A challenge to you all

Discussion in 'The light stuff area' started by stan40353, Sep 11, 2011.

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  1. Sep 11, 2011 #1

    stan40353

    stan40353

    stan40353

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    there look to be some good minds on this site.from what i read here alot of you are very knowledgeable. so i got to thinking, the purpose of a site such as this is to bring people with the same interest together and help the members of this site.so i have a challenge to put toward each and everyone of you.the cheapest way to fly is by far with ultralights.there are lots of kits out there that cost many 1000.00s of dollars.and the name of this site is homebuilt airplanes.so why not put the minds of the people here to come up with a truly unique design of an ultralight. a new aircraft that anyone can build and be much much cheaper than the kits you can buy.make it affordable to the average American worker, lets face it, not all of us have great paying jobs, and some are single parents such as myself. money is tight.but we have a passion as well to fly. i think it can be done way cheaper than the kits,and be a safe aircraft. so work on it and tell me what you come up with.remember,least amount of cost as possible.something some one could build without a big financial burden over the winter. if i get enough ideas i will build it myself.if fly safe we can share the plans with the world for free! any concept or configuration. lets do this people!!! you do not have to have a complete set of plans, just a part,like for the wings and main body, whatever it is, post it here, lets build something together!!! and KEEP COST DOWN!!! lets make this for everyone.! happy thinking!
     
  2. May 24, 2012 #2

    Topaz

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    MODERATOR NOTE: Moved this here from the "Member Build Logs" section, as it's a much better fit here.
     
  3. May 24, 2012 #3

    Head in the clouds

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    Yes, I like this concept too.

    For years I've been saying locally that we're not getting enough new blood into the sport because it has all become too expensive. Even the ab initio flight training has.

    And then I've also fallen into the mold and been building and designing ever more expensive and sophisticated designs. Much as I've enjoyed that progression, when I fall into the 'dream up another' stage I still keep coming back to the need for a good cheapie.

    The thing is that so much has changed, the days (early 1980s) of a dozen of us taking our planes out to the farmer's field in their box trailers and everyone helping each other to assemble wings, then camping in the trailers for the weekend and flying our hearts out seem to have gone forever. Careful what we wished for - we got it - our own airfield with hangars, 150mph (in Oz) machines and now it costs a fortune, hangar rent is prohibitive if you can even get it, and everyone goes off on their own most of the time.

    That's one reason why I've been concentrating on aircraft with folding wings that can be trailered and assembled/unfolded by one person but I have to admit they're complex.

    I have kept a simple 3 view sketch of a very interesting little single seater that I think could be fairly easily made to carry two (as an option), which was drawn around 1988 by a very inspired gent and close friend. He's in a nursing home now and I'll ask his consent to post it here and make it one of the starting points for an open source project.

    In essence, to keep it cheap and have moderate performance, open cockpit or closed, easy to build and all that I think it needs to be rag and tube, wire braced, 2 stroke, fixed gear, tractor probably, double surface wings and controls... and incorporate the design features which so many clever heads here can work out to make it better, more stable, more forgiving etc than what we were flying in the early 1980s.

    I'll get Baz's permission to post the sketch if I see a bit of interest from others in this overall concept. Cheers, Alan
     
  4. May 24, 2012 #4

    Sir Joab

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    I've been working on a plane that's built to satisfy almost that exact criteria. :)
    Part 103 Ultralight
    Low-cost (about $1500 US)
    Double surface wings
    Full, 3-axis control.
    230+ pound pilot.


    The plane uses a 1/2 VW I'm modding myself, and mainly 4130 tube structure braced with cables. (The airplane is being built to yield at 5Gs, and hold together beyond that.)

    Kind of a look-alike to Aerodrome Airplanes' Dream Classic. Not the same, but a similar bear-bones design.

    I designed it myself and now I'm about 1/3 into the construction process...
     
  5. May 24, 2012 #5

    Head in the clouds

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    Excellent Joe,

    I've been out of the minimalist side of homebuilding/design for so long that I really don't know what's out there. I had a look at a youtube clip of the Aerodrome Airplanes' Dream Classic and it's certainly a classic style. A friend here built something very similar in the 1980s and it performed really well with good controllability because of the huge control surfaces. He only had a Robin 18hp direct drive on it too.

    Could you post a couple of pictures showing how far you've got?

    Also - everyone who's interested in all this, please mention an existing ultralight type that you think best fits this overall concept then we can all see what people really want/like and also find out more about what's already out there.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  6. May 24, 2012 #6

    SVSUSteve

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    The problem with trying to use ultralights to "attract" young people is that a lot of them aren't into aviation for the same reasons my generation (as a 31 year old) or those before me were. They tend to be too slow, not "functional" and they generally just look frail and dangerous to get a new crop of young folks who aren't already so enthralled with aviation that they are involved regardless of the costs.

