23 Bis

Normally i place here pages about airplanes you can buy or built. Here is one with a different story. It is a one-off. I saw it at Airventure 2015 in Oshkosh, USA. And ...its simplicity is so awesome, i had to write a page about it.

Lee Fisher and me in front of his wonderful work.

Lee Fisher lives near Oshkosh. He made this ultralight airplane based on a ... But he changed it so dramaticly you can speak of a new design. He gave it the name "23 Bis, the airplane that never flew". With this he refers to the work of Santos Dumont, the pioneer. He never make a model 23. Well, if he would have had access to modern materials he would have had built something like this, Lee Fisher says.

Video about its construction

To see this airplane, you will be amazed by its simplicity. When you go see the details, you can only be amazed about Lee Fishers workmanship. 

Landing gear

I am not sure how much stayed of the donor airplane, but ...i like this suspension! Soooo simple. Sandows and a single hinge. Waw!

And the wheels are amazing too. Believe it or not, but Lee Fisher made these wheels himself! He used a straight profile and curved it till he could remake it as a rim. The axle is also homemade by Lee. He just used a exciting tire. How cool can you make a retro wheel? and ...it is super light!











This video show the clever solid rear wheel Lee Fisher made. The video demonstrates the spring of the wheel. It is solid, but still it has a shock absorber. Clever, Lee.


I noticed the wide space you have in the seat. Even though you are in open air. It gives you the feeling of good support. Those tubes at the side give you the needed side support.

Due to the many cables, it demands a bit extra attention to get into the cockpit. You may not step on the cables!









The seat itself is a piece of art. Very very very retro! Lee, you have to tell me where you found info about how to make those seats, man. Pleeeeaaaase.

Just look at the details! The name of Santos Dumont is sewed in the seat belts. Lee, how far do you go in your details?










The steering system of the 23 Bis is filled with clever ideas.

Lets start with the hinge of the steering stick. He made a plastic ball holder. The ball at the end of the stick glides in the two plastic halves. Two halves made it possible to easily install the ball. I guess Lee just placed the two halves around the ball, let it all sink in the hole in the rectangular tube and fixed the halves to the tube. You can see that the blue plastics also have a secondary task. They also serve as guides for the cables towards the pedals.

If you look at the pedals, you will see that they don't add a lot of weight to the construction. They use as hinge a round tube which was already there. The pedals were just slided over that tube. Clever idea. Metal spring make the pedals always return to their neutral point. Also do they serve to keep the rudder in neutral position. 

In the next picture you can see a tube with a coupling behind the seat of the pilot. That is Lee's way of getting the push rod of the pitch control towards the elevator. He needed to go under his seat and then back up. He solved it this way.

That same pitch control tube is supported halfway by this sliding support. Lee can really make a lot of things with his CNC machines. Below you see a white plastic tube being used to guide the cables towards the rudder. Also very light and very simple.

But ...most surprizingly ...that is not all that is clever or daring about the steering of the 23 Bis. The 23 Bis has no ailerons! But it still is a 3 axis steering airplane. How did he do that? Well ...he used wing warping! "Say what?", i hear you react. Yes, Lee Fisher used a technique that pulls or pushes the trailing edge at the wing tip. The video let you see how much the wing gets warped.

 Lee told me that it works, but it has a slow reaction time. The actual roll happens a fraction of a second later than the input. That demands your full attention as a pilot. I guess this reaction time will get better at higher speeds, but ...this 23 Bis is really really ultra slow.

Video about the first flights of the 23 Bis

Details, details, details

Before i let you enjoy a collection of more pictures of the 23 Bis i explain another detail by Lee Fisher. The sewing was done in two colours. Red and Blue. Now, you get white, red and blue. The colors of the flag of France where he did his aviation pioneer work and the flag of USA where the 23 Bis is now resident.

You might have noticed that the fabric is filled with writing. Lee Fisher asked the visitors of Airventure 2015 to sign his wings. There are some remarkable signatures between them. One of Bob Hoover. And one of a family member of Santos Dumont. 

Now, go enjoy the rest of the pictures.