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Head in the clouds

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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.
As usual you flatter yourself by thinking I was referring to your comment.

They were toys, we enjoyed them, what did you design and build? What are you flying now - well we all know that don't we?

Where you 'focussed your efforts' is nothing of consequence here, this is a design thread, besides which you didn't/haven't - if you did, please show evidence of your involvement in anything at all, otherwise please go away from this thread.

This thread isn't about you. Not only that it would benefit you to bear in mind that this is an International forum, and whatever is the case in America, isn't necessarily the same in the various countries of many of our other very valued members.

You are probably 'getting fatter and fatter' because you probably have no real overwhelming desire to fly. People that do have that desire, and may have limited funds are willing to forgo the extra hamburger and actually lose weight... what's the point in drilling and punching a thousand lightening holes to save 5 kg if you weigh 30kg more than you should. Go away SUS PLEASE!!! You comment off-topic in just about every thread on the site, you're getting to be a serial pest IMHO.
 

Dana

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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.
The scene you described still exists today... in the PPG world. Since PPGs are so slow, and few pilots really ever go anywhere, people get together in some field, make short flights, hang out, etc. Many PPGers get bored and move on to faster aircraft, but many don't, and many (like myself) fly PPG as well as faster aircraft.

One problem is that neighbors tend to get tired of the noise and activity, though a PPG seems less intimidating than an airplane, even an ultralight airplane.

My Kolb is trailerable, with 10 minute wing folding. I keep it, folded, in my trailer at the airport... because while the folding is easy, trailering is a PITA. Traveling with a PPG is a lot less hassle, and it needs a much smaller field.

-Dana

It's only premarital sex if you're going to get married.
 

Head in the clouds

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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.
Sorry mate, but for once I can't agree with all of yours....

I thought you might use this as a chance to re-visit Stiletto?

This thread is not about mass produced anything, or the dangers of early Scout types, with which I couldn't agree more. But it's about cheapness, and a good design, based on what we've learned in the last 25 yrs.

Just as the Macro was a bit out of the ordinary back then, there are lots of possibilities now that can make something good out of a sow's ear. And I would say that what might be good now wouldn't be fast it's be something very controllable at low speed and give the new generation something to be able to 'go anywhere'. Maybe like the Storch did a long time ago, I think some modern thinking could make something smaller and similarly useful. The low arrival speed should save lives...

You're right, as others have been, about the listless youth, but the percentages are still there. We now have twice the poulation of 25yrs ago and some more interested in flying, but flying's not there and available for them, so what would you do in similar circumstances? Xbox is all they have. It's just like when I used to tell all that I made all my toys, and now parents spend half their wages on toys for their kids. We built our toys and raced downhill in them (and crashed) or went fishing in them and (and sunk) and went shooting with home made sights (and still have the bullet scars to show for it).

Anyway here we are discussing whether to design again, rather than designing...

As far as specifying the aims, I thought I did that, I asked folks to post pics of what they thought they might want.

By 'ladder planes' I think you mean compression spars and wires ala Drifter, Thruster etc, if so yes I agree, but there are a few new twists, no need for battened fabric is one...

Yes I think homebuilding from plans/low volume would be the cheapest for what can be right now, and I also believe that anyone who builds their own plane is going to be safer than someone who buys one, particularly newbies to flying, because they gain so much knowledge during the building, so what if it takes a year? Central bulk buying of materials through an organisation could halve the materials cost. Didn't EAA do something like that years ago?
 

Head in the clouds

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The scene you described still exists today... in the PPG world. Since PPGs are so slow, and few pilots really ever go anywhere, people get together in some field, make short flights, hang out, etc. Many PPGers get bored and move on to faster aircraft, but many don't, and many (like myself) fly PPG as well as faster aircraft.

One problem is that neighbors tend to get tired of the noise and activity, though a PPG seems less intimidating than an airplane, even an ultralight airplane.

My Kolb is trailerable, with 10 minute wing folding. I keep it, folded, in my trailer at the airport... because while the folding is easy, trailering is a PITA. Traveling with a PPG is a lot less hassle, and it needs a much smaller field.

-Dana

It's only premarital sex if you're going to get married.
Good point, I picked up a PPG pilot who was walking home with his complete aircraft on his back, got me thinking...again..., so did the premarital sex thing...
 