    Using it as a "stepping stone" into bigger and better things isn't really an option either since ultralight time doesn't really count for much (says the guy with 300-400 hours of time in them). It might lessen your transition time in something bigger but still....
     
  7. May 24, 2012 #7

    Head in the clouds

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    I was really hoping this thread could manage to avoid getting bogged down with comments from critics and naysayers.

    It is not a discussion about attracting anyone or of whether or not designing a really good ultralight is a good idea, it is a discussion about designing a good ultralight. The member who OPd this thread made it quite clear what he wants and some of us are interested in the same rather than going around and around wasting time discussing whether what he wants should be discussed or not...

    Those who have nothing to say about the actual design process really would benefit the community if they kept their negativity to themselves, there are plenty of other fora where progress bashing is the order of the day.

    And just for the record, 23yrs ago I applied to DoA for a Dispensation against training in GA as I already had over a thousand hours in ultralights and other sport aviation. I was told if I could pass the exams and solo and a flight test I didn't have to take instruction so I took 75 mins familiarisation and solo in the school's aircraft then my flight test and passed, saving myself 45 hours PPL training costs. There was no facility in place for crediting ultralight hours against GA but it's surprising what you can achieve if you make approaches using the correct process.
     
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  8. May 24, 2012 #8

    SVSUSteve

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    Then you shouldn't bring that aspect (the costs, etc) up. If it's about the "love of ultralights" or whatever you want to classify it as, then everything else that isn't a direct design consideration is superfluous and doesn't need to be brought up.

    I'm not trying to quash the idea. I'm just trying to keep you grounded in reality. Designing just another ultralight is not really "progress" since the limits of the field have long since been reached because of the draconic weight restriction. Why not just design an LSA and have a little more wiggle room to play with? That's something where a collaborative effort would pay off and you can make an LSA look like a scaled up ultralight if you so choose and have a need

    If you guys want my input on the safety side of the coin, I'm happy to offer it although an ultralight (because of the weight restrictions) is a real challenge.

    Yeah, welcome to the differences between Australia and the US.

    I tried the exact same thing a couple of different times and it's hard enough to get them to credit prior training in standard aircraft. Despite having the folks who were responsible for the decision as friends of mine, I was still told "Sorry....can't do that".
     
  9. May 24, 2012 #9

    topspeed100

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    Excellent to hear this. I also have a 230 lbs pilot design with empty weight of 122 lbs...really minimalistic ( PPG 18 hp engine ). It run into liability problem...since the laws for manufacturing aren't the same here...also the department of safety of the consumer product said that if there is a gap of needing no lisence to fly for under 70 kilo empty weigh planes in Finland they will make sure it will be changed as this kinda aircraft is made for sale.

    Since that I have turned my intrerest to 60 meter ( 200 ft and 2464 sq ft area ) spanning 44 seater human/solar powered hybrid of 8440 lbs mtow with 1050 miles range and 135 mph cruise speed. Haven't asked the safety department if this is viable yet.
     
  10. May 24, 2012 #10

    cluttonfred

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    While I have also pointed out to Steve and others that sometimes they come off a little bit too critical, I have to say that here I agree with him. The minimalist low-cost Part 103 ultralight, single-seat by definition, is a worthy goal in itself, but it is not the solution to attracting more and younger people to amateur aviation. A minimalist two-seat microlight or LSA that can be built easily and cheaply, say under 500 hours and under $20,000 ready-to-fly including engine, prop and VFR instruments, and still look Rutan-cool, would do a lot more for the sport.
     
  11. May 24, 2012 #11

    Head in the clouds

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    OK forget about whatever the reason for doing this is, except a member requested it and I know from comments here in Australia, as well as comments on other HBA threads, that there is interest in it. If it doesn't inerest you, or you want to discuss LSAs or anything else why not start another thread and do just that? Clearly this isn't for you so why push your negative views on the thread and drive away the people who might be interested?
     
  12. May 24, 2012 #12

    Vector

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    I am in support of such an idea. I happen to thin wood covered with fiberglass is the cheapest you are going to come to something cheap for the common man. I think the KR's started out cheap and affordable but with time have gotten really expensive. A modern day Volksplane answers the bill. I think those with ample structural and wood working skill can twick that thing out to make it visually appealing while keeping the cost as minimal as possible.

    I believe it is possible to build a VFR day aircraft for $5500.
     
