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Thread: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    As the old rock'n'roll song "All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople winds down, there's a wonderful lyric that sounds almost like an after-thought: "I've been wanting to do this for years..."

    Well, I'm taking the first tentative step, finally letting this oddball idea out of my head and into the strange, thriving world of public discussion on HBA.

    One of the ideas in my head that won't go away is a very small, inexpensive, minimalist E-ticket ride using a 25-40HP engine of some sort. A low wing miniature airplane with the pilot in a reclined or supine position. You guessed it... like riding on an Olympic Luge or small single place bobsled.

    This is intended to be smaller and more simplified than the Jeanie's Teenie, Watson Windwagon, etc. About the size of the Davis DA-11 but even less complex and probably slab sided for ease of construction. And probably even lighter. Like so many of the daydreams of experimental airplane enthusiasts, this idea started out as me trying to create a Cri-Cri size aircraft but with a single tractor engine on the front, and a more reclined pilot for drag and "fineness ratio" aesthetics. If the San Diego guys who did the Wee Bee pilot-lying-on-top airplane did something similar with the pilot reclined in a tub or trough... that's what I'm aiming for.

    Unlike the Cri-Cri it was always meant to be a simple and stress-free build. Colomban started with the idea of minimal engine power, something like 9HP per side. That drove a lot of the complexity and weight-reduction in the Cri-Cri. My goal was not to fly on 9HP engines, I'm willing to use the small block Brriggs engine (28-33HP) or the Polini 2-stroke (36HP). This will allow me to greatly simplify the build compared to Colomban's highly engineered masterpiece.

    My goal would be very simple flat-wrap sheet metal and pop rivet construction except for the main spar caps, which would be better off using AN rivets. The original idea is that this would not require tooling, molds, or messy composite fabrication, sanding dust, etc.

    One of the hoped-for parameters is that the fuselage would be less than 12 feet in total length, so the sides can be cut out of 12 foot lengths. The upper and lower wing spar caps for the one-piece main wing would be 12 foot lengths of aluminum angle. Add two 12 inch tapered wingtips, yielding a total span of 14 feet. I'm thinking something like 60 square feet of wing, with a decent but not exotic airfoil.

    My hope was to use a little cleverness and have a monowheel landing gear like the Monnett Moni. This saves weight and drag, as well as a little cost and build time.This is not an off-road big tire bushplane, it will be happily limited to reasonably smooth runways more or less the same as a club class glider like the 1-26, Ka-8, or L-Spatz.

    I've gone back and forth between an open bathtub/bobsled layout, a reclined sailplane canopy style layout (FFA Diamant sailplane / Monnet Moni), and the "open cockpit" with half-windshield (Watson Windwagon). This would be a fair weather "toy"; you'd fly it in conditions appropriate for a Quicksilver or Airbike.

    So with that description, I'd love to see any ideas, sketches, renderings, technical obstacles, and spirited discussions on this concept.

    PART of my interest in this rather exotic idea is based in actual real-world reality, believe it or not. I have a small space under the wing of my 172 in my hangar. Not enough space for a KR or Hummelbird. Enough for a Cassutt-sized airplane at best. So if I can come up with something cheap, small, and doesn't take too much time or skill to build safely, it could actually happen.
    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
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    Registered User rtfm's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Bravo View Post
    One of the hoped-for parameters is that the fuselage would be less than 12 feet in total length, so the sides can be cut out of 12 foot lengths. The upper and lower wing spar caps for the one-piece main wing would be 12 foot lengths of aluminum angle. Add two 12 inch tapered wingtips, yielding a total span of 14 feet. I'm thinking something like 60 square feet of wing, with a decent but not exotic airfoil.
    The HM293 is only 7.5ft long...
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    Add a few feet for the engine/cowling, and some length for the rudder - my drawings came to 10.5 ft
    ====================
    Brisbane, Australia

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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Not looking for a Flea type layout. RTFP
    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
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    "Common sense is so rare today, it should be reclassified as a superpower!"
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    Registered User Tiger Tim's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Sounds like you want a 3/4 scale DA-5.

