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A practical UL trainer....or not?

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radfordc

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Aeromarine’s Electrolite Part 103-compliant ultralight combines electric propulsion and full fly-by-wire to provide a remote piloting capability intended to make flight instruction possible. Conceived by Chip Erwin, the Electrolite features a 25-HP electric motor, twin strut-mounted batteries and the capability of turning control of the aircraft over to an instructor on the ground. It’s based on the Zigolo gas-powered ultralight.


“Since there are no two-place training ultralights anymore,” says Erwin, “I wanted to come up with a way to give students not just dual instruction from the ground but to provide a safety net” in case something goes wrong during instruction. The Electrolite will have optional fly-by-wire servo controls, which can be low-powered if the aircraft is light enough, Erwin says.

From the ground, an instructor will have the ability to take control of the aircraft and can see through video cameras both the pilot’s face and the view ahead. In addition, Erwin is keen to monitor pilot biometrics as a means of judging stress, which, he says, should be less if the student knows the instructor can take over at any point. Not only can the instructor take control of the Electrolite, “he can even blow the ‘chute,” says Erwin, referring to the ballistic parachute. Erwin says the FBW Electrolite will also have “envelope protection as well as a return-to-base and land feature which might be useful in case of a communications link failure.”

Erwin says that the otherwise conventional Electrolite will be available soon but that the remotely piloted version will be released only after “a LOT of testing.”
 

TFF

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I find that the RC people that learn with the crutch of stabilization electronics tend to want the crutch after. Mostly older people. It’s very hard to convince because it’s instant gratification. Most people will not push beyond because they think they conquered the task.

I was watching last weekend a guy fly his big RC cub clone with a full system with an instructor. It’s like they get even more timid. Even more scared about mistakes. I think there is a human nature problem with the people going that direction, not a technology problem. Kids aren’t scared of any of it; they just jump in.
 

radfordc

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So you're saying better to just put the student in a single place plane and let him fend for himself?
 

TFF

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No. I’m saying that it’s a bad short cut.

No matter what, there is a way to get real duel. I’m saying this to a candidate, if you want to fly this single seat plane, go get training in a 150, Cub, or B-52. If you really want it, suck it up. You’re life is in the line. I don’t want to spend the money is equivalent to I don’t want to do it, but my own way.

The technology will work, but it turns the plane into an amusement park ride. They will never turn the system off, why would they? They will never turn it off. I have seen it in the RC world. One freak out of feeling out of control with it off, and they will super glue the on switch to on.

I don’t feel sorry for people feeling sorry for themselves, when there are ways. Because it’s not what you want is whining. Once you learn how to land a plane constantly, your done. Stop going to school. Done by a computer, there is no feedback; no good or bad habits noted and worked on. You also don’t know what to do when the one in a million chance it takes a poop. It’s rare, but I have seen it happen in RC. If there was no chance, no one would keep count.

It’s an attempt and a noble try. But if you are anti system, shut in, so hard headed you are willing to not get what you want on principle, you are already on a path of most resistance.

The RC simulators where you crash and try again, makes some really good pilots. Since your body is involved, going solo without knowing how to fly is suicidal. At least Darwinian.
 

radfordc

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While training in a plane that is 3 times heavier and faster than a UL is an option it doesn't actually give the same experience. A guy showed up at our UL flight school who was a former fighter pilot and airline pilot. He couldn't get the hang of landing a UL and would have busted the plane if he had been solo.
 

Hot Wings

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I've had this thought before. The only problem I haven't been able to solve is a way to simulate a plane with mechanical controls. With the stepper/servo driven controls there is no such thing as stick free stability mode. That could cause some transition problems when the student tries to fly a plane with controls that flop around on their own.

If there were a mechanical link that got disconnected when the ground based instructor took over, and then transferred controls to servo operated tabs, it might work? Servo operated tabs that could overpower a panicked student flying mechanical controls seems like a real design challenge.
 