  13. May 24, 2012 #13

    Head in the clouds

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    In the probably rather optimistic hope of hobbling those who have nothing better to do but surf the postings looking for something to decry, here is an example of what I did 28 years ago when our ultralight regulations were exactly the same as your FAR Pt 103 i.e. empty weight 254lb/115kg, single seat, 44mph stall etc except we also had a 'no flight above 300' AGL, no crossing roads and also a max wing loading of 4lb/sq ft.

    Because we didn't spend our time naysaying, instead we firmly believed that if we worked at it the right way we would eventually prove our case and get a useable ANO (Air Navigation Order). ANOs are exemptions to our Air Navigation Regulations, the Regs basically ban everything so any flying is done via an ANO, the USA system is probably similar. And we were right, just as an Australian, Ron Wheeler, built the first ultralight (fixed wing, as opposed to microlight flexwing/trike etc) which was the Wheeler Scout in 1976, and with Gareth Kimberley and the eventual co-operation of a couple of user-friendly DoA blokes they drafted the first ANO (95:10) which allowed those aircraft to be flown under similar airspace rules to RC models, we eventually wore the bureaucracy down and now have freedoms that are probably the best in the world.

    Nonetheless it is rubbish to say that it is impossible to build a good/decent aircraft under USA 'draconian' ultralight regulations; and to imagine that those regulations cannot be changed is self-defeating nonsense. OK, you would have to agree to self-regulation and in-association training and certification, but that is what we did here. It took 20 years but now ultralights have more-or-less the same rights and restrictions as LSA, i.e. 8500ft, unlimited speed, 45kt stall/min control speed, 2 seats, just stay OCTA.

    The article below describes the first aircraft that I built several of, it was very loosely based on the Hummel Bird and some of John Monnet's work. The picture is of the printer's proof for the 1984 Jane's 'All the World's Aircraft' series. The pic was taken at Mangalore 1984, which was our equivalent of USA's Oshkosh, at the time. A few of us had arrived a few days early and they hadn't mowed the grass yet...

    At the time, and with the benefit of cheap engines they cost me about $1500 each to build.

    Sorry the pic is a file that may be a bit large so it takes a while to open if you're interested in reading the text.

    SDC10984R.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
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  14. May 24, 2012 #14

    topspeed100

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    Really awesome...I never saw this before...it is much lighter than the Hummel Bird.
     
  15. May 24, 2012 #15

    Autodidact

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    Why are pictures taken more than 20 years ago always b&w no matter how far forward we move through the time/space continuum? :0)
     
  16. May 24, 2012 #16

    Head in the clouds

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    Does that have anything to do with designing an up-to-date ultralight?

    But to answer the question, if it actually interests you (or was it just for your amusement?), you can PM me and I'll send you some colo(u)r ones... The reason it is B&W should be obvious if you read my post, it is a printer's proof of a publication that you can buy, and if you have a look at them, of that era, you will see they were printed in B&W. They did that to keep the unit price down and also because B&W is/was the medium of choice for professional technical photographers because the grain was/is much finer and so the detail is better when large prints (blow-ups) are made. Rob Fox, Australia's leading aviation photographer took that picture when he was a young tacker, as you can see from the credit to left of picture.

    Anyone want to start a thread on photography?

    It's enough to make you wish you had some hair left to pull out...
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  17. May 24, 2012 #17

    Head in the clouds

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    Thanks Vector, I think so too. Sorry - I completely missed your post because it quickly disappeared behind those wanting to talk off-topic.

    Yes, I agree with you about wood construction, and I think whatever we work towards should be something that could be built using whatever materials people are most comfortable working with, and that often depends on where they are, and of course, what they most like to work with.

    Please find something on the net that is your idea of what type of aircraft you would like and post a picture of it here (keep in mind we're talking about ultralight, if you want a KR2 type or 2 seater we need to start another thread), so that we can all start to get an idea of a direction in which each wants to go.

    BTW, I now have Baz's permission to post a picture of his sketch of the Sky-Ray. He sketched it and bought all the materials except inst, eng and covering for $1000, but never got to build it because he contracted an illness. And after that his work got in the way.

    I'll take a pic of it tomorrow and post it here.
     
  18. May 24, 2012 #18

    topspeed100

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    Macro exists; RA-Aus aircraft register, in number sequence

    I also agree..the small ac using wood can be made really lite. I also bumbed to a paint dude who said there is a 30 grams / m2 surface treatment available..second to none in protection.
     
