VSKYLABS Polaris Motor FIB

Amphibious ultralight trike


The VSKYLABS Polaris Motor AM-FIB ("Flying Inflatable Boat") development for X-Plane was approved by 'Polaris Motor', allowing a great deal of reference materials and operational practices to be included in the design, modeling, engineering and development process. During development, first-hand materials and so-many detailed photos of practically every part of the FIB were shared by Polaris Motor company, for the purpose of this project.

The VSKYLABS Polaris Motor AM-FIB for X-Plane is an independent project, which is not endorsed and/or affiliated with/by 'Polaris Motor'.

The FIB is a flying boat ultralight trike, designed and produced by 'Polaris Motor' of Italy. The aircraft was introduced in the mid-1980s and remained in production. The FIB can be used on rivers, lakes, swamps and in open sea. It is equipped with retractable landing gears, and can be operated from land or water. The VSKYLABS model is also equipped with an optional GNS530.

What is an ultralight trike aircraft: also known as a flex-wing trike, weight-shift-control aircraft, microlight trike, deltatrike or motorized deltaplane, is a type of powered hang glider using a high-performance Rogallo wing coupled to a propeller-driven three-wheeled undercarriage. While many powered aircraft have three-wheeled landing gear, the term "trike" refers specifically to the form of aircraft described above.

Flight control in a trike is made by weight-shifting; the undercarriage structure is connected to the wing at a hinge-point, and the wing can be tilted in both X and Y axes. While on the ground (takeoff for example), pushing the wing control bar raises the angle of attack of the wing and lift is produced. As the aircraft is airborne, moving the control bar of the wing causes the undercarriage to swift both sideways or back and forth, and a weight-shifting control is achieved.

A brief explanation of the options (accessories) regarding the landing gears (wheels) available for the FIB:
  1. AM-FIB ( Amphibious Flying Inflatable Boat ): Manually operated retractable landing gear that allows for the FIB to take off and land.
  2. Kit of wheels / trike conversion: A simple conversion kit allows removal of the inflatable hull and turns the FIB into a land based trike. For example, if during the winter, the FIB is to be used on land only, then this conversion kit is recommended.
  3. For landing on snow: skis are available on the trike version only (the trike without being attached to the inflatable boat).
  4. The AM-FIB system can be removed and installed at necessity easily when not needed.
Specifications of the FIB & AM-FIB Rotax 582:
Type: Weight shift microlight two seater - Hydro.  
Empty weight: FIB  Kg 220 – AM-FIB Kg 250.
Max Take Off Weight ( MTOW): Kg 450. 
Allowed load: FIB  Kg 230 – AM-FIB Kg 200 (pilot+passenger+fuel+luggage). 
Wing Span: 10.60m. 
Wing surface: 18.40 sqmt.
Load Factors : +3.8 – 1.5 G ( safety factor 1.5). 
Stall Speed: 48 Km/h (~26 knots). 
Cruising speed: 65/70 Km/h (~37 knots).
Max speed: 80 Km/h (~44 knots).  
Ceiling: 2500m above sea level.  
Climb rate: 2-4.5 m/sec.  
Fuel tank: 40 Lt (+ 55 Lt  optional). 
Fuel consumption: 12-18 Lt/h.  

Power plant and standard equipment:
Motor: Rotax two stroke, two cylinder, water cooled, twin ignition, 
twin carburetor, 64 hp ,582 cc, reduction gear box type C, exhaust silencer.
Propeller: 3-blade wooden propeller (with changeable pitch on the ground).

Cockpit instrument console:
Water temperature instrument gauge. 
Engine hours counter gauge.  
Engine RPM gauge.  
EGT gauge.  
12 V plugs on panel.
8 amp/h 12 Volt battery with rectifier tension regulator. 

As all of the VSKYLABS projects, lot of attention was focused on flight handling and flying characteristics of the trike, to deliver "as real as it gets" flying experience in X-Plane.


The VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB quick guide

The VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB is designed with simplicity and functionality in mind, resulting with a few interactive feature for your use (when flying with/without VR gear). It is an amphibious vehicle which can be operated from both land and sea, instantly. 

