A plane in a garage.

(published in Le Quotidien - 16/09/2007)

     ULM driver, Johnny Vaulbert comes to Germany to receive parts of the ultralight plane he intends to mount itself. And now, at work: 300 hours of careful tinkering ahead before they can take off.

     Where the average person has the habit of parking his car, Johnny Vaulbert classified ... his plane. Kits, for the moment. Because this St. Andreen, head of heritage at the SEMAC, left, and aviation enthusiasts, garden plans to mount its own FK9 Mark 4, an aircraft of the class lightweight motorized (ULM).
     "Building an aircraft is above everything a dream, most of which has its roots in childhood," says Johnny. Childhood for him, it was frequent trips La Possession Saint-Denis on the road from the Mountain: its impressive panorama on the coast want him to ever greater heights. A wish fulfilled seven years ago by the certificate of driver ULM. "I visited the airfield at Roland Garros an open day. And I am enrolled to take courses during the following week, "he said.

«Creator of a dream machine»

     Since attending assiduously tracks Gillot and equipment Papangue ULM, he is driving regularly for leisure, it accounts for 600 hours. Even better, it has won its patent instructor. Is one final step: have its own device. But not any: a plane assembled from his hands.
     Il ne s'agit pas seulement pour lui de faire des économies, même s'il devrait s'en tirer pour 55 000 €, contre 65 à 70 000 € pour un avion «clé en mains». «Voler sur l'avion que l'on a construit, c'est donner encore plus d'intensité au vol. Ce n'est plus être un simple consommateur d'heures de vol, mais aussi le créateur d'une machine à rêves», assure Johnny. «C'est aussi apprendre de nouvelles techniques qui seront utilisées pour la réalisation du projet, c'est approfondir sa connaissancede l'avion et de la mécanique du vol. Et au final, être un pilote plus sûr». Et puis, petit plaisir qui ne se refuse pas, cela permet aussi de personnaliser son appareil dans des coloris que ne propose pas la marque - pour Johnny se sera orange et blanc.
     The apprentice builder's project has matured over the past two years, after a visit to the Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2003. "I had a preference for the FK9 Mark 4. It is a plane very good value, very safe. Its high wing makes it able to land even in a chaotic field. It's a bit of the 4x4 ULM. The trip to Germany has reinforced my choice. " Two years ago, this has actually patented handyman who worked for fifteen days at the dealer Toulouse french Rotax engine, the brand team's plane.

«Four months of work»

     The're ready to get to work. Johnny received August 17 parts of the ULM. Commissioned a year ago, they arrived by boat and have been carefully stored in his garage. The most difficult? "To me, this is not the electronics, but rather the canvas and paint." The fabric is to put a canvas themorétractable on the wings, flaps and ailerons, is the only step which Johnny seeks help from his wife Veronique. "It was his passion, I support it but I does not really", she says.
     It will take 300 hours of work, four months, Johnny Vaulbert to complete this thorough site. "I will apsser most of my weekends and my evenings," he said. Quandtout is completed, it remains to remove the device from the street up its wings, folded and loaded on a trailer. St Andrew, he will take the lead Gillot. Once registered, the plane will take off. And we do not see him in two as the sky of the Meeting.

Photos Philippe Chan Cheung



Open Days at the aeroclub Saint-Denis Sainte-Marie

Roland Garros is still alive !

(published in Le Memento 2008)

     Technology has evolved, but the passion of men remains the same: when he spoke of his ULM, Johnny Vaulbert. pilot-instructor, is as fiery as the Roland Garros was certainly about his plane. Both devices have much in common! During the open days for the aero Roland Garros, many meetings were approaching their strange machines and have exciting discussions with them and flying fools, who knows, give rise to vocations. The opportunity to find a good plan to travel less in Mauritius or Madagascar ...

     What is built in Germany, costing 55,000 euros and can fly over the island to more than 180 km / h? The brand new BMW 3 series imported to the meeting by HG Automobiles? Lost! No, the little jewel of new technology to really have fun, and without risk of losing their precious pink cardboard is an ultralight high-end like that, for example, Johnny Vaulbert, pilot instructor at the aero Roland Garros. When we say "ULM (Ultra Light Motorized), we often think of a wing triangular canvas with an engine of a lawn mower behind the pilot's seat. That was before. Now microlights have little to envy to the aircraft. However some technical criteria that can distinguish them administratively, including their 450 pounds of maximum weight load. When we see the ULM FK9 Mark 4 SW Vaulbert Johnny, it was hard to believe that it is less than 450 pounds.

     The secret? It is entirely built of fiberglass, carbon and aluminum, with the exception of the passenger compartment, reinforced with steel hoops, a little like a car rally. Other criteria: the power of the engine of the ULM is limited to 100 hp. Johnny Vaulbert but opted for a 4-stroke Rotax engine of 80 hp, more economical (radius of action greater) and more than enough, even on a mountainous island like La Réunion.

     The FK9 Mark SW 4 is an ultralight to very advanced aerodynamics and its two tanks of 30 liters each, its autonomy is 950 km (11 liters of SP95 per hour). It can reach Mauritius and Madagascar even without problem. ULM of the flying Roland Garros have already made the trip in both directions.

     The FK9 Mark 4 SW is economical in use, but its excellent weight / power also makes it very efficient: it only takes off about 120 meters and once in the air, its rate of climb of 5.5 m / s is greater than that of a small plane.

     In case of problems with flap slats, minimum speed before stall is only 65 km / h, against more than 100 km / h for a small plane, allowing a speed of very slow and it would be about fifty feet to land safely. And if an emergency landing is not possible, the FK9 Mark 4 SW is equipped with a parachute, which triggers an airbag through a pyrotechnic cartridge, which allows the aircraft and its crew smooth landing, like a space capsule. A microlight pilot was even a day used the parachute as a spoiler fighter aircraft to avoid collision with a hangar and the maneuver was very successful!

     All these reasons lead Vaulbert Johnny, who is a passionate, to say that his microlight is a safer aircraft. There are also several FK9 Mark 4 SW flying to Roland Garros because it is an excellent aircraft, ultralight forgiveness, but also because it simplifies the mechanical maintenance. Quite simply, if returned Roland Garros, he operated an ultralight certainly like Johnny Vaulbert !

     All those who came to the Open of Roland Garros flying and exchanged with Johnny Vaulbert and other pilots of the flying discovered passionate people, not snobs as might have been feared, and certainly some of Some go back to register as a student (120 euros an hour) or, more simply, to make a short tour of the island from the sky (from 40 euros). More information http://www.zenaltitude-ulm.com. As for the trick to go to Mauritius or Madagascar cheaper: there on the tarmac of a beautiful flying twin-engine Piper Aztec that is apparently possible to rent. If you form a small group of 5 to 6 people, depending on the season, it seems that it is less expensive than 5 or 6 tickets for a flight scheduled airline ...

      On invitation
     Contrary to what the advertisements published in daily newspapers could suggest it was not possible for everyone to come and test drive the new BMW 3 series BMW in the Flying Tour: I'essai n ' was possible that if we could present to the host an invitation from HG Automobiles ... Others, like your humble servant, should be content to eat the beautiful eyes. Damage.