is pre-cut and pre-shaped. All the important holes are pre-drilled.
This leaves only straightforward assembly, covering and painting for the owner. No special skills or tools are required. A drill press is not needed since all the high precision drilling is done at the factory in jigs. A hand drill is fine.
The only tools most people don't already have are a pop riveter and cleco pliers with fasterners. You can get a hand pop rivet tool for about $30 at Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart or an air riveter which is about $100. Cleco pliers and fasteners are spring loaded removable rivets used to hold things together temporarily. Cost would be around $50 for pliers and 100 clecos.
Most people do the project in their garage or basement. This is sufficient space since the two wings are kept separate and only attached to the fuselage just before the first flight. The fuselage is 20 feet long and the wings are 15 feet each. Even a single car garage will suffice if you are half way organized!
The Challenger assembly manual is divided into four main sections: tail, wings, fuselage, engine. Each section starts with an overview plus an inventory of parts from the kit and a list of tools and other items required.
The tail section is extremely detailed and goes in baby steps to familiarize the owner with the process and to inspire confidence. This is when people get comfortable and confident with the covering process. The tail section is where you learn the basics so the other sections get straight into the meat.
The kit comes with the complete manual in printed format as well as on a DVD. The DVD also has folders of pictures showing close-ups with annotations.
Articles in aviation publications such as Kitplanes have documented assembly times of less than 100 hours by first time builders. These times are very realistic for basic configurations with Dacron sailcloth wing covering.
Canadians however order more sophisticated configurations with a full suite of features and long life Superflite fabric. Even then, to complete the assembly, covering and painting first timers can realistically expect 200 to 400 hours depending on the model and configuration.
The biggest single influence on the assembly time is the paint scheme. Your time will go up if you decide to paint a reproduction of the Mona Lisa on the tail, or the Sistine Chapel on the underside of the wings!
The Challenger is one of the simplest and quickest designs to assemble on the market. The short assembly time means Challenger kits have an extremely high completion rate and reward the owner with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Most other kitplanes take 800 to 2,000 hours to build which means years will pass before the first flight so owners lose interest.
Once your Challenger has been completed it only takes a half hour or so to install the wings for flight or remove them for storage or trailering.
To learn and see more order our comprehensive information package and video!