Prototype UFO-3 registered with the RAA as 10-3518 at Scone, NSW in 2001 (David C Eyre)
Country of origin:
Single-seat light sport aircraft
One 31 kw (41.6 hp) Rotax 503 UL 2V two-cylinder two-stroke, fan-cooled electronic single-ignition engine
Cruising speed: 117 km/h (73 mph)
Fuel capacity: 40 litres (8.8 imp gals)
The UFO series of light aircraft was designed by David Rowe, an engineer, at Scone, NSW. The aircraft commenced with a sketch he made of a circular shaped aircraft. He then built a model, found this was satisfactory, and built a full-size aircraft known as the Rowe Wild Thing fitted with a 21 kw (28 hp) Cuyuna 430R engine and which was registered 10-1462 on 2 July 1995. The aircraft was found to be somewhat underpowered and was soon retired.
This was developed to the Rowe UFO fitted with a Rotax 503 engine. This aircraft was further developed to the UFO-2, (10-3213) and cruised at 117 km/h (72 mph) and was fitted with a 10 litre (2.19 Imp gal) fuel tank, but this was later changed to a 40 litre (8.8 Imp gal) tank. In late 2001 work commenced to design and build a retractable undercarriage for the UFO-2. Entrance to the cockpit was from underneath the aircraft. Howeever, this aircraf was found to be tail heavy but flew quite well and was operated for two years and was then disposed of.
Later Mr Rowe developed his third design, the UFO-3, work on which commenced in May 2000. This was slightly smaller than the second design. The same wingspan was used but the cockpit and engine were moved forward, and a thinner aerofoil was used. The centre of gravity was moved forward to solve the problems with No 2 and was operated for 13 years, including trips from Wee Waa to Narromine, NSW. Other changes included a pull-start for the engine inside the cockpit, larger fuel tanks, and two small cargo compartments.
Whereas the previous designs had been silver overall, the third aircraft was Wild Fire Red. No 3 (10-3518), also registered under AUF / RAA Regulations, was first shown to the public at the Ultralight Federation Natfly at Narromine in April 2001, having been flown from Scone in 2.5 hours. Cruising speed of this model was 130 km/h (80 mph). This aircraft won the “Most innovative Design” at Natfly three years in a row. The UFO series was of timber construction with fabric covering. The aircraft was noted in the Scone, NSW area on a number of occasions at various aviation events.
Work therefter proceeded to No 4 and this was a single seat example. However, it was never flown. When the designer and his wife attempted to climb into the aircraft through the hatch under the fuselage it was found to be too difficult to do regularly and the aircraft was quickly retired.
Work then commenced on aircraft No 5 (10-8675) and at about this time Mr Rowe relocated to Tyabb in Victoria. Like aircraft Nos 1 and 2 this was a single-seater with a tail wheel. The undercarriage was retractable by manual operation and cruised at between 158 km/h (98 mph) and 167 km/h (104 mph). Wheres aircraft No 3 had a 60 litre (13 Imp gals) fuel tank No 5 has a 20 litre (4.4 Imp gals) tank. In 2015 changes were made to No 5, the rudder being redesigned and the fin from No 3 installed. Registered with Recreation Aviation Australia (RAA) as 10-8675 it was noted attending an air show at Tyabb, VIC on 16 March 2016 in an overall grey colour scheme.