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« OSH14: Saturday August 2 - Cessna 195 Heading Home (CoolPix) | Main | OSH14: Thursday July 31 - See the Sea Of Airplanes! (CoolPix) »

OSH14: Friday August 1 - Big Prop 'Super' Back Yard Flyer (CoolPix)

(click pic for hi-res) The 'big thrust' Back Yard Flyer with VW engine and belt reduction

 I've been intrigued with the Back Yard Flyer from Valley Engineering (the Culver prop people) for several years now. They sell it as a ready-to-fly package for $19,500 with the big twin 4-stroke engine that makes 40hp and it comes with a BRS safety parachute. It's a remarkable ultralight with a 275 pound max pilot weight and strong climb performance. It's quite a bit different looking than everything else out there and it packs a variety of unique features... like the swing wing that pivots as all one piece to orient the wing in line with the fuselage. Far more simple than regular folding wings, the swing wing allows for very slim hangar storage or even large enclosed trailer storage.

 This year the Valley folks showed up with their 'super' Back Yard Flyer that has a large displacement VW engine with a belt-drive speed reduction unit. This combo, swinging a big 86" Culver prop, makes thrust like crazy! Even better, the exhaust stacks they have on the VW come as close as I've heard to having a flat 4 sound almost as good as a radial. The amazing STOL performance, the incredible rate of climb, and the nostalgic sound all come together to make one very desirable light aircraft. It's obviously not an ultralight with that much bigger and heavier engine. I watched this overpowered (100+hp) Back Yard Flyer for quite a while Friday morning and 'want' is the word that keep running thru my mind.

 The only downside (unless you don't like its look) is that the welded aluminum fuselage and wing structure makes it very difficult to build from scratch (since few people can effectively weld thin wall aluminum)... or even from a kit since a pre-welded wing and fuselage would leave very little left for the builder to do. The pesky 51% rules gets in the way there. Their $19,500 ready-to-fly price for the ultralight is quite reasonable for what you get, it's just still a chunk of change compared to how much lower the cost would be if built from plans. They don't actually market the big VW engine version, tho it sounds like they'd build one for you, but the price jumps significantly.

 I talked to them about my desire to see the big engine/big prop version being redesigned with a simple steel tube fuselage and then maybe an aluminum wing that didn't need welding. If this design was made available in plans-only, I think they'd have a serious winner. Imagine a retro sounding beast that climbs like crazy, uses nearly no runway, and could be built for $15,000, or even less if you're a good scrounger. You can be sure I'd buy a set of those plans!

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Reader Comments (3)

I couldn't agree with you more about how unique and well engineered the HP- Flyer is.
I was down at the ultralights Friday morning also, watching it fly and was blown away by its' performance. Spent a whole bunch of time taking measurements of it and talking to James and Larry of Valley Eng. with the intention of building a 1/5 scale, electric R/C version of it.
This particular plane is for sale for $25K .
I just checked some video I had of it starting up before a flight, and your right, it does sound similar to a small radial.

How can I send you a video?
Thanks, Brad

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercbalgra

Brad- sorry for the slow response, work and a crashed hard drive have me a bit out of whack this week. Send me an email at and we'll figure out the video. Thanx, Martt.

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

Hi Martt,
It's been a busy week, but thank you for responding back. I will get that video of the Backyard Flyer HP from Airventure to you this weekend. The original size of the file won't let me email it to you, so I will post it on YouTube and send you a link.
Thanks, Brad

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

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