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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    This is a cardboard model of the fuselage I made a couple of years ago. The fuselage was designed to mount the small block V-twin directly to the flat area at the lower forward fuselage, this would have a couple of doublers or rails to spread the bolt loads out into the mounting platform.

    This version was going to use plug-in wings, hence the slots in the side of the fuselage for spar stubs like glider wings. The white parts are small plastic angles used to replicate larger aluminum bent angles. You can see the bent angles supporting the seat and the wing spar slots.

    The black part is simply a piece of foam picnic plate that I used for the forward part of the seat under the pilot's legs. I ran out of cardboard... no special structural reason for the black square The large hole in that part of the seat is for access to install and remove the wing spar pins.

    The upper and lower fuselage box skins have not been installed yet in this version. This design would require a full length bottom skin and a top skin behind the cockpit. Torsional movement of the forward (cockpit) area would be controlled by the main portion of the pilot seat bottom, which attaches structurally to the fuselage sides near the top of the fuselage. Large triangular gussets would be installedd behind the firewall and at the seat back to assist with torsional/parallelogram movement between the fuselage sides in the cockpit area.

    THIS version was going to be enclosed with a long canopy like the Moni.

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    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
    Richard Bach, Illusions

    "Common sense is so rare today, it should be reclassified as a superpower!"
    Derswede


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    Moderator Topaz's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Bravo View Post
    ... If the San Diego guys who did the Wee Bee pilot-lying-on-top airplane did something similar with the pilot reclined in a tub or trough... that's what I'm aiming for....
    So why not use that idea as a starting point? Enlarge the fuselage in width and depth slightly to accommodate the pilot laying "the other way", and work out from there. The finished thing need be no more complicated than the Wee Bee, and probably shouldn't be, to properly meet your requirement. Or, explicitly take the Cri Cri as "design fodder", and do a slightly deeper square-section fuselage that's a little bit longer to accommodate the more-supine pilot and puts the single engine in the nose.

    It's going to be a design-from-scratch effort regardless, so might as well do what you really want. But beware scope-creep.
    "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau

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    Discussion Thread for the Project: Discussion: Conceptual Design of an "Inexpensive" Single-Seat Motorglider

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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    How much more supine would you want beyond the cardboard model?
    Many of my friends are vegetarian. I am a humanitarian.

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    Registered User cluttonfred's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Sounds like the Beecraft Wee Bee might be a good place to start, but flipping the pilot seat around to be feet first rather than head first and a little less prone.



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    See https://books.google.com/books?id=pC...q=1949&f=false

    You'd want more wing area for slower, safer takeoff and landing speeds and maybe a modern paramotor engine, but the basic idea is there.
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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    Enlarge the fuselage in width and depth slightly to accommodate the pilot laying "the other way", and work out from there. The finished thing need be no more complicated than the Wee Bee, and probably shouldn't be, to properly meet your requirement. Or, explicitly take the Cri Cri as "design fodder", and do a slightly deeper square-section fuselage that's a little bit longer to accommodate the more-supine pilot and puts the single engine in the nose.

    It's going to be a design-from-scratch effort regardless, so might as well do what you really want. But beware scope-creep.
    The Wee Bee was a triangular fuselage, the top was flat I believe, and the pilot laid on top of the flat side. So the fuselage would be a whole new thing. The Wee Bee was also technically a high wing or shoulder wing so the entire wing mounting system would be different. Essentially I believe their fuselage and wing mounting system is not worth starting with.

    The Cri-Cri with a reclined pilot and tractor engine is of course where all this started, but the Cri-Cri is a pretty complicated build, and the plans for it are death-penalty contraband here, and the engine mounting is different anyway. So although my bare canoe-stage fuselage may look similar to the Cri-Cri, it seems that there wouldn't be any deeper similarities than that. Besides, I am willing to build a little heavier than that aircraft, in deference to the fact that Colomban engineered every ounce out of that structure and I don't want or need to work that hard. I have more power available than he did, and I eat a lot better than he does.

