The Starflight Ultralight is Back
Roger Mills of Tulelake, California, announced he is now offering complete kits for the venerable Starflight ultralight designed by Dick Turner. The new Starflight XT100 has a single-surface cable-braced wing, is powered by a Hirth F33 engine, and has an empty weight of 240 pounds. The complete kit with engine is priced at $9,500 plus freight. The story of how Roger, who first learned to fly at the age of nine in an Aeronca C-2 above the Arctic Circle, became an ultralight manufacturer is an interesting tale.
Long before ultralights were invented, Roger Mills entered the U.S. Air Force as an avionics specialist. When an opportunity came for flight duty, he applied expecting to be sent to helicopter training. He was selected for fixed-wing training, thanks to his prior experience learning to fly in 1954 at age nine in an Aeronca-C2 powered by a three-cylinder Kinner above the Arctic Circle. Roger flew for the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam during the 1960s.
In 1980, Dick Turner began building ultralights at Liberty Landing, a rural airport near Liberty, Missouri. A series of one- and two-seat ultralights, including an agricultural spraying model, were eventually produced. Their two-seat trainer won an award at Oshkosh 1983. Dick Turner and son Derrickalso took their most advanced Starflight to a world championship competition in France and won. Legend has it that Dick moved his production to South America where the focus was on the heavier ag-spraying models. Starflight ultralights gradually faded from the scene in the United States.
Roger Mills said his involvement in the ultralight industry was purely by serendipity. He bought a used Starflight ultralight but couldn’t find any documentation or locate spare parts. He teamed up with Roger Poyner who had started a Yahoo group for fellow enthusiasts. They found a manual in Florida, and it grew from there. Finally Roger Mills was able to contact Dick Turner himself and negotiated to buy the rights to the designs including the original jigs. Roger Mills was only looking for parts and information, but he liked the plane so much he bought the company.
Much more information is available at the Starflight Aircraft website. Click on the XT100 tab for specifications of the ultralight version. Two-place and “fat ultralight” amateur-built kits will be available as soon as the FAA Manufacturing Inspection District Office kit evaluation team can get to it. You can e-mail Roger Mills at email@example.com or call him on his mobile at 530-249-7955.
The other Roger, Roger Poyner, owns a strut-braced Starflight Double. His Yahoo group, StarFlight-UL, has become a rich repository for information related to the Starflight brand and includes a great collection of photos. Roger and Roger (try to keep them straight) have brought back a piece of ultralight history.