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Santos-Dumont’s 23 Bis Flies Again

By Nicole Kiefert

July 21, 2015Lee Fischer calls his ultralight “the plane that never was.” The 23 bis is a tribute to Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aeronautical designer and builder in the early 1900s. 

The aircraft was built solely for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015.“On December 21, I started design work and building it, and by June 21 it was finished,” Lee said. “It was built specifically for AirVenture 2015, and when 2015 is over two weeks from now, this plane will be taken apart and hanging from the ceiling somewhere, and I’ll start on next year’s project.”

Lee came up with the design and built this custom plane from scratch without the use of any kits or plans.

He is asking everyone who stops by his ultralight down in the Fun Fly Zone to sign the wings in blue Sharpie to help everyone “fly with the spirit of adventure aviation.” He hopes to get at least 5,000 signatures before the week is over.

His favorite part of flying ultralights, he said, is the freedom.

“There’s nothing like it,” he said. “I fly out of my backyard. There’s no control tower; there’s nobody telling me I can or can’t. I can go whenever I want.”

Lee has brochures on a table near his ultralight, telling people more about the aircraft and its design. He said by people coming by, reading the brochures, and signing the wings, he hopes to spread the word that flying ultralights is a fun and affordable way to be involved in aviation.

“I’m trying to get people involved and show them that you can still do this,” he said. “Ultralighting is still a viable sport. You don’t need to go spend $25,000 to buy something. You can still go find them cheap and do it reasonably and fly them out of your backyard.

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