TFF

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It is and it isn’t. You are still on your own when you step into a UL but you know the reactions. Learning the drag curve is the hard part with a transition. No one should think it’s going to be the same. I know someone who with 90 hours of 150 time went and bought a single seat Pitts and hopped in and flew it home. No transition training. I know someone who has plenty of time and is barely able to fly a 150. It’s a face to face reality you have to make with yourself. The only UL I hopped was an old T bird. I had soloed a 150. I also ground looped it. It was owned by someone who’s last flown airplane was a DC10 and no GA aircraft since licenses. What it the realization has to be is, fly the airplane and give it what it asks for no matter what. Most want to not fly the airplane. They want to ride the airplane.
 

Victor Bravo

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This is the equivalent of the old R/C "buddy box" training system. Works OK in themodels, but I have to agree with TFF that I do not like any ground controlled solutions. Even considering that the intent is obviously safety and better training, I can still hear George Orwell laughing in the background.

Although Chip Erwin's idea is definitely technically possible, the better solution is still a proper ultralight trainer. A dual control Quicksilver or Kolb or whatever.
 

Tiger Tim

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Servo operated tabs that could overpower a panicked student flying mechanical controls seems like a real design challenge.
My first thought was electrically controlled servo tabs to influence all flying surfaces. Sort of like having an instructor shadowing the controls and putting in a little help where needed.
 

jedi

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What do you think of putting a Wireless Fence Dog Collar on the student to let him know when he is going too far so he would let go of the controls and let the CFI / Drone Pilot take over? :pilot:

It would also need a "Stick Sensor" so the CFI knows when the student has given up and the CFI needs to take over the aircraft control.
 
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pictsidhe

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What do you think of putting a Wireless Fence Dog Collar on the student to let him know when he is going too far so he would let go of the controls and let the CFI / Drone Pilot take over? :pilot:

It would also need a "Stick Sensor" so the CFI knows when the student has given up and the CFI needs to take over the aircraft control.
Maybe that stick sensor could automatically disconnect the dog collar? Or maybe it could keep zapping until the instructor regains control?
 

radfordc

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Although Chip Erwin's idea is definitely technically possible, the better solution is still a proper ultralight trainer. A dual control Quicksilver or Kolb or whatever.
Grant you that, if you can find one. I haven't seen one flying in years in this area. Wonder where they all went....there use to be a bunch.
 

Armilite

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Those Ultralight 2 Place Trainer Aircraft are still around. There just called Light Sport. For example, use a T-Bird II to Train for the T-Bird I. For Light Sport, You need the 20hr License. What you should be asking, is How do You/We Bypass the FAA Rules. Well, you could have a grass strip just over the Mexican Border near a Populated Area! USA and Mexican border is about 1750 miles with many Towns along that Border! :) The easiest way is, Talk to one of the many different American Indian Tribes around the USA, the FAA doesn't have Jurisdiction over/on Indian Reservation Land! Some, have a Casino, RV Park, Tent Camping, Concerts, Car Shows, etc., so lots of people other than the local Indians come there a lot to Gamble, Camp, See the Shows, etc., and they have Motels & Restaurants. Like by me we have the Meskwaki Indian Reservation 48 min away! If you can get permission to give Flight Instruction, you could Fly there to meet Students or get Permission to maybe build a Hanger/Office/Flight School, maybe offer to Train some Indians as Instructors. At one time there were about 500 different Indian Tribes. Who wouldn't want to maybe drive over, take an Hour Flight lesson, eat a Good Meal, Gamble an Hour and then go back home, or do a Camp/Hotel Fri-Sat-Sun and take multiple lessons. There is On-Line Ground School they can take and most people would only need 5-15hrs to become Comfortable for Part 103. Pickup a Part 103 Plane Design and you could even Manufacture Sell Planes.
 

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n3puppy

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Radfordc

If you decide to go the reservation route - by sure you have a good aviation lawyer on retainer.

