- Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:20 pm
Good points there re: the Fledge. I only have one Fledge flight, on the Lake Matthews training hill, long gone now.
I stood there and ground handled it in a mild breeze, feeling out the rudders, and repeating to myself over and over "I won't weight shift. I won't weight shift".
When it felt good I ran with it, got in the air, the right wing went down maybe as much as 10 degrees but it felt like 45 to me, I weight-shifted, got nothing from that and realized I had the rudder controls, the same ones I had just spent 20 minutes practicing with. With weight-shift not working I resigned myself to flying the glider correctly using the twist grips on the downtubes. I rocked and rolled to the LZ, when I slowed down she leveled and it was time for a flare so I grabbed both rudder wires and yanked. She nosed way up and dropped me on my feet with zero forward movement. Whew!
I've admired the Aolus since I first saw her at the Regionals, or was it the Nationals, at Crestline in I guess '83 or thereabouts. She was a step in the direction that I believe deserved to be followed, but alas she only became a piece of Hg history.
It's heartening that others feel the same way.
I have many various planforms floating around my head. One is similar to Aolus, but has a straight wing of moderate aspect ratio and a larger horizontal tail that has either dihedral or anhedral, depending on the CofG and a decalage adjustment available to the pilot in flight. My concept of it utilizes the tail not only as a stabilizer, but also as a power source for a camber and reflex modification, in flight of course. How that could work I don't know for sure, but it sounds like a neat idea so I'm stickin' to it.
The following is a flight of fancy, a daydream, a fantasy. But I believe that none of it is impossible. Difficult to manifest probably, but impossible, no way. You'll notice that there's no real description of what the glider looks like, please don't be disappointed by that. Instead see it as an invitation to dream up your version of a glider that flies the way I describe the character of this one, with your mind not polluted by a detailed illustration that I might come up with.
I see my position in this Brave New Glider project as being the role of a lightning rod, with a charge that attracts lightning from all of the creative minds hangin' around these parts. Let's hope it works, and eventually gets us the glider we all deserve to have.
I haven't a glider design finalized. I'm trying not to design from the outside looking in, rather I'd design from the inside out, trying to visualize the experience from where my head is positioned. As I look around, what do I see?
I'm standing on Crestline launch, in between two parallel longitudinal beams. I don't know if they are just aluminum tubes with some plate riveted on them that also have some parts bolted to them, or if they're made from a composite material. I'm able to hold these beams and control the glider's attitude with them. Not just man-handling here, the beams move relative to me and the rest of the glider, they serve as handles and flight controls at the same time, I communicate my desires of attitude adjustment through them. And once I'm seated comfortably they serve as armrests to.
I'm wearing a harness that encircles my waist with a wide padded strap and more straps under my crotch. There's shoulder straps and there are fittings on each hip. These fittings plug into brackets on the inside of the beams, they are part of an assembly closely resembling the "French Connection", which I believe was based on the hardware on each end of my Grandmothers porch "glider", basically a porch swing without the chains hanging it from the ceiling. The hardware allows easy swinging by the way it limits changes in the swing's height as it moves horizontally. This mechanism, when attached to the keel of a hang glider, allows the pilot to push out or pull in while rising an amount much less than if the harness were swinging on a strap fixed in one place on the keel. This reduces the "bar pressure" or more conventionally speaking, "stick forces".
This mechanism allows fore'n'aft movement of my body, and also converts that body motion into changes of the glider's aerodynamic shape. When I pull my body forward the glider's decalage is reduced and this allows keeping the nose down when I have a headwind. Moving myself aft increases decalage and the glider gets more nose light. I'm finding it very easy to control the pitch attitude, even when the gusts roll through.
The left side of the glider drops some, I pull upward on the left longitudinal beam. This action doesn't provide much rolling torque by itself, but it does cause the left wing to increase it's positive angle of incidence, by virtue of how the beams are connected to the wing, and the way they parallelogram relative to each other. I pull up on the left beam, and push the starboard beam down, which lowers the right wing wing's leading edge, reducing it's incidence. At the same time the tail is adjusted by my pulling the right beam back and pushing the left beam forward. This action has little torque around the yaw axis, but since it also bends camber into the rudder the glider remains pointed directly into the apparent wind, which at this time is angling in from the right, on average maybe as much as 15 degrees.
Some of my glider's weight is being supported by me, but the large diameter wheel behind me is carrying a lot of it. At the front of the longitudinal beams, about 7 or 8 feet ahead of me there's a lightweight nose wheel in it's deployed position a couple feet under the nose. This wheel is carrying some weight, I get a feel for how much weight by observing how much it's springy fork is curved. If I configure the glider for a nose down condition, the front elastic fork bends and the nose goes down, this increases the weight on the main wheel and it's suspension compresses as I and the glider settle and I take on a somewhat squatting posture. Once I have my vario and altimeter set I pull up on the beams, the glider's decalage increases and the headwind helps to lift the glider and I'm back to standing upright.
The glider is aligned with the slightly crossed wind, but both of my wheels are castoring, so I can launch directly down the ramp. I take a tentative step forward, the glider remains balanced so I decide it's time to tango.