Head in the clouds

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Nope, it was obviously meant to be humorous. But just in case, I put the little smile emoticon on the end so that there would be no mistaking it. :0)
Sorry mate, thought that was a shockicon, I was probably just responding on impulse, they're all out to get me haha hehe.... So what do you think about the best ultralight configuration to design?
 

delta

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As usual you flatter yourself by thinking I was referring to your comment.

They were toys, we enjoyed them, what did you design and build? What are you flying now - well we all know that don't we?

Where you 'focussed your efforts' is nothing of consequence here, this is a design thread, besides which you didn't/haven't - if you did, please show evidence of your involvement in anything at all, otherwise please go away from this thread.

This thread isn't about you. Not only that it would benefit you to bear in mind that this is an International forum, and whatever is the case in America, isn't necessarily the same in the various countries of many of our other very valued members.

You are probably 'getting fatter and fatter' because you probably have no real overwhelming desire to fly. People that do have that desire, and may have limited funds are willing to forgo the extra hamburger and actually lose weight... what's the point in drilling and punching a thousand lightening holes to save 5 kg if you weigh 30kg more than you should. Go away SUS PLEASE!!! You comment off-topic in just about every thread on the site, you're getting to be a serial pest IMHO.
There is an ignore button that can be found by visiting someones profile page. It can save a whole lot of time and aggravation.
 

Autodidact

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So what do you think about the best ultralight configuration to design?
Hard to say. It should somehow look, or it's looks should imply, something more sophisticated and capable than the Weedhopper/B1RD type planes. But it also needs to be simple to build. Actually there are probably three different basic configurations that would have to exist to cover most peoples wants/expectations: an open frame type, a fully covered one similar to the Sauricette, and, if possible one that is aerobatic. I would use pop riveted aluminum tube/bolts. The easiest one to build would have the least capabilities performance wise (I know, they are limited as to top speed, but you can dive them and SSDR in the UK doesn't have the same speed/powerplant limitations that 103 has, though there is some significant overlap in the specs). Wing structure would have a lot to do with who would want to build it; there is a perception that tube spars make for an easier to build wing (I'm not sure how true that is - maybe the tooling requirement is simpler). It would also be nice if at least one of them could fly well just with a single-cylinder 410cc (approx. 14-15 hp)or so Generac/B&S/Honda direct drive bolted to it -the $600 engine.

IF it was done especially well, maybe a single design could fulfill most or all of the above; sometimes a designer hits on something that just becomes so neat that it is difficult to improve upon. I haven't seen an ultralight that fits that description yet, but some other, larger, planes that do (in my opinion) are the Tipsy Nipper (looking at it's structure with no covering I can't help thinking it is almost perfect), and the Silence Twister. They're not easy to build, but they aren't ultralights either - they do have something about the neatness of the way they're put together that would be great if it could translate to an ultralight.

The basic idea of this thread is something that I have been working on - but I'm sitting on them because I haven't ever completed or built anything and I don't want them to just be another unfulfilled dream...

I think the Affordaplane was a step in the right direction, but it's too heavy. I don't think that the tubes it uses for the fuselage need to be anywhere near that big and heavy.
 

delta

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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!
The decision of what to power it with is the starting point imo. The lightest and most powerful engines are usually expensive, inefficient, relatively short tbo, noisy, and questionably reliable. If I had the 10k to spend on a couple of ppg engines(which would be nice), I'd probably design around an 0200 and forget the ultralight part. My wish list includes a commercial Honda V twin, a bottle of NOS, and a folding prop.
Hopefully I'm building a tool as well as a toy. I can almost justify the money and time devoted to building something that satisfies my mission requirements. I want to go fast and far. It will be an ultralight, but not in the traditional sense.
 

