Steen Skybolt

The Steen Skybolt is an American homebuilt aerobatic biplane. Designed by teacher Lamar Steen as a high school engineering project, the prototype first flew in October 1970.[1][2]

Steen Skybolt
Steen Skybolt 300 (1).jpg
Role Aerobatic biplane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Steen Aero Lab Inc
Designer Lamar Steen
First flight October 1970
Status Plans available
Primary user private owner pilots
Number built over 400
Variants Starfire Firebolt
Steen Skybolt I
Steen Skybolt cockpit

Design and developmentEdit

The aircraft has a classic structure consisting of a welded tube fuselage and wooden wings, all fabric covered. It is a tandem open-cockpit two-seat biplane and is stressed for normal aerobatics. The cockpits are frequently constructed as a single tandem cabin with an enclosing bubble canopy. Some aerobatic competition aircraft are built as single seaters with the front cockpit closed off.

The original Steenaero Hale Wallace over 300 hp Skybolt named Yellow Bird

The original Skybolt had a 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming HO-360-B1B engine, but powerplants of 150 to 260 hp (112 to 194 kW) can be installed.[3]

Operational historyEdit

The Skybolt has become popular as an amateur-built sporting biplane, with over 400 aircraft having been completed from construction plans sold in over 29 countries.[3] A Skybolt won the Reserve Grand Champion Custom Built for 1979 at the Experimental Aircraft Association airshow in Oshkosh Wisconsin.[4] Sixteen examples were registered in the United Kingdom in January 2009.[5]


Steen Firebolt
Skybolt (S)
The standard Skybolt as originally released for home-building[1][6]
Skybolt (D)
A revised structure and capability to have engines from 180 to 350 hp (134 to 261 kW) fitted.[6]
Skybolt (R)
A radial engined derivative, with revised fuselage plus the improved structure of the (D), fitted with either a 360 hp (268 kW) Vedeneyev M14P or a 400 hp (298 kW) Vedeneyev M14PF nine-cylinder radial.[6]
Skybolt 300
A derivative of the Skybolt fitted with a 300 hp (224 kW) engine.[6]
Super Skybolt
A two seater version created by John Shipler by amalgamating a Pitts S-2 with a Skybolt, the prototype of which is named Storm Warning.[6]
Starfire Firebolt
A development of the Skybolt with a 300 hp (224 kW) Lycoming IO-540 powerplant that gives a cruise speed of 202 mph (325 km/h) and an initial climb rate of 4,000 ft/min (20 m/s).[7][8]

Specifications (Skybolt (D))Edit

Steen Skybolt

Data from Simpson 2001

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: one passenger
  • Length: 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)
  • Wingspan: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,080 lb (490 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,650 lb (748 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming HO-360-B1B piston, 180 hp (130 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 145 mph (233 km/h, 126 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 130 mph (210 km/h, 110 kn)
  • Range: 450 mi (720 km, 390 nmi)
  • Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (13 m/s)

See alsoEdit

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ a b Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 121. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  2. ^ Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, page 128. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  3. ^ a b Simpson, 2001 p.521
  4. ^ Sport Aviation, Oct 1979, page 71
  5. ^ Pither, 2009, p.650
  6. ^ a b c d e Whaley, Mike. "Steen Aero Lab". USA. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  7. ^ Purdy, Don: AeroCrafter - Homebuilt Aircraft Sourcebook, Fifth Edition, page 257. BAI Communications, 15 July 1998. ISBN 0-9636409-4-1
  8. ^ "This One is for George…Firebolt N4GW is a flying tribute to friendship". Sport Aerobatics. October 2007.


  • Pither, Tony (2009). Civil Aircraft Registers of the United Kingdom. Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85130-415-1.
  • Simpson, Rod (2001). Airlife's World Aircraft. Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-115-3.

External linksEdit