  19. May 24, 2012 #19

    SVSUSteve

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    Uh....we decided to focus our efforts on more than just the UL community so there's no point in trying to get the FAA's attention when we already have a category above them that you don't have to have a medical to fly aircraft in (which is really the only reason people wind up in UL aircraft around here; I wound up in ULs because it was cheap and the **** things are slow enough to be useful during searches for bodies, etc). The focus here is on doing away with the medical certification requirements for private pilots.

    No, you'll notice that I said nothing regarding a "good/decent" aircraft. I said that the technology peaked circa 1985 almost entirely because of the weight restriction. People are getting fatter and fatter and the restriction isn't going anywhere (because we have the LSA category). It's not a matter of my not thinking it's worth the trouble. It's a matter of the same problem aviation has always faced: when you have a dreamer who tries to get around a regulation by cutting out structural weight (which is really the only option left since the weight of the people and engines isn't going to change), it seldom ends well. Physics always wins.

    Of course, then again, you hold out as an example of a "good/decent" aircraft what amounts to a grown man riding a toy. There's no practical reason behind that other than some half-baked attempt to prove that you can look a bit like the aviation equivalent of a circus bear riding a tiny motorcycle.
     
  20. May 24, 2012 #20

    Aircar

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    I thought the 'ladder planes' built in France were about the most minimum sort of structure and likely cost --there was a link or a whole thread for them I seem to recall (might have been on the EAA 365 forum )-- I worked in a ladder factory while waiting for visas and paperwork in 1972 and operated the machine which spun the machined extruded rungs into hollow rivets amongst other operations there (in fact from walking in the door looking for some process work I ended up designing all sorts of folding ladders for them and --maybe as a result of familarity with such 'lock in place' structures have even noticed distant echoes of some of the mechanism/lock/structures in my latest work on folding roadables... )
    No experience goes to waste .

    Thee point about the ladder planes is that they used mass produced readily available precursor components --and piggy backed on the quite sophisticated manufacturing processes that both give reliable and accurate resulrs and low prices.

    HAND building as opposed to HOMEbuilding is a lot of the basis for the dispute here -- even the Volksplane is expensive in terms of the man hours and equipment needed to build one and try pricing aircraft grade (or even marine )plywood and glass cloth etc etc .

    The only way I can afford to drive is by buying cars that are on their last legs and started off as cheap mass produced goods --I always said that if you paid the FULL $ 100 (one hundred) for a car you got something that was reliable and would last --try to get something "good' for "nothing" and you will get something "good for nothing" --my first car was a 1966 Rambler (cost $100) that was virtually fiberglassed together but took me across the US and back three times and ended it's days (I think) as the gift to the lady who sold tickets to the long term car park at LA airport (put the keys up the exhaust for her... couldn'y give the car away otherwise..) This is how nearly ALL young people used to get their first wheels -- a market served by low cost mass produced (factory built) vehicles that were discounted after the first few owners : almost nobody gets on the road by hand beating their own car body as if making a homebuilt.

    This will be the same for flying machines IF you really want to expand the market and the demand --just as Henry ford insisted on the highest precision in manufacture (interchangability and unskilled assembly) and the best materials (forged Vanadium steel ) to make the CHEAPEST car possible --the Model T -so it is and will be for flying machines .
    (Ford pushed a Model T out the door every eleven seconds ....)

    Luxury toys will always cost like luxury toys-- and/or be very inadequate as flying machines as well even when TOO simplified (recall the cast fiitings and swaged flying wires without even thimbles, no cable keepers and zero stick free stability,inverse stick force gradients etc etc on the Skycraft Scout --many were lucky to survive them and quite a few weren't . ( I flew the first Tweety-Scout 'prototype' in 1976 sold as bits before they were on the market even --we do not want to repeat those days of substandard engineering or lack of it but I agree that the 'barnstorming' days were a good time and have been lost largely ( I was one of those opposing the raising of the lower limit --not the upper limit --in the interests of fun flying rather than reinventing GA by Cessna .

    To know what is possible at a given budget you need to specify the aims and the minimum acceptable trade offs (cheapo flying coffins won't help anyone --the first wave of defective Flying Fleas did exactly the same disservice to aviation -lest we forget.)

    in his 1958 Book "An airplane in every garage" Dan Zuck painted EXACTLY the same picture of the young not having any interest in flying and being more interested in "Hopalong Cassidy" and the new fangles television than the lures of the airport --even "Peter the Hermit" noted how the young were listless, long haired, not interested in the old ways etc about AD 50 (I think) --nothing changes.

    Until we get mass produced and useful flying vehicles that ATTRACT the young and the poor can afford you will be stuck with the choice between high man hour low dollar and the best that designers can do within the straitjacket of low sales price and low volume --it is just the reality of the laws of economics and economy of scale.
     
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