The Hipp’s Superbirds J-3 Kitten and related designs are a family of single-engined, single seat, high wing conventional landing gear-equipped aircraft available in kit form or as plans from Hipp’s Superbirds of Saluda, North Carolina.
The J-3, J-4 and Reliant designs are intended to have empty weights under 254 lb (115 kg) and fit into the US ultralight category. The remaining designs are heavier and fit into the US Experimental – Amateur-built category.
Design and development:
The Hipp’s J-3, J-5 and Reliant are all very similar aircraft developed from the original J-4 and differing only in fuselage design and wingspan.
All aircraft in the series have a 4130 steel tube fuselage and tail assembly. The wings are built from wood and both the fuselage and wings are covered with doped aircraft fabric. The engine cowlings are composite. Floats and skis are available. Construction times are estimated as 300 hours from the kit and 800 hours from plans.
The wings of all the aircraft in the series are detachable for transport or storage.
The aircraft in the series are described by reviewer Andre Cliche as being “docile, predictable and forgiving aircraft that can be handled safely by novice pilots.”
The Reliant was first displayed at Oshkosh in 1987 where it received the Grand Champion and Charles Lindbergh awards.
Enclosed cockpit with cut-down rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 250 lb (113 kg), wingspan of 30.0 ft (9.14 m), standard engine Rotax 277 of 28 hp (21 kW). First flight 1986.
Open cockpit parasol wing with flat rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 242 lb (110 kg), wingspan of 28.0 ft (8.53 m), standard engine Rotax 277 of 28 hp (21 kW). First flight 1986.
J-5 Super Kitten
Enclosed cockpit with cut-down rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 250 lb (113 kg), wingspan of 30.0 ft (9.14 m), standard engine Rotax 447 of 40 hp (30 kW). First flight 1986. Includes extra fuel, landing gear shock absorbers, wheel pants and brakes.
Open cockpit parasol wing with flat rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 260 lb (118 kg), wingspan of 28.0 ft (8.53 m), standard engine Rotax 447 of 40 hp (30 kW). First flight 1986.
Enclosed cockpit with fast-back rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 254 lb (115 kg), wingspan of 30.0 ft (9.14 m), standard engine Rotax 277 of 28 hp (21 kW). First flight 1987.
Enclosed cockpit with fast-back rear turtle deck, standard empty weight 285 lb (129 kg), wingspan of 30.0 ft (9.14 m), standard engine Rotax 447 of 40 hp (30 kW). Includes extra fuel, landing gear shock absorbers, and wheel pants. First flight 1987.
Specifications (J-3 Kitten)
Length: 16 ft 3 in (4.95 m)
Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
Height: 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Wing area: 120 sq ft (11 m2)
Empty weight: 250 lb (113 kg)
Gross weight: 500 lb (227 kg)
Fuel capacity: 5 US gallons (19 litres)
Powerplant: 1 × Rotax 277 single cylinder, two stroke aircraft engine, 28 hp (21 kW)
Maximum speed: 63 mph (101 km/h; 55 kn)
Cruise speed: 60 mph (97 km/h; 52 kn)
Stall speed: 24 mph (39 km/h; 21 kn)
Range: 138 mi; 222 km (120 nmi)
Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
Wing loading: 4.17 lb/sq ft (20.4 kg/m2)
The J3 Kitten is a 3/4 scale version of a Piper Cub. The first model flew in 1984. Jessie Anglin designed the J3 Kitten and J4 Sportster aircraft shown on this page plus the well known Space Walker. Hipp’s Superbirds bought the Co. and has been manufacturing Jessie’s J3 Kitten, J4 Sportster and Super Kitten. Hipp’s added to this line, the Reliant and Super Reliant.
These two are fastback versions of the J3 Kitten. These Aircraft are very docile to handle and are built to last. The frame is made out of 4130 chroeoly steel…superior to alum. aircraft for safety.
J3 Super Kitten (N690JA) is powered by a Rotax 503 dual ignition & carb., oil injected engine. The acceleration is awesome as she will hit 50 mph in about 190′! An Ivo carbon fiber 3 blade, ground adjustable propeller pulls her to a top speed of 110 mph. VNE is 120 mph. Keep in mind the power on stall is 28 mph. That is a 4:1 ratio! The climb rate is about 1000′ per min., which at 45 mph give the appearance of a 45 deg climb out!
We are talking about Super STOL here short take off & landing aircraft). For safety a BRS ballistic parachute is installed. Ballistic parachutes attach to the aircraft frame and lower both the occupants and the aircraft down to safety. The biggest advantage of a ballistic parachute is that it has worked down to 60′ and operates in 9/10ths of second.
Not a bad confidence builder. For navigation I use a Trimble Flight Mate Pro GPS. An Icom radio and Aircom intercom & Blackhawk headset provide excellent communications. 96 Rock keeps me rocking. Air-Touch handles the cell phone.
Currently the Kitten is in for major modifications. The tail is being converted to a fastback design, fuel supply is being doubled, and the landing gear is being stretched 6″.
If you want to rock the sky, a J3 Kitten is an excellent way to do it.