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Back to the Future.....

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Jim Heffelfinger
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#1 Posted: 12/10/2009 15:00:31 Modified: 12/13/2009 14:17:33

 

Back to the Future.

With the renaissance of UL coming into view what UL designs do we want to bring back?

There have been hundreds of UL designs over the 25 years of UL flight.  Many were marginal, some dangerous but others were really good but lacked the business skills needed to survive the decades.

I open this up to those great designs that didn’t make it but should have. 

Add your choice and if you can a picture.  Please include why this design warrants a return visit to the ranks.

Jim Heffelfinger

Sacramento

 



Jerry Rosie
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#2 Posted: 12/11/2009 08:59:56


Snazzy.jpgWe never have seen enough MiniMax 103's around.  Many were overbuilt to accomodate a larger engine which moved tham out ot the ultralight class.  But, with improved engine technology, maybe we will see more of them built with the lighter engine to remain Ultralight qualified.  Great little flying machine, designed by an aviation great and a lot of fun to fly.

 



Cheers, Jerry NC22375 out of 07N
Jim Heffelfinger
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#3 Posted: 12/11/2009 11:58:26

 

Wayne Ison is an example of a great designer.  His MiniMax and Airbike designs are still in production and many may not know but the  6 Fisher FP series aircraft are also from his pen.  Despite business closures and sales his designs live on.    My inquiry is for designs that have not survived the vagaries of business but have merit as great ULs.   

jim

http://www.fisherflying.com/

 

 



Dan Grunloh
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#4 Posted: 12/12/2009 20:06:19

Vagarities of business?  How about the single seat Drifter?  Based on the Hummer designed by the late Klaus Hill.  Both were sold under the Maxair name. The Hummer had a narrow gear, a V-tail, and spoilers.

 


hummer2.jpg

 

 

The Drifter is next, not the Super Drifter but the original single seat version. They could be confused as they are nearly identical.  The 2-seat didn't cost that much more, was very successful and has been produced in various versions around the world.  The new owners of the original single version a (long timer ago)  had to go to prison for being connected with some bad men and the rights were lost or tangled.   Lockwood and Leza continued on with the Super Drifter.  Incidentally I think I read the Lockwood is going to resume production of the Super kit.  The true FAR103 single Drifter has been out of production about 25 years.  Here it is.

 


drifter3.gif 

 



Jim Heffelfinger
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#5 Posted: 12/13/2009 14:42:00

Dan,

Thanks for your input.

Those wheel pants must really make it hard to stay speed legal. 

Interesting choices - now (as I edited the original question) what makes these designs warrant a return ?
Do you know what engines these originally used? 
j

 

 

 

 



Stephen Robards
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#6 Posted: 12/17/2009 03:01:58

I'd like to see the Lazair returned to production. Still a popular machine with the 'novelty of twin engines. it can be flown as a powered aircraft or easily thermalled and ridge soared. It can operate from land, water or snow. It has a great wing profile. My series 2 is getting pretty tired (even after a rebuild) after 28 years, a newie with E motors would be the bee's knees.

steve



Dan Grunloh
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#7 Posted: 12/17/2009 16:41:16

Jim Wrote: Those wheel pants must really make it hard to stay speed legal. 

 

More for looks than anything else.  With the fully exposed pilot, no pod, and all those wires the drag is pretty high anyway.   It probably didn't speed up much with those pants.  It was always an interesting consideration back in the "old" days when we were judging ultralights for a showplane trophy.  The pants didn't help much, added weight, and got tangled with weeds and mud, but they make the plane look better.  Should the identical plane without pants get lower points?  It usually  did though a few judges considered them a negative.  The optimum engine for the 103 Drifter was a Rotax 277.

 

I believe Phil Lockwood once won a national championship with one of these.  Wiped the floor with the other competitors..

 

 

--Dan

 



Carl Conrad
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#8 Posted: 12/17/2009 20:24:06 Modified: 12/17/2009 20:24:33

For just a down right sexy airplane, the Saddler Vampire is tough to beat.  I don't know how many of them were 103 legal, but I've heard it could be done.

 



Jim Heffelfinger
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#9 Posted: 12/17/2009 21:04:26 Modified: 12/17/2009 21:24:02

Dan,  I was being toungue in cheek about the wheel pants.  Flying wires everywhere - major drag.

Carl,  Good choice.   I looked up the specs, different sources give some different numbers but just looking at it with all that f-glass.  Is that a fully sheeted wing?  I find it hard to believe it would be flyable as a part 103.

Proto was reported to fly with a 20 HP Solo engine.  I wonder if modern materials could bring it back as a true UL.

http://www.aerov.com.au/?q=content/sv-2a

SV2 info states Empty 170 kg with a 447.   (374#)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadler_Vampire

 

 

 

 



Roger Poyner
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#10 Posted: 12/17/2009 22:00:37

One of the ones that should be brought back is the Starflight line of aircraft.  Believe it or not they will be back in production next year.  Design rights and tooling have been bought and they will be back in production as soon as the new owner thaws out.  He is under about 2 feet of snow right now.  Any one interested in the aircraft can find more info in the yahoo starflight UL group site
starflight2.JPG



Dan Grunloh
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#11 Posted: 12/23/2009 19:04:51


 Dan,  I was being tongue in cheek about the wheel pants.  Flying wires everywhere - major drag.

