First Composite Homebuilt?

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Wanttaja

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I'm doing a bit of historical research on homebuilts.

What was the first true composite homebuilt? I'm referring to planes that have a composite structure, rather than those like the KR-2 and WAR replicas that had a wooden base structure.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Pops

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The Skyrocket was before its time. Ignored at Oshkosh.
Picture of John Harris taxing out for a test flight at KCRW. Picture got the tail of my Ercoupe and the other picture of my Ford Ranch Wagon parked in the line of autos. All composite , not a seam on the airframe except for the cowling. Very slick and smooth. 6 place and roomy. I set in the left seat dreaming of flying it :) At the time no upholstery was installed.
Date on the picture is Feb, 1977.
 

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Hephaestus

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How are you wanting to define composite? - There's how many "wood composite" aircraft from schneider cup era and ww2... Which was mostly laminated ply.

I'd wager a dollar on likely a german glider being the first true fiberglass composite.
 

jedi

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The Eagle AC-7 Eagle 1 (USAF designation YE-5)[2] is an aircraft that was manufactured by Windecker Industries. It was the first composite airplane (foam and fiberglass construction) to receive FAA certification in December 1969 at a reported development cost of US$20,000,000. The fiberglass process was named "Fibaloy" by Windecker.[3]

 

jedi

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How are you wanting to define composite? - There's how many "wood composite" aircraft from schneider cup era and ww2... Which was mostly laminated ply.

I'd wager a dollar on likely a german glider being the first true fiberglass composite.



A composite aircraft is made up of multiple component craft. It takes off and flies initially as a single aircraft, with the components able to separate in flight and continue as independent aircraft.[1] Typically the larger aircraft acts as a carrier aircraft or mother ship, with the smaller sometimes called a parasite or jockey craft.[2]

The first composite aircraft flew in 1916, during World War I, when the British launched a Bristol Scout from a Felixstowe Porte Baby flying boat. Between the World Wars, American experiments with airship/biplane composites led to the construction of two airborne aircraft carriers, while the British Short Mayo seaplane composite demonstrated successful transatlantic mail delivery. During the Second World War some composites saw operational use[1] including the Mistel ("mistletoe"), the larger unmanned component of a composite aircraft configuration developed in Germany during the later stages of World War II, in effect a two-part manned flying bomb. Experiments continued into the jet age, with large aircraft carrying fully capable parasite fighters or reconnaissance drones, though none entered service.

"Composite aircraft" can also refer to aircraft made using composite materials.

 

Victor Bravo

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Does a college homebuilt project count? If it meets the parameters of your research, then the FS-24 began in 1951 and flew in 1957


"The fs24 Phönix was the very first aircraft in the world to be made from fiber reinforced composites. "

Construction1953 – 1957
First flight27 November 1957
 
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Wanttaja

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How are you wanting to define composite? - There's how many "wood composite" aircraft from schneider cup era and ww2... Which was mostly laminated ply.

I'd wager a dollar on likely a german glider being the first true fiberglass composite.
I'm looking for homebuilt aircraft that used fiberglass composites for their basic structure. The Varieze would be a prime example, but a Vari-Viggen would not (having a wood sub-structure). By that criteria, 'Old Ironsides' doesn't qualify, either.

Especially looking for types where more than one example was built.

I'm writing a series of short articles on homebuilt history, focusing on the aircraft that today's homebuilder may not be familiar with. Occurred to me that finding "The first composite homebuilt" might make a neat addition.
combined.jpg Ron Wanttaja
 

J.L. Frusha

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"A composite material is a combination of two materials with different physical and chemical properties. When they are combined they create a material which is specialised to do a certain job, for instance to become stronger, lighter or resistant to electricity. They can also improve strength and stiffness. The reason for their use over 'traditional' materials is because they improve the properties of their base materials and are applicable in many situations."

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IMHO, every aircraft ever successfully flown is made of composite materials... 'Wood and glue', 'dope and fabric' are both composites with 2 or more materials combined in such a way as to create new characteristics. Fiberglass or Carbon Fiber and resin is just a modification of Dope and Fabric, using more expensive, specialized, advanced materials. Even Aluminum Sheet and Riveting uses the properties of differing materials to make a stronger, more useful whole. Update that to aluminum honeycomb and adhesives, for stronger, lighter structures...
 

davidjgall

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The Marvel research plane from August "Gus" Raspet at the University of Mississippi in the mid-1960's should be mentioned, but I don't know whether it had a fully composite primary structure (initially it was built "around" an Anderson-Greenwood AG-14 but grew to be very different).

Rutan's VariViggen SP replaced the wood outer wing panels with composite wing panels.

We all know what came next, the all-composite VariEze and its progeny.

Be sure to remember George Mead's Adventure, Fred Keller's Prospector, and Mead's ill-fated Piper Pugmobile. Also Smith's AJ-2 that swept the Lowers-Baker-Falck (LBF-500) competition, and Peter Garrison's Melmoth II.
 

davidjgall

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Another noteworthy composite airplane oddity from the early '80's was Tom Jewett's ill-fated Big Bird round-the-world contender intended to beat Jim Bede's all metal BD-2 Love to the goal eventually taken by the Rutan Voyager. (That three-way rivalry was probably filled with much more intrigue than we'll ever know.) This is probably far afield from what you're looking for....
 

PMD

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Ron: Might I suggest you see if you can dig up (maybe needs to be literally interpreted) anyone from Windecker crew? I find it hard to imagine anyone would have learned enough to design/build/certify without enough of the skillset leaking out into the E/AB community of the time and place. Same for 10 years earlier around Bolkow crews. How's your German?
 

llemon

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Lots of experiments with composites during WW2.
aircraft glass sandwich bt15 aer eng rev 46-1.png
The P-51F had composite access panels. I'd guess that the first use of composites in homebuilts would be similar.
 

TFF

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The BD-1 uses composite sandwich panels, but is not a full composite airplane. I think VB’s glider is in the hunt.
 
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