StarJar

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About speed, my experience was in Cessna's, Piper's, Grumman Americans as a spoiled young teenager,as my dad paid for my lesson's. But now my dad is gone, and I find myself with not a lot of money. This got me to looking at ultralights, and then I began to realize how fun it would be to make shorter flights, with air blowing all around you, folowing roads, and dodging through valleys.
For Example I live in El Centro, and I have this sense of shear enjoyment contemplating having a plane that would fly 65 mph up to Las Vegas to visit my brother. It would be a 3 hour flight, and I'd have to stop for gas, but the thought of it really turns me on. Not sure where this desire came from, but it's overpowered my desire to get in a sealed heavy plane with a big engine and small wing.
I was looking at the Roger Mann designs, and couldn't believe how cheep and easy they are to build. I actually helped a friend build a "Ragamuffin" and learned how to buy wood from a local lumber yard, by grading it visually to see if it meets aircraft quality. I don't know if many of you have done this, but it's outrageous! You end up getting aircraft quality wood for a fraction of the price normally paid.
Plus dacron is dirt cheap as is latex paint.
For ultralights, it seams that pine is a very viable alternative, to the fir I was buying. For example, the strenth to weight is about the same as spruce. You might use a slightly larger peice of pine but it would weight the same, and actually have less buckling and more gluing area because of it's bigger crossection.
But not to get bogged down in little details, this is a great thread.
I was talking about an idea, in another thread and got some helpful feedback from Orion, Billski, bjmc and others. My idea was that instead of making these small planes with heavy 4130 lift struts, why not put another wing there (in place of the struts)? Bellanca did this on some his early designs and they were the most efficient planes of that period, or ever for that matter. The Bellanca Criusmaster and the Bellanca CF. Instead of buying the drag producing tubes at $6/foot, you put an airfoil there, and get more lift and save money. I've tried it on x-plane over and over again, and (at least on x-plane) it shows a definate improvement in the overall speed range.
Then I thought why not optimize for this and make the old struts a legitimate wing, more like a biplane, except the bottom wing, supports the top wing, (and the top wing supports the bottom wing). I'm really excited about this, and from urging from Billski, learned how to use a stress analysis program, and found that it it easily do-able.
But whatever the case, I hope we can keep this on topic toward the original post. Sometimes it seems like trying to stop a tsunami, or herd elephants with a skeleton crew. Right Head in the Clouds?
One other thing I just thought of, I noticed that Briggs and Stratton sells an 80 lb. engine of, I think about 27 hp, for about $700 dollars, but it is a vertical shaft. Their horizontal shaft, of the same power, sells for about $1700. Does anyone know why? Could it be because of the greater production quatities of the vertical shaft? I'll have to check on the HP again, but $600 is an awsome (low) price for that much power. I read in another thread where a young guy is converting a verticle shaft to horizontal. It's only 3.5 HP but if he can do it why can't we?
 
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bmcj

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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.
Well, I think that cost of flying is a big factor in drawing new people in, and Part 103 ultralights are a quantum leap cheaper than any other option, both in terms of equipment cost and instruction. Gliders, specifically glider clubs, might be the nearest competitor, but is still significantly higher than ultralights. Let's face it, there are ultralight kits out there for as little as $3900 and there is no requirement for training with an instructor (though we would all agree that flying without any instruction is foolhardy at best and a potential death wish).

For the purpose of determining if ultralights are the answer to draw in new pilots or if the answer lies in sailplanes/LSA/powered aircraft, I have posted the following thread and POLL: http://www.homebuiltairplanes.com/forums/light-stuff-area/12968-poll-ultralights-stepping-stone-aviation.html.

Bruce :)
 

Hot Wings

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there is no requirement for training with an instructor (though we would all agree that flying without any instruction is foolhardy at best and a potential death wish).

And as I noted on your poll, without the 2 place training exemption unless you are willing to teach yourself, the only option is dual in something like a 150/172 and then stepping "down" to UL's. This option is only reasonable if the person involved understands the very different flying qualities of a plane with very light wing loading.

Even though it's not politically correct to say so, the reality is that self training is a viable option if done by a prudent person in well defined steps. But a minimalist ultralight isn't exactly the best platform for this as the risk of serious injury with the pilot setting out front with little or no crash protection is just too great. Even the old Benson had more real pilot protection then some of the tube and rag ultralights.

Come up with a part 103 UL that has some reasonable level of pilot protection and then I think we could seriously consider promoting some form of inexpensive pilot training. I personally think with such a plane a couple of hours in a 150 (for those that have never flown in a light plane), coupled with some X-plane time (tailored to the specific UL being used) followed by a very incremental flight training program with a ground based instructor would give the average person a good compromise of cost and safety.
 

