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Fire heavily damages Belite Aircraft facility

Fire ripped through the Belite Aircraft facility in Wichita, Kansas, late June 7, causing about $150,000 worth of damage, fire investigators told local media.

Belite Aircraft manufactures experimental and ultralight aircraft, as well as electronics for aircraft ranging from ultralights to light sport aircraft.

Wichita Fire investigators told local media that the fire was “caused by a malfunction with a dust collecting system.”

Belite co-founder James Wiebe detailed the devastation through a Facebook post, saying, “my office and much of our building contents was destroyed. The back area of the building (in the production area), everything higher than 6 feet off the ground was melting or burned. Much of our raw inventory and all of our older collections of parts for older aircraft designs (for instance, ProCub and UltraCub) was upstairs.

“It appears that almost all raw inventory and most if not all work in process for aircraft kits was destroyed. The team had just shipped 4 airframe kits and was getting ready to ship another batch this month, along with many back ordered parts for customers.”

Weibe also said the he lost everything, including his only working sample, that he had been working on for a contract for the Air Force.

He provided additional updates on two of the company’s aircraft on June 9:

“The Chipper 2 airplane was unharmed, out at the airport. It has already taxied and had brake problems. Parts were received on Thursday and installed on Friday.

“The Chipper SS prototype was disassembled and receiving a new paint job; the control surfaces were intown at our facility getting resurfaced and painted in anticipation of another 'reveal' before Oshkosh. I have seen them and am not sure if they can be salvaged or will require new feathers to be built.”

Wiebe said that the company was experiencing record sales before the fire. He and his wife, Kathy, are working with their insurance agent. Weibe thanked the community for its “many kind notes, offers of help.”

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