Belite Aircraft Facility in Wichita Destroyed by Fire

Belite’s Chipper 2 Courtesy Belite Aircraft

Belite Aircraft, makers of the popular Chipper and Chipper 2 single-engine aircraft kits, said their facility on the northeast side of the air capital in Wichita was destroyed late Saturday night by fire. The blaze apparently began when "the dust collection system on our CNC router was working overtime making parts for kits," according to James Wiebe, Belite's president. The company offices and items taller than 6 feet above the ground were melted or burned, including raw inventory and a collection of parts for older aircraft designs on the second floor. Belite's Chipper demo aircraft only escaped destruction because it was still sitting at the local airport. Tragically, James and Kathy Wiebe's two cats who lived at the factory did not survive the blaze.

James Wiebe presented with Chipper 2's airworthiness certificate by inspectors from the Wichita FSDO. Courtesy Belite Aircraft

Wiebe said, “Our team had just shipped four airframe kits and was getting ready to ship another batch this month, along with many back ordered parts for customers. I have been working hard on an Air Force contract and my sole working sample was found in the debris of my office.” Wiebe said he expected to meet with the insurance adjuster yesterday.

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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