The glider lifts as I allow the wings to move to the maximum incidence angle, I lift my feet and place them on a horizontal beam with non-skid tape on it. The glider is now rolling on it's wheels. As I push with my legs the front of the pilots seat, which has been hanging down behind my butt, is pulled forward and I easily slide up onto it's cushion. The seat is now my support, not the crotch straps. The seat is suspended now the same way my harness was, and I can move fore'n'aft about 16". I can't move downward or upwards or from side to side, but there's enough slack in the whole suspension that I don't feel restricted. I do have movement in yaw, much like I do in a car; I can easily turn to see where I've been.
After rolling down the ramp a ways I've got speed and I push back, the CofG moves aft a bit and at the same time decalage increases, the nose rises until my feet are about level with my butt and I'm stylin', cruising the famous Crestline ridge, headed for the house thermal about a hundred yards to the left.
When I get to where I think it's gonna be I push down the right beam and pull up on the left, The glider responds very quickly and I have to remind myself that I'm flying a real glider and not one that resists my efforts. I laugh and make a quick jerk on the beams, dumping some of the excess bank angle I got from putting too much muscle into her, and as the nose lifts I pull forward, dumping unneeded lift and keeping the glider's pitch attitude roughly level with the horizon.
Once in the thermal and settled down I keep turning to the right and climbing skyward. I reach for the handle that I pull to pull the wheels up out of the slipstream, not a lot of drag reduction but the glider is sensitive and I can feel my glide improve.
Up and up and then the inversion at 6500'. I head West and scoot on over to Pine Flats, I've heard that Pine was Bob Will's favorite site, but sad to say I never met him. The air is smooth so I bank left, relaxed this time and so not overbanking. I fly south and maintain height. I'm stoked and want to celebrate, so I pull on the beams and the glider noses down, and continues to nose down until I'm pointed down about 70 degrees. I ease off on my pull and the nose starts rising, as airspeed increases dramatically. With plenty of oomph stored up I push back, the G's build as the nose rises to about 45 degrees above the horizon and then I give a war whoop, pushing down on the right and pulling hard on the left, I feel the glider start to yaw to the left and I pivot to the right, I feel the rudder take hold and over we go, as I get to about 45 degrees past a vertical bank I pull my self forward, the reduced incidence keeps the nose from falling too much, but I'm moving right along and she rolls right on around. I stop the roll while banked right and push, the glider's wings grab the air and we're quickly turning back North. I think to myself, It's only been a few short years since I declared my independence from the weight-shift flying wing, and here I am, tearing it up in my sports car of a glider, ya know it's probably a sin to transport this thing on any car not made in Germany. It would simply be out of place.
I have a great flight, meeting up with friends working the afternoon thermals over the regionals launch, and just for fun I roll inverted and continue thermalling, right across from Dan and Shiloh the Wonderdog. The sink rate inverted isn't very good and so as they climb over me I roll upright, my glider never misses a beat and soon I'm gaining on them. A few more circles and I'm high enough to go to Marshal Peak. I cruise around, weaving through the Panties and working my way out front, slowly getting higher in the Glass-off. It's time to go land and tip a beer or three with my friends so I head out, stretching my legs out flat in front of me and laying back to where my head rests just in front of the "nose plate". I adjust wing incidence to get my body all lined up nice and neatly with the apparent wind, and in my minimum drag configuration I reduce camber and add a bit of reflex, going for a speed run to the LZ. I clear my airspace and pull off a few aero maneuvers, then settle down for my approach. I relax my legs and assume the more comfortable seating position, a posture not unlike the one I have in my car. I camber up to slow things down and deploy my special pulled down apex drogue, keeping the apex down and using only a small amount of 'chute. As I roll onto final with a glide angle to the spot of about 7:1 I let out some line, increasing 'chute area and killing some of my excess glide. As I descend into ground effect I let all the line out and settle down to where the main wheel makes contact. I hold the nose up but as more weight is picked up by the wheel the nose drops until the nose wheel hits. I'm now rolling along at 10 mph and come to a stop a little ways past the cone. Another satisfying flight, a flight in which I enjoyed 100% control of my gliders' attitude at all times, a long held dream finally coming true.
It wasn't easy, there were a lot of mistakes that had to be corrected, disappointment with having to shelve weeks and even months of work, and all that vehicle testing of the glider mounted inverted on the car, racing across the dry lakebed, sweating in the sun as I reworked a linkage that wasn't up to par. Going back to the shop and re-designing into the wee hours, sometimes wondering if the effort would ever pay off, but sticking to my belief that it really wasn't too much to ask for, a glider that could, and would, obey my every command without fighting back. It still takes longer to set up and break down than I'd like, and is bulkier by far than my old flex wing on top of the car. But I'll keep whittling away at it, and in the meantime she delivers a most satisfying day of ultralight soaring.
So that's my flight of fancy, a very entertaining day dream (for me anyway), a place in my consciousness where everything is possible and only the sky is the limit.
Flamers can flame, dreamers can dream, doers can do. It'll all work out as it's supposed to. Happy Trails ( a damn good Quicksilver album).