New Ultralight and LSA Trainer design PAIR

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Tom Nalevanko

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On the subject of aluminum welded frames... There was a gyroplane on floats at the Camarillo airshow about 10 years ago. The entire framework was relatively large diameter welded aluminum tube. the builders seemed to have no qualms about welded aluminum; but then, I never heard from/of them again...

If welding aluminum was a good idea, Audi would probably do it on their aluminum car frames. I believe that they rivet them together.
 

Starman

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How do you braze aluminum?
I have to admit, we do a lot of welding of steel, but aluminum is not what we know.
Why not welding?
Aluminum welding tends to get vibration/stress/fatigue cracks when used on things like tubes, and the smaller the tube the worse the likely hood due to tube vibration.

However, you can make up for that kind of thing by using combinations of large and small tubes and putting the small tube all the way through a hole in the big tube and welding it all around, both sides. That plus the use of a few fittings at major points and retainer rings at others, and problem solved.

I don't think brazing aluminum is as strong as welding it.
 

Rienk

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So, what do I propose that's different? Firstly, adjust your sights. Shoot for the general populace, NOT pilots. Hell, if I were to be completely honest I would take the risk and focus 95% of my marketing on non pilots, because if you want to get any reasonable sales numbers, THEY'RE the ones you're going to have to go for. Pilots are few in number and dwindling fast, but people who want to fly are plentiful - it's just that it's too expensive, too time consuming, and in the end too boring for many of them to attempt it. (Hell, I LOVE airplanes/flying and I think it's pretty boring boring holes in the sky with a Cessna 150.)

That's all for now. Next up is things to actually design the plane for. Before I forget, it's: light aerobatics, easy engine operation, digital integration, and sexy looks.
I'll expand on that later. :)
Jordan, I completely agree with you - I guess I assumed all this from previous conversations, but it's good to reiterate it for everyone else.

Of course, what you're describing is exactly what we intend to do with the Solo and Duet combo - but I realized that even they are out of the price range of many people (at $25k a nd $50k).

An Ultralight with a related trainer is needed by all of us who intend to market other unique and/or low cost aircraft. The reminder of the Airbike earlier is good - I happened to have a picture of the tandem up on my screen, looking at how it was fabbed (still too much tubing for my liking).

There's no doubt, it isn't going to be "easy" to build a nice looking, fun, and inexpensive UL... but as you say, if we design to the "want to fly" public and not the existing pilot, it will see the potential for several magnitude more sales - I like what Icon is trying to do in that regard!

Maybe it would be a good idea to start with planes that we think are already close... I think the Legal Eable and Double Eagle are, and I like the look of the skylite - what else?
 

Monty

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Ok, it's 3 AM here in England so I have yet to actually go through this thread - I'm basically only replying to the first post.
So let's begin - grab a coffee because this is going to be long;

Firstly, while the approach to this problem is interesting, from what I have seen, it is still all being thought out as an engineering question; we need it cheap and "cool looking" - how do we do it? I guarantee you that if you go down that path, you'll end up with something that costs more than you need it to be and it'll only look cool to airplane people who think "looks good" = very efficient and accomplishes it's performance objectives.
I say this because, if you look back on the threads in this forum and history, this has been attempted many, many times, and the approach and result is always the same. Basically: cheap aircraft? simple traditional construction. Advertise to pilots. Sell. Sell tiny volumes because you still can't get it down to less than $20k and if you DO get it below that, it looks like a flying erector set and maybe 1/3rd of all total pilots will actually get in it, and maybe 1/16th of their wives will actually let them.

So, what do I propose that's different? Firstly, adjust your sights. Shoot for the general populace, NOT pilots. Hell, if I were to be completely honest I would take the risk and focus 95% of my marketing on non pilots, because if you want to get any reasonable sales numbers, THEY'RE the ones you're going to have to go for. Pilots are few in number and dwindling fast, but people who want to fly are plentiful - it's just that it's too expensive, too time consuming, and in the end too boring for many of them to attempt it. (Hell, I LOVE airplanes/flying and I think it's pretty boring boring holes in the sky with a Cessna 150.)