Topaz

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there is no requirement for training with an instructor (though we would all agree that flying without any instruction is foolhardy at best and a potential death wish).

And as I noted on your poll, without the 2 place training exemption unless you are willing to teach yourself, the only option is dual in something like a 150/172 and then stepping "down" to UL's. This option is only reasonable if the person involved understands the very different flying qualities of a plane with very light wing loading.

Even though it's not politically correct to say so, the reality is that self training is a viable option if done by a prudent person in well defined steps. But a minimalist ultralight isn't exactly the best platform for this as the risk of serious injury with the pilot setting out front with little or no crash protection is just too great. Even the old Benson had more real pilot protection then some of the tube and rag ultralights.

Come up with a part 103 UL that has some reasonable level of pilot protection and then I think we could seriously consider promoting some form of inexpensive pilot training. I personally think with such a plane a couple of hours in a 150 (for those that have never flown in a light plane), coupled with some X-plane time (tailored to the specific UL being used) followed by a very incremental flight training program with a ground based instructor would give the average person a good compromise of cost and safety.
I mostly agree with this. Where I feel the "couple of hours of dual" is simply necessary is in stalls, approaches, and spins (and yes, I'm one of those that think spin training ought to be mandatory!). All very dangerous to learn by yourself without someone there to pull your bacon out of the fire when you get it wrong.

I like the ideas put forward here towards a minimalist Part103-compliant airplane, as a gateway to aviation. A lot of young guys (and girls) would go for this, if you can get the cost way down. Anything under $7000 out-the-door for the airplane puts it into sport-motorcycle territory price-wise, and if you can keep the purchase and flight training under that figure, you've got a legitmate competitor for some of those recreational dollars. Turning a profit with that kind of sell-price is another matter, and something to be addressed with a very clear and detailed business plan before you hang out your shingle.

Want a very good example of the type of airplane/UL you folks are talking about? Head on over to the "Robin Ultralight" thread. I think he's doing a simply spectacular job at making a "real airplane" Part103-compliant ultralight. Allan's Macro is a really neat little bird, too.

Lastly, donning my moderator hat, there has been some nay-saying on this thread, and I hope the members involved will recognize that they've made their contribution and now let the discussion continue in the original vein. While cautioning someone about design issues or the like is a valuable service to everyone, simply telling someone that working with this or that class of aircraft is a waste of time accomplishes nothing. I'm not into PPGs or turboprop flight-level cruisers, but I'd never tell anyone that those types of aircraft are a waste of time. They're a ton of fun and use for the people who enjoy them.
 

bmcj

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...the reality is that self training is a viable option if done by a prudent person in well defined steps.
I would agree with that, but it's the impulsive person that fails to recognize this and puts himself at risk.

Back on topic... I fully support the OP's goals here. I think a well designed, inexpensive ultralight has a place in this market.
 

Hot Wings

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(and yes, I'm one of those that think spin training ought to be mandatory!)

That makes 2 of us. To be honest I had failed to consider spin training. Rethinking...............

Edit:

I fully support the OP's goals here. I think a well designed, inexpensive ultralight has a place in this market.

I agree, and have been putting a significant amount of time into the idea. Cash to follow.

But I don't think another "minimalist" UL, or any part 103 UL, is going to be a significant entry point for future general aviation pilots.

And just to get some clarification, what would be considered a minimalist part 103? After all - some - posters think all part 103 ultralights are minimalist airplanes ;-)
 
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orion

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I'm not really a fan of ultralights, especially for training so I've been staying clear with my "negative ways" (said with a smile) but one plane that is often missed that I really liked years ago (and that was relatively cheap to build) was the old PDQ-2. I don't have pictures but a brief search might reveal some.
 

Topaz

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I'm not really a fan of ultralights, especially for training so I've been staying clear with my "negative ways" (said with a smile) but one plane that is often missed that I really liked years ago (and that was relatively cheap to build) was the old PDQ-2. I don't have pictures but a brief search might reveal some.
Yes! One of the first airplanes that got my mind thinking on, "hey, I could build that and go flying!" Ironically, it was this very picture in, I believe, David Thurston's Homebuilt Aircraft that sparked it:

pdq2.gif
 
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