    To answer SteveL's question, much more supine than the Cri-Cri, or Teenie, or Windwagon. About like this:

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    I took another look at the Wee Bee's symmetrical or near-symmetrical airfoil , and flaps in Matthew's photo. I will have someone a lot smarter than me select an airfoil that is more suitable .
    Last edited by Victor Bravo; March 7th, 2019 at 02:59 AM.
    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
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    "Common sense is so rare today, it should be reclassified as a superpower!"
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    Registered User MadRocketScientist's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Are you familiar with the Colomban MC-30 Luciole? A simpler version of that might be along the lines of what you are looking at
    Building CriCri #706

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    Registered User cluttonfred's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Perhaps I should have clarified that I was putting the Wee Bee forward as general inspiration and a conceptual place to start, not saying to build one. On reflection, you might take a look at the Ivanov ZJ Viera ultralight in its original monowheel configuration. Yes, it's composite, but it would give you a very good idea of realistic size/weight/power/performance for this concept. The fact that the monowheel gear was ditched for tricycle gear is also something to think about.

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    ZJ-Viera

    General characteristics
    Crew: one
    Wingspan: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)
    Wing area: 9.1 m2 (98 sq ft)
    Empty weight: 77 kg (170 lb)
    Gross weight: 198 kg (437 lb)
    Fuel capacity: 12 litres (2.6 imp gal; 3.2 US gal)
    Powerplant: 1 × Hirth F-33 single cylinder, air-cooled, two stroke aircraft engine, 19 kW (26 hp)
    Propellers: 2-bladed wooden, fixed pitch

    Performance
    Maximum speed: 130 km/h (81 mph; 70 kn)
    Cruise speed: 110 km/h (68 mph; 59 kn)
    Stall speed: 44 km/h (27 mph; 24 kn)
    Rate of climb: 3.5 m/s (690 ft/min)
    Wing loading: 21.8 kg/m2 (4.5 lb/sq ft)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanov_ZJ-Viera

    I think that an all-metal design similar to but a little larger, heavier, and more powerful than the ZJ Viera would be good fun and find a market in the U.S. LSA/European microlight categories.
    Last edited by cluttonfred; March 7th, 2019 at 03:29 AM.
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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Quote Originally Posted by MadRocketScientist View Post
    Are you familiar with the Colomban MC-30 Luciole? A simpler version of that might be along the lines of what you are looking at
    Yes, that is part of what I am trying to accomplish, but simpler and cheaper and a little smaller than the Luciole.

    Matthew I was not chastising you in the least, I was aware of the Wee Bee. I just already knew that it had a lot that I didn't want, but it is indeed the size and weight of what I am thinking about. I just want to feel much more secure, "strapped in", and enclosed. My experience flying the Kolb made it clear to me that I want to have some structure surrounding me, even if it is not 20G crash structure. The psychological aspect of it is what was surprising to me.

    The ZJ Viera is OK, I'd love to fly one, but I do want something a little more rocket-sled than that.
    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
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    "Common sense is so rare today, it should be reclassified as a superpower!"
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    Registered User MadRocketScientist's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Bravo View Post
    Yes, that is part of what I am trying to accomplish, but simpler and cheaper and a little smaller than the Luciole.
    I like the idea! I don't have a copy of the Luciole plans but from what I have seen, while it is simpler than the CriCri but still a lot more complicated than say the DA-11.

    Watching with interest to see what you come up with.
    Building CriCri #706

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    Registered User Victor Bravo's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    The F-22 is simpler than the Cri-Cri
    "Everything in this book may be wrong."
    Richard Bach, Illusions

    "Common sense is so rare today, it should be reclassified as a superpower!"
    Derswede


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    Registered User cluttonfred's Avatar
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    Re: My Preposterous Fantasy Aircraft: The Luge

    I've got it! This, but not a jet and sitting the other way around....



    Only half joking, actually, as a much simpler unswept flying wing could work well for this mission, basically a ride-on-top version of the Fauvel-style Debreyer Pélican or Al Backstrom's powered WPB-1 straight plank.

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    *******
    Matthew Long, Editor
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    A site for builders, owners and fans of Eric Clutton's FRED and other safe, simple, affordable homebuilt aircraft

    « Voici ce que j'ai fait...vous pouvez en faire autant! »
    "This is what I have done...you can do the same!"
    --Henri Mignet (1893-1965)

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