I'm glad you cleared that up.  I'm sometimes slow to catch on unless you use emoticons
shocked

You asked a great question here....

 

Interesting choices - now (as I edited the original question) what makes these designs warrant a return ?

 

I once attended an Oshkosh Seminar by designer Steve Wood who made some comments that I still remember.

1.  There should be a demand for the design. It's a waste of effort to build a plane if no one wants to fly it.

2.  It must be affordable.  If it's too expensive, there will be few sold or built.

3.  The craft must be suitable for it's mission which is amateur and rec pilots.  Not tricky or hard to fly.

4.  Robust and repairable to withstand expected service, or the fleet will have a short life.

The Drifter looks easy to build mostly straight tubes and standard cables and fabric.  Quick to repair after those dings.  Probably not too expensive.  Speed actually pretty good.  I don't know anything about the flying but a disadvantage is the lack of visual references in the form of something in front of the pilot.  Not hard to fly but tougher for a new pilot to learn to land.  It might just take a little longer.  Do UL pilots today want to fly without a windshield?

 

--Dan



Chase Balcom
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#12 Posted: 12/30/2009 22:51:28

   I think an old design with new technology would be a good seller,..I've owned 3 Team aircraft ,..a 1600 R and 2 himax's,..vertually all wood ,..I always wanted to rebuild one out of 4130 to loose weight so I could put weight where I wanted ,..but never did ,..

    I'm presently building my own design Amatuer built 3 place aircraft ,..so my time is committed or I would

 

Chase



Jim Heffelfinger
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#13 Posted: 12/31/2009 15:39:59

Chase,

An interesting thought to make the MiniMax line out of steel.  I am not sure it would be lighter though.   Wood allows the average person to buld a flyable aircraft with minimum of skills at modest material prices.

JIm



Jim Heffelfinger
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#14 Posted: 12/31/2009 15:46:42

Dan,  Exactly what I was looking for. 

To your question - at least the option for a windscreen.  The builders of the 80s are us today. 

Think about it - the entry to UL was pioneered by the hang gliding movement - US.  Now the current volume of pilots in UL are US again.   There is no replacement generation....sad. 



Chase Balcom
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#15 Posted: 12/31/2009 19:15:38

   True Jim,..

 

  I keep forgetting not everyone is certified in all apsects of welding ,..I take it for granted everyone can do it ,. I do believe the only thing that stops anyone from doing anything is their own level of confidence,..or lack of,.. I look at it this way ,..if you have a dream,..then don't cheat yourself ,..you were confident enough to dream about it ...do it ..you only go around the track once in this life ,..live it

 

Chase

 

one of the team aircraft I built



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Chase Balcom
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#16 Posted: 12/31/2009 19:29:04

  as for us being the 80's generation and UL flight stopping ,..I have a 4 year old that says she is going to teach me to fly the prototype I'm building now  ha ha  ,..I will build an ultralight version of the "SkyPirate" and when she is old enough ,..after she teaches me to fly of course she will fly it.

   She "Madison" and I are the only ones with the " flying bug" bite venum firmly taken hold in our veins in the family ,..the rest just like to watch,..which isn't a bad thing ,..I figure ifthey are around it enough ,..without coersion ,..they might get a little of that venum on them ,..it is very contageous in the right atmospshere

 

Chase



Chase Balcom
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#17 Posted: 12/31/2009 19:51:12

   Jim ,..when I build I weigh every aspect of the build in every stage,..I have moved 4 times since building the 1600R and my  documents are lost in the array of mis matched labeled boxes,..but ,..using .035 wall .5 OD CM with   .375 bracing ..I think one could lose about 15 lbs in the fuselage alone.

 

  right now my prototype weighs in  with gear on,..  at 104 lbs,..the fuselage is 21 foot long without motor ,..I have used 1",..  .5 " and .375 " and .25" CMT to build it to the point it is in,. in the photo and that is 25 hours into it ,.. the cabin area is 48 " wide at the shoulder ,..7 foot deep from rudder pedal to rear of cabin,..I'm using 6061 T-6 spars and I will use  birch for the ribs,..if I've done my math right the bare airframe will weigh around 184 lbs,..this is a 3 place aircraft,..

I asm building it as light as possible so I can put the weight where I want it ,..so end product will weigh in less then 700 lbs. with a 700 lb payload

 

 



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Jay Fortner
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#18 Posted: 1/9/2010 15:27:51

Hey Dan,  The answer to your windshield question is YES. I'm a biker and there's nothing more enjoyable than the wind in your face. I've been in several closed cockpit aircraft and in they're miserable in the middle of summer. In one instance I was flying in a Cherokee and we had to open the doors while we were taxiing and the vents offered little comfort while we were flying. In my opinion windshields are for automobiles. Just remember not to smile too widely cause there's bugs up there too.                J.



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Roger Poyner
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#19 Posted: 1/10/2010 18:37:41

I chose a poor photo of a starflight but this one is of the UL version that will be back in production  It will be the XC 1000.  To make weight it probably won't have the pod or wheel pants.  More info can be found at

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/StarFlight-UL/

 

Sun N Fun 85-86 maybee Starflight  277  9-9-2009 7;34;47 AM