Next up, adjust the way that flight training is handled. I'm glad you mentioned ultralights, because this highly unregulated category is key. See, I believe that training today is too long, too stodgy (more on that in a bit), and too risk-adverse. Let me explain the last statement first, as I can already see some people's fingers chomping at the bit to let loose on their keyboards.
Flying, as it's taught now, is basically only taught in straight lines. Every time you go up, instructors drill into you over and over, "Don't upset the airplane". When you get unusual attitude training, instead of teaching a student how to maybe keep that attitude safely, they are instead only taught to put it back straight and level again - which is fine and very, very safe, but it makes for some very boring flying and some students who are under trained for dangerous situations, or situations where they want to go up and have an exciting time. Before you jump on that, think back to the times when aviation was still really big, when it was an adventure and everyone was amazed at it; do you know one of the main differences between then and now? Obviously the newness, but you know what else? The risk. The excitement of doing things with this vehicle that really showed off the freedom it afforded. So I am not advocating unsafe training by any means, or unsafe practices. I'm advocating training that teaches students how to FLY, not just DRIVE.
As for the stodgy bit - it's related to the part about flight training being too tame. Ever since WWII, the main influence for aviation has been basically the military. Students come in, they are told to do this, this, and this, and then prepare for the test. You will not have any hot dogging, you will follow the VOR to the letter, etc. Ok, yes these are all good talents to have, BUT, it's very intimidating when a new student who just really likes seeing airplanes and wants to learn to fly, comes in and in many instances is basically...how do I say this...shown that he will not have any fun during training? As in, the flying part is fun, but the learning to fly is not. Now I recognize this is per instructor, but it's a general attitude towards newcomers that really has got to go if you want to broaden the appeal.

SO! How do we handle flight training? I'm glad you mentioned ultralights, as that is where I'd like to go. Since it's an unregulated class, you should not just sell this airplane - you should also sell the package training. You can train them on the basics in a two seat LSA aircraft, and then train them on the single seat ultralight in a sim and then finally flying. This gives you complete control over the way they experience flying, and you can tailor it to exactly what you want; something fun, exciting, maybe a bit dangerous but in a good way, with friendly staff and a well managed FBO. The students come in, and you teach them exactly what they need to know to fly ultralights - good handling, basic aerodynamic principles, basic weather avoidance, and then that's it. I also really do mean basic; the stuff in the books where they teach me to recognize 50 different types of clouds and in depth knowledge of compressible flow is quite frankly freaking useless when all I'm going to end up being is a day VFR pilot who only wants to go for joyrides (as an addendum to the previous thing about training; training today focuses too much on long distance flying, when most people never leave a 100 mile radius of their home airport).


Ok, next up, let's see. I want to touch on the look of the aircraft itself; and I will give you these two simple rules: it must look like a real, exciting airplane, and it must look finished. That means no erector sets, no exposed control runs, no fiddly bits hanging out. Also, I second the motion about getting rid of 2 strokes. People don't trust them, hell, I don't trust them - they make the aircraft seem rickety. If you were going to trust your life to a car, would you trust it when the engine cylinders are hanging out the sides or you can see the pull rods that move the wheels? Probably not. So why are airplanes supposed to be different?
Yes, it used to be OK in the classic days, but frankly you have to make the choice; do we want to leave the past as the past and make an airplane that is truly for this new time, or do we want to keep harkening back to appease the old school ways of thinking? Personally I'd prefer the former. It's much, much riskier, but if you do it right, I think in the end the result will be much better.

One last thing that I'd like to look at before I end this post (I have more, don't worry :p), is the FBO and why you should have one. It has to look nice, be well kept, and probably have a nice restaurant attached to it. Why do I mention an FBO? Because I'm trying to explain the idea that you should not just sell an aircraft; you sell the whole package. Every thing about this plane should be different, everything about the way it's presented should be different. As much as I hate to say it, you basically have to Apple-ify the experience. How do I mean that? Well, computers (before Apple) were basically sold like airplanes - you buy one that fits your requirements, and you have to be a computer whiz to figure out exactly what that is. The entire experience is annoying because you have to match multiple configurations with different types of software and competing opinions, etc etc etc.
Along comes Apple, where they basically took all the control away from the user and then streamlined it into their own custom made path. This means the user is less free to choose, but when he picks an Apple product, he know that it'll work with all the other Apple products. It also provides a uniform experience for every user that you can make sure is of excellent quality.

Learning to fly is like buying a computer (in the old days). You just want to learn to fly a bit, but you have to go through all this textbook knowledge, compare flight schools, manage your appointments to get down there, make sure you're progressing at a fast enough pace, and of course every flight school and FBO is different.
Sorry if the point got a little lost, but basically; you make the FBO, you dictate how people learn how to fly, you put them in the airplane that you want to teach them to fly (yours, natch), they love to fly in your airplane, you give them rental discounts and memberships, they want to stay with your company, they buy your airplanes later if they want. You build up an entire experience and wrap it around the end user.


That's all for now. Next up is things to actually design the plane for. Before I forget, it's: light aerobatics, easy engine operation, digital integration, and sexy looks.
I'll expand on that later. :)
That's it, let it all hang out!..

What new tech that didn't exist in 1930 can we leverage?

manufacturing...not much.

digital....a lot.

My first instructor was awesome. He was so good and had flown so many things that he could let you get WAY out of shape. So you learned. He was comfortable letting you try to get back to center....

My next instructor would not let you get 1/2 a bubble off center...he sucked.

Imagine a digital instructor programmed like my first guy. Use a flight sim for initial training.

Ultralight...yes but.

The problem I see with US, not so much EU ultralight specs is the darn things have no energy and the drag of a barn door. I actually see them as being unsafe. You have no options for engine out. Point the nose down (quickly!!) and hope you aren't looking at a power line or a rock outcrop.

Keep the ideas flowing.

Monty
 

Tom Nalevanko

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With regard to the wicker chairs, there is a patented technology called 'synetics". As opposed to most structures which are based on the model of a triangle, these are based on the model of a hoop. These hoops only touch each other at some tangent point. Supposedly, they are minimum energy structures. One application is for a child's ball and there are very large structures that resemble domes. You can create a tubular structure which is similar to an aircraft fuselage.

I built some models for the structure that might support a high wing but the results were inconclusive. Possibly will revist. Please see the attachments.
 

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Inverted Vantage

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Maybe it would be a good idea to start with planes that we think are already close... I think the Legal Eable and Double Eagle are, and I like the look of the skylite - what else?

Nothing, really. There's that one plane, the uh...I forget the name of it, but it's a low wing, single seat, bubbly canopy, very stately looking airplane. There's also this version of the Teeny Two:

.

Personally I think the Legal Eagle and Double Eagle are A) ugly as sin (no offense if that's your bag ;)), and B) will not convince anyone's significant other that they are "safe". The Skylite is also too open but it's a bit better than the others - but really, what are you going to do in it? Once the thrill of "ohmygodimreallyflying" wears off, then what? They can do more sightseeing around their local area...flying around lazily...doing nothing?

In my opinion, any aircraft produced to make people excited has to be exciting - it really is super important that it looks like a real airplane. We're happy enough to settle for something like the Legal Eagle because we're used to how much flying costs and we can see how cheap it is. The general public (even the ones who are into flying) isn't/can't/won't.

By the way, as to the earlier comment about UL's requiring slow speed and high drag; this is a GOOD THING. Because they can be so draggy, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the shape, and make it look as interesting as you can within the weight limit. And because of the speed limitations, you can clear it for light to moderate aerobatics because it'll never build up enough energy where you can have the pilot damage it if the maneuver goes wrong.
 

Monty

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By the way, as to the earlier comment about UL's requiring slow speed and high drag; this is a GOOD THING. Because they can be so draggy, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the shape, and make it look as interesting as you can within the weight limit. And because of the speed limitations, you can clear it for light to moderate aerobatics because it'll never build up enough energy where you can have the pilot damage it if the maneuver goes wrong.
I learned to fly in gliders. Point one down and let the speed get away from you and you can easily rip the wings off. That said, I'll take my chances in a glider over an ultralight any day. You have far more options from any given location. Period. And it requires a pilot with highly tuned skills to identify and deal with an engine out in an ultralight safely. Most ultralights have way too much power, way too much drag, and way too few options without said power.

Monty
 

Rienk

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FLIGHT TRAINING
I agree that the market will be the "I would like to fly" general population, and not the existing or pending pilot base. Thus a marketing and training plan would have to be different than the current paradigm.

One potential model is to set up new virtual 'FBO franchises'... a business opportunity that requires an initial purchase of at least one trainer, ten ULs, and use consistent marketing, training, and sales programs. Of course, this would require providing financing.

The price of the UL should include adequate but "mandatory" flight training (in the two-seater, of course), and/or separate flight training through the program would include purchase credits toward their own airplane (as should rentals, if insurance can be had for this).

With the AyersCraft line (Solo, Duet, Trio) we are planning on a similar setup, with dealer/training centers based on population and/or geography (every 5-10 million people, or 200 miles).

Even less expensive aircraft such as being proposed here could possibly have ten times the number of such dealer locations.

And of course, all the other ultralight manufacturers would benefit from this as well.
 

Rienk

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I learned to fly in gliders. Point one down and let the speed get away from you and you can easily rip the wings off. That said, I'll take my chances in a glider over an ultralight any day. You have far more options from any given location. Period. And it requires a pilot with highly tuned skills to identify and deal with an engine out in an ultralight safely. Most ultralights have way too much power, way too much drag, and way too few options without said power.

Monty
We can go back and forth on this until we're blue in the face, and not get anywhere.

The thing to remember is that here in the US, we are stuck with the regulations for an ultralight, and we either design an aircraft around that, or go home.

Of course, you could automatically jump up to the LSA, but certification issues pose more of an entry barrier (which is a moot point if we're also going to design a two-place trainer). Could a good flight simulator be designed to do almost all of the primary training?

If you jump up to the LSA game, then essentially you're just looking for a less expensive way to do what we're doing with the Solo and Duet, which you're obviously welcome to do (or joint our team on that venture!).

One other possible option is building a lightweight MOTOR GLIDER.
I don't know what the minimum requirements are to make an airplane qualify, but the flight training is even less than LSA, and you actually learn "real" flying for fun!

This could probably be made a lot safer than an a 103 ultralight, have better performance envelope, and probably satisfy this new class of pilots for a lot longer.

Still, any motor sport has it's limitations of staying new and fresh... we have four PWCs that haven't been used for years, and many of my friends hardly ever take their ATV's out anymore after the first season. the only thing I know of that is somewhat immune to this are cruiser bikes, because you can just get on and go.

If sport flying is going to be like this, it needs to be easy to do, whenever the urge arises. Thus, these aircraft have to keep the passion alive, be easy to maintain, and be both fun and practical (thus, the idea of "upgrading" the UL to LSA for use at real airports, etc).

Anyone know the deal with motorgliders?
I'm perfectly willing to throw this into the mix...
 

GlassVampire

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If you look in the "Light Stuff" threads you'll see I started one the other day about motorgliders. The problem I'm running into is a good, safe glider alone weighs more than FAR 103 allows, then you have to add the engine and fuel tank requirements...right now I'm experimenting w/ a "minimum" size motorglider, think Cri-Cri for gliders.

BTW, I volunteer to build the simulators(be it a motorglider or not) :) Its one of my hobbies.
 

Inverted Vantage

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Ok, so I have a few minutes and I thought I'd expand upon the details of the aircraft itself.

First of all, if you really want it to appeal to "normal" people, it can't look like what most pilots consider acceptable. Simply fulfilling the mission requirements is not enough - it has to be pretty, and easy to use. I want to place a special emphasis on the latter - "a motorglider would be fine" is not how this works. The aircraft has to be basically "throttle forward and go" - minimal training, minimal lead in time, and as close to the simplistic view most people have of flying as possible - otherwise, most people will get fed up with using/trying to learn it. Also, frankly, compared to power, I find gliding rather dull. Sure I can do aerobatics, but the lack of an engine noise makes me feel more lethargic than anything else. If there's anything Americans like, it's the roar of a powerful set of pistons.
Which brings me to the next point; engine operation. In a few years, it would be best to switch to electric (the prop can make up for the lack of engine noise), but in the meantime, the engine has to be four stroke (or something similar - basically no dirty high revving weedwhackers, otherwise people are going to give you kind of a cockeyed look when you say that they're going to trust their lives to something not far removed from what they use to cut their grass - and that feeling gets worse when you tell them they have to mix the oil/gas mixture before flying). Get rid of the mixture control - the only thing it should have is throttle IMO. You're selling this as a pleasure craft, get rid of the idea that it could possibly be used as a cruiser. Most people also don't really like flying very high (high enough where leaning becomes critical), I would say, because the higher you go the less interesting and less exciting things get. So mixture is unnecessary. Carb heat would be needed, but that should be a simple flip switch with the instruction that the pilot turn it on whenever the temperature is below X. Again, simple simple simple, and fun. Make no concessions to using it for anything else but flying around and showing/goofing off.

Next up is digital integration/light aerobatics. Ok, now you've got this simple to fly aircraft and have got people in it. Now what? I'll tell you what you WON'T say to pilots wondering what to do next: "Go get a $100 hamburger, it's fun!". Ok, no, it's fun maybe the first two or three times, but the food at airports is crap, the scenery at the airport is generally crap, and in the end it's nowhere near reasonably cost effective for anyone who isn't insanely love with flying (the current pilot population - you know, the number that's going down).
So you give them a lightly aerobatic plane and teach students how to fly it properly. Now they can goof off - but how do you get them to keep doing it? In my opinion, the best thing to spur people onwards is competition and achievements. Video games do it - you wouldn't think people should need a reason to play video games other than "fun", but these days the big thing is achievements - you get an achievement for ten kills in a row, or jumping X distance off of a grenade blast or something. And it's CRAZY popular; my roommate has logged days trying to run through the achievements in certain games.
So how does that apply to flying? Well, build an online community around competition. It's not that hard to integrate GPS data and I imagine it's not crazy hard to build your own HUD; use virtual race courses in the sky where pilots can fly through them and upload their lap times. Let people create their own tracks and upload them to an online database - sponsor events where people can compete maybe for a cash prize. Give people a REASON to try and improve and keep going - the love to fly is great for those of us who just do it for the sake of doing it, but for 90% of the general populace, there needs to be some sort of external reward to keep them going. Have a rankings system that tracks every owner, student, or renter, that allows people to compete globally.
If possible with weight constrictions, implement video recording in the aircraft - it's also, really, not that hard. Let people record, edit, and post their videos online. Other "extreme sports" do it, and it's extremely popular as far as I can tell - so please let's get rid of the 1970s infommercial vibe when it comes to aircraft on video and get into the 21st century. They have video cameras that are used by skateboarders/motorcyclists that are smaller than your fist and less than a half or a third of a pound.
Also, lastly; don't be afraid to get rid of steam gauges. Face it, they really are kind of obsolete and they look pretty awful. Most kids these days (my age) have no problem reading and trusting digital displays - and these days, there's no reason not to. Electronics are more reliable and many times can be much cheaper. Why not use them?

Finally, I'm not going to say this much because it's a given and I already briefly touched on it; the aircraft must be pretty. I don't mean "majestic" or "classic" pretty - ICON did it right. When it comes to people designing airplanes to look "good", they invariably end up looking like something from the 30s...which is great and nostalgic, but times have moved on, and everyone else has gotten that; you don't see motorcycles or cars styled like the 30s, and when they do go back in time for a refresh (Mustang), they don't lift straight out of the old days - they update and make it new - sleeker, sharper. Less smooth graceful curves and more hard edges. It's what's in, and hell, I love it. I'm really tired of "pretty" aircraft looking like amorphous swoopy blobs (or in the case of many European composite aircraft, tadpoles).

If this sounds impossible, that's too bad, because that's what's needed IMO. If you want to accomplish your objectives, it has to do all or 95% of these things. You can't compromise because if you do you'll end up with the same problem everyone's been facing for the last 60 or so years - and everyone's been forced to compromise by reality, which is why it hasn't happened (yet).

I think that's it for now. :)
 

Hot Wings

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That would almost be the ultimate geodesic design!

How is it automated?
It seems that the tooling would be difficult to set up; typically this works best for symmetrical items? How do they 'automate' the chairs and such?
Any idea where to see videos of the process?
Very interesting...
There were some videos on the net several years ago along with a fairly complete description of one mans methods. Unfortunately I can't find them with a quick search. I may have it stored on my system somewhere. I'll look when I get some free time.

The process was very simple and consisted of the appropriate shape bulkhead attached to a tubular backbone. The bulkheads had nothing more than nails stuck in at regular intervals and the roving was simply wrapped around in the required pattern. When hard the framework was collapsed and removed.

I have seen pictures of completed items with convex curves and suspect that the roving was wound over something like an inflatable core.

For aircraft use the biggest problem I see is finding a way to cover it that results in a smooth surface. One could always use strips to fair out fabric like a conventional tube and rag structure but that kind of throws away the advantage of being able to build the structure to the final shape desired, thus making it heavier than it could be.

The talk of vacuum forming thin skins might be a good partner for this kind of sub structure since the skin would have plenty of support.

As for automating it could be easily done. Set the frame work on a CNC controlled turn table and run the roving through a 2D arm. Think old duplicating lathe. You probably can't use off the shelf software but if you speak G code it wouldn't be much of a task.

The Z axis limit on your ShopBots (from another thread)? Why not just modify one yourself? You have one to make the parts. there would be a slight loss of rigidity. But if it frees up the larger machine for more demanding projects you'll get more through put in your shop.

Disclaimer: The only ShopBot that I have experience with and a manual for is a VERY old version.
 

Hot Wings

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Could a good flight simulator be designed to do almost all of the primary training?
If by simulator you mean something like a servo controlled chair to sit in with X-plane running, then, no I don't think it is a good solution.

Like you I think the future is in NEW pilots and we need to find a way to keep those that show an interest active and learning in an interesting way.

We could try to use the same approach that Benson did and advertise everywhere. It might work but in today's advertising arena it would be expensive. Once you have the hook set there still remain the same old training problems.

I think the best chance of success is going to be similar to the old way of starting a local club for the young. This could be sponsored by the local dealer. Starting off with something similar to the old primary gliders. Just to make it more interesting, and less work, clip the wings and add a motor. Instant Penguin. They need not be built to aircraft standards with regard to weight or reliability and therefore could be very cheap. Slow, stout, shrouded props, and lots of cockpit padding, inside a fenced area would allow for lots of "learning".

This gives a way to get a real world feel for the ultralight you are trying to sell and you can "train" in a group setting, complete with low level competition. Put numbers on them and provide common radio communication. See who can get the wing skid off the ground the quickest. See who can turn the tightest without ground looping. That kind of training.

A transition to a single seat Part 103 ultralight could maybe be done with relative safety with only a couple of quick transition flights in a similar 2 place LSA.


Right now all flight training is one on one. Put it back into a group setting and I'm betting you will have both quicker learning and a higher retention rate. Performance driving schools use a similar approach.

Instead of having to book time with an instructor at $25 or more per hour (and take time off from work, or fight for slots on the weekend) the classes could be held on Saturdays for $25 per day. One instructor and a couple of teachers aids from prior classes and you have a very efficient teaching environment.

Another advantage of this arrangement is that it need not be done at the local airport. Any empty field, large parking lot, or even indoor arena could be used. No TSA background checks or ramp badges needed :grin:

IMHO part 103 is the ONLY way we are going to be able to attract significant numbers of new pilots in planes the average young person can afford. The FAA handed us a big challenge when they took away the 2 place exemption. I think the non-flying trainer, or Penguin, is the answer.
 
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Inverted Vantage

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I'd be cautious about making it too old fashioned/slow/club-like, Hot Wings. That sort of thing really doesn't appeal to most kids in the 14-18 range, when, while they enjoy clubs, they're raised on faster, more exciting activities like watching dirt biking or skateboarding on TV.
If you make it too "gosh darn it this is fun ain't it kids" (which is what I think of when I read that description), you'll lose out on a lot of people I think. If you want to go the club route, modern sailing clubs/schools would be a better thing to look at - faster racing at levels that are relatively easy to reach, very good competition, inter school competitions, etc. Also, it needs to be accessible for adults and teenagers - so not so kiddy that they feel stupid doing it.
But then that might also be my personal preferences.

Good idea with the clipped wing trainer, though you'd need to have that be a relatively short time period - people are going to want to be there to fly, and you're going to need to have the facilities and aircraft to let them do that.
 

Rienk

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Santa Maria, CA (SMX)
First of all, if you really want it to appeal to "normal" people, it can't look like what most pilots consider acceptable. Simply fulfilling the mission requirements is not enough - it has to be pretty, and easy to use.
If this sounds impossible, that's too bad, because that's what's needed IMO. If you want to accomplish your objectives, it has to do all or 95% of these things. You can't compromise because if you do you'll end up with the same problem everyone's been facing for the last 60 or so years - and everyone's been forced to compromise by reality, which is why it hasn't happened (yet).
I agree with almost everything you said - I believe we're on the same page.
However, this isn't a video game vehicle, as we all well know an airplane has to conform to the laws of physics, and due to the 103 constraints, there isn't a lot of room for extraneous creativity.

I believe that the general public is okay with the basics of what an airplane looks like, so as long as the UL looks "normal", we should be fine. If we can make it look "cool" (pick your lingo) then we're that much better off.

There are basically three options to pursue in this regard.
  • Traditional layout.
  • flying wing (plank)
  • Facetmobile type

I doubt we can get the collaboration needed to pull off the last two, for various reasons.
Unless we can make a traditional layout have some sex appeal, then we are left with only one choice - do the best we can, or don't even try.

Frankly, I don't know why the FAA doesn't change the 103 rules to allow safer aircraft, unless they would prefer for Ul to go away. A 150kg empty weight and a 80kt top would go a long way toward making them safer and reviving the aviation industry.

Regardless, we're stuck with what we have. Thus, the inquiry about motorgliders... I don't know what the limitations and/or requirments are, but if they are somewhere between UL and LSA, that may open a new design option for this project.
i don't really care if it's used as a glider or always as a powered plane - just whether the rules give us some more breathing room to design a plane that the general public would fly and buy!
 

Rienk

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I think the best chance of success is going to be similar to the old way of starting a local club for the young.
act significant numbers of new pilots in planes the average young person can afford. The FAA handed us a big challenge when they took away the 2 place exemption. I think the non-flying trainer, or Penguin, is the answer.
Excellent feedback - I think this is great.
It is encouraging to see others flesh out similar ideas to what I was already thinking.

Part of my inspiration for this project came from seeing almost exactly , that in some videos of glider training in Eastern Europe!
They started out with sleds, and taught them to balance the wings; then slowly kept removing lift-killing devices until they could control the glider in a short straight glide, then a 90 turn, then a 180 turn (for landing).
With a powered plane, it may actually be easier (don't have to tow), and it would be easy to let the instructor have "kill switches" to help control recklessness, etc.

Frankly, UL flying usually CAN'T be done at most airports, so air traffic concerns should be fairly limited.

GREAT IDEAS ! ! !
 

Hot Wings

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>>I'd be cautious about making it too old fashioned/slow/club-like<<

If that is the impression my post gave - I failed. Bumper cars with wings in a 4H or Boy Scout setting is NOT my vision.

I'm thinking more along the lines of Bondurant, or Skip Barber driving school. Lots of hands on and group feed back. That's how I learned SCUBA. Grab the snorkel, mask and jump in the water!
Trying to do it one on one with the instructor would have been boring and I'd have not learned nearly as quickly. When it got time to study high altitude decompression I understood why some classroom time was needed.

We got to actually get in the water with similar equipment the first hour.
That's not the way we teach flying today.

It's got to be interesting. But it also has to be safe. I see no reason it can't be both. Try teaching someone that hasn't never ridden a bicycle in 10 years to ride a modern road bike. You have to start somewhere. Take a look at the wrecked motorcycles at your local insurance auction. They fall into to categories. They will either be something like a 250 Ninja with less than 200 miles or stodgy thing like a Goldwing with 50.000 miles on it.

What we need is something that looks like an aviation equivalent of a Ninja that can be used in a safe and controlled setting. The trick is going to be not making it look like a safe and controlled setting. Once we get them hooked and interested, then we can educate them.
 

Rienk

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I'd be cautious about making it too old fashioned/slow/club-like, Hot Wings. That sort of thing really doesn't appeal to most kids in the 14-18 range, when, while they enjoy clubs, they're raised on faster, more exciting activities like watching dirt biking or skateboarding on TV.
If you make it too "gosh darn it this is fun ain't it kids" (which is what I think of when I read that description), you'll lose out on a lot of people I think. If you want to go the club route, modern sailing clubs/schools would be a better thing to look at - faster racing at levels that are relatively easy to reach, very good competition, inter school competitions, etc. Also, it needs to be accessible for adults and teenagers - so not so kiddy that they feel stupid doing it.
But then that might also be my personal preferences.

Good idea with the clipped wing trainer, though you'd need to have that be a relatively short time period - people are going to want to be there to fly, and you're going to need to have the facilities and aircraft to let them do that.
Is the legal age to fly ULs 14 or 16? I don't remember...
Club competitions is a great idea. Another would be to do "camps" - a place for parents to drop off their kids for a week or two during the summer, and/or join them on weekends to make it a family affair.

If there are different staging areas going on at the same time, the newbies can see the various steps taking place, and be motivated to move up quickly.

Another sport that I see being comparable to what we want may be Cart racing... families spend lots more money on this sport than they would ever have to with these ultralights - as long as there is some sort of competition available.

The real question is how to keep it SAFE. Unlike cart racing, you can't have a bunch of airplanes out on the 'track' at the same time. Nor is speed the best measurement of competition, since it's supposed to be limited... maybe stuff like flour bombs, spot landings, or cockpit video competitions (HITS).

But FIRST, we need to design and build an inexpensive plane :ban:
 
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