It is the FAA's general position that it controls all airspace over any Federal, State, City or Tribal land. There are recently published regs and programs concerning air tour operations and drones over tribal land.

The FAA does not have domain over land use. A city can forbid seaplanes to land on a lake - but can't forbid them to fly over it unless it is a demonstrated safety concern - which the FAA will then incorporate into its charts saying off limits.

Means you can taxi an illegal ultralight anywhere you want including tribal land with permission. But as soon as you get airborne while crow hopping down the runway, you are again regulated by the FAA.

On the other hand - the proposed Mexican option might work. The drug cartels frequently ferry goods over the border in ultralights. They may be willing to provide training to get new pilots. :)
Ultralight plane used to smuggle 200 pounds of meth across border, prosecutors say
 

TFF

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Most of the two seaters are in limbo. The grandfather LSA is closed and the original owners did not want to go that route so they parked them. Now there are sheds full of legally unflyable airplanes. They pop up as ratty messes now. Most need new cloth and the person who bought it for $500 make volleyball net poles from the wing spars instead of spending $4000 on new sails. It was supposed to be a $500 airplane.

Last one I saw was a really nice one with an N number. It flew a bit, sat over winter, and in the spring, the engine would quit taking off about 10 ft in the air. Runs on the ground we’re perfect. I don’t know how they fixed it.
 

radfordc

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Those Ultralight 2 Place Trainer Aircraft are still around. There just called Light Sport.
So, I should be seeing two place Quicks and such with N numbers? My point...they aren't anywhere to been seen!
 

Victor Bravo

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The solution to this, whether it is quick and easy or not quick and easy, is - for EAA (and AOPA and USUA and Dan Johnson and Roy Beisswinger, and everyone else involved...) to get the FAA to revisit the LODA process so that a Sport Pilot instructor can more easily and cost-effectively teach ultralight flying in a larger variety of ultralight-style aircraft. It can't be in a slick European LSA, and it can't be in a Champ or a Cub. There needs to be some method of allowing the 2 place Quicksilvers and CGS Hawks, and other reasonably well proven designs to be used for paid instruction. They allow it in expeerimental warbirds for a perfectly good reason. They allow it in E-AB RV's and Long-EZ's for a perfectly good reason. A 2 seat Quickislver should be able to be used by a CFI-SP to make safer ultralight pilots. It should have to have an annual or condition inspection, and even have a set of agreed airworthiness standards based on industry and expert consensus. It's even reasonable to not allow this type of airplane from being put on leaseback, or rented for anything other than instruction. But the sky will be safer if instructors can give proper instruction, and moving the rules around a little to make this happen is a very small price IMHO.
 

Armilite

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So, I should be seeing two place Quicks and such with N numbers? My point...they aren't anywhere to been seen!
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Like, I said, I would first approach the Reservation People first, if you have one close. If they are Open to the Idea, then I would have them draft up a letter on their letterhead to the FAA to see what they say. You have a 99.9% chance they won't care as long as it's on or above Reservation Land. An Ultralight is not Classified as an Airplane but a Vehicle.

The Part 103 T-Bird I with a 277UL is 254 lbs, the T-Bird II with a 582UL is 481 lbs. So Transitioning from the T-II to the T-1 isn't a Big Deal. How do you think they did it before!

If this Ultralight Training is for just yourself, You can do the Online Ground School and a Smile, and an offer to buy a Burger & Fries & some Gas, still goes a long way! Is there some A-Hole Pilots out there, Yes! I Avg 21 Airports within a 50 Mile Radius of me. Find the one with a Group of Good People or the one Guy or Gal with a Heart. helps also if you start your own Ultralight Group, put Free Ads on your local CraigsList and Facebook Market place. If you find that Person and get some Training, Pay it forward to the next Guy or Gal that comes looking. Be that Person with a Heart of Gold!
 
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