"Had a ww Talon that used a different vg system that allowed the side wires to be tight on ground. useful when launching in light conditions."
We keep making these ground breaking advancements in aeronautical technology and someday we'll have something to brag about.
I'm gonna have me a fully cantilever glider, with a straight, not swept aft wing, and a tail assembly. Might have a canard as well, the more the merrier. I won't have slack wires to annoy me, there won't be any wires. Why do we have side wires? Because we're so lazy and dumb we buy our gliders from a factory that makes them for us, and they of course can't do that unless they make a profit, and they can't make the profit if they don't make the glider as inexpensively as they can. They accomplish that by making them using relatively skinny aluminum tubes, which aren't strong enough to do the job on their own and so must be wire braced.
The math that is used to create a wing spar shows that if you double the height of it you quadruple it's strength. Have you ever looked at how much room there is between the lower surface and the upper one? If you made a spar that tall, you wouldn't need no stinkin' wires.
Hang gliding continues to screw itself by remaining addicted to the highly refined Rogallo/Dickenson formula of two LE tubes, a keel tube, and a X-bar and control bar, arranged to create a swept-aft tail less monoplane, or more romantically a "flying wing", which due to it's habit of tying wing twist to it's pitch stability has to have a bunch of extra parts to provide torsional rigidity, when if we take a hint from God or Evolution or both we'll come to the same conclusion they did millions of years ago.
You see that conclusion practically every time you look up, or maybe down if you happen to be flying at the time. How come the Red Tail Hawk isn't a swept-aft flying wing? I mean, if that is the preferred arrangement for a minimum weight to performance ratio glider, how come the Ravens don't look like that? Do you think that maybe God or Evolution tried that out a few million years ago, we call 'em Pterodackles or something like that, and decided the cost/benefit ratio wasn't adding up to what was needed?
Well now, our Hg manufacturers aren't stupid, they have college degrees in aeronautical engineering and a lifetime of experience building our hang gliders, why they must be doing it right, after all there's no one competing with them using a design that resembles, in a fashion, the Red Tail Hawk. So I guess God and Evolution don't know what they are doing, Their designs have straight wings, that don't couple washout with pitch stability, no, they have a tail. Why, who ever heard of such nonsense! You can bet that if I pay off the right guy and get to Heaven I'm gonna have a talk about this travesty with the Big Guy hisself!
I'm having a lot of fun playing the role of Krusty the Kurmudgeon (you kids get off my lawn!) and poking fun at folks that are really good people but have found themselves, just like you and formerly me, addicted to a way of doing things, and along comes the paraglider and steals the show right out from under us. It was kind enough to put up all manner of signs, telling us well maybe just maybe, we oughta be looking for ways to make 'em lighter and slower, but the signs were in a language we weren't familiar with, so we ignored 'em and kept right on truckin', figuring that heavier and faster would be the route to success, blindly pursuing the dream of a foot-launched sailplane, ignoring for some reason the fact that the "sport" of sailplane soaring was not growing but diminishing. Oh well, maybe if we make 'em even faster and heavier things will get better.
Meanwhile, back at the Cross-Country Ranch, pilots were setting up on Crestline and the wind died down, so, unlike the pilots of the late 1970's, they broke down or didn't bother to unload the truck to begin with, and went home crying in their beer. You see, in the late'70's the gliders weren't so fast and not so heavy either. They didn't glide quite as flat as they do now, but they were generously equipped with gobs of wing area, and could be relatively easily launched in nil wind, and the pilots flew and partied in the LZ provided by the kindly Andy Jackson and his friendly wife Juanita.
The pilots didn't fly very far away and they for the most part all landed at Andy's place and built big bonfires and drank beer and smoked some things and once in awhile even had these toy balloons that a guy could take a hit off of and laugh and fall down, with pleasant memories of the dentist office and his cute helpers roaming around their brains.
But Man, in his eternal quest for more and faster and flatter kept on tinkering and we ended up with some really neat gliders. Many pilots couldn't deal with the ego-deflating whacks right in front of their friends, after all, they were the Sky Gods and it just won't do to be laughed at when they should have been applauded.
The ranks thinned a bit, and some guys were rumored to be launching off cliffs with sky diver ram air square parachutes. Not much attention was paid to that, why their glide angle was a paltry 4 to 1 on a good day, and who needs that? There were some with a crazy vision of very light gliders that all you had to do was wad 'em up and stuff 'em in the trunk and if the hang glider guys could improve the performance of the 4 to 1 Standard then why couldn't the square canopy's be boosted up with higher aspect ratios and made into something worthwhile?
So as we continued in our quest for Higher! Faster! Heavier! We plugged away, and the Europeans, with their tiny cars and trams to the top continued with Lighter! Slower! Easier!
The lesson was lost on us and our ranks shrunk, but no matter, we could go 200 miles in a day! We finally went 475, and gladly paid for the gas in the Suburban to get us home the next day.
In the meantime we were losing more participants than we were gaining, and there were all kinds of ideas floated around, but nobody stepped up to the plate and said "Wait a minute! Maybe we oughta look into Slower! Lighter! Tighter turning! Easier! Less intimidating! Fun like we used to have!"
And, Heaven forbid, something we can make at home, the way we used to, only using the safety lessons we learned the hard way.
But no one thought of any of that, and the lighter, slower, tighter turning, easier paraglider sneaked in and stole our thunder.
Now we all can be forgiven for that...but the definition of insanity, as I've been told, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result every time. Well, maybe the next time it will work. We'll keep on trying, I'm totally convinced that adequate roll control of high performance gliders using only pure weight shift is possible, just gotta find a way to hook up this windshield wiper motor so I can use a lithium battery to run my VG. It would be foolish to figure out a way to put my sore muscles to work directly influencing wing billow shift, when using the middle man we've always used works so damn well. But hey, if we did that we would have to compete with the rigids at a contest, there's absolutely no way the governing bodies will hear our plea for a class 1.5, flex wings with a boosted billow shift to improve safety and enjoyment.
We can only hope that no one spills the beans and lets the rest of the aeronautical world know what we're doing, using a sailboat main sheet block and tackle stolen from a Hobie Cat to make our gliders either : 1. turn with some degree of confidence that yes, it will. Or: 2. Get a good glide angle.
I've been the laughingstock before, it don't hurt all that bad, the laughter from the rest of the flying world will eventually die away, and we'll be able to take pride in standing our ground and proving that...weight shift is a viable way to warp the wings of a flat-gliding glider, just so long as you don't mind using the main sheet pulley system to obtain what some aviators would describe as a pitiful rate of roll. And of course we won't tell them that we regularly fly in strong thermal conditions with an apparatus that is airworthy so long as it doesn't get flipped over, where it will almost certainly snap in two with a loud bang, and if it doesn't it won't matter because it can only be controlled when it is upright and experiencing a positive G load. But you see, that's Ok too, after all we all have an emergency parachute.
Out of beer. See ya all around the bend. Gotta take some time to finish restoring my Hobie Hawk, a glider with a tail and movable control surfaces. When did they think of doing it that way? In the meanwhile, enjoy the wonderful simplicity of weight-shift control. I did for 40 years.