Great place to start learning to fly the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB:
X-Plane is full of amazing places to explore, when using such a versatile flying vehicle, which is in many aspects a robust and flexible bush-plane. One of these amazing places that packs together land and sea operations, amazing views and a very authentic experience for ultralight aviation operations is the iBlueYonder Heron's Nest scenery (freeware). I find this amazing island to be very challenging, and a perfect place to learn to fly the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB. It incorporates both land and sea operations, and you can find several aspects of it in the various screenshots at this page.

A quick look at the instruments panel:
The main instrument panel is located between the pilots legs, and like its real-life brother, holds in only very few indicators: EGT, RPM, Water temp and Fuel level indicators. Switches consists Igniters ON/OFF, Master Battery and Starter switches.

A fully functional GNS-530 and a Smart-Phone showing basic flight data are also installed, although airspeed indicator on the FIB (and also on other trikes) is practically a none-used instrument. Trike/flex wing pilots are usually not using an airspeed indicator, as they feel the speed in the control bar and other factors. This applies also to "stall warning", which is very clear on the control bar.

Since flying a trike in a simulator is different in so many aspect that in real life, and doesn't include the real "feel" of the control bar and its interaction with the airspeed, the airspeed indicator shown on the Smart-Phone application might become handy on the first two or three flights, right until you will learn to "feel" the speed without looking at it.

Controlling the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB:
In order to get the flying experience into the maximum level, the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB is equipped with an interactive option of operating the Control Bar as if you are holding it with your hands. This interaction is made by clicking on the area above the instrument panel, and moving the mouse while holding it. Your hand will "grab" the control bar, letting your move it along its axes like it is done in the real world. Note that because the control bar is located below the wing hinge point, movement of the hands are opposite to how its done with conventional Joystick controls: you PUSH the control bar for nose up moment, and you move it to the RIGHT side to get a left turn, and vice-versa. 

Flying the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB using the control bar mouse manipulator is very challenging, but it is how its done in the real world.

Speed figures for Flying the VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB safely:
Stall Speed: 48 Km/h (~26 knots). 
Cruising speed: 65/70 Km/h (~37 knots).
Max speed: 80 Km/h (~44 knots).  

Take off - allow the aircraft to develop enough airspeed (above 26 knots). You can monitor the airspeed in the Smart-Phone, but quite fast, you will learn how to "feel" it as the ground/water will pass you by, and the wind-sound will get familiar to your ears. Push the control bar gently, and as lift off occurs, let it go a bit, and control the rate of climb, allowing the aircraft to gain airspeed (above 30 knots is fine).

Cruising along - Reduce engine power for comfortably 35-40 knots cruising speed. Once again, you will learn to evaluate this speed simply by learning the needed power and wind blowing sounds.

Loosing altitude - While descending, monitor airspeed, as gravity will "help" the aircraft to accelerate. Vne of the FIB is about 43 knots, but the virtual model is design to withstand higher airspeed, simply because the lack of spatial and sensual sensation while flying in a PC based simulator. So the aircraft will tolerate a bit of higher airspeed before braking apart.

Landing and stalling -  The FIB is "full of drag". The good thing is that it allows steep and tight finals. The bad thing is that you must pay attention to engine power in relation to nose attitude (or sink rate), Don't let the speed come less than 28 knots, unless you are flaring. Keep your power up and don't worry - killing excessive potential with the FIB is VERY easy. 

Landing gears, pilot object operations and Field of View setup:
The VSKYLABS Polaris AM-FIB is allowing you to change its configuration between water and land operations very easily: 

To change the Landing Gears configurations simply click on the RIGHT side of the boat (while sitting in the cockpit). The landing gears will animate to the up/down position, along with the rope which is holding it when retracted.

To make the pilot object visible/hidden, simply click on the LEFT side of the boat (while sitting in the cockpit). By hiding the pilot object you will be able to operate the FIB with a clear 360 degrees all-around view.

To set to Field of View to recommended settings, simply click on the Smart Phone. It will toggle the field of view instantly for your flying comfort.

For VR optimization, the click zones for showing/hiding the pilot object and for the landing gear operations are covering the entire field of view of the FIB, and can be operated also when looking sideways or backwards:

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