Competition Aircraft: Composite Propellers for Ultralight Aircraft Since 1983
Our mission is to continue to produce the highest quality composite propeller for ultralight aircraft possible. We are always available to help select the correct Ultra-Prop for your application. We will not hesitate to tell you if we cannot meet your needs. Safety and customer satisfaction are our main goals. In fact, satisfaction is guaranteed. If our propeller does not work, after we have worked with you to optimize the installation, you may return it. Unless the propeller has been abused, modified or damaged, a full refund for the cost of the prop will be given.
Competition Aircraft was started in Painesville, Ohio, in 1980 as a subsidiary of Associated Enterprises, a cutting-edge innovative company founded and owned by Jack Venaleck. His companies found a niche in the burgeoning electronics business developing, manufacturing and marketing test clips, specialty cables and connectors for computers and their peripherals. After Jack's success in his core businesses he began to fulfill his love of aviation. His first acquisition was one of the first of the new generation Great Lakes biplanes. He went on to acquire some 20 plus aircraft in those early days. They ranged from a few ultralights to an award-winning P-51D Mustang and a Hughes 500 helicopter.
Competition Aircraft was also involved in National Aerobatic competitions and Reno and Cleveland air racing. Their Shoestring racer, "Polecat," held the Cleveland course speed record for a time. The company also developed a computerized scoring system for aerobatic contests in the very early days of computers (think punch cards!).
The start of the 1980s was the heyday for ultralight aircraft development. Innovative new designs spawned like mushrooms. Some good, like the Quicksilvers, Weedhopper, Hawks, Pterodactyls and many others, but some bad with poor engineering and testing. Unfortunately, the bad ones gave the industry a black eye and the growth slowed down. This fact, and the designer's propensity to make the once simple machines bigger and more complicated (hence more expensive), limited the number of people who could easily learn to fly or afford the new offerings.
Competition Aircraft entered the ultralight market in 1982 with the Ultra-Prop. With the parent company's expertise in the injection molding field, it was natural to explore the feasibility of using engineering thermoplastics to make a composite propeller for ultralights. It worked, and a DuPont glass reinforced nylon blade was tooled and extensively tested. The patented design has produced over 55,000 blades as of 2019. Every new blade has the same weight and balance as one made in the 1980's and can be replaced without the need for balancing. The unique pitch block system keeps every blade angle exactly the same without the need for protractors or special tools to change and adjust pitch. The two, three and four blade hubs have a high strength steel plate insert to carry the radial loads of the blades.
The Ultra-Prop I blade has a very simple airfoil and planform with no aerodynamic or geometric twist. The selection of this configuration has a story too long to reiterate. Suffice to say, it works very well on many ultralights. The injection molds to make a longer and more sophisticated blade, along with the associated development and testing, are very expensive. In 2017, we introduced a new 66" diameter Ultra-Prop II with a sophisticated blade designed by Craig Catto.
An Australian company, Aerofibre Industries, Ltd., developed a blade that used our hubs and pitch blocks. This hand laid glass and carbon fiber, thermoset blade, was available in 60, 66, and 68 inch diameters. These high performance Brolga blades were used on the larger and faster ultralights. Although they are out of production, all Brolga parts except blades are still available from Competition Aircraft.
I was the general manager of Competition Aircraft during the Ultra-Prop development. After one year of production in Ohio, I bought the company and moved it to California in 1984. We are proud to continue offering our high quality propellers to vendors and independent flyers around the world.
Bob Davis, President