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Rutan Ski-gull

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ElEsido

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Oct 21, 2015
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In September Burt Rutan joined one of Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything”-sessions (link). He answered a couple of questions about the SkiGull. A compilation:

"Still working hard to develop SkiGull. I had to give up on using wheels on the soft-super flexible water/snow skis. It now has a separate tricycle landing gear with main gear located just outboard of the skis.”

"Too old and tired to start a new business involving hundreds of customers....
I want to retire and explore after I get my Skill homebuilt flying correctly.
Oh, VariViggen and SkiGull were the only two of my airplanes built in a garage…..”

(Note: The “Skill” is the SkiGull.)

"Working now on SkiGull so it can eliminate the most popular fatal accident with Amphibian seaplanes (land on water with gear down, flip over and pilot drowns. Skill now has a retractable tricycle landing gear that should be fine if it lands on the water with the gear down.”

Q: "So, your plans for the next big adventure are?"
A: "To get SkiGull working properly so Tonya and I can enjoy some world exploration."
 

Victor Bravo

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VG's ? That is surprising, I always thought that he would design in such a way that Band-Aid fixes like VG's were not needed. I also always thought he would use an efficient airfoil that would not be appropriate for VG's.

I'm really interested to hear about this... I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone offered to stick VG's on one of his designs :)
 

harrisonaero

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VG's ? That is surprising, I always thought that he would design in such a way that Band-Aid fixes like VG's were not needed. I also always thought he would use an efficient airfoil that would not be appropriate for VG's.

I'm really interested to hear about this... I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone offered to stick VG's on one of his designs :)
There are lots of misconceptions about VGs but to be honest I don't really want to get in a discussion about their benefits- it's my wife's business now and I'm on to other bigger things after having sold over 2000 sets of these over the last dozen years. But suffice it to say, Burt's using them and for good reason.
 

bmcj

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VG's ? That is surprising, I always thought that he would design in such a way that Band-Aid fixes like VG's were not needed. I also always thought he would use an efficient airfoil that would not be appropriate for VG's.
Unfortunately, there is no "perfect airfoil" that does all things perfectly across the entire flight envelope. Sometimes you want to stretch that envelope on one end without giving up something on the other end; VG's are one way to do that.
 

ElEsido

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Can anybody make an educated guesses whether SkiGull can be equipped with some kind of de-icing? It's supposed to land on snow, after all... Do VGs generally affect the wing's icing tendencies?
 

karoliina.t.salminen

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Finland
Can anybody make an educated guesses whether SkiGull can be equipped with some kind of de-icing? It's supposed to land on snow, after all... Do VGs generally affect the wing's icing tendencies?
My guess is that VGs are not quite compatible for flying in known icing. Neither is laminar flow airfoil. Same goes the other way around, deicing boots will kill any potential laminar flow and make the boundary layer fully turbulent. Bleeding wing does not fare that much better in average implementation, just look at the discontinuity behind the bleeding edge of Cessna
400. You can measure how many centimeters there is laminar flow before it gets ruined and that is not many with wing surface like that. The wing surface must be really smooth and accurate with no discontinuations of any kind to maintain laminar flow. Also deicing systems typically are such heavy stuff that they are typically installed on different caliber aircraft than SkiGull is.
 

ElEsido

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Thanks Karoliina. Just read a trip report of a Swiss club doing Switzerland-Montreal twice in an SR22 within a couple of days. Similar caliber as a SkiGull I'd say. Apparently the de-icing system was required to do the trip.
 

BBerson

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Unfortunately, there is no "perfect airfoil" that does all things perfectly across the entire flight envelope. Sometimes you want to stretch that envelope on one end without giving up something on the other end; VG's are one way to do that.
Depending on how far back the Vortex Generators are located, it would negate most of the laminar flow, I think.
So the careful surface work and therefor the need for composite is negated, I think.
A fabric wing surface would be almost as good, wouldn't it?
 

Victor Bravo

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Somehow I don't think the Ski-Gull is intended for icing conditions. The LSA rules prohibit IFR flight. The glider rules might not have been written to address IFR but it would not take long before they created a new rule to address it if they heard that Burt was operating his "glider" as if it was a Beech Baron.
 

jedi

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Somehow I don't think the Ski-Gull is intended for icing conditions. The LSA rules prohibit IFR flight. The glider rules might not have been written to address IFR but it would not take long before they created a new rule to address it if they heard that Burt was operating his "glider" as if it was a Beech Baron.
Actually, the IFR glider rules are very friendly.
 

Doggzilla

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Its both amazing and super depressing to look at his work. Today its still considered very leading edge, and was outstanding when it came out.

That says a lot about Mr.Rutan, but it also says a lot about how little the industry has adapted in the last 40 years.

At least the Europeans took notice and have quite a few nice factory produced aircraft that follow in Burt's steps. But here in the US, nothing factory made that is comparable to anything he designed. Very disappointing.
 

BJC

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...
At least the Europeans took notice and have quite a few nice factory produced aircraft that follow in Burt's steps. But here in the US, nothing factory made that is comparable to anything he designed. Very disappointing.
Which European factory aircraft are you referring to?


BJC
 

ElEsido

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Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
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Location
Switzerland
Anybody knows what's going on? The last bit of info that I can find is Trevor Budge's video "SkiGull Hull Modifications Winter 18/19" posted in June 2019. Apparently they added a step.
 

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