Air Stair/Split Door

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I'm beginning a section on this popular modification, right now the pictures are all I have.

From Scott Derrick

I have a split door in my STD V. The air stair door used my door as a starting point.

This door was designed by Tom Wright in PA, who is still building Velocities. I think he made 3 or 4 V's with this door.

I have included a link to a zip file with pictures of the door.


This door was done on the old style top loader.

Mine is a 96 model kit built in 97.

From Chuck Harbert

Just wanted to add a few thoughts to the discussion that Hiroo started. When I decided I had to make an easier entry (for my wife) into the my "top loader", I did some research and found that it had already been done (i.e Wright door?). I decided to make it strong enough to be a stair as well, since I was told that the original split door Elite on display at Sun'n'Fun had this happen accidentally a few times. I asked a structural engineer to review what I was planning and he okayed my plan. I got an ex-Velocity factory builder (Scott Lower) to help me do the work (he's an expert). It was definitely not an easy job (2-3 weeks), and the latching mechanism is complicated.

Here's what I now think: Good points:
1. Very easy to get in/out, especially back seat, or in an emergency
2. Nice to taxi in hot weather with the stair down for ventilation
3. Easier to service panel instruments, etc.
4. I think it adds some additional value

Bad points:
1. Big job and expensive (if you don't do it all yourself)
2. Upper hatch window has a sharp point on lower forward edge to match fuselage (possible head poke) and there's a square edge protruding from the strake that I've bumped my back on a couple times. No big deal.
3. The latching mechanism requires two hands to close. I need to improve design.

Overall, I'd do it again if I had a top loader, but I wouldn't if I had an SUV that I could get a factory door for. It's too much trouble to split the door and design a new latching mechanism IMO (although Scott L is considering this on his Elite).

The Elite door system began its life as an experiment in air-stairs. The lower part required additional reinforcement, the split in the middle made for additional sealing issues. But the worst part was the shape of the door cutout where the two halves joined. It had a sharp point -- destined to cause gashes in thighs and ankles.

Splitdoor1.jpg Splitdoor3.jpg

Alex Rohdius, Argentina

Here you see some study pictures on N27TR: front hinges vs. bottom hinges before flying over to Argentina.

We decided to go with the bottom hinges for 3 reasons:
1)Easier to get in
2)Bottom door used as a Step and
3)Better /more logical assembly of top and bottom door.

I'm very happy with the work done by Scott backer. Oscar Garay started gathering some information from very long ago (attached) but he never got around it. I got in touch with Chuck Harbert who was extremely kind providing the work done to his STD. I hope all this helps